It's not surprising that Kate Hudson can dance - her mother started out as a dancer too. I still don't like the character. She's like Sue Sylvester Light, without the humor. I guess I don't like characters in a position of power who lord it over their inferiors. She's a crappy teacher and just comes off as bitter and jealous. To be honest, I don't like Sue most of the time, even though I love Jane Lynch.
I assume Shue came home for Thanksgiving, which is why he was at the competition
After the performance Rachel gave at the showcase, I totally bought that she won. I don't think her talent was ever in question. She had to audition a second time because she got so nervous and choked the first time.
JJ - I think you're right that it's likely that ND will get an automatic pass to Nationals, or at least Regionals, because of their win last year