I do agree that the season is better than last season (although I preferred the music last year). A lot (I mean, A LOT) more interaction amongst the cast. At the same time, it may also be due to expectations. I think last year, I was expecting a lot more from the show that I actually received (although I experienced the biggest surprise at just how wonderful Hayden Panettiere continues to be). This season, my expectations were greatly tempered and I can enjoy the show as is.
If there is a big hole in the show, it's Rayna. Her character is so passive (I mean, Rayna signs Juliette Barnes because Juliette sought *her* out).
Luke is slimy because the actor sucks. I will always hate him because of Smash.