Glee, Actually really had nothing to do with Love, Actually except for Sue mentioning it in the beginning and the multiple story lines. However, Love, Actually takes place entirely chronologically and all the stories intertwine, whereas Glee, Actually had five separate stories. And while some of the characters overlapped, the stories were not intricately intertwined.
This was the third Glee Christmas episode in so many years and though it had moments of goodness, on a whole I’d rank it 3rd place.
Each chunk of story had a song… some were good… some were just kind of there. Obviously one story line was infinitely more important to me than any of the other ones (*cough* Burt, Kurt and Blaine), but I’ll go through all of them for you below.
(Spoilers if you haven’t seen the episode)
Artie – Feliz Navidad
Oh Artie… for the second time in three Christmas episodes, your wheelchair and inability to walk was an issue. His story line opened with a close up on his bruised and bleeding hands and a gash on his face. When Finn stopped to talk to Artie in the hall, he questioned what happened. Turned out the janitor didn’t put salt down on the wheelchair ramp and Artie slipped and fell out of his chair (and was left screaming until someone – a freshman girl – helped him up). Finn looked legitimately concerned (way to go, Finn) and suggested Artie go to the nurse.
The nurse indicated that Artie hit his head hard and should rest until his mom got there. (Um, pretty sure you aren’t supposed to let people who hit their heads fall asleep… but it’s Glee, so we needed a dream sequence where Artie could walk/dance.)
So, Artie falls asleep and wakes up in an alternate reality (it’s Black and White, so we know it’s a dream/It’s a Wonderful Life because the last thing Artie muttered before he passed out was how he wished he was never in the wheelchair…). In this reality, his legs work just fine, he doesn’t wear glasses or dorky sweaters, and he’s on the football team. (He was on the football team last season, so this isn’t a huge stretch.) However, in this reality, there is no glee club. And Artie isn’t friends with Tina. She’s the first person he runs into and he tries to get her excited that he can walk, but all she can do is stutter and shy away.
Artie is tres confused about what’s going on, but luckily Clarence, I mean Rory (remember the Irish kid from last season? Yeah, I forgot about him too…) was there to inform him how much Artie being in the wheelchair was really for the greater good of everybody.
See, if Artie wasn’t in a wheelchair, all the jocks would still mean and shove Kurt into lockers. Yeah, Kurt’s still at McKinley in this world… he got held back a year because he was terrified of all the bullying and couldn’t catch up with home school. When Artie asks Kurt how Blaine is taking that, Kurt says wide-eyed, “Who’s Blaine?” What a horrible alternate universe if Klaine never happened. (Apparently Puck and Finn got held back too, as they, along with Jake and Ryder were the ones shoving Kurt into lockers… ).
Will and Terri are still together in this AU, and they have a baby (well, a baby doll… Will is too drunk to notice his cray cray wife faked her pregnancy). Emma married Coach Tanaka (nice call back from S1) and Rachel Berry is the school’s librarian. She never made it to NYADA, but she’s still performing in the community theater production of The Music Man. But no, she’s not Marian the Librarian because that’s the lead. (Maybe this AU isn’t so bad… just kidding it is. There’s no Blaine.)
Rory tells Artie that in this AU, Artie was too busy playing football to be in Glee. So, since there is no Glee (Club), there’s no glee. Period. According to Rory, Artie was the glue that held the glee club together.
Speaking of glue – Artie gathers the glee kids past and present (in actual Glee reality) in the choir room… excuse me, Sue’s craft room, to tell them about glee club. It was mildly amusing to watch the normally-enthusiastic glee kids (Kurt, Rachel) watch in fear as Artie burst into a stereotypical version of Feliz Navidad. (He put on a pancho and had maracas at one point). So, AU-attractive Artie sang and danced and when he was done, Finn remarked, “That was so gay.” (I wonder if AU Finn and Kurt are step brothers? That was not addressed…).
The most off-color (no pun intended for a B&W sequence…) moment was when Artie came across an empty wheelchair in the hallway. It wasn’t his; it was Quinn’s. Quinn never walked again after her car accident. (As horrible as it was, my favorite line in this whole bit was when Rory said, “Quinn texts and drives in every timeline, Artie.”) She might not have died in the accident, but she died of a broken heart. (Way to lay it on thick, Clarence. I mean, Rory.) So, Artie does everyone a solid and sits down in the empty wheelchair and wakes up from his dream back in the nurse’s office (wearing his tacky sweater, thankfully).
The lesson from this chuck of show was that the chair made Artie who he is, and though it sucks and he sometimes needs a little help, his life (and glee club) could have been a lot worse off.
Kurt and Blaine (and Burt, but he doesn’t sing) – White Christmas
Rachel is getting ready to head back to Ohio to go on the Rosie O’Donnell cruise with her dads. Kurt isn’t going back to Ohio for the holidays because his family will be visiting Carole’s family in Zanesville. He talked to Blaine and he understood that for monetary reasons, Kurt wouldn’t be going back to OH so he could save money for NYADA (so much for their plans of having a serious heart-to-heart about the status of their friendship/relationship).
Never fear, though, Burt Hummel is here! In NYC! With a tree for Kurt. I beamed watching Kurt be so utterly surprised and happy to see his dad. They are the most adorable father/son team in the history of television.
Burt helps them set up the tree in the apartment and it’s adorable. Burt said that Kurt’s mom used to buy the tree. After she died, Burt forgot to get a tree the first Christmas he and his son were alone, and he didn’t remember until he saw Kurt hanging an ornament from his window. (My heart = broken at this point.) They reminisce as Kurt hangs some ornaments (one build his mom’s perfume bottle… that is so sad and touching and thoughtful), and then Burt gives Rachel and Kurt a present – their very own apple ornament to commemorate their first Christmas in NYC. (Aw, Burt.)
Rachel leaves (woot) and Kurt and Burt walk around town. They went to see a show at Radio City and then decided to do their tradition of going out for hot chocolate. While out, Burt does not beat around the bush and flat-out tells his son in so many words that he has prostate cancer. (Cue me yelling “NOOOOOOOOOOO” at my television.) However, it was caught early and it’s treatable/beatable. Kurt instantly thinks it’s a death sentence, though, and visibly gets upset about his dad not going to be there when he finally makes it.
Burt claps his son on the back and promises that he’ll be there for Kurt. I hope this is a promise the writers of Glee can/will keep.
(side note – Ryan Murphy has often said that Kurt is similar to himself growing up. Well, Ryan’s dad also had prostate cancer, but sadly passed away two years after his diagnosis. Though cancer is a horrible thing that countless people have to experience in reality, haven’t [fictional] Burt and Kurt Hummel been through enough? Like, Kurt’s mom died, Burt already had a heart attack and Kurt got bullied and cheated on. I thought Kurt was supposed to get some happy plot lines at some point?)
The Hummels have a nice moment when Burt tells his son that he should hold the people he loves close no matter what. (We, the audience, know he is talking about Blaine. Deep down, Kurt probably knows that too.)
Back at Kurt’s apartment, they try to focus on happy things like their Hummel traditions. They remark how they like exchanging one gift on Christmas Eve. Kurt gives his dad a NYADA hat, which he promptly and proudly puts on. Burt tells Kurt that his gift is too big to fit under the tree, so he hands Kurt an address and tells him to find his gift there and if he doesn’t like it, he can return it.
So, Kurt goes to the address – Bryant Park – and we hear a very familiar voice call out, “Package for Kurt Hummel! Surprise!” And it’s Blaine (on ice) and Kurt is surprised to see him. Blaine rambles on how Burt called him out of the blue and flew him out so he could see that surprised look on his face. Blaine then asks (jokingly, but almost desperately), “You are happy to see me, right?” Kurt, a little stunned still, said, “Yes. Yes. Always.” Blaine then quickly admitted that Burt told him everything and that he (Blaine) promises to keep an eye on him (Burt). That’s gotta make Kurt feel a tiny bit better knowing he has someone looking in on his dad when he himself can’t be there.
The boys are reunited for their own Christmas tradition – a (flirty) duet. They sing “White Christmas” as they (and other patrons) skate about the rink at Bryant Park. Burt (representing the whole of the Klaine fandom) smiles as he watches his boys skate. (Yes, *his* boys.) It *is* a flirty duet and you can see Kurt warming up to Blaine by the end of the song. And for a fraction of a second, you think maybe they’ll get just a little bit closer, but then Blaine skates off.
After their ice capades, the boys down some hot cocoa and have a brief, albeit needed chat. Blaine told Kurt that no matter what, no matter where they are, regardless if they were together, that they’re always going to be there for each other. Kurt agreed and they hugged. They are nowhere near ready to get back together (if that’s where they are headed… and I’m pretty sure it is, but they need space still.), but things are slowly, but surely getting better.
Much, much later in the episode, we come back to find Kurt, Burt and Blaine sitting on the couch watching basketball. All three men are fidgety and Kurt finally breaks and grabs an issue of Vogue. Burt and Blaine react accordingly because they had a bet going of when Kurt would give up on the game. Blaine lost (to which Burt said, “Pay up, Anderson. You may have dated my son, but I raised him.”) and it’s a cute, familial moment among three men who all have very different relationships with each other.
Burt asks Blaine what his plans for the future are and Blaine says he’s thinking of applying for NYADA. This is news to Kurt, but Blaine’s putting the information out there to test the waters. Kurt is shocked, but says, “I think that’d be great.” To which Blaine replies, “Me too.”
Then, later during the group song of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Blaine is helping Kurt set the table and prepare for Christmas dinner. He is giving Kurt the biggest heart eyes known to mankind and it’s painfully obvious that Blaine has romantic feelings for Kurt. But, he knows better than to act on them…
I recently rewatched most of Season 2 and it’s a kick comparing S2 Platonic Klaine to S4 Platonic Klaine. S2 Platonic Klaine Blaine was super handsy. He was always touching Kurt; on his knee, on his shoulders, on his back. S2 Platonic Klaine Blaine might not have had heart eyes for Kurt until Episode 16, but he expressed himself and their friendship via touch. S4 Platonic Klaine Blaine knows not to touch Kurt because he doesn’t have that right/privilege anymore. He messed up and he’s paying the price. He must know that he’s lucky Kurt is even speaking to him, let alone being able to be in his presence, so he’s treading lightly. It’s almost like watching an episode of Pushing Daisies, where Blaine is Ned and Kurt is Chuck. The sexual tension is there, but they literally can’t touch because it’ll ruin everything.
The ball is completely in Kurt’s court, but he’s not ready to play yet. He can’t – there is physically too much happening in his life right now. I read some comments how Kurt was cold and distant in the episode. No shit, Sherlock. He’s going through more emotions and having more feels than he can probably comprehend. He got his heart stomped on by his ex-boyfriend (low), he finally got into the performing school he wanted to go to (high), his dad surprised him (high), his dad has cancer (low), his dad flew his ex-boyfriend to surprise him (high and low)…
It would be so easy for Kurt just to allow himself to fall back into Blaine’s arms. Remember, it used to be Kurt that had Blaine up on a pedestal (S2 Platonic Klaine). Kurt used to have heart eyes for Blaine (not as prominent ones as Blaine seems to whip out at the drop of a dime), but that was then and this is now. Kurt’s heart eyes are gone. The pedestal was shattered long ago. Klaine was a fairly balanced ‘ship for the latter half of Season 2 and the beginning half of Season 3, but then it began to tip. It flat-out sank during TBU this season, but somehow both boys managed to grab onto something. Both boys fit on the friggin’ door and no one has to completely sink into the icy abyss.
But Kurt shouldn’t want to get back with Blaine right now. He hasn’t forgiven him and rightly so. What Blaine did was bad. (Not to say that Kurt was 100% flaw-free in their relationship, because he wasn’t there for Blaine at times… both boys need help with their communication.) But Kurt needs to decide for himself if he wants to get back with Blaine as boyfriends, or if them just being friends will have to be enough.
So, while I swooned a bit at Blaine’s longing looks of affection toward Kurt (Darren Criss has excellent heart eyes… this is factual information), I wasn’t falling for it either. I haven’t forgiven Blaine yet either. But, I think I’m ready to hear him out.
(That’s a lie – I’ve been ready to hear him out. And I think Kurt is almost there too. The writers need to do these characters and the audience a solid and have Kurt and Blaine have a serious, emotional conversation about their relationship. This is a plot line that too many people have to face in real life and it’s important to address it head-on and not just brush it under the rug and have Klaine be back together just ‘cuz. I think Not-Paul will help get this conversation started… I’m so looking to Not-Paul. He will be the most unwelcome-welcome character w/regard to our boys. Kurt’s never been with anyone else in any way. I’m not saying I want him and Not-Paul to get it on, but I think Kurt needs to emotionally experience someone else who isn’t Blaine in order to realize that maybe even though Blaine did a bad, thing, he’s still his soul mate. Nobody is perfect. And some mistakes are way worse than others. But Klaine is endgame. And I’m okay with waiting this separation out for them to get back together in a realistic fashion (well, realistic by Glee-standards I guess.)
Puck and Jake – Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah
I love Puck and can sort of tolerate Jake, but I was not feeling it during this episode.
The jocks are still picking on Jake for being mixed raced (this frustrates me to no end and I’m about as white as you can get) and ask him if he’s celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanza. Puck’s still in Lima and helps his brother fend off the jocks. He says he’s doing research for a screenplay – a sci-fi piece with a high school element. Puck’s really just worried about Jake and wants to mentor him, so they hop on Puck’s motorcycle (Jake rides in the sidecar) and they motor it all the way to Cali.
The Puckerman boys end up on the Paramount back lot (conveniently where Glee is filmed… ugh) and Puck steals some guitars and the two boys serenade whomever they come across with “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah.” They finish the song off by getting matching Star of David tattoos.
Okay, so I’m only ¼ Jewish, but I was not enjoying the musical shenanigans of the Puckerman boys. I thought this song choice was fine, but they way in which it was presented was a farce.
And that is seriously all I’m going to say about this because I literally just shook my head the whole time.
Afterward, the boys are lounging poolside at one of Puck’s clients houses (they get caught). Puck lied to Jake about how he was doing in LA. He’s struggling and was too embarrassed to bring his brother back to his own place because it’s filled with IKEA furniture that he doesn’t know how to put together. Jake lied to his mom and told her he was vacationing with Ryder (awww… those guys are legit friends).
Jake invites Puck back to Lima for the holidays. Their moms don’t know each other (and therefore don’t like each other). They end up having an awkward family dinner (sans Puck’s sister) at Breadstix. Puck and Jake agree that their dad ran out on all of them, which allows both their moms to be on common ground (as Jake’s mom was unaware of Puck’s mom/family). So, the four jilted Puckermans all raise their glasses and toast each other.
Later in the episode, Jake and Puck talk together while their mom’s chat. Puck reveals he’ll be moving back to Lima. (I’m happy about this, as I like Puck and hope he’ll befriend Blaine again.)
Sam and Brittany – Jingle Bell Rock
So, the Mayan Apocalypse is upon us and Brittany and Sam believe this is going down, hard core. Brittany goes so far as to cash in all her savings bonds and whatnot and buy her friends lavish gifts. Sam believes in the Apocalypse too. I appreciated his enthusiasm and his chalkboards full of reasons as to why this event was legitimately going to happen. (FACT!)
These two crazy kids (seriously – how did they make it this far in life?) gather their friends to tell each other how they feel. Brit tells Tina that she should not pursue acting and ten says to Joe that she doesn’t know much about him. (At least she called him a him… all last season she referred to him as “her”).
The glee kids walk out on Sam and Brittany, leaving them in the library where Sam sings a rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” with the Cheerios (sans Brittany and Blaine… are they really going to be Cheerios the rest of the season?). While I enjoy Sam and his body rolls, my only notes during this performance was “Sam looks like Macaulay Culkin, but dances like Zefron in HSM2/Hairspray.”
Sam and Brit decide to get married, so Coach Bieste marries them in the locker room on December 18th.
Cut to 4 days later (and 1 day past the Apocalypse) and Sam and Brit are still alive… and married.
Fear not, they aren’t really married. Bieste is not ordained and as whimsical as she is at times, she is smart enough to know these two should not be married. So, she weaves them a semi-elaborate tale about how Indiana Jones discovered that the actual Apocalypse has been moved to September 2014. They both buy this, even though Sam should be fully aware of who Indiana Jones is (I mean, he does a Connery impression… you can’t do a proper Connery impression without acknowledging his role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Duh.).
Marley – The First Noel
The Rose family’s story starts with Sue and Coach Bieste in the teacher’s lounge. It’s time to draw names for the Faculty and Staff Secret Santa and Sue pulls Millie Rose (Marley’s mom/the lunch lady).
Cut to Sue and Becky in Sue’s office. Becky, who is rivaling Kitty and Sue as meanest character on this silly show, opens a Benetton sweater from Sue and promptly throws it on the floor in disgust. (Well, then…). Sue ponders what to get Millie for Christmas and muses, “What do you get the woman who’s eaten everything?” (Rude.)
Sue overhears/witnesses Marley and her mom in the kitchen. Millie is telling her daughter than they won’t be buying each other presents this year because all their money needs to go toward therapy/help for Marley’s eating disorder (Bless you, Millie.). Sue loves Marley (she literally cannot even force herself to say anything bad about the pretty, talented girl) and her heart melts a bit as she watches Marley sing “The First Noel” for her mom. Millie tears up and says that’s the best Christmas present she could ever get. (Aw, Marley’s mom!)
In the choir room (which is still the Cheerio’s rehearsal space), Sue decides that she and Becky will sell their old, fancy tree and give the money to an important cause this Christmas.
So, on Christmas morning, Marley and her mom find their house has been broken into and they have a tree complete with presents (Becky’s sweater and the rest of the gifts she hated) and a stocking full of money. They hug and it’s a Christmas miracle, but admitted they should probably call the cops.
Later in the episode, Millie tries to return the money to Sue. Sue gives it right back to her and says that as single moms, they need to look out for their kids. Sue genuinely wants Marley to get better, so Millie takes the money back. Millie then invites Sue to the auditorium where the kids are dressed in white/off-white winter garb and it’s snowing and the stage looks gorgeous. Marley and company sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and they are juxtaposed with the Puckermans/Sam & Brit singing at Breadstix and Klaine singing in NYC.
The Klaine part (which I touched on earlier) was extra emotional because there were just so many things left unsaid. Kurt’s got a whole mess of stuff to deal with/think through. Blaine loves Kurt and Burt… it’s adorable the way Blaine pulled out Burt’s chair, but made you wonder why Blaine wasn’t in Ohio with his own family. (We still don’t really know his family situation, but it would appear that he and Mr. Hummel are pretty buddy-buddy, which is super sweet and extremely heart-breaking at the same time.)
And so the episode ended on a heartfelt note and a wistful song. We won’t get new Glee until January, but in the meantime, I’m sure we can speculate what’s going to happen at the Sadie Hawkins Dance (4×11) and why everyone is Naked (4×12).
I was thankful for minimal Rachel and Kitty… I was thankful for no Finchel… and I was thankful for the Burt and Klaine scenes. I was underwhelmed by a majority of the episode, but somehow still have a shred of hope that the latter half of the season can work its way out of the rut the show has been in so far this year.
In other news,