'Glee' Recap: 'Glee, Actually'

by Melissa Albert

What do head injuries, holidays and the Mayan apocalypse have in common? They all make you want to SING, of course, in this "Love, Actually"–inspired episode that's no more like "Love, Actually" than any episode of "Glee."

A bump on the head sends Artie into a black-and-white Alterverse, where his legs work fine and his choice of football over glee club means that glee doesn’t exist. Led by Brittany’s leprechaun friend Rory, his Christmas guardian angel, Artie witnesses an alternate timeline in which Becky’s pregnant, Rachel’s a librarian, Finn’s a homophobic jock and Quinn is dead...of a broken heart? That’s where you lost us, "Glee," though it is pretty delightful to see Will Schuester back with his lovely wife, the evil Terry. In a world without glee club, he’s too drunk to notice that her (fake) first-season pregnancy has resulted in her giving birth to a doll.

To prove to everyone how cool a glee club would be, Artie performs a desperate "Feliz Navidad," complete with shawl and maracas. The unimpressed reaction makes him decide to accept his wheelchair as part of his destiny, as long as it means he can have a song in his heart.

Back in the usual timeline, Rachel heads off on a cruise with her dads, while Kurt’s plans for a lonesome Christmas are derailed by the surprise arrival of Papa Hummel. After some Rockettes and hot cocoa, he drops the bomb: He has (early stage) prostate cancer, and wanted to tell Kurt in person. To soften the blow, Mr. Hummel drops a second, gentler bomb: He’s flown Blaine out, too. The boys swoop around Rockefeller Center on skates, singing "I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas," and at the stroke of midnight...they do not kiss. But Blaine does reveal his plans to apply to NYADA. We see glimmers of hope for a Klaine reunion somewhere in the near future...

The original Puckerman’s still lurking around Lima, checking out chicks and working on his screenplay (probably about chicks). For a change of scene, he and his half-bro Jake ride all the way to Hollywood, where they dance through a city of film sets singing “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,” right before getting matching Star of David tattoos. It turns out Puck’s “perfect” Hollywood life is a lot more pool cleaning than it is sexy starlets. He decides to move home to Lima, where the Pucker-men force their moms to finally meet each other at Breadstix. After initial tension, the two bond over what a dirtbag the estranged Mr. Puckerman was. It’s a Hanukkah miracle!

But brace yourself for bad news. Brittany and Sam have run the numbers, and it can no longer be denied: the Mayan apocalypse is totally happening, on December 21! In preparation, they make the most of their final days—forming a terrible club devoted to telling your friends what you really think of them (Brittany), performing “Jingle Bell Rock” with a bunch of disturbing reindeer/cheerleaders (Sam), and drinking tons of soda. Oh, and getting married! With world domination by sea monsters imminent, they ask Coach Beiste to preside at their wedding. "I can’t tell you how excited I am to be your Mayan starwife," Brittany says, though we’re a little disappointed Sam didn’t speak his wedding vows in Klingon. When the newlyweds wake up four days later to find that the world isn’t over, they’re slightly worried about the hasty nuptials. Luckily, Beiste was smart enough to trick them into a fake wedding. And she gives them one more Christmas gift: belief in a new, randomly assigned apocalypse to prepare for. "Glee" is calling it: September 2014, it’s over.

Other signs of the apocalypse: Sue Sylvester’s heart growing three sizes this day! After pulling Marley’s mom’s name in the faculty/staff Secret Santa, she muses, "What do you get for a woman who has already eaten everything?" But after overhearing Marley cry-singing “The First Noel,” and catching wind of their money troubles, Sue brings her signature blend of illegal activity and unexpected niceness to Christmas, breaking into their house to set up a tree, presents and a stocking full of cash. Instead of thanking her with something she might actually enjoy, like a tub of appletini-flavored protein powder, Marley and the club gift her a performance of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”—and it makes even Sue the Grinch smile.

No cliffhangers here, just glee-ful tidings to get us through the long winter hiatus. Happy holidays, gleeks, one and all!

Song of the episode: Who can resist ice-skates, Klaine and “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”? Not even the Grinch, that’s who.

What did you think of last night's "Glee"?