Photo Credit: Mike Yarish/FOX
"I'd love to be a Finn-type character for the choir room," Blake Jenner told The Hollywood Reporter three months ago. The 19-year-old cutie had just won a seven-episode arc on Glee (Fox, Thurs., 9 p.m. ET) after winning Oxygen's reality competition, The Glee Project.
And now it looks like he's gotten his wish. On Thursday night, after a five episode hiatus, Glee returned with the debut of Jenner's character, Ryder Lynn -- a subpar football player who catches Finn's (Cory Monteith) eye when he's talent scouting for the New Directions. With Mr. Schue taking a three month leave of absence, Finn's been promoted to interim glee club director, responsible for staging a production of Grease. In Ryder, Finn's found his Danny. And in Finn, Ryder's found a big brother type who'll show him around the choir room.
"Follow my lead," he tells Ryder, before the pair launch into a rockin' cover of "Jukebox Hero." The Sandy to Ryder's Danny is Marley (Melissa Benoist), the poor student whose mom is a cafeteria lady. Others poke fun at Marley, but Ryder tells her, “Your mom rules."
This is sweet, and it makes the show's existing love triangle even more interesting. A quick refresher: Puck's (Mark Salling) younger half brother, Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist) has just broken up with McKinley's new resident mean girl, Kitty (Becca Tobin). Now he's got his eye on Marley. But based on this ensemble number, it sure looks like Ryder will win Marley's heart.
In fact, most of the Glee Project winners are doing quite well for themselves in the Glee universe. Season 1 winner Samuel Larsen is flourishing as Joe Hart, a member of McKinley's Christian student group, The God Squad. Though his dreads have earned him Kitty-annointed nicknames like 'Tarantula Head' and "Avatar," Joe is a popular member of the New Directions. And Alex Newell's cross-dressing character, Unique, landed the much-coveted role of Rizzo in Grease.
And already in his debut episode, Jenner seems primed to step into Monteith's dancing shoes. Not bad for the new guy!
What did you think of Blake Jenner's debut?
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