Chris Colfer stepped up to the plate and delivered an uneven season one home safely. Darren Criss pulled season two back from the brink of absurdity. Since we know we can’t rely on Ryan Murphy to do it, who is going to save Glee‘s third season? Sunday night gave us that answer.


The Glee Project was the best thing to happen to Glee since Dot-Marie Jones. It renewed my love of the show while tiding me over until the new season. It gave a behind-the-scenes look into the world of Glee by introducing us to such warm and well-intentioned personnel as choreographer Zach Woodlee and casting director Robert Ulrich and showed us the real people behind less-famous but just-as-beloved characters like Lauren, Tina, Mike, Artie and Karofsky (my favourite, the adorble Max Adler), not to mention Beist (Jones) and Blaine (Criss). But more than anything, the genius of The Glee Project is that it psyched up the viewers to root for the newbies, even after the breakout stars move on (by that I mean just Kurt, I don’t know anyone who actually cares about Rachel and Finn).


Samuel won 7 episodes and he’s sure to be an interesting dynamic to add in (a Christian rocker- it might work); Alex is in for 2 and while he’s sure to annoy me the idea they were throwing around (him as Kurt and Mercedes’ adopted mentee) really works; and there’s very little that will convince me that superb actress/standout singer Lindsay won’t have her 2 episode stint extended well beyond the promise that came with her second place finish (I think she stands a definate chance of getting a major arc in the back half and possibly a contract for season 4 as “the new Lea”).


But none of that will make a huge difference. It will make a difference, no doubt, having new characters, younger characters, to move the focus off of the more worn out New Directions members. But none of them will be what Glee really needs- someone to root for. Hopefully the new writers will shape up the show a bit (here, here Marti Noxon!), but what Glee needs is someone whose side we’re on, who we really care about no matter what idiotic adventures Murphy and his directionless flunkies lay out. There’s one guy who’s got a real shot at being the beating heart future of Glee and that’s Glee Project co-winner Damian McGinty.


He’ll probably never be Chris Colfer. Jane Lynch aside, once that kid graduates from McKinley their run at the Emmys will be over- teen shows just don’t do what Colfer has managed to do, no matter how great. But the heart of the show, that person whom people tune in to see- that’ll be McGinty. Whether he was learning the drums from an eight year old named Liam, uncoordinatedly dancing on a rooftop with his bromantic partner Cameron or dedicating a song to his best friend Hannah, not caring that she’s got an awkward crush on him, Damian proved impossible not to love. And his memorable run on The Glee Project (including a hail Mary ressurection when Cameron quit just at the right moment) will, mark my words, spur him to quickly become the most popular character on Glee.


I still think that accent will prove an obstacle since the safety-net subtitles won’t be an option but the sweet-voiced Irishman can smile and no will care that they didn’t understand what he said. The other winner, Samuel, has 63 615 facebook fans. Damian? 146 086 at last count. I’m not even convinced the show got that many people tuning each week, but somehow Damian won that many hearts from a summer reality show on Oxygen- imagine what he’ll do with a primetime Fox hit!