Christmas was in the air this week, and so was tragedy. From car crashes (Gossip Girl) to motorcycle busts (90210), things were sad, y’all! Even when we were laughing, we were crying (How I Met Your Mother). But, with a new year only a few weeks away, there was a bit of hope as a long-simmering relationship made headway (Hart of Dixie), old friends were reunited (Glee), and Kalinda Sharma just kept on being awesome (The Good Wife). See our picks for this week’s best “show” tunes after the jump. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS follow!)
GOSSIP GIRL (The CW)
The song: Florence + The Machine, “Heartlines”
The episode: “Riding in Town Cars With Boys” (510)
The hook: Despite some hilarity involving Blair’s bridesmaid tryouts this season, nothing about Blair and Prince Louis’s relationship has come close to bringing the fireworks of her chemistry with Chuck Bass. And what fireworks there were on Monday’s midseason finale. Florence + The Machine’s jungle drum-thumping track from Ceremonials provided a propulsive beat as Blair and Chuck’s limo was chased by paparazzi through Central Park. The song, about self-assurance and destiny, was thematically brilliant for the moment when Blair chose Chuck over Louis, abdicating her chance at royalty in the process. In a cruel twist of fate, it would become her Princess (Di) moment as the limo careened into a partition. Just as the lovers’ lives hang in the balance, Florence Welch’s primal scream hangs in our heads and hearts.
Watch it! The chase begins at 35:54 on Gossip Girl‘s official site.
The song: “We Are Young,” originally by fun. Feat. Janelle Monáe
The episode: “Hold on to Sixteen” (308)
The hook: The episode ender this week was an emotional reunion as the Troubletones (who lost Sectionals) were folded back into the New Directions. The New York-based rockers’ lyrics, “Tonight, we are young, so let’s set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun” expressed the Gleeks’ youth and vigor and recalled the episode’s title line from John Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane.” After a particularly serious couple of episodes for Santana, the Cheerio dropped her guard in a beautiful solo, joining hands with Rachel and singing, “Carry me home tonight.” It was a poignant moment but also a free-spirited one when kids were just kids and friends were friends once more.
Watch it! Fox won’t post the full episode online until Dec. 14, but they did post the performance of “We Are Young” on their YouTube. See what Abby West thought of the arrangement in her recap, then hear the original on fun.’s official site.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
The song: AC/DC, “Highway to Hell”
The episode: “Symphony of Illumination” (712)
The hook: Ted cued up the Australian metalheads after he noticed Robin was feeling down. He set up a spectacular Christmas light show in her apartment, timed to the least Christmas-y song of all time, and told her, “You can never stop me from trying to cheer you up. It’s a fact of life, and you’re just going to have to deal with it.” Robin, who had been informed she’d be unable to have children, was deeply touched by Ted’s familial gesture and couldn’t stop the tears as she melted into his arms. Cue a Saget-over about Robin’s eventual accomplishments: She was a famous journalist, businesswoman, world traveler… even a bullfighter. “But there was one thing your aunt Robin never was — she was never alone.” Even Angus Young’s catscratch voice couldn’t stop viewers from grabbing their hankies during this improbable tearjerker.
NEXT: Hope for Hart of Dixie, Velvet-y Revenge, a hipster holiday on 90210, and Kalinda Kills it on The Good Wife
HART OF DIXIE (The CW)
The song: The Lumineers, “Ho Hey”
The episode: “Hairdos & Holidays” (110)
The hook: While it wasn’t all smiles in Bluebell this week, there was a dash of optimism thrown in to keep us going until the show’s Jan. 23 return. Sure, Zoe’s clog dancing mini-me Rose didn’t win the Miss Cinnamon Cider Pageant, and sure Lemon plastered on her own pageant queen-worthy fake smile after being rejected by Lavon, but it was only the beginning for Zoe and Wade. He finally summoned the courage to ask Zoe for a drink, which she gently refused, then asked coyly, “Rain check?” They exchanged a meaningful look before going their separate ways. Even more meaningful? Zoe stopped, turned around, and watched Wade (who had a broad, hopeful smile across his face) walk away. Underscoring this moment, the Denver folksters sang, “I belong with you and you belong with me, my sweetheart.” Looks like a certain doctor and bad boy bartender will be bringing the heat in 2012.
Watch it! The sparks fly — and not just from Rose’s clogs — starting at 39:16 on Hart of Dixie‘s official site.
The song: Velvet Underground, “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'”
The episode: Loyalty (110)
The hook: The Underground’s bluesy tune played as “Amanda” (a.k.a. Actual Emily Thorne) entered the Stowaway to find Jack had cooked dinner for her. Throughout the episode, he had been increasingly excited each time his paramour “remembered” something about him or their childhood. This night, Jack brought out the pièce de résistance — a jar of sea glass they’d collected as kids that actual Amanda had buried many years before. “I dug it up the day after social services took you away,” said Jack, “and I’ve kept it ever since.” In this moment, Actual Emily was utterly won over by Jack, telling him (as “Amanda”) that she came back for him and kissing him passionately. The song was a fitting accompaniment for two hard-knock kids who “aint’ got nuthin’, ain’t got nuthin’ at all” except a jar of sea glass and each other. (That is, until Jack eventually discovers “Amanda” has been lying to him. Then she’ll really have nuthin’.)
Watch it! Jack sets the mood with sea glass starting at 31:57 on Revenge‘s Hulu page. Read why Darren Franich thinks Jack’s feelings for “Amanda” have escalated from puppy love to obsession in his recap.
90210 (The CW)
The song: She & Him, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
The episode: “Oh Holly Night” (412)
The hook: They should really just rename Tuesday Zooeyday. With the rise of New Girl and the use of She & Him’s holiday homage during 90210‘s midseason finale, Deschanel dominated the small screen this week. The indie darling’s somber intonation and M. Ward’s reverbed guitar plucks added a dirgelike quality to the already mournful 1944 standard, which played over Liam’s motorcycle crash as Annie declared her love for him (over voicemail — who does that?). The lyrics about “olden days, happy golden days” were a bittersweet reminder of the happiness the on-again/off-again couple once had, shattered like so many of Liam’s bones. “From now on our troubles will be out of sight”? Unlikely.
Watch it! 90210 hasn’t been posted online yet, but you can listen to She & Him’s rendition of the Christmas classic on YouTube.
THE GOOD WIFE (CBS)
The song: The Kills, “Goodnight Bad Morning”
The episode: “Parenting Made Easy” (310)
The hook: After circling each other for weeks, the dance between Kalinda and Assistant State’s Attorney Dana Lodge — both of whom leverage their sexuality as tools of war — ended this Sunday. Alison Mosshart’s lilt (“What a beautiful state we’re in”) on the drifting track underscored Kalinda as she welcomed Dana’s coquesttish admission that Cary (a coworker who used to have feelings for Kalinda) talked about Kalinda during sex. By indulging such information, Kalinda seduced Dana into thinking they’re simpatico because flirting “is a failing [they] share.” A beat later, Kalinda said sharply, “No, we don’t. When I flirt, I follow through.” The sleepy, lulling tune simultaneously gave a sonic parallel to Kalinda’s smoothness while belying the praying mantis-like intensity she brought to the table.
Watch it! Kalinda goes in for The Kills at 25:19 on CBS.com. Learn what else happened at Lockhart Gardner in Mandi Bierly’s recap.