‘Glee’ Premiere Recap: The Gleeks Say ‘Hell-O’

The hit show returns with a few surprises.

Ladies and gentlemen, “Glee” is back . And with it, the seemingly impossible task of living up to the already sky-high levels of hype leveled upon it during the show’s ultra-long hiatus. Well, you can rest easy knowing that in “Hell-O,” creator Ryan Murphy and his writers crafted a well-paced, clever episode of their Golden Globe-winning comedy that culminated in a musical number set to the Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye.”

What’s changed at McKinley High since New Directions won regionals in December? Well, although Kurt, Mercedes and Rachel had hoped everything would be different, three slurpees to the face on their first day back proved otherwise. Sue Sylvester regained control of the Cheerios, thanks to a well-timed roofie that allowed her to take some very compromising photos of her in bed with Principal Figgins. (The track suit stayed on.)

There were a few modifications to the school’s social hierarchy: The end of football season meant Finn’s now a basketball star. Puck started dating Quinn even though she was getting fat (“I’m pregnant,” she helpfully tried to explain). And thanks to Rachel’s take-charge attitude (and a cat-themed relationship calendar), the Finn/Rachel romance was now official. To her, at least.

Sue enlisted Cheerio spies Brittany and Santana to help wreak havoc on New Directions by getting Finn to dump his new girlfriend. Since he was in the middle of a post-being-cheated-on life crisis (which he worked through by singing the Doors’ “Hello, I Love You”), he was eager to drop his domineering new girlfriend (who expressed her rage via the All-American Rejects’ “Give You Hell”) when Brittany and Santana asked him on a date. With both of them. It didn’t really go as Finn imagined, however, when the ladies spent the date gossiping about him as he sat on the other side of the restaurant booth. He realized his mistake and tried to get Rachel back, but it was too late — she’d already met someone else.

Vocal Adrenaline star Jesse St. James, played by Lea Michele’s “Spring Awakening” co-star Jonathan Groff, picked Rachel up as she perused Lionel Richie sheet music at a local store. The hilariously cocky senior (“This is one of my favorite haunts. I like to come and flip through the celebrity biographies, pick up some lifestyle tips”) wooed Rachel with a duet on “Hello,” then asked her out.

The rest of New Directions forced Rachel to break up with Jesse (thanks to another Sue Sylvester scheme) — but she couldn’t do it, and decided to date him in secret (Sue strikes again: “I am engorged with venom, and triumph”). When they sealed their new relationship with a kiss under the heat of Vocal Adrenaline’s 10-times-more-powerful-than-normal spotlight (sunscreen is required for use), VA’s director looked on with a knowing smile.

While it’s unclear whether Shelby Corcoran, played by Broadway star Idina Menzel, truly was in on a nefarious plan to infiltrate New Directions, she embarked on her own McKinley affair when Mr. Schuester came to speak to her (as Vocal Adrenaline sang AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”), only to wind up making out on his couch. Though she told him to call her back when he figured out what he wanted in a relationship, it was great to meet Will Schuester the player — finally, another side of the perpetual nice guy.

The other women in Mr. Schu’s tangled romantic web, Terri and Emma, had a showdown when Terri stopped by to pick up her Bruckheimer DVDs as Emma prepared a surprise romantic dinner. While Emma thought “Hello” from “The Jazz Singer” was her and Will’s song, Terri informed the guidance counselor that it was her and Will’s junior prom theme, which Emma verified in that year’s Thunderclap yearbook. This revelation, combined with Emma’s admission that she’d never been intimate with anyone, ever, led her to give Will the same “Call me when you figure yourself out” message as Shelby.

Did the long-awaited episode of “Glee” live up to the hype? What was your favorite part of the show? Let us know in the comments below!