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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Glee‘s “The Role You Were Born to Play” episode.]
Glee returned from its baseball-induced hiatus Thursday with a sweet homecoming episode that featured Artie enlisting some familiar faces to return to McKinley High to assist the aimless Finn as he mounted a rendition of Grease.
Finn (Cory Monteith) is still aimless and depressed about his future following his breakup with Rachel (Lea Michele) and working at Burt’s body shop. Artie (Kevin McHale) vows to help him find his place again and encourages Finn to co-direct the musical with him — especially since Grease was his idea.
To help boost Finn’s confidence, Artie brings Mike (Harry Shum Jr.) and Mercedes (Amber Riley) back to McKinley to help stage the musical. After they struggle to find a lead to play Danny in Grease, Mercedes and Mike remind Finn that Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) had the same trouble and went looking for a talent — like Finn. Inspired, Finn heads to the football field where he finds Ryder Lynn (The Glee Project season two winner Blake Jenner), a showboating wide receiver who’s a bit of a loaner but has amazing dance moves.
Finn recruits Ryder, who’s studying hard to bring up his grades so he doesn’t have to drop football. He tells the sophomore that glee club helped him bring up his grades and tells him to start slow by auditioning for the musical. Finn tells Ryder that he used to be just like him — not wanting to sing — and he proves it when they tag-team on Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero.”
Meanwhile, the role of Sandy is a face-off between Kitty (Becca Tobin) and Marley (Melissa Benoist) who both nail their auditions with Jake (Jacob Artist) and Wade “Unique” Adams (Alex Newell), respectively.
Unique makes waves when, despite Sue’s warning, he proclaims he wants to play the role of Rizzo. After Finn and his creative team agree that he’s the best person for the part, he winds up facing Sue’s wrath as they go head-to-head over what such a move would do to both Wade and the school as a whole should they continue on their progressive push.
Finn puts his foot down and says it’s his decision and says he has nothing more to lose and he’s casting Wade as his alter-ego, Unique. He later sidebars with Wade and offers him the part despite Sue’s objections and vows to guard him as best he can against Sue and anyone else who tries to stop them. A tearful Wade says he doesn’t feel right in men’s clothing and confesses that he rarely never know his place but that it’s nice for once to feel like he has found the right place.
At callbacks, meanwhile, Jake and Ryder are both up for Danny and paired with potential Sandys, Marley and Kitty. The Mike and Mercedes-led “Born to Hand Jive” serves as their final audition to see which pair has the most chemistry together, with Ryder and Marley ultimately possessing the right natural charm to land them the leading roles.
After announcing the final casting, Finn realizes helping other people’s dreams come true feels good as Will notices he’s a natural at it and offers him the chance to fill-in as the head of New Directions during his three-month window in Washington. “You’re ready and if you’re willing I can promise you there’s no greater joy in the world than helping a young boy like you turn into a man,” Will tells Finn, noting he’ll be away from McKinley (and Emma) for three months.
As a whole, the episode continued Glee’s trend this season of replacing a recent graduate with a near carbon copy as Jenner’s Ryder almost intentionally mirrors that of Finn’s introduction to New Directions. His arrival also sets up another love triangle between Marley, Kitty and Jake, who now views the football star as competition for Marley’s affections (and rightfully so as he seems like the genuine nice guy to counter Marley’s kind spirit).
Speaking of Marley, the young singer is already facing a bigger hurdle than starring in the school play as Kitty lashes out in a Sue Sylvester-like tirade aimed at both her figure and that of her kind mother’s, setting up potential body image issues for the rising star.
Here’s the complete Grease cast in case you missed it:
The full Grease cast:
Brittany is Cha Cha
Tina (who never auditioned) is Jan
Sam is Kenickie
Alex is Rizzo
Blaine is Teen Angel
Jake is Putzie
Ryder is Danny
Marley is Sandy
Kitty is Patty (“Who the hell is Patty Simcox!”)
What did you think Ryder? Who do you like for Marley? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox and watch a promo for next week’s “Glease” episode, below.
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