Glee blog review Season 2 Episode 10 ‘A Very Glee Christmas’: Wreck the halls

As Glee’s second fall season wound down, it sometimes felt like the first. “A Very Glee Christmas” was as relentlessly theme-driven as many year-one shows, when words like “confidence” became awkward mantras in dialogue and messages were hammered home with sledgehammer subtlety.

This time the message was the true meaning of Christmas — not getting gifts, but embracing hope and generosity — as Will and New Directions approached the Yule season with driven if myopic dedication.

As Andy Hardy would say, “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show.” So they’d carol in each class to raise money for underprivileged children — till classmates’ ire and Sue’s Grinch-style antics trashed their dreams (and decorations). But somehow they’d see it through, thanks to Glee’s naive but good-intentioned moral compass, Finn.

Yet Finn became this show’s biggest Grinch of all, callously rebuking Rachel’s conciliatory earnestness and apologetic zeal with uncharacteristic and decidedly uncharitable cruelty. Yes, Finn, she made out with Puck after you had a fight. But she didn’t have sex with him, and you did lie to her — while being her boyfriend — about having sex with Santana after a previous estrangement. Surely if she can live with all that, so can you (and perhaps will, given a momentary hint of thaw at story’s end).

But in truth this episode wasn’t about plot and relationships so much as sheer holiday showmanship in song. And we got a stocking-full of that with several tunes from Glee’s new Christmas album, from the spirited We Need a Little Christmas via Mame to the wintry, not Christmasy, Baby, It’s Cold Outside, a deft duet between Kurt and Blaine at the ever awesome Dalton Academy.

We also heard another of this show’s Season One echoes: Wham!’s Last Christmas, which Glee recorded and released a year ago but never performed on screen then. This version sounded a bit different, but still was a Finn-Rachel showcase as they tried to buy a Yule tree together despite Finn’s stubborn repudiations. (It seems to me he’s punishing Rachel just as much as she punished him. Why don’t they call it even and get over it? After all, it’s Christmas, right?)

One big problem with the Christmas-spirit message was that it never addressed a central problem: What good does it do to preach charity and good will once a year, then return to self-driven and rancorous “normalcy” the rest of the time? By January they’ll be back to getting slushied, vying for solos and changing partners. Oh well.

Yet I still enjoyed this ever-entertaining show, though it was as stunt-driven as any thinly-plotted Rocky Horror or Britney Spears episode, just at the service of a higher cause.

Yes, Glee has found its groove in Season Two, in part by injecting rich new blood (Blaine, Coach Beiste), but also by emphasizing what it does best: making beautiful music. That includes Rachel’s wistful Merry Christmas Darling, a Carpenters chestnut that became a plaintive plea from the heart Finn was breaking. (Loved her “the show must go on” dedication. More than anyone in this cast, that girl’s a pro.)

But for a show so much about generosity, it should be acknowledged that while Rachel and Puck, both Jews, gamely tried to join in the majority’s Christmas spirit, no one else even bothered mentioning Chanukah.

On the up side, especially heartening was one of Sue’s rare flashes of humanity — which mean so much given her usual Scrooge-like steeliness. But  let’s give equal props for generosity to Dot-Marie Jones’ Coch Beiste, the best new character of Season Two. She’s like the spirit of Glee — a lonely, determined, good-hearted outcast — embodied by one person.

And with that, we leave Glee — or it leaves us — for two months. As they say, parting is such sweet sorrow, but in this case it’s more sweet than sorrowful. After all, there’s plenty of Glee to savor till then — or did you not tape or record each show and its music?

Yes, baby — it’s cold outside. But there’s always Glee to warm our hearts.

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