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GLEE: Rachel (Lea Michele, L) says goodbye to Finn (Cory Monteith, third from L) and the rest of the glee club as she heads to New York in the "Goodbye" season finale episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, May 22 (9:00- 10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Also pictured L-R: Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Jayma Mays, Chord Overstreet, Dianna Agron, Amber Riley, Kevin McHale, Samuel Larsen, Damian McGuinty, Harry Shum Jr., Darren Criss, Mark Salling and Chris Colfer.  ©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Adam Rose/FOX

comic-con 2012

Comic-Con: Glee’s Fourth Season Takes Shape: How Will the Show Change?

Not long ago, Ryan Murphy told Vulture that the next season would see the kids return to underdog status. At Comic-Con on Saturday, executive producer Ian Brennan told fans that now, finally, "the rubber hits the road." For last season’s graduates, growing up will mean "adult love, adult relationships, paying rent. It’s an evolution we’re really excited to write for."

But how will that look? Producers said when Glee returns this fall, Rachel will be starting at the New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts, where she'll be one in a sea of Rachel Berrys, while Kurt will be figuring out what to do with his life, Santana will be cheerleading at the University of Louisville, and Finn will be MIA. The kids who haven’t yet graduated from McKinley are back on the bottom. "They won Nationals and that lasts for two minutes," Brennan said. "That choir room is half-empty and they're desperately trying to get to twelve kids for sectionals." As for how they’ll work out having characters spread out over multiple locations, well, remember when Kurt attended Dalton? It will sort of be like that, Brennan said. "Because we do episodes that have a thematic throughline, it's just a matter of making sure the stories talk to each other in an interesting way." The fourth season’s second episode, for example, will be a Britney Spears tribute that will resonate outside of McKinley. "What's nice about it is how we've been able to take a Britney-themed episode and take it from the choir room to how it's affecting Rachel in New York," said Brennan.

Also new this year: spoiler lockdown! For once, producers were not inclined to divulge everything they’ve planned for the new year (and the actors have not yet seen scripts). That said, a few story nuggets that emerged from the panel:

• Even Emma is growing up. She and Will haven’t gown down the aisle yet, but they’re “living together and doing dirty things,” Falchuk said.

• Kate Hudson is playing one of Rachel’s NYADA instructors and she sounds a lot like Sue Sylvester, which makes sense since Brennan will be doing most of the writing for her character.

• Did Finn join the military? It's a mystery. “Finn went off on this adventure and no one really knows what’s happened. He’s the big question mark when we start,” Falchuk said.

• Producers want Glee Project winner Samuel Larsen and runner-up Alex Newell back this year. No mention of a return for winner Damian McGinty. They’re also hoping to make Chord Overstreet a regular.

• Kurt may still wind up in New York with Rachel. "They’re best friends and it will be hard to keep them apart," Falchuk said. In the meantime, look for him to help out Mr. Schuester in Lima.

• Fun fact: Brennan has been pitching the introduction of Artie’s mother since Season 1. "I want her to be a hoarder. There would be two tracks through the garbage." It’s not happening, though, so don’t get excited.

• Again, all of the series regulars will return in some capacity. Almost none of them will be in all 22 episodes of the season. But you already knew that.