Today we have one of the most memorable performances in Glee history, and one of the most cringe-inducing, ridiculous songs of all time. And it’s a Brittany-centric episode, so get your drinks ready. Speaking of, in honor of the Seussian element to this show, today’s cocktail is The Brittany Lou Who.
The free space is to drink whenever the song is one from a retail shop’s soundtrack. (And let’s all thank the powers that be for not putting in “Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer.”)
Emma sees Will all alone (not on the holidays!) in the teacher’s lounge and strikes up a conversation. She wants to make sure they’re okay, and that he’s not avoiding her. Of course he’s avoiding you, you got married! He plays his part in this awkward dance by assuring her that nope, he’s not upset at all! He just doesn’t want to look at her traitorous, er, he just needs some space. She invites him to a Christmas Eve party that she and Carl are throwing, and if ever there was a situation that could induce suicide… He gives it a pass.
Beiste comes in with a tub of names for Secret Santa. Emma pulls a name out and makes a face. Will pulls a name out and gets Sue. Of course.
Brittany decorates her locker door for the holidays and tells Artie about the time that she left her stocking up all season long and a family of mice moved in. “Their Christmas gift to each other was rabies.” [DRINK] Artie only wants his parents to stop sending him friend requests on Facebook. But.. Brittany wants to know what he asked for from Santa.
“Whaaaa?” Um, it turns out that Brittany still believes in Santa Claus. She’s super worried that he’s not written his letter, because the roads out there are getting treacherous. He needs to get home, write it out, and get that in the mail ASAP. And remember, “even the smallest envelope is heavy for an elf.” [DRINK] Maybe write it on a fortune cookie paper?
It’s time for the most groan-inducing performance of all performances. The Gleeks decorate a Christmas tree (see what happens when the resident atheist bugs out to private school? The Christians make the Jewish kids help trim their trees.) and sing a song that belongs to one of the worst holiday shows ever. (We’ll talk about that in a minute.) They sing “The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year,” from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
One: yeah, yeah, we get it. “We’re all misfits!” But why are they singing it earnestly? This is the one time it would have been funny to have been all ironic about things. But they’re not. They’re saying the “water gun that shoots jelly!” stupid lines earnestly. No. It was dumb in the 60s, it’s dumber now. Two: everyone is so clearly lip syncing, it’s not even funny. Except for how exaggerated Brittany is with her Clyde the Wide-Mouth Frog impression as she mouths along. That’s pretty funny. (But they didn’t mean it to be.)
And Three: the Rudolph special has a terrible message. Terrible. Santa is a complete dick and tells Donner SHAME ON YOU for having a son with a disability. He actually says those words. No one likes Rudolph until his “disability” can be exploited. THEN!! Oh my god, it really is the worst thing ever. Then you have Herbie, the Dentoost (that’s how he’s animated, I laugh every time) is really gay, but evidently they had to make being a dentist the code. So he’s kicked out of elf land. They find a creepy pedophile that licks his tools and gets really into his work, they come across a wild animal and pull all of its teeth out and mutilate it so they can have a safe holiday.
Merry Christmas. Their performance is just overly saccharine and dumb, and the Jewish kids are forced into singing and decorating with them, and blech.
Back to the show. Will comes in wanting to know where on earth this magical tree and all of the trimmings have come from. Stolen from here and there, and because it’s all wonky, it’s just like them, misfits! Ha ha! The stolen and mangled tree reminds them of themselves, stolen and mangled. Or something.
Will shuts that stinking thinking down by reminding them that they shouldn’t steal. Wait, he never mentions that, he says they need to remember what Christmas is all about: being grateful for what you have. Puck says, “I thought that was Thanksgiving?” Finn is just looking for a Christmas miracle here, it’s his favorite holiday.
Mr. Schuester is more interested in keeping himself busy so he doesn’t sit in his grey room looking at a cold fireplace and thinking of all he doesn’t have this year, so he tells them they’re all going caroling! In school! In front of the students that hate them! To raise money for people less fortunate!
They’re going to get killed.
We see everyone in matching burgundy sweaters and pine green scarves singing “We Need A Little Christmas” to a history class, with Mercedes taking the lead. [DRINK] The students hate the Gleeks so much they’d rather be learning that be forced to listen. One kid shouts, “You’re making me hate Christmas!” and a teacher whips off her shoe and flings it at them. They bug out.
Finn tries to keep everyone’s spirits up and to get them to rally. Brittany tells everyone to not worry, because she asked Santa for everyone in Glee to stop being picked on, so hang in there until December 25th, gang. Uh… Artie motions for everyone to take a few steps back, that’s as far as Brittany’s hearing works, I guess. He tells them that she still believes in Santa. Lauren thinks she needs to be told, but Artie convinces them to help him out, help her keep believing in Santa. It’s cute, he thinks, and it makes her happy, so why not?
The Gleeks all go to the mall to sit on Santa’s lap. If Brittany sees all of them doing it, it’ll keep the magic going. Brittany finds a helper and fervently asks, “Can I be honest? I don’t know the difference between an elf and a slave.” [DRINK] Each of them sit on Santa’s lap and ask for things in turn:
Quinn: for you to have a disposable toilet seat cover for your lap, ick.
Mercedes: a pony, a handsome man that is all about Jesus and me, and all the solos ever
Lauren: Puckerman, sweet potato fries, and Puckerman
Santana: Bling. Rings, necklaces, tiaras, make it shiny or don’t waste my time
Sam: chapstick. And third base with Quinn.
It’s Brittany’s turn. Santa is a black man, and as she sits on his knee she marvels at how he’s gotten really tan. [DRINK] “Well, that’s because at the North Pole there’s a hole in the ozone.”
Brittany giggles in awe of her hero. “You’re amazing. I only want one thing: for my boyfriend to be able to walk.”
Artie makes a “cut!” motion at his neck, but Santa slowly says, “…sure.” See? Just like in the Rudolph special: Santa’s a dick.
Rachel sets up a winter wonderland in the auditorium and has Finn meet her. The band is there setting up to play, and the AV club has manufactured snow. She likes to be specific with her gifts. (You have no idea how many kittens she’s thrown away because they weren’t just right.) She gives him the gift of her voice, a song of her choice, sung to him. Uh, thanks? That’s as bad as a gift certificate for a back rub. He sees what she’s trying to do, trying to woo him into forgiving her, but he’s not interested. He’s heard her apologies, but that doesn’t matter. He leaves.
She doesn’t miss the opportunity to perform, though, and she sings the Carpenters’, “Merry Christmas, Darling.” [DRINK] I always wonder if the janitors get pissed at things like this because you know they’re the ones cleaning up in the end. That’s a lot of fake snow every damn where.
Will writes a list of potential gifts for Sue: Dog Robot. A Soul. Protein of the Month Club. Trophies Anonymous. Hmm. He needs help. (This is just an excuse for the show to go to Dalton Academy, and I don’t mind in the slightest.)
Kurt is in the common room studying when Blaine comes over and tells him to take a break. Mostly he wants Kurt to help him practice a song, as Blaine has taken a holiday job at the King’s Island Christmas Spectacular. You don’t have to ask Kurt twice! Kurt muses that it’s too bad the show would never let the two of them sing it together. Um, as two artists. Cough.
They sing the sweetest version of the classic song about date rape ever recorded, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” (Seriously. The song is about a guy forcing a girl to stay in his house and he slips something into her drink.) But this is all about Klaine for me and let’s just be clear: this is the best that Chris Colfer’s voice has sounded yet, hands down. His voice isn’t tight, it isn’t straining, it isn’t nasal, it’s clear and lovely and thank you, Darren Criss for also having a fantastic voice that works beautifully. The register is just perfection for the both of them and I love this version of the song. [DRINK]
Blaine is super flirty in the “practice,” such as when they’re sitting on the edge of a Chesterfield and Kurt slides over, and Blaine keeps sliding closer, chasing him. Kurt stands up and Blaine falls onto the spot where he was just sitting. “How can you do this thing to me?” Again, when they’re standing on opposite sides of a sofa, Kurt’s hands on the back as he leans forward, and Blaine on his knees on the seat – watch closely and you’ll see Blaine glance down and take a lingering look at Kurt’s mouth.
They finish the song, with Blaine offering a spot on the sofa with lovely gentility as they sing the final, “Baby it’s cold outside.” They’re leaning against each other at the shoulder, smile and are nervously awkward and an entire fandom exploded in that moment. It’s adorkably sweet. Blaine pops up, tells Kurt that he’s a better singer than the girl he’s scheduled to perform with, and leaves just as Mr. Schuester comes in. Bah.
Instead of Kurt pushing past his old teacher and offering to give Blaine a lift, he has a forced laugh (as does Mr. Schuester) and it’s all very stagy and the magic is gone. Will does pick up on the energy of the room and asks Kurt if that was someone special. “Yes, he’s the man of my dreams and we’re going to get married on top of a mountain and there will be flutes and violins and garlands of fresh herbs and we’re going to raise a family of singers and form a traveling band and you won’t be invited!”
He tells Will that Blaine is just a friend, but on the upside, Kurt is madly in love with him and Blaine’s gay, so progress of a sort is being made? Will gets to brass tacks: he pulled Sue’s name in Secret Santa and needs help getting her a gift idea. And the scene ends. O…kay.
Will sees Emma in the hallway and tells her that he drew Sue’s name. Wait, what? Emma had Sue. Beiste rounds the corner, angry, because she had Sue. Sue rigged the drawing. In her office she explains to them that she hates Christmas, but loves getting presents. So she did a little switcharoo with the bucket of names under the guise of carrying science books to an exorcist. And if they’d all excuse her, she has presents to unwrap, and if they dare lay a hand on her things, she’ll have them arrested.
It seems she’s won this round. Will backs out of her office, his face filled with anger, and he takes her phone off the hook, holds it out, and drops it. I laugh every time. Especially when Becky snatches it up in a huff, slams it back, and sits on a stool, angry. “At ease, Becky.”
The next day Will has kids haul the gifts out. He did some research with HR, and since Sue lied about things, she doesn’t get to keep anything. All gifts were opened (“and I licked every one of them”) and they can’t be returned, so they’ll be donated to the homeless shelter. Will = 1, Sue = 0. He calls her a Grinch, leaves, and Sue looks at the Santa hat she stole off a student and the wheels in Sue’s head start turning…
Artie and some of the guys tell Beiste their problem with Brittany. They want the coach to dress up as Santa and sneak into Brittany’s house and get her to unwish her dream of Artie walking. He’s talked with Brittany’s parents, and they support this fully. She grudgingly agrees and will think of some way to tell Brit that the technology is a few years off, still.
Sue is at the school after hours applying green makeup a la The Grinch. Becky is dressed as a reindog, waiting to help. k.d.lang’s “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” plays as Sue reenacts the famous scene from Dr. Seuss. She happily smashes gifts, unwraps everything, uses a 9 iron to smash the hell out of the ornaments, cuts the stockings off the piano, and generally wreaks havoc.
But then the simplest Who in Whoville comes in with a present for under the tree, why, it’s Brittany Lou Who! And she asks, “Why? Why are you taking our Christmas tree, Santa, why?” Sue pauses for a minute, but as quick as a flash she thinks up a lie quick and thinks it up fast.
“There’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side! So I’m taking it to my workshop. Then I’ll fix it up there, and I’ll bring it back here.” And Brittany Lou Who shows the gift that she brought for the homeless kids: a doll house, so their toys won’t also be homeless. [DRINK] Sue slips it from Brittany’s hands, gives her a little pat, and then has Becky load it up, they’re heading back to her “workshop.”
(Favorite moment of destruction: she takes a can of black spray paint to the piano keys. Oh, Tinkles, not even you gets out of this unscathed.)
Will comes to class the next day to see everything destroyed, and the kids sitting there, miserable. They all think it was other students, but Will knows in his gut it was Sue. Brittany tells everyone to stop being silly, Santa took everything to be fixed, Will confirms that Santa was a boy, and then guesses maybe it wasn’t Sue after all? Finn tells them to not let it get them down, this is not the worst thing in the world, they’ll find a way to save Christmas.
Rachel agrees and gets Finn to go tree shopping with her. She remembered that Finn likes real trees so she puts a pine car freshener in her pocket. She keeps trying to force herself on him, as if they’re still together, wanting to cuddle his arm because “it’s cold” (“actually, it’s unseasonably warm.”) but to no avail. Finn sends her down one aisle, he’ll go down another, and they start singing one of the few Christmas songs from retail play lists everywhere that I really enjoy, “Last Christmas” by Wham! [DRINK] The others I like are The Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping” and Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis.” Everything from the Muppet Christmas album with John Denver is also a winner, in my book.
Rachel tries to work a kiss in at the end of the song, and tells him it’s time for him to go ahead and forgive her already. Wrong approach. He gives her the brush off and uses this opportunity to officially break up with her and leaves her at the tree lot. Ouch.
In Glee the next day the guys are taking off their watches and the girls are about to cut off their hair a la Gift of the Magi (which is a depressing as hell story, because he’ll never get that watch back! Her hair will grow back, and the tortoise shell combs will be great, but oh, Jim! Your grandfather’s watch….) Will shuts it down, horrified that they were going to go to such extremes, especially since they missed the ultimate message of the story: gift giving is for chumps.
Funny lines: Tina bemoaning how she’s going to look like Jackie Chan with her hair short, and Santana not being bothered since most of her hair is a weave.
Will reminds them that Christmas is about finding people worse off than you and forcing songs on them that demand they smile and be happy and forget their troubles for a day because a magic baby was born in the Middle East. THAT is what Christmas is all about! So let’s go out there and sing songs and make people feel guilty enough to give us money. (Now that’s a holiday message I can get behind!)
Brittany is readying for bed, putting Ken and Grace (an ethnic Barbie) tto bed as well, and Brit whispers to Ken to get a good night’s sleep. “You’re going to need it, Barbie took an early flight from Tampa.” [DRINK] Beiste as Santa Claus shows up at Brittany’s house, shocking her as it’s not Christmas Eve. Santy’s on a dry run, and he wanted to make sure that she really wanted what she asked for. Of course she wants Artie to walk!
Well, that’s going to be a problem, because what Santa wants to give her is patience, like he did a few years ago to a husky girl that asked to not be so different. Beiste tells a very personal story about feeling odd and out of place as a big girl, but as the years went on, and Santa kept giving her patience not a new body, she learned to like herself. “That husky girl learned to put it to good use.”
“Was her name Rikki Lake?” [DRINK.]
Santa Beiste tells her that Santa just can’t give her that, even though Brit wants it so badly. Sorry. Brittany is devastated.
The next day in school she tells Artie that she’s lost the Christmas spirit; if Santa isn’t magic, then she doesn’t want to believe anymore. OH NO! Artie stops Mr. Schuester from talking so he can take Brittany home and help her feel better. He agrees and races off to meet the other kids in the teachers lounge where Finn gives the worst pep talk ever.
He knows they’re terrible students and the teachers hate their lives, and this is a tough time for everyone and – “Just sing, Finn.” The kids start singing the “Da who dores, Fa floo fling flong” song from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and they charm the pants off every teacher in there. Well, they charm the coin purses off them, at least. The magic is weaving its spell over everyone as they rise one by one to drop a few dollars here and there in the buckets.
Sue hears a glorious noise from her office, and she and Becky wander down the halls looking for it and happen on the Gleeks singing and everyone smiling. Sue stands stock still, taking it all in and sweet, sweet Becky says, her voice filled with wonder, “Christmas came anyway, Coach! It’s beautiful.”
Sue stares at the room, and you can see her heart growing three sizes that day by the emotion dancing on her face. “It is,” she softly breathes.
The kids have raised $210 and as they walk into the choir room, they are shocked by what they see: Artie is standing. He’s using a temporary (and incredibly expensive and rare) piece of equipment called a “Rewalk” (invented by a man in Israel) that allows him to stand and move forward. It just showed up at Brittany’s place, and no one knows where it came from. Her parents didn’t buy it.
Brittany is beyond excited, and they’re all amazed by it. (Brittany originally thought it was a Transformer, an Artie-mas Prime.) As Artie takes a few steps forward with the equipment, Quinn says, “It’s a real Christmas miracle,” and the camera moves to the hallway where Coach Beiste looks on, smiling. I love you, Coach Beiste.
Will comes home, grabs a beer, and prairie dogs up from the fridge. He wanders through the house to find Sue in the living room (“Oh, I had a key made ages ago, William”) decorating a tree. Maybe someone felt bad about their behavior, and maybe someone learned a lesson, and maybe that person wants to apologize in a special way. She gives him a present: a pair of hair clippers. “Save us all and shave off that Chia pet.”
She calls the kids to come out of hiding and they laugh joyously, the true meaning of Christmas hanging over them like a magical cloud of sparkles and gifts and things and materialism and banished sorrow, if only for one night. They didn’t want him to be home alone for the holidays. He says to Sue, “I thought you hated Christmas?”
“No, I just hate you.”
Merry GetStuffmas, everyone.
(The big Thriller episode is coming next!)