Kurt, Rachel and Santana find themselves enamored by a sexy Santa; the New Directions get competitive about tree-decorating and Bible reenactments
Credit: Adam Rose/FOX
The fourth season of Glee was full of ups and downs, but one consistent bright spot was Lea Michele's Rachel Berry, who stretched her wings…
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If you are dealing with friends who are pestering you about why you still watch Glee, I implore you to not mention tonight’s episode for fear of revealing the truth that I have tried to hard to mask: that it is exactly what they’re afraid it is. If you’ve defended the lovably crackers series through the years, I particularly encourage you not to bring up “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” in which Rachel, Kurt, and Santana inhale helium and channel Alvin and the Chipmunks in a truly horrifying display.

After last week’s puppet catastrophe — a veritable Titanic of felt, a Hindenburg of googly eyes in which Blaine further proved that he is systematically going more and more insane with each passing day at McKinley — we return to a staple of Glee: the holiday episode.

Tonight’s title is “Previously Unaired Christmas,” and the shtick is that this is a re-edited cut of a 2012 holiday episode that was reportedly so offensive it never aired. Considering that it’s around springtime on the show (or, at least I think it is?), it also seems like a thinly-veiled way to sneak in a Christmas episode into this season. But who’s not complaining? THIS JEW! I love me some holiday cheer, from Claymation reindeer to Vince Guaraldi instrumentals to Mariah Carey reminding us that no riff has too many syllables. Anyway, Glee.

First, we must time-warp back to the alternate universe of Lima in December 2012, a magical month in which Kate Middleton was pregnant and Pope Benedict XVI was tweeting. In the Glee timeline, Principal Figgins is still in charge, Jake and Marley are flirting, Santana has just broken up with Brittany (‘memba her?) and Blaine was still somewhat in control of his own faculties. And that’s what you missed, on GLEE!

NEXT: “Hold it right there, sluts!”

It’s 2012 and Mr. Schuester is telling the Gleeks about the McKinley High tree decorating contest (that’s cute), of which this year’s theme is “Green is Good.” Sam and Tina take control, as Tina is desperate to win a toy angel and Sam is…well, Sam, whose motivation need not be explained. Meanwhile, the McKinley High Non-Denominational Christmas Club is putting on a “living” nativity scene after the real one is defaced. Jake is chosen to play Joseph because he’s a darkly tanned Jew, and Unique wants to be the Virgin Mary, but Kitty says no, arguing “You’re black and you’d crush the donkey.” Ryder (rocking a pre-storyline 2012 haircut) contributes something to the conversation, I think, and Beiste announces she’ll have to hold auditions for the coveted roles.

Marley approaches Kitty with the idea of auditioning in unison since every girl wants to play the Virgin Mary. Now, where I’m from, when you’re all vying for the same role, there’s no such thing as a joint audition. (Consider: If I want to be Seymour and you want to be Seymour, I will cut you.) Kitty, being normal, rejects the idea of uniting for an audition, but she’s still kind of nice about it because back in December 2012, she’s still slightly less of a bitch than she is in 2012.

Meanwhile, Sam and Tina are planning their tree entry when they encounter Becky in the hall, and it’s perhaps suggested that one of the reasons the episode was scrapped last year was because Becky’s dialogue is just a total joke. Of course, anyone who has seen this season knows that Becky has sadly become more of a joke in the writers’ room than any other character. It’s cruel to imagine that some idiotic soul decided it was appropriate to give poor Becky this monologue: “Hold it right there, sluts! This is mistletoe. I’m super horny, so you better give me some tongue. I mean it, bitch! I want to lick those Asian tonsils. And then once you’ve got me all warmed up, I’m gonna make you French me because it’s Christmas and I’m loose. I have special needs, and one of my special needs is mouth sex with your face.” Ugh.

In the choir room, the New Directions sing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” as we get a montage of all the various student groups decorating their trees (C+, because nothing happened). Sue comes to judge the tree, armed with various reasons why the glee club’s tree should fail, but Sam and Tina counter all of her traps in a surprising bout of preparedness. (Perhaps they could exert this kind of forward thinking for planning Nationals instead of, say, the week before, as they are wont to do?)

NEXT: Night of the living nativity

It’s the day of auditions for the living nativity scene, which apparently involves a singing element, because why not? Beiste, Schue and Artie (for some reason) are judging the auditions, the first of which is Marley, Tina and Unique singing “Mary’s Boy Child.” Now, I’ve never heard this song before, but damn if I wasn’t jamming on my couch like a toddler with a Wiggles DVD while Tina and Marley did their best not to be too offensive in their vaguely island accents. I give it an A- because it was FABULOUS. Beiste is impressed, but Kitty decides to audition herself since, again, she’s normal.

Cut to Mr. Schue teaching something: “And that’s why ancient Egyptians regarded dung beetles as sacred,” he says to no one. On the morning announcements (which I used to do in high school, and once forgot the Pledge of Allegiance during), Sue announces the runners-up for the tree contest: the Biology Club, the 420 Club, and Beiste’s football team. The winner is the glee club, and everyone rejoices. Well, that was dramatic.

At the same time, Schue and Beiste post the Nativity Cast List, which I’ve transcribed for your benefit: Artie is Melchior, Unique is Balthasar, Blaine is Gabriel, Tina is Caspar, Sam and Ryder are Shepherds, Jake is Joseph, Marley is the Virgin Mary and Kitty is a villager. Kitty is upset that Marley got to play Mary, and she even goes so far as to play the religion card — but Kitty depressingly reveals that she doesn’t have the spirit to play the Virgin Mary. No, she’s much more a Mary Magdalene, she reveals, as she sulks away to go get stoned (the 2013 way, not the 1st century BC way).

In a bizarre turn of events, Becky — who has mistakenly decorated her tree with all green things instead of green things — gives Sam and Tina her old teeth (WTF?) as a sort of I-lost-but-I’m-going-to-give-you-a-gift-for-some-reason consolation prize. Becky reveals what we were all thinking: She half-assed the contest because she had to go watch Gigolos on Showtime. Well, Sam and Tina are upset with this notion, and they decide to LIE and tell Becky that there was a recount, and she won! Look at how all that worked out.

At rehearsal for the nativity scene, Unique and her Wise Men (Tina and Marley) sing Diana Ross & the Supremes’ “Love Child,” and it’s the second-best cover of it I’ve seen (the first, of course, is Whoopi Goldberg’s brief homage during Sister Act). Kitty is mortified by what’s going on, and it makes sense, since this nativity scene is about as church-appropriate as my Bar Mitzvah speech. She offers to play the Virgin Mary — the right way or not at all — and Unique gives up the role in a surprisingly non-characteristic way. But oh well, it’s Christmas so I’ll roll with it.

The actual nativity scene involves the cast singing “Away in a Manger,” and Becky makes a special cameo as baby Jesus in a costume that’s only embarrassing if you think it is (and it is). So, that happened. The song is fine, but by this point, this episode has been such a ridiculous mess that I’m going to give it a % symbol and the key F4 because taking this seriously doesn’t seem to even matter at this point.

NEXT: There’s nothing — really, nothing — like New York at Christmas

In the cutest Brooklyn loft since Hannah Horvath, Santana is visiting after breaking up with Brittany. She gives Kurt a mannequin head and — not even kidding — an all-expenses paid trip to a place in Canada called Dildo Island. (FYI, it exists, and now my Google search history has been compromised.) Santana has also, hilariously, gotten Rachel a gallon jug of ProActiv and some JetBlue vouchers. Kurt offers for Santa to be a full-time houseguest (proving that he has never actually lived in New York, because anyone who has knows that that’s just a horrifying nightmare waiting to happen). Rachel, pre-Broadway debut, informs the group that she’s made the executive decision and they’re going to be Christmas elves at the mall. “I’m gonna be the best Jewish elf ever,” says Rachel, who has obviously not met Seth Green.

At the mall, Santa is weirdly sexual and kind of drunk, because that’s apparently what we’ve come to expect from any mall Santa on TV despite it never being the case in real life. “I don’t like you and your Equity card attitude,” he screeches at Kurt ‘Keebler’ Hummel before leaving in a hurry. Scrambling to appease the crowd, Kurt, Santana and Rachel decide to work some NYADA magic and perform “Here Comes Santa Claus,” which is precisely the opposite message as they should be delivering. Our New York trio gives it their best (I give it a B for jaunty bells) but the bored children in the crowd reflect my equally bored face. The kids revolt, and they are accurate in their distaste.

The next scene we see, Santana is in a BUBBLE BATH and Kurt and Rachel appear to be scrambling again. I’m not even going to bother trying to explain this development, because Santana shows up in Mrs. Claus gear and takes over the throne for the selfish children. Of course, she is utterly hilarious as she turns away all sorts of children for being too fat, too Jewish, too black, or too [insert your racial or religious-based offense here]. She offends basically everyone, which is perhaps reason #2 that this episode didn’t make it to air last year?

Backstage, Kurt, Rachel and Santana continue freaking out about their miserable jobs when in strolls Cody Tolentino, a chiseled specimen who calls himself “Sexy Claus” as he stomps in to save the day. “Even I’ll admit that my girl-loving vagina is felling a little jingle bell from you,” confesses Santana. Sexy Claus says that if they truly want to save Christmas, they need to put their hearts into it for the rest of the week. And the way to do that, of course, is by inviting Sexy Claus to a dinner party.

In the loft, the trio are cooking when S.C. rolls in. He says “ho ho ho” and I’m not sure if he’s just being Santa or saying hello to everyone. Again, Sexy Santa has had maybe five lines and he’s already being welcomed into the apartment without so much as a background check. (Young’uns, further proof that abs are dangerous.) Santa busts out his bag tricks and produces a bunch of helium balloons. The four of them do their best Alvin and the Chipmunks and sing “Christmas Don’t Be Late” and… well, I try my hardest not to hate every second of it, but I just can’t. It’s horrible. I’ve never given a song lower than a C, but unfortunately, I have to bust out a D- because I feel like I’m a worse person for having watched it.

NEXT: Beware the abs of Kris Kringle

In their drunken stupor, Rachel and Santana share a nice moment in which Rachel encourages Santana to move to New York. Santana scoffs at the idea, which is comical because we know she’s going to start squatting in the loft in T-minus a month. The two stumble out of Rachel’s room and find Kurt and Santa hooking up. The four toast to being naughty and we go to a commercial, during which I’m sort of floored by the notion that at any given moment we might cut back to a raunchy foursome immediately following a 15-second spot for Ferrero Rocher.

But no, we cut back in and Santana/Rachel are groggily awake the next morning when they discover they have been screwed (not that way) by rough-trade Santa, who has BOUND AND GAGGED Kurt on his bed and robbed the loft. Let’s talk for a second about the visual of Kurt BOUND AND GAGGED on a bed. Okay, done.

Well, it serves them all right. I knew Sexy Claus was trouble the moment he strutted in with his perfect torso and Joe Manganiello lats. Kurt, Rachel and Santana begin the process of mourning the loss of their possessions (including Kurt’s collection of Playbills) and, perhaps, their self-worth. As Kurt laments that their acting resumes will suffer as a result of losing their jobs as mall elves, Rachel reveals another crazy scheme (apparently she’s become the Kramer of Glee when I wasn’t looking).

The idea, of course, is that they’ll be in living displays in a department store window, and so we end the episode with the New York folk joining in with the New Directions on “Away in a Manger.” I will say that despite my disbelief that the episode has now ended and nothing appeared to have happened, the three of them look downright gorgeous in the window. So, A for effort, but C for… I don’t know, climate change.

That’s the episode! Were you as disappointed by the seeming pointlessness of tonight’s installment? Yes, we knew it was supposed to be a non-diegetic entry, but I would much rather have been watching Carrie Underwood braid herself in The Sound of Music than listen to Becky get more inappropriate dialogue. That’s also the end of Glee for the fall. It’s been fun, kids. I’ll see you back in February if you’re not sick of me yet. Happy Kwanzaa!

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