When you’re planning a holiday special, it should go without saying that there should be a fair amount of warm fuzzies throughout the hour. But since when has Glee ever played by the rules of television? After last year’s Star Wars-infused debacle that many ranked among their least-liked episodes, this year’s yuletide offering went in a different – and surprisingly sometimes dour – direction. You’ve got a (fake) Quinn death, cancer bombshell, and not even one romantic reunion. And this was billed as an episode based on Love, Actually, the single greatest Christmas movie of the last decade (and no, I didn’t forget about Elf.)
“Glee, Actually” kicked off with a Sue Sylvester voiceover, talking about the traditional holiday special: “It’s where several separate storylines are sandwiched together between commercial breaks and then tied together at the end with a beautiful bow. Like that movie Love, Actually, which I don’t think anyone really cares for.” Putting aside the blasphemous end to Sue’s statement, the vignette idea carried us through last night, with several separate storylines going on, each one told in full, one right after the other, with, naturally, various degrees of believability (Puck!) and emotional resonance (Burt!).
The beginning showed us that it was A Wonderful Life, indeed, for Artie. He fell on the ice going to school and Finn took him to the nurse’s office, where Artie was embarrassed about needing help because of his wheelchair. “I just wish I was never in that dumb chair,” he said. Be careful what you wish for… he woke up to a black-and-white Artie-ful Life alongside Christmas Guardian Angel Rory! I definitely never thought we would see Rory again. We all knew where this plotline was going, but some of the revelations getting us there were pretty dark. “Merry Christmas, stud,” Becky declared. “Wanna fool around? I can’t get pregnant.” Kurt was still bullied; Finn still a jerk jock; Rachel never went to NYC and Blaine didn’t even exist to the McKinley kids (Can you even imagine!?).
Most hilariously, Schu was a drunk Spanish teacher without a Glee club to obsess over, and Terry (with a baby doll baby!) was still around. As a reminder to those who like to chat about how much of a quality decline Glee has seen recently, this was a fun flashback to how wildly up and down this show has always been: Remember, the show seemed to declare, that time Terry just faked a pregnancy for a while? The most unfortunate truth bomb of all was the fact that in this reality, Quinn was dead. “She texts and drives in every timeline,” Rory explained. PSA once again!
NEXT: Kurt gets a surprise visitor