Glee Recap: Merry, With Children [Updated]

Glee got decked out this week in sleigh bells, garland, and a healthy dose of unabashed sentimentality for a Christmas-themed episode that should fulfill two very disparate purposes: Reminding folks of the joys of giving back to the less fortunate, and of course, moving a massive amount of copies of Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2.

“Extraordinary Merry Christmas” was less of a fully formed episode and more a collection of holiday carols that paid homage to A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Star Wars Holiday Special, and The Judy Garland Christmas Show. (Checkout this YouTube clip from the last of those specials to see how lovingly the environment got recreated by Glee‘s set decorators.) Still, what the hour lacked in plot it made up for in festive cheer and good vibrations.

Glee: 5 Questions For First-Time Director Matthew Morrison

Rachel, who last time I checked was Jewish, suddenly began channeling Sally from The Peanuts, giving Finn an insane Christmas list that included spray-tanning treatments, teeth-whitening sessions, and even diamonds, then insisting “All I want is what’s coming to me. All I want is my fair share.”

Meanwhile, New Directions got double-booked for the holidays: The Lima PBS station needed them to put on a Christmas special — directed by Artie for a budget of $800 or less — while Sue needed them to provide entertainment for an evening at the homeless shelter. Sue’s charitable streak was either prompted by the fact that it was her first Christmas without her late sister or by the writers deciding she needed some personality rehabbing via adorable kids in need. (The latter wouldn’t be an unprecedented move: Remember when Sue and Schue volunteered in the children’s cancer ward of their local hospital? Uff da.)

And then there was planning for the Christmas special itself: Artie wanted everything lighthearted and upbeat, but Sam — who just left his family and moved back to Lima to get his glee-club on — opted out of the telecast, insisting that acknowledging sad times is the only way to fully appreciate the happy ones. Sam also became Irish exchange student Rory’s Christmas sponsor following one of the worst lines of dialogue in Glee history: “Brit and her family are going on a trip to see a gay Santa. Something about Santa Fey.”

In the end, though, everyone got a happy ending. Rachel saw the error of her ways, returned the diamond earrings Finn bought her, and donated the money to the Salvation Army. New Directions, inspired by Rory’s improvised Linus impersonation about the true meaning of Christmas, finished their PBS gig and rushed to the homeless shelter for some last-minute (though truncated) caroling. Sam and Quinn (not acting beastly for once) skipped the TV appearance to help Sue at the soup kitchen. And Sam, Rory, Rachel, and Finn ended the episode ringing a Salvation Army bell outside an evening showing of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Anyhow, with the plot recapped, let’s get to the week’s best quotes:

* “I thought we agreed that a ‘Things We Did Wrong This Week’ list was hurting more than helping.” –Finn, as Rachel approached him with an unidentified list

* “You said you consider homeless people urban campers.” –Artie, flummoxed by Sue’s desire to volunteer at the shelter

* “This is my, um, best friend and holiday roommate.” –Kurt, introducing Blaine with a retro wink, as they introduced the PBS special from their “holiday chalet”

* “I think these are the end times.” –Mercedes dropping a hilariously deadpan punch line mid-Christmas special

And now, let’s get on to the grades for this week’s musical numbers (though I’m skipping my usual “relevance to the plot” grade, since there wasn’t much plot of any kind):

“All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Mercedes
A relaxed, restrained Mercedes kicked off the week by trimming the rehearsal-room tree and belting Mariah Carey’s peppy seasonal ditty, though was she delivering it to Sam (note how she wrapped her garland around his neck) or that barely sketched boyfriend of hers, of whom she never speaks?
Musical grade: A-

“Blue Christmas,” Rory
Why was this performance filmed and staged so statically? And why was Rory dressed like a gas station attendant? Somehow, his inclusion felt like Ryan Murphy & Co. woke up and realized they needed to do something (anything, really) with that Glee Project winner before his seven episodes were completed.
Musical grade: C

“River,” Rachel
I didn’t understand the logic of Rachel choosing this wistful ballad just moments after agreeing with Artie that their pageant should be comprised of uptempo, joyous music, but damn if she didn’t sound amazing performing in front of a backdrop of glittering pines and the gentle fall of snow on the McKinley auditorium stage.
Musical grade: A-

“Extraordinary Merry Christmas,” Rachel and Blaine
A fun but slight interlude for Darren Criss and Lea Michele (rocking an a-mah-zing blue dress with white sparkly snowflakes). I have to admit, though, that I kept getting distracted by the way Mike Chang was dressed like Freddy Krueger.
Musical grade: B

“Let It Snow,” Kurt and Blaine
A jazzy, uptempo take on the seasonal classic with gorgeous harmonies and retro dancing. This rivals “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in the Klaine classics department.
Musical grade: A

“My Favorite Things,” Rachel, Mercedes, Kurt, and Blaine
A little Rodgers and Hammerstein is always welcome at any party, no?
Musical grade: B+

“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” Puck and Finn
What did Mark Salling do this season that he always seems to get assigned the least moving/most karaoke productions for his solos? Either way, this Springsteen knockoff was fun, I guess, but not deeply exciting.
Musical grade: B-

“Christmas Wrapping,” Brittany and the Cheerios
Brittany leading a team of sexy Santa’s helpers through a rhythmic gymnastics routine? Yes, please. I was just bummed that the song got cut short before my favorite line: “A&P has provided me with the world’s smallest turkey.”
Musical grade: A-

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” New Directions
I’ll admit I struggled a little bit with the setup — was it really necessary to plunk New Directions into the middle of a homeless shelter filled with adorable moppets? — but they sang the bejeezus out of it nevertheless.
Musical grade: B+

What did you think of “Extraordinary Merry Christmas”? What was your favorite number? Take our poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts. And for all my Glee recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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184 Comments
  1. Violet says:

    I loved My Favorite Things, even though it’s not a Christmas song, it was actually a nice break from the typical holiday songs.
    Did not like how they just seemed to basically ignore the fact that Rachel’s Jewish. Why did she keep going on about Christmas presents? Couldn’t she have at least called them Hanukkah presents? Don’t even get me started on the pig…. The only good part of this episode was Sam and Quinn. Although I wish we’d gotten some Quinn/Puck scenes.

    • AndyLuvr says:

      “My Favorite Things” may be a number from “The Sound of Music” but it has been appropriated by performers as a holiday song. Many artists include it in their Christmas recordings. Personally, I don’t believe it’s a Christmas song either but everyone from “Glee” to Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Stade disagree. I think the song is just a silly pro-materialism song used during the holidays, which was not its intent when seen and heard in context of the musical.

  2. mark says:

    I loved Kurt and Blaine’s moment alone singing Let It Snow together! I think it was probably one of their best duets to date.

    I was really upset that they sung that starving in Africa live aid song to a bunch of homeless Lima folks. That seemed, um, insensitive.

  3. l says:

    so far my least favorite episode. The black & white concept was interesting, however the segment went on WAY to long and back to the 12 songs no storyline again.

    What is with that glee project winner? First time we hear him, he sings that boring, dronie green song, and then blue Christmas? Can he only do depressed and drag on songs??? No more of him solo singing please, he is depressing.

    so much for a nice glee present before the who knows how long hiatus. more like disappointing & boring

  4. Waldo says:

    Oooooh, but he gave her a STAR too. A star named “Finn Hudson.” Which is actually perfect, since no such star exists at the moment.

  5. Lexie says:

    So from the promo it looks like they’re definitely doing a “Summer Lovin” cover with Sam and Mercedes. Anyone else not looking forward to Samcedes? Because I’m not. I actually rolled my eyes when I saw the promo, to be honest. Seems like a lot of contrived stuff coming in the new year. Hopefully some Quick though?

  6. Talia says:

    Completely agree with you Cody. And her denomination doesn’t even matter, there are plenty of Conservative and even some Reform Jews who keep kosher too. The point is, both Glee in general and Finn in particular were being incredibly insensitive. Christmas is NOT a secular holiday, and this is the second time Finn has forgotten Rachel is a vegan. At least this is better than actually tricking her into eating meat. Thanks for sharing my anger.

    • Scott says:

      Wow, what are the odds that a teen boy would be insensitive!

      • Talia says:

        But it’s not presented as insensitive. Finn is always painted as the hero. Notice how Rachel was the one who apologized.

    • Talia says:

      Sorry, my post above this one is supposed to be a reply to Cody on the previous page. (The mobile site doesn’t seem to be letting me reply to posts.)

    • whoknew says:

      Just for information Finn was giving a pig in Rachel’s name to an underpriveledged area for 2 bucks a month to feed the hungry NOT RACHEL. But she took it as insensitive and then he decided to give to his mom instead which Rachel agreed. The part that gets me the most is Rachel being Jewish says she wants five things on the xmas list she made. That she deserves it. She was supposed to redeem herself at the end getting refunds for the earrings and the Ipod she got for Finn. IMO that was superficial.

      • Talia says:

        They could have had him donate a milk goat or cow or laying hens instead. There are programs that donate all sorts of animals. Glee chose a pig. The complete lack of Rachel (and Puck) being Jewish in this episode (and almost always) is what bothered me. If Glee didn’t want Jewish characters, they shouldn’t have written them that way.

        • yep says:

          Agree with you about other donation type gift giving. I know Glee chooses to use parody like Sally from peanuts in Rachel’s comment of deserving them. So not funny. This episode was SO NOT FUNNY.

      • MichelleR says:

        The deserving it quote/wanting her share, was quoting Sally from Peanuts — who is a celebrator of Christmas. :)

  7. catatak says:

    The two seconds of Santa Baby in the promo already better than the episode itself…just sayin. I vote All I want for Christmas or Christmas Wrapping.

  8. Michelle A. says:

    Santa Bab– Oh right, nevermind, it was cut. Ugh.
    Everyone sounded so amazing in “Do They Know It’s Christmas”; I especially loved this one.

  9. Fred says:

    I like glee but this episode was beyond AWEFULL.

  10. sadface says:

    It really *is* that bad. /shudders

  11. ProfKatG says:

    Cannot believe the Klaine gift scene was cut. Ruined the show for me. I thought I must have fallen asleep and missed it. Why would you cut a scene that came out in the previews as a reason to watch the show. I would believe something as important as a ring will be mentioned in later episodes – with no tie in. Unimaginable

  12. What is wrong with you. says:

    One of my faves ever. My love for finchel has just been set in stone. Lea and Cory are fantastic in their scenes together. I could care less about her being Jewish. It is just a freaking show. Enjoy it. Rachel is hilarious and crazy, so is artie. I just loved it, and the star. I almost died. That was THE cutest thing I have ever seen in my life. No joke. So much fun. Lighten up people. It’s Christmas.

    • Cody says:

      If by “cutest” you mean gag-inducing and corny, then I agree. “Finchel” is a horrible couple. And the only reason is that Finn is a douche. Rachel deserves someone better than that.

      • What is wrong with you. says:

        Yep. Cody. Isn’t it great that you have your own opinion, and I have mine. You say she deserves better, and I say she seems extremely happy. To each his own. I agree that he can be a douche, but that is exactly what makes him seem real. They can’t all be a perfect little gary stu like Bland Anderson.

        • Cody says:

          Not a fan of Blaine either. He and Kurt are a very forced couple. But come on, Rachel and Finn will never work out. And being a douche doesn’t make someone real. It just makes them a douche.

          • J Ryan says:

            Bland Anderson? Love it!

            Hopefully when the promise ring is mentioned again will be after graduation when Kurt gives it back because he realizes that a relationship is not going to work when they are in different states and at different stages of life.

  13. EddieZ says:

    I am most disappointed in just one thing. I thought the songs were good, the episode was fine and the B&W bits were cute. What I cannot abide is that 4!! characters rang bells for the Salvation Army.

    One of the greatest things about Glee is the message of inclusion, tolerance and respect for each other. So many episodes have dealt with the gay characters coming out or dealing with prejudice and everyday life (Kurt, Karofsky and Santana). For the producers/writers to allow the characters to shill for the SA is a slap in the face. The Salvation Army discriminates against gays. Period.

    (direct quote from their “Position Statements”): Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.

  14. Mikaela says:

    I may be one of the few but I adored this episode. Don’t They Know it’s Christmas was a great song. I loved the whole 60′s feel for the PBS special. Loved the dance bit during Let It Snow. The choreographer should be applauded for getting Chris Colfer to do more than he normally does. For what it’s worth this week’s Glee had it all.

    • CA says:

      Don’t worry — I suspect ALOT of people liked this episode. I am one of them. For whatever reason, “fans” of Glee like to come here and comment and 9 times out of 10 their comments are negative, usually dealing with something as inane as Finn and Rachel suck as a couple or Glee is too gay-rights, or not enough Santana, or too much Mercedes — or the opposite of everything I just wrote. Nothing that Glee does will ever satisfy many of the regular posters here. I just enjoy the show for what it is — a decent hour of entertainment that can have up and down episodes LIKE EVERY OTHER TV SHOW OUT THERE.

      • Josh says:

        “Fans” of the show are allowed to explain how current episodes are or aren’t matching up to the magic of Season 1, in hopes that someone will see suggestions and use them to improve future episodes. Need to borrow a stepladder to get down off of your high horse?

  15. matthew says:

    I wish they would ve done a HANUKKAH SONG

    Id also like producers to take a listen to Guy Sebastian (Australian Idol winner and current Australian X FActor judge) new song DONT WORRY BE HAPPY. It seems like a perfect song to write into an episode. He wrote it after driving in CA and having someone flip him the bird and its an homage to McFerrin song of the same title but its a pop song about lifes too short – live it to the fullest – and really gonna flip me a bird cuz you think Im not driving fast enough? GET A LIFE

  16. Bad Breaker says:

    It would have been cool to hear (maybe Sam) sing Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas”

  17. thereasonsy says:

    What the HELL? Not even one mention that Puck and Rachel are Jewish? Not even one Rachel looks like Judy Garland joke? Not to mention that they cut Santa Baby? This was a disaster.

    • Siobhan says:

      Didn’t you hear Rachel spout off a “Happy Hanukkah” while she was ringing the bell in the last 10 seconds? I swear it’s like they totally forgot she was was Jewish until the end of filming so Matt Morrison just had her throw that in so they would be covered. I LOVE Glee but it bugs the hell out of me when they can’t even remember their own backstory.

  18. Gabrielle Padgett says:

    Roy Flanigans “I’ll have a blue Christmas” I watched glee project and I love him I am so glad he was one of the people y’all picked :)

  19. Zuppid says:

    Kurt and Blaine were the best thing of the episode.Don’t lie!you all know that.

    And the Acting of Darren,Chris and Lea was brilliant in the B&W scenes!

  20. Nate says:

    Extraordinary merry Christmas or do they know it’s Christmas.

  21. JA says:

    After all of the complaining on this board about Blaine not wearing socks — I can’t beleive no one has mentioned that great shout out to the fans when Blaine agrees with Artie that you can’t go wrong with giving socks as Christmas gift!

  22. Josh says:

    So was “My favorite things.” They sang the same verse twice because there are no others. And frankly, I don’t get why it is even considered a Christmas song.

  23. Paryperson says:

    I thought Blue Christmas was beautiful but I agree about the song choices for Rory. Give him something a bit more upbeat next time. He’s got a nice voice. Heck even a lively traditional Irish folk song would work!

  24. Monkeyrat says:

    And I thought “A Night Of Neglect” was the most soporific episode they’d done… you know something is terribly wrong when you’re more excited during the commercials than the actual episode. Oh well, this is S3 after all. This season is on its way to bring us real gems, and we’re only 9 episodes in! All the awards!

  25. deborah says:

    “Somehow, his inclusion felt like Ryan Murphy & Co. woke up and realized they needed to do something (anything, really) with that Glee Project winner before his seven episodes were completed.”

    It seems like you’ve read my mind!!

  26. T says:

    Should I be depressed that the homeless dress in better clothes than me?

  27. js says:

    Isn’t Rachel Jewish?

  28. Jay says:

    I loved the experimentality of the B&W, but it never gelled. I hate to say it, but one of my least favorite episodes.

  29. Jrs says:

    Personal gripe: since when has My Favorite Things become a Christmas song?

    Other gripe, please get rid of that awful camera hogging face mugging Blaine. Ugh , I have grown to hate him.

  30. Yeps says:

    I loved this episode. I thought it was exactly the way a Christmas episode should be. Corny and cheesy. I don’t really care about Klaine so I could care less about the box. I love Santana, but she has been dominating this season, so I don’t even mind that her song was cut. I actually didn’t mind Rachel and Blaine’s song. I love Finchel, and after last years heartbreaking Christmas they had; I am glad they had a great one. Although Rachel was going crazy, I thought it was hilarious. Lea is seriously funny. She was my favorite part of it, but I thought pretty much everything was really good.

    • Mikaela says:

      The whole point of the Christmas episode was supposed to be campy, cheesey and all around fluff. Glad to see someone else who appreciated the episode for what it was.

  31. Kaibosh says:

    The best Glee holiday musical number? It’s not on the list. The best one is obvious. “Teach Me How to Understand Christmas” by Annie sung to Jeff on last week’s of episode of Community.

  32. Ruby says:

    Mark Salling can make ANY song sound like Karaoke. He’s just a terrible singer.

    “Let it Snow” was WONDERFUL. Darren and Chris always sound fantastic together.

  33. MusicFan says:

    EXACTLY!!

  34. TVGirl says:

    I LOVE every Christmas show, special, movie, all of it. And I absolutely HATED this episode. Wanted to slap Rachel the WHOLE SHOW. Awful awful awful.

  35. marcee says:

    Worst Glee ever.

    • Rinka says:

      Agree completely. It was a hot mess. The black and white “homage” segment was boring and too long. The rest of the episode was just plain boring. Matthew Morrison should keep his day job.

  36. bliss88 says:

    I liked it, I think it was better than last year’s christmas episode. I ship and love Finchel but it’s becoming boring… I don’t know why they try to push them so hard when they have a lot in the store to work with.. like I want to see other storylines like Sam and Mercedes, Brittany and Santana…

    PS: Santa Baby wasn’t even in the episode and trended world wide on Twitter that’s hilarious!!

  37. F says:

    The episode had too much Klaine and Finchel. Where are the adults? I miss seeing Jayma Mays’ face on glee and not just making her clap on the kids’ performances.

  38. Sarah says:

    Klaine killed it!! Let It Snow was amazing…They are so great together. Unhappy their gift giving scene was cut. Hope it’s not due to Sebastion and the fact that Klaine may break up in the next half. I’ll be upset if that happens. I want Blaine to fight for his man. I just don’t understand all the D.Criss hater out there….what are they watching that I am not??? Love him…that is all.

    • J Ryan says:

      Please send Bland back to the Warblers. His sense of “style” is laughable. How dare he once critique Kurt’s style. He is more of a grandstanding performance hog than Rachel ever was. Jesse St. James is 10 times the performer and more interesting than Bland could ever hope to be. I look forward to Kurt’s next boyfriend whether it be Dave or someone new in New York because Kurt is moving on and leaving bow tie boy behind in Lima.

    • Kay says:

      I agree with you, although they don’t break up until Season 4 (hopefully not for long though).

  39. Dom says:

    I do believe “River” is one of my favorite Rachel performances ever. I loved the tone of her voice in this song compared to her usual nasally sound. And I keep waiting for Glee to give Mark Salling a decent song (and a haircut), but I think I may be waiting forever. It was good Christmas fluff.

    • Siobhan says:

      WTF is up with his mohawk?? It’s been bugging the crap out of me all season. I’d rather he go back to the shaved head look from last season and get that rat tail off his head.

  40. gracerealized says:

    I really wish Puck had done Adam Sandler’s Hanukah Song, how great would that have been???

    I was saying to my boyfriend as the epi ended, okay, there are two Jewish people in the show and not even ONE – okay, she just said Happy Hanukah in the last three seconds, but STILL! :)

  41. Volcfom says:

    I’ve never said anything negative about the show on here, but that episode was highly disappointing. Song over substance. The B&W scenes had so much potential(and a lot of good jokes), but it should’ve only lasted one act, not two.
    The song list was also lackluster. I’m a fan of the war-era Christmas classics, and was hoping there would be more.
    Does anyone else think they teased the cut scenes in promos to sell “A Glee Christmas: Extended Edition” DVD?

  42. Elle says:

    Too bad they had it be ‘the Salvation Army’ which is a church (and not very *gay-friendly*) and not a charity…

  43. Addiew says:

    The best line was
    “My brother Seamus gets lost so my dad tied a bell round his neck.”
    Rory could say anything and my teenage girl hormones just make me go a giggly due to his accent

  44. Grace says:

    Oh, it’s so much worse than you can imagine. There’s an entire segment of Chewie’s wookie family calling at each other, with no other interaction, without subtitles. It’s mind-numbing.

  45. Lisa says:

    AAAUUUGGGHHHH! I am SICK of Brad and Ryan playing favorites! Why was Rachel singing a duet with Blaine when we want to see her dueting with Finn and when Blaine had plenty of vocal airtime already? Why does Mercedes have to sing everything when she is a good singer but not a great singer? And My Favorite Things is not meant to be sung by a group of people who don’t do it justice – that song should have been a Rachel solo. Lea is the only one who can sing Julie and Barbra!

    I loved the Finnchel moments, Sam as a Christmas mentor and seeing Brittany lead a song. Artie got on my nerves as did the whole black and white homage thing. Sue and the homeless shelter was a nice idea but fell short on execution. Still sick of Santana too. And why doesn’t get to sing more?

    Ryan and Brad may have their pets but they need to realize the fans may not share the same views and it’s the fans who watch!

  46. ladyhelix says:

    A laugh track? Wow was that jarring

  47. landance says:

    I just hated how everyone was trashing Rory after his song, including this recap. He was singing about his family, a tribute to not being home with them (and he obviously loves them very much) and yet they just ripped him a new one. I hate how New Directions acts like they support one another and then they say things like “It made me want to kill myself.”

    Also, for being so supportive of gay rights and equality, they failed by promoting the Salvation Army. Salvation Army does not recognize gay marriage– it says so on their website. It also seems like they think they can pray the gay away. Way to drop the ball, writers.

  48. Leah says:

    Okay color me confused: how does everybody know that there were supposed to be scenes with Santana singing, Klaine exchanging gifts and Santana helping Finn shop for Rachel? When did I miss this??

  49. Amber says:

    Horrible. Just terrible from start to finish. It was kind of like having the stomach flu, like those few times in your life you feel like you have to barf and have diarrhea at the same time, but it was a little bit worse. It made me feel like that. And it completely ruined Bruce Springsteen and The Waitresses for more. Christmas Wrapping USED to be my favorite pop Christmas song. And I may never be able to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special again without experiencing those stomach flu pangs and remembering this episode. Thank goodness they didn’t go after How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I bet they will wait to ruin that for me next year. Oh wait….I’m suddenly having flashbacks to Sue Sylvester in a Grinch costume with Becky in reindeer antlers…[gasp]. Dam you, Glee! Is no Christmas song or show safe from you?

    In all seriousness, thanks for your condescending preachy show about how Christmas is about giving to others, Glee. I mean, I just had no idea! What kind of person would I be in life without all your messagey episodes, Glee?

    Sorry about the rant, people. I just get really frustrated with this show. It used to be my favorite, I used to root for this show and beg people to watch it. I would cheer for every award it won. I know I can just stop watching it if I want, but I keep hoping the show I used to love is gonna get over its arrogant self and return to being a biting comedy for the underdog in all of us.

  50. AndyLuvr says:

    I enjoyed “Glee’s” sophomore Christmas episode tremendously. It was well done and had a great selection of songs except for that stupid ditty Heather Morris/Brittan S. Pierce “sang.” (HM cannot sing if her life depended on it.)

    Compared to last year’s idiocy of Brittany believing in Santa as the central storyline and Finn and Rachel officially breaking up, this year’s “Glee” Christmas outing is a real winner.