September 11, 2012 2:05am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Glee': Artie's Mysterious Plans, Familiar Faces Poised to Return and More Spoilers From the Cast
It won't take long for Glee to welcome back some of McKinley's most recent alums. Not every member of the Fox musical's sprawling cast will be featured prominently in every episode, but the series will see some familiar faces return in the fifth episode of the season when Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) and Mercedes (Amber Riley) make their way back to Ohio.
The duo, who graduated at the end of season three and headed for the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively, will come back to their former stomping grounds to lend Artie a hand with a mysterious situation.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with members of the Glee cast on Monday at Fox's annual Fall Eco Casino party in Culver City to get the scoop on what Gleeks can expect from Thursday's fourth season premiere and beyond. The results: romance, attitude and partial nudity.
Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale)
"He's enjoying that leadership role and the trust everybody has in his vision," McHale teases of what's ahead Artie. After exploring directing during the Christmas episode last year, the new senior will continue down that track and perhaps let the power go to his head a little. "I like bossing everybody around and telling them that they suck!" he says with a laugh, noting that he's not quite as extreme as Kate Hudson's tough NYADA dance teacher, Cassandra July. As for Artie's mysterious "situation" that brings back the likes of Mike and Mercedes, McHale was tight-lipped. "They're helping me out," he teased. Bonus: McHale finally gets to share a song with Darren Criss, a mashup in the Britney Spears episode.
Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.)
Also set to return in episode five? Mike, who graduated in the season three finale, will return to McKinley during his semester break at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. "He's a mama's boy, so he wants to go back home and see his parents," Shum explains. "He also wants to go for Artie, who has a situation that he needs help on, and Mike comes back and tries to be a good friend." Rest assured, Artie and the elder Changs aren't the only ones Mike is anxious to see. "Tina might be what drives him to go back," Shum says. "She's a big reason why he wants to go back." What their reunion is like after time apart, however, remains a big question mark.
Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz)
Someone wants to be the new Rachel, and that someone might be Tina, who was told last year that it was her time to shine. "Rachel said, 'You're going to be the new me, and you're going to be the lead vocalist,' so Tina is really excited about that," Ushkowitz says. "Then all the sudden there's all this competition that comes in and thinks they're going to do it. It's definitely a fight." The results to be the new queen bee won't sit well with Tina, who is going to "continue her bitch streak for a little while." Bonus: Ushkowitz hopes she teams with McKinley's new Queen of Mean, Kitty (Becca Tobin) -- on the Cheerios. "I've always been on Tina's side to be on the Cheerios at some point, so hopefully we'll see," she says. "I've been pushing for it."
Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet)
"Sam feels like he has the obligation to mentor the new kids and bring in some new people because so many people graduated and are coming in and out," Overstreet says of his character's path early in the fourth season. As for romance, the guy whose iPhone video helped former flame Mercedes make it to L.A. as a backup singer remains mum on what his chances are with the opposite sex this season. "I've been eyeing Sue very closely!" he jokes. As for Mercedes' return in episode five, he hints that Sam has sent her off to L.A. and will be supporting her career more than anything else. Bonus: In addition to returning to the football team, Overstreet really wants to see the Justin Bieber Experience return. "I've been talking about that with Ryan, so we'll see," he notes.
Coach Shannon Beiste (Dot Marie Jones)
The Beiste is back! Come the fifth episode, the sensitive football coach will return to the halls of McKinley. "I've shot two scenes with Jayma Mays and Matthew Morrison; I'm helping with something," Jones says cryptically. Fall also means that football season is back, with the guest actress Emmy nominee noting the team also will see some fresh faces join the squad. "We've got some new kids coming in," she hints. In the meantime, Jones is prepping for the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. "I'm hoping to bring home a trophy next Saturday at the Emmys," she says, noting she'll be wearing a black Armani suit to the Creative Arts ceremony and is still prepping a potential acceptance speech. "I haven't written anything down," she says. "I've run it through my head and wind up changing it every time."
Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist)
"Jake definitely has a lot of layers going on," newcomer Artist teases of what's ahead for Puck's (Mark Salling) younger and angry half-brother. "You'll get to see that it's justified and it's all coming from his history; all of his bad-boy behavior -- there's a reason behind it. A lot of it is going to play back to his upbringing a little. He doesn't know his brother, and we'll get to explore that."
Brody Weston (Dean Geyer)
"It's all about the whole topless thing!" Geyer teases of his steamy Glee entrance. "I think Glee needed something like that to shake things up because New York is supposed to be a more adult side of the show, and that's what Brody brings to the table -- even though he's not a bad boy." The guy behind Rachel's new NYADA guardian says he hopes fans concerned that Brody will be responsible for the demise of Rachel and Finn will learn that he's a genuine guy with good intentions. "I'm excited to dive deep into who he is," Geyer says, noting that all he knows of Brody's backstory is that he's from Montana. "I don't think he's a douche; he's not that guy who is going to go after Rachel just to break her and Finn up."
Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist)
"Marley is going to be a new, fresh energy for New Directions," newcomer Benoist previews of her Glee entrance. "She's shy and a little reserved … she's had a lot of struggles and has built a wall around herself because she's been made fun of quite a bit before. She's going to be getting over some fears or her self-consciousness, and you'll see her journey through that." As for what's ahead for the fresh face, the actress says Marley definitely has some "drama in her love life coming." The target, meanwhile, could be a fellow newcomer.
Kitty (Becca Tobin)
"She's a little crazy but in a different way. She's eccentric, but she is full of venom and very, very mean." That's how newcomer Tobin describes McKinley's newest Cheerio, who has the attitude of Santana (Naya Rivera) and allegiance to Sue (Jane Lynch) that Quinn (Dianna Agron) did early on in the series. Her first victim: Heather Morris' Brittany. "She wants to knock her out of her position and take over her place as captain of the Cheerios," Tobin previews. "Behind every mean girl in high school is this very competitive nature, and she sees something she wants and nothing stops her and she goes after it. Unfortunately, Brittany is in her way."
Glee's fourth season premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday on Fox. Hit the comments with what you're looking forward to seeing.