Credit: Illustration by Wetpaint (Original Source: Brian Bowen Smith/FOX) Photo: Glee Season 3 Premiere Countdown: It's Here!

Glee is finally back! Our world once again has meaning! And yes, it was a turbulent summer for the show (rumors of people getting fired; a Glee movie that was seen by tens of people), but if tonight's episode is any indication, this will definitely be a top-notch season. Glitter-bombs for everyone!

This blast of a season premiere, entitled "Purple Piano Project," begins much as last year's premiere did, with interviews conducted by Jacob, McKinley's own TMZ-reporter-in-training (and what a lofty career goal to aspire to). Just as in last season's inaugural episode, these quick interviews were a great source for some early chuckles, with Puck referring to no-longer-in-glee Lauren (Ashley Fink) as the one who "slowly" got away, and Brittany mentioning something about time travel. (But it was a relief that none of the actual episode revolved around time travel, as the show Lost tried to do. Then again, we wouldn't be that surprised to see Sue turning into the Smoke Monster and pulling Mr. Schuester underground.)

It's in the early-going that we also catch up with Mercedes, who addresses the fact that Sam is no longer on the show. As we all know by now, the actor who played the trouty-mouthed glee clubber, Chord Overstreet, left the show during the summer, and he has since been replaced by Ashton Kutcher. (Sorry — wrong show.) Actually, Sam's absence is explained away by his dad getting a new job elsewhere – actually, it is Chord who has landed a new gig – but don't you worry about Ms. Hell to the No. Proving that she's not as patient to wait for her man as Penelope was in The Odyssey, Mercedes introduces her new lucky man, football-playing Marcus (and yes, we approve of him!). Sadly, we don't get to see how the two were introduced, meaning we're deprieved of what would surely have been an adorable meet-cute (or a "meet-fierce," considering it's Mercedes we're talking about).

Per the rumors, Sue is indeed pursuing politics but is doing about as well in the polls as Donald Trump was (yeah, you almost forgot that, didn't ya). Sue, however, suddenly becomes wildly popular when she promises to suspend funding for the arts if elected. At the end of last season, we were worried that Sue would go soft this year, and she was a bit soft tonight... for approximately 45 seconds. We should've known: Sue changes about as dramatically as the seasons change in L.A.

A now-attached Schue (Team Wemma!) puts his problems in the bedroom with his virgin girlfriend aside to motivate his unmotivated kids who are still in a funk after last season's loss at Nationals. Add to that the loss of good girl Quinn to another (less hygenic) crew, The Skanks, and the destruction (by the Cheerios, at Sue's request) of one of the purple pianos Schue got donated to the glee club – we'll get to that in a sec – and you've got one heck of a diary entry. (Side gripe: How can the show put the word "purple" in the episode title and not include even one Prince song? It's unconscionable, is what it is.)

Credit: Adam Rose/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Amber Riley Performs in Glee Season 3, Episode 1: “The Purple Piano Project”

And now we get to by far our favorite plotline of the week: Blaine and Kurt's relationship, as these two are cuter than a kitten with its head in a paper lunch sack. (Have you seen a kitten do that? It's pretty friggin' cute.) We love-love-love Kurt's speech about wanting to spend his "magic" senior year with Blaine, followed by Blaine's revelation to Kurt that he is sans jacket, and thus officially a member of New Directions. And to instantly assuage fears that he's nothing without his Warblers behind him, Blaine performs a killer rendition of "It's Not Unusual" — gotta love those red pants — that is, until Quinn's cigarette sets their piano ablaze (with the help of the Cheerios).

 

The kids are still desperate to find more new members, so they even sing "We Got the Beat" while dancing on top of the cafeteria tables as people are eating (which sounds to us like a health code violation or two). This also leads to our favorite line of the night, in which Brittany confuses her nipples with pepperoni. And wouldn't you know it, the one person who actually wants to join glee is Sugar, a new rich-bitch whose vocals aren't even as impressive as fellow rich-bitch Heidi Montag's (and that is saying something!). In fact, saying that Sugar can't sing would be like saying that Crocs aren't formal footwear.

And then there's the budding relationship between Rachel and Kurt, who learn about a musical-theatre college called NYADA – which is after Emma  mistakenly hands them a pamphlet called "Me and My Hag," our favorite sight gag of the night! Kurt and Rachel attend a mixer for prospective students and hope to blow everyone's minds, so they prepare a song from Wizard of Oz. And their song is cute, but saying that it would destroy the self-esteem of their competitors is like saying that the award for "Greatest Invention of All-Time" would definitely be given to the guy who invented ice-cube trays that make ice cubes in the shape of smiley faces. (Okay, so we don't think that's a real award, but you get our point.)

Credit: Adam Rose/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Lea Michele Sings With Purple Pianos in Glee Season 3, Episode 1: “The Purple Piano Project”

In fact, Rachel and Kurt's competition is indeed quite good, led by beret-clad Harmony, who is perfectly embodied by The Glee Project's Lindsay Pearce (although Lindsay as a precocious know-it-all isn't exactly playing against type or anything). Harmony and the gang then do a medley of "Anything Goes" and "Anything You Can Do," including a tap-dance interlude that would make Shirley Temple proud.

And then our final shock of the night comes when Schue outs Santana as a double-agent working for Sue, ultimately kicking her out of the club! And sure, Santana (who also is the newly crowned Cheerios co-captain) is a mega-bitch a lot of the time (okay, 99.9% of the time), but sometimes New Directions needs that little edge. But alas, she is gone...for now. Plus, we learn that's it's time to start practicing your snapping and to throw on your tight, ankle-length jeans: Glee is doing one of the few musicals in which the characters use more hair product than Schue: West Side Story!

 

So all in all, it was pretty much everything we could have possibly hoped for in a season premiere. Granted, we're a tad concerned that some of our favorites (like Finn, for example) barely got a word in edgewise. Let's face it — so many new characters joined the show tonight that the cast of Glee is now larger than the number of people who would attend a rally to have broccoli banned from supermarkets. But so far, they seemed to be used effectively to bring out interesting qualities in the regulars.

And right now, we're kinda hungry, and we could go for a pizza. Let's just make sure that Brittany doesn't order the toppings.

 

Check out the preview for Season 3, Episode 2 below:

 

Credit: YouTube Photo: Glee Season 3, Episode 2 Preview: "I Am Unicorn" — Baby Beth Is Back!