Pot O' Gold
Following its untimely break after only three episodes (and three that have been accused widely of being underwhelming), Glee returns to Sky1 - and is the magic back? Well, anyone who caught sorta-spinoff The Glee Project over the summer will have been expecting some familiar faces to pop up and Pot O' Gold doesn't disappoint, featuring a standout turn from joint winner Damian McGinty; while it's unknown yet whether his character Rory Flanagan will have staying power, throughout this episode at least he is a secret weapon of sorts, helping what is admittedly the season's fluffiest episode yet speed by entertainingly.
In a genius stroke from the writers, Irish Rory is introduced as a foreign exchange student living with Brittany, so obviously (this is Brittany we're talking about, after all) she confuses him for a magical leprechaun. Because the poor lad is away from home and his 'mammy' and clearly fancies his clueless hostess, he goes along with it when Brittany promises to show him her 'pot o' gold' (guffaw much?) if he grants her three wishes that come true. He sets about achieving this goal, unaware that Santana has no plans to lose Brittany to Rory's 'potato-eating poser'; McKinley's resident bitch is enjoying holding hands (under napkins, of course) with Brittany at Breadsticks, so comes up with a cunning plan to shatter Rory's dream, keep Brittany to herself and facilitate the pair's move over to Mercedes' rival girl group Glee club, The Trouble Tones. Crafty, huh?
All that might sound vaguely complicated, but it's not and, best of all, it gives McGinty the chance to showcase an easy charm that marked him out as a worthy winner throughout the increasingly irritating Glee Project. Although he's not the best actor in the world, he has a glint in the eye and perfects Rory's 'mommy's boy' naivety, ensuring his place as a Glee club misfit is earned. I was expecting his smooth croon to be applied to covers of Rat Pack hits too, so it's a nice surprise that his debut solos are 'Bein' Green' and Teddy Thompson's 'Take Care of Yourself'. Depending on where his story goes, this one could be a keeper.
Of course, as a show with such an ever-expanding cast, this week's episode is no one-man show. While McGinty's introduction allows for some further scene-stealing from Heather Morris and Naya Rivera, Quinn's continued quest to claim baby Beth back from adoptive mother Shelby brings us to a Big Plot Development. I won't ruin it here, but suffice to say the signposted ending is sure to create some juicy melodrama to run throughout the season. Puck, who here claims cougars make his 'nipple ring twitch', looks set to be utilised in a significant way for the first time since Season One's unplanned pregnancy, while Quinn's manipulative methods to achieve one 'perfect thing' allow Dianna Agron to play both frosty and vulnerable.
Speaking of vulnerable, Sue's mission to cut arts funding sees the school budget being pulled for what she views as the 'extraordinarily gay' West Side Story. More Sue means more Jane Lynch, which means more big funny. This time though, Sue's machinations lead to more Burt Hummel which equals double bonus. Kurt's dad comes to the rescue, saving the play by buying ad space in the play's program, a move that leads to him running for candidacy opposite Sue. 'Man of the people' Burt has always been one of this show's up-sleeve aces, Mike O' Malley's performance providing some gravitas in what can often be a very flighty hour of television. It's yet to be seen how the rivalry between Burt and Sue will affect the lives of the Glee kids - and I suspect the dualities with the race to be crowned senior-class president may soon tire - but their duelling may be one of this season's highlights.
While Mr Schuester's claim that 'the magic is back' may not ring entirely true for the Gleek faithful, Pot O' Gold is certainly a good stab at reigniting the spark. This breezy hour introduces new elements while finding time to advance established plot threads, deliver fun character moments, and enliven the whole shebang with spirited performances of 'T.G.I.F. (Last Friday Night)' and 'Candyman'. This could be the season's lucky charm. Roll on next week.