'Glee' Christmas episode recap: 5 stories in search of some holiday cheer

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If you were hoping (like me) that "Glee" would pay homage to the brilliance of "Love, Actually" in its holiday-themed "Glee, Actually," you may have been sorely disappointed. But there were, like in that great Christmas movie, several storylines.

And, like "Love, Actually," not all holiday tales are created equal. Thus, it is time to rank the holiday tales shared in "Glee, Actually."


5. Secret Santa, aka Sue's small heart grew three sizes that day

Of course, "Glee" is pretty much contractually required to end an episode with sweetness and singing. This is, however, unfortunate. The "Secret Santa" story at the end was easily the weakest of the five.

Why? Mostly this is because we've seen it all before.

Sue Sylvester ( Jane Lynch) pulls Millie Rose ( Trisha Rae Stahl) the lunch lady in the faculty Secret Santa activity. After some obligatory meanness and cute scenes with Becky ( Lauren Potter), Sue spies on the Rose ladies in order to get ideas.

We are heart-warmed to the extreme when we learn that Mama Rose and Marley ( Melissa Benoist) can't afford Christmas this year, thanks to Marley's sudden bout of bulimia (Note: Does Marley's expensive treatment mean we don't have to think about this plot anymore? That would be fine.). Then, in case you weren't already sweating from so much burning holiday cheer, Marley sings "The First Noel" to her mother as a present.

It's actually a beautiful and simple rendition of the song. Easily one of the best parts of this segment, maybe even the whole episode.

Anyway, Sue is moved to sell her randomly expensive tree in order to break into the Rose house and provide a criminal Christmas. Mother and daughter are both moved and terrified by this gesture.

Later, the elder Rose tries to return the money, but Sue won't take it, reminding the lunch-lady (and the audience) that she's a single mom too. Instead, Marley "repays" Sue with a fully costumed performance of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in the auditorium.

Awwww... And a bit of a snooze.


4. Kwanukkah, aka all roads lead to Breadstix

Mean football players are taunting Jake ( Jacob Artist) about his mixed ethnicity, but fortunately big bro Puck ( Mark Salling) shows up to support the kid. Also, Puck wants Jake to come out to Los Angeles in a motorcycle sidecar so they can have some Hanukkah bonding.

The boys do this by playing guitars on the Paramount lot with nuns, mobsters and angels(naturally), getting matching Star of David tattoos, and then lounging by a pool. Alas, the pool does not belong to Puck! He just cleans it.

"I didn't think you'd be impressed by my apartment in the Valley filled with IKEA furniture I never figured out how to put together." -- As a Valley resident living in an apartment filled with (perfectly assembled) IKEA furniture, I'm offended.

Anyway, Puck wants Jake to move out west. Jake counters this by suggesting they go back to Lima and share a Breadstix dinner with their mothers. Initially, this isn't a great idea, since women who shared a man rarely get along. But then the family unites in the shared knowledge that the boys' father was an a*s.

Happy Hanukkah, everyone!


3. It's a Wonderful Wheelchair, aka Rory the Christmas Leprechaun

Overall, this was actually a strong (if insane) segment. It just had one problem: the dream sequence came first. As a result, it was hard to believe anything that happened throughout the rest of the hour. Oh well.

After Artie's ( Kevin McHale) wheelchair slips on the ice and gives him a concussion, the boy dreams (in black-and-white) of what life would be like if he had never been paralyzed in that car accident. In this grey, non-wheelchair world:

  • Rory (Damien McGinty) exists as a Christmas leprechaun, guiding Artie to the truth.
  • Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) still has a stutter.
  • Becky is randomly the class slut.
  • New Directions doesn't exist (because Artie is the "glue" that made "glee").
  • Will (Matthew Morrison) is a drunk who doesn't notice that Teri (Jessalyn Gilsig) is passing off a doll as their baby.
  • Finn (Cory Monteith) is a mean football player.
  • In an excellent "It's a Wonderful Life" shout-out, Rachel (Lea Michele) is a timid librarian.
  • Kurt (Chris Colfer) was bullied into academic failure and never met Blaine (Darren Criss).
  • Sue turned the choir room into a craft room.
  • Quinn (Dianna Agron) remained paralyzed and then died.
  • And Artie had to try to rouse his friends by singing and dancing to "Feliz Navidad."

Thank goodness he woke up after that!


2. Kurt's magical Christmas in New York, aka making the duet happen

Sure, it was cheesy. But the Hummels and Blaine are just so darn sweet!

With Rachel about to go on a gay cruise to Paris (or something like that) with her dads, Kurt expects to spend the holiday alone. But then his dad ( Mike O'Malley) shows up with a tree! The holidays are saved!

Or are they? We quickly learn that Burt mostly showed up to tell Kurt he has prostate cancer. Wait, what? Is this supposed to matter? Mr. Hummel thinks it's all OK, but we are TV viewers who assume he'll be dead by spring.

He's OK for now though. Burt also brought his son a special present -- Blaine. The boys share their traditional holiday duet ("White Christmas" while skating) and pledge to be there for each other, no matter what.

Blaine even lets it slip that he wants to go to NYADA next year. Kurt is OK with this. Will the boys get back together soon?


1. The Mayan apocalypse, aka love lasts until the end of time, especially if that's in three days

What can I say? I like stupid blonds who believe that the world is going to end, backing up their convictions with complicated numerology and documentaries with real actors. Just wish I had a Brittany ( Heather Morris) to give me expensive gifts in these final days...

Since Brittany and Sam ( Chord Overstreet) are committed to living life fully before the world ends on December 21, they go all out. After a rousing rendition of "Jingle Bell Rock," Sam proposes!

And then they get married. Seriously. Coach Bieste ( Dot Marie Jones) claims to be ordained by the Mayan Church and gives these two "special" kids a thrill.

Then it's the 22nd, and the world still exists. Sam and Brittany are mildly disappointed. And kind of want out of their marriage. Fortunately (and all you who can't stand the very idea of this couple can breathe a sigh of relief), there is no Mayan Church and no one is married.

But it was funny while it lasted. Why so funny? Mostly because they let Brittany talk a lot:

  • "Acting is a pipe dream for you, and your decision to pursue it as a career is both irresponsible and shocking." (to Tina)
  • "You haven't really made much of an impression on me, and I don't really know what your deal is." (to Joe)
  • "Some people just can't face the fact that this Earth rests on the back of a giant crocodile that's destroyed and recreated every 500 years."

And that's it for another year of "Glee"! But don't worry -- the show will be back in 2013. Unless we all die first.

Photo/Video credit: FOX