Glee kicked off its fourth season Thursday and although most of the episode focused on the new Rachel — aka the evolving Rachel (Lea Michele) now conquering New York and the thunderdome-style battle back in glee club to fill her shoes as de-facto leader — there was another new Rachel roaming the halls of McKinley. However, this Rachel — with a gorgeous singing voice and natural good looks — goes by the name of Marley.
The season premiere added several new faces to the mix, including high-profile guest star Kate Hudson as Cassandra July, Rachel's NYADA dance teacher from hell, as well as several young'uns, such as Marley, who are seemingly being poised to segue into the spotlight now that last year's seniors are off following their dreams and as last year's juniors head into their senior years. So are the new kids worthy successors to the New Directions throne? Or does Glee have a Saved by the Bell: The New Class situation on its hands? Let's break it down:
Marley (Melissa Benoist)
Bio: It's McKinley High's less headstrong version of Dawson's Creek's Joey Potter: the soft-spoken tomboy who seems completely unaware of her good looks/talent and comes from a working-class background that she refuses to apologize for..
Revealing Soundbite: "I thought you guys were different."
First Impression: Marley is able to hold her own in a duet with Rachel on "New York State of Mind," which will invite comparisons to said McKinley alum. However, while Rachel's quirks and impressive (read: bordering-on-grating) drive to become a star were exposed from Day 1, for the moment Marley feels like someone simply posing as a misunderstood glee club outcast. Don't be shy, wave your freak flag high!
Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist)
Bio: Hello! His last name is Puckerman! However, Jake might just even be more of a bad boy because he was hidden from his half-brother his whole life. But while Puck (Mark Salling) somehow stumbled into the glee club to follow Finn's footsteps, Jake seems much more passionate about performing (and it doesn't hurt that he has the voice to back that up).
Revealing Soundbite: "I like this chip on my shoulder and I'm not losing it to sing for you."
First Impression: Apparently, Puck got his sense of humor from his mom because so far, Jake is heavy on the brooding and light on the laughter — which is one of the things that saved Puck from becoming a completely despicable womanizer, baby daddy and teacher-lover.
Kitty (Becca Tobin)
Bio: Coach Sue (Jane Lynch) described new Cheerio, and her new head b---- best: "She's like a young Quinn Fabray except she's not pregnant, manic-depressive or in-and-out of a wheelchair."
Revealing Soundbite: "Since we can't do a pep-rally float with all white people, how about we do all white Chrysanthemums?"
First Impression: Many will compare her to Quinn (Dianna Agron), but the former head of the Chastisty Club was never, ever downright racist. Thanks to Sue's recent (albeit brief) turns on the soft side, Kitty makes her coach look like a Care Bear. We're sure there's some sob story from Kitty's past that gives her such a fierce bite, but here's hoping the writers introduce that backstory before Kitty gets stuck on the dark side for good, a la Sebastian.
Brody (Dean Geyer)
Bio: A hot older guy with a six pack, a great voice and a moisturizing regimen that rivals Rachel's?! Who knew such perfect beings existed, even in a city of eight million?
Revealing Quote: "In case you were wondering, which you were, I'm straight."
First Impression: Despite his shirtless introduction via shower (just like how Mr. Schue first discovered Finn's stellar pipes!), Brody is confident without being cocky and seemingly very put-together while also being accessible. In fact, combine that with his sweet/genuine/nonthreatening pep talk to Rachel about embracing her new New York self, Brody seems almost too good to be true. Watch out, Finchel fans!
What did you think of the new Glee kids? Which characters do you like the most so far? Which new voices blew you away? And what did you think of the new Glee format? What did you think about going back-and-forth between Lima and New York? Share all your thoughts below!