'Glee'
Fox
January 9, 2015 11:03 AM EST

It’s been a long time since the New Directions gave us all goosebumps with the group’s cover of “Don’t Stop Believin.” Since then, the a capella outcasts of William McKinley High School have had many ups and many downs, including incredible covers, interesting guest stars, 3-D films, Twitter hoaxes and the tragedy of losing star Cory Monteith.

Glee, the once popular musical dramedy, hit a ratings low during its fifth season finale with just 1.9 million viewers, and Fox trimmed its final season to 20 episodes. Even worse, the show got pushed to Friday nights. Last season was pretty awful, but the show must go on. So if you’re a Gleek who’s yet to let go, here’s what you need to know before tuning in Friday.

Where we left off

Things got ridiculous last season. Rachel landed the role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway and dropped out of NYADA to focus on her career. She was later upended when Santana became her understudy, which only fueled their feud. Blaine and Kurt got engaged to a sweet cover of “All You Need Is Love” during the Beatles episode. And Finn’s death was pretty much glossed over in a touching episode called “The Quarterback” (more on this below). Sam, Blaine, Artie and Mercedes moved to New York after graduation. Sam and Mercedes had an odd relationship in New York that ended when Mercedes left the city to go on a mall tour with Brittany and Santana, who got back together. Oh, we’re not done yet. Puck and Quinn, who reunited on the show’s 100th episode, got back together despite sharing a child together in the first season. Seriously, all of this happened. And to top it all off, at the end of the season, Rachel left Broadway to pursue a career in TV while the glee club was disbanded by whom other than Sue Sylvester. There were also guest stars like Shirley Maclaine, Demi Lovato and Peter Facinelli, and some returning ones like Gwyneth Paltrow and Whoopi Goldberg.

The struggle without Cory Monteith

The show said farewell to its quarterback Finn Hudson when Monteith died at 31 of a heroin overdose in July of 2013. The star dated on-screen girlfriend Lea Michele in real life, which was reflected in the goodbye episode that seemed as much a tribute to Monteith as it did to his character. The show’s creator Ryan Murphy explained that this final season was supposed to wrap up the love between Michele and Monteith’s Rachel and Finn. At the end of season six, Lea [Michele’s] Rachel was going to have become a big Broadway star, the role she was born to play. Finn was going to have become a teacher, settled down happily in Ohio, at peace with his choice and no longer feeling like a Lima loser. The very last line of dialogue was to be this: Rachel comes back to Ohio, fulfilled and yet not, and walks into Finn’s glee club. “What are you doing here?” he would ask. “I’m home,” she would reply. Fade out. The end.”

What we know about the final season

Rachel and Kurt have moved home to Lima to bring the New Directions back to life against Sue’s wishes. There are a handful of new characters, bullies and outsiders, who bring back memories of season one (arguably the show’s best), but will likely seem a little been-there-done-that at this stage. Originals like Mark Salling, Dianna Agron, Naya Rivera and Heather Morris will be back as well. “They’re all back home kind of to lick their wounds,” Jane Lynch told Entertainment Tonight.

Songs to expect

“Let It Go” is the most publicized of the numbers and was released earlier this week. No word on whether Rachel’s on-screen mother Idina Menzel, who sings the original from Frozen, will make another guest appearance. There have also been cuts of Darren Criss’ Blaine covering Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” and clips of the entire club tackling A-ha’s eighties hit “Take on Me.”

The two-hour season premier is set to air on Friday at 8 p.m. E.T.

Get your slushies ready.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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