New Directions puts on two shows and finds the real meaning of Christmas
After last week’s episode, which felt like it wrapped up the first half of the season in a neat little bow, this Christmas episode definitely had a kind of “add-on” feel. But it was a fun little present as we close out the year.
The kids ended up double booked for a night when they first agreed to perform at a homeless shelter on Sue’s request and then jumped at a chance to put on a Christmas special for Lima’s PBS affiliate station. There was a choice to be made and coincidentally it meant everyone would learn a little something about the Christmas spirit.
Sue may have been back but it was the softer gentler Sue, who was missing her sister Jean on this first Christmas since she’d passed away. Sue was in the mood to do good deeds, among them forgiving the glee club kids for “having no talent and ruining the American songbook one mashup at a time. ” Then she asked them to perform at the shelter she was volunteering at. Kurt agreed on behalf of the club but then Schue announced that because the local station couldn’t afford the rights to play the Yule Log as it had traditionally (which was upsetting to Puck), the kids had been asked to put on a televised show. And they wanted Artie to direct it.
Artie, emboldened by his success with West Side Story, had two demands: That Star Wars somehow be a part of the show because the Star Wars Holiday Special was the best Christmas special ever. (Seriously, people were polled.) And he also wanted the special to be shot in black and white, in homage to the 1963 Judy Garland Show‘s Christmas special. He even went so far as to recreate the set and setup. (I shouldn’t question how he did all that for under $800, right? Okay.)
NEXT: Rachel gets her very own star and Rory becomes the show’s emotional center
And Artie’s vision for the show? Very, very cheery, with no room for any measure of sadness, including an ending where Frosty melts. (Sam objected to this forced gaiety and decided not to participate.) So the special was set supposedly in the Swiss Alps in the village of Gestad in the perfectly appointed living room of Kurt and Blaine’s chalet for an evening of Noel Coward-esque banter that ends with Rory dressed as Itchy the elf reciting Frosty the Snowman.
Only Rory had other ideas after he searched his heart. Sam had taken the young Irishman, on his own for the holidays, under his wing and was playing his Christmas sponsor. And Sam’s stand on the true spirit of Christmas filtered down to Rory, who ended up reading from the Bible (Luke 2: 8-14 to be exact). “And the angels said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.'”
Quinn, who’d seemed affected by Sue’s guilt trip when they’d chosen the TV show over the homeless, decided to volunteer instead of going on air. By her side dishing out Christmas dinner was Sam, who noted that it was an interesting place for her to be given her difficult year. And just as they were running out of food, in came the rest of the glee club, with Schue and Emma, bearing a Christmas turkey used as a prop on the show (though Kurt’s on-air joke was that there was no Christmas dinner ready because he forgot to turn on the oven).
The actual performances during the special were a mixed bag as they played up that 50s-60s variety show vibe, with asides to the camera and unflagging merriment. Where was Mike and Tina in the special? Are we to assume their part was the one cut off when they lost the final 10 minutes of the special because the station reached a last-minute agreement with the Yule Log people?
From the beginning of the episode, Rachel had caught a case of Christmas greed, pushing Finn to get her some bling, first as a good luck charm for her NYATA interview, then for the TV performance. She was downright scathing to Finn when instead he’d bought her donations to fatten up an African sou to help feed a family. But after their time at the homeless shelter, Finn gave her a star he’d named after himself “because there’s already a star named Rachel Berry, and she’s right down here on earth. No matter where I am, she’ll know that I’m looking over her. You know, when it’s nighttime.” And he also got her some bling, for which he’d hocked his Letterman jacket on Ebay. But in the end, they returned the earrings he bought her and the ipod she got him, and donated the money to the Salvation Army, joining Rory and Sam ringing bells on the sidewalk and soliciting donations.
NEXT: We grade the performances and run down the notable lines
Sue to Artie, Kurt, and Blaine: “Wheels, Porcelain, Other Gay, the Yuletide is upon us and everyone knows Christmas is a time for forgiveness. So I have decided to forgive you for having no talent and ruining the American songbook one mashup at a time. “
Sue: “Christmas isn’t just a time when Jewish kids get slightly uncomfortable and dwarves get jobs as Santas helpers in demeaning non-union commercials that make them quietly die inside.”
Artie to Sue: “You said you considered homeless people urban campers.”
Sue: “Can I be honest with you Stumbles, Gelfing, and Young Burt Reynolds?”
Sue: “I made plans to shoot reindeer with Sarah Palin but she canceled. Apparently Todd gets fussy when she misses his ballet recitals.”
Finn after Rachel presented him with a list of things she wanted for Christmas: “Oh crap, I’m dating Kim Kardashian.”
Rory right before he sang Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”: “My mom was going to come for the holidays but plane tickets are expensive. So it’s my first Christmas without any family. I’d like to cheer myself up by dedicating this song to them… and to the King.”
Santana after Rory sang: “God, that song was so depressing, I may actually be dead right now.”
Rory: “Brittany and her family are going to see a gay Santa. Something about Santa Fe.”
Don Barowski, station manager, to Artie: “You’re like a modern-day Tiny Tim. Oh, I am sorry. Tiny Tim could walk.”
Artie: “It’s not about your ears, it’s about your song. It makes me want to kill myself.”
Rachel: “I’m sorry, Joni Mitchell is not depressing, she’s emotional.”
Artie: “Sorry, Sam. The phrase is ‘Merry Christmas.’ Not ‘Morose Christmas.'”
Rachel: “Christmas is all about giving and Artie certainly wouldn’t be in the Christmas spirit if he didn’t let me give my talents to the people of Western Ohio. At least the ones who don’t have cable.”
Santana to Sue: “The homeless will be homeless for a while. That’s sort of the problem, isn’t it?”
Kurt introducing Blaine on the special: “This is my, um, best friend and holiday roommate, Blaine Anderson.”
Blaine: “Welcome into our bachelor chalet.”
Kurt: “Jewels and bowties and good friends, truly this is an ideal evening.”
Rachel: “We thought we heard Santa Claus. But with the climate change and end times, we don’t think Santa’s coming to town.”
“All I Want for Christmas is You,” Mariah Carey: It’s still early enough in the Christmas season that I don’t want to rip my ears off to avoid hearing this song, and can appreciate this playful Mercedes-led rendition for what it was: fun. B+
“Blue Christmas,” Elvis: What can you say about this boy’s voice? Rory’s crooning take lacked the King’s gravelly maturity but it was smooth and lovely. B+
“Wish I Had a River,” Joni Mitchell: Rachel definitely hit Joni’s “emotional” tone. B
“Extraordinary Merry Christmas,” Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2:
This original song got to play up Rachel and Darren’s voices and has a high potential for airplay this season. B
“Let it Snow,” Frank Sinatra: Kurt and Blaine did their best Rat Pack-ish rendition of this Christmas classic. A-
“Favorite Things,” Julie Andrews: Nothing can erase the memory of Mrs. Andrews and her crisp enunciation, but Mercedes, Rachel, Kurt and Blaine gave it a wonderful effort. B+
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”: I was almost too mesmerized by Finn and Pucks Luke and Han solo -esque getups. B
“Christmas Wrapping,” The Waitresses: Santana, Brittany and the Cheerios brought out gymnastics ribbons for this take on the bubbly 80s song. B
“Let Them Know It’s Christmastime,” Band Aid: Odd choice for the homeless shelter, but it had just the right amount of schmaltziness for a Christmas episode and it included the whole glee club, so I’ll allow it. B+
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