We begin in the choir room, the former Troubletones having been fully reincorporated back into New Directions just in time for them to decorate the choir room. By "decorate" we mean that Mercedes is stood by the tree singing the standard Mariah, Rachel and Quinn are behind the table of decorations smiling at each other, and Brittana are wrapping each other in the decorations while the rest dance around, leading us into the expected Christmas themed Title Card.
Proper business begins with Rachel offering Finn her Christmas list (Informed Judaism, what's that?) as he apparently is clueless as to what she wants. We cut to the locker room where he laments and the rest of the ND men offer ideas; socks, wok, soil, all winners. Puck says this is why he doesn't date, while Kurt overhears. Cut back to Finn asking if said Hummel spilled; Rachel denies at the same time Kurt walks by and confirms. To calm Finn down, she says he can get away with only buying five if he must. Out of 15. Oy. Of course, the ego is a side effect of self-doubt, as we find out she's a few weeks away from finding out if she's a NYADA finalist, so she needs material possessions to calm herself down. Rachel leaves as Finnegan realizes he's dating a shorter, smaller T&A'd Kim Kardashian. For the record, Dear Lucille would have a better grip on Rachel's moods. Just saying. Cut to the resident Grinch's office, Klaine and Artie assembled. After "forgiving" them for no talent and for her losing the election, Sue reveals that she's going to volunteer at a homeless shelter in memory of Jean, asking ND to join her. Yes, it does appear that she suddenly remembered she had a sister, especially in light of her recent political aspirations, but as we've established, Sue's a Chaotic Neutral for a reason. They agree as we cut back to the choir room where ND assembles and Rory reveals that since plane tickets are expensive, this will be the first Christmas without his family, so he's cheering himself up with the obvious Elvis, a very cheerful song and hell, even ND react as such. Afterwards, as we find out that the ReWalk Artie got last X-Mas broke hence why we didn't see it thereafter, Will, who will have a limited role for obvious reasons, reveals that the local PBS stationnote cancelled the yearly airing of the Yule Log. As we cut to an offended Puck, Will then reveals the station manager wants them to to make a TV Christmas special, and Artie should direct.
He needs time to contemplate selling out as we cut to Rory fumbling with his locker and Sam helping him. As they commiserate over missing their families, Sam wants to show him an "American Christmas", and that's a scene we wish they'd included. We then cut to Artie with the PBS station manager (Ed Bell, is that you?), who naturally says the inadvertantly offensive things. Artie then lays down demands, one of them being Chewbacca note , and the other being it's filmed in black and white. The manager says come in under $800 and you can do what you want. After the break, Rachel flexes pipes on stage while ND watches. Afterwards, we find out that this is song selection for the special, and Artie's not thrilled. He reveals the rest of his vision and it sounds like a throwback to the variety specials of the 60's. Sam tries to remind everyone of the True Meaning of Christmas, but Artie instead says that he'll just rewrite songs to make them happier, so Sam bails on the TV spot. Abrams, you are just a ball of sunshine, aren't you? You're also an idiot. Cut back to Finchel as the ego is out in force. Then to compound, Rachel she asks for an early present. Finn's become a good boy for the duration of Christmas and instead buys her a pig. "I'm vegan, Finn!" It's going to an African family, so it's like a donation present. She's not happy, because he gave her Christmas present to Africans and killed a pig. She tells him if he doesn't want to embarrass himself any more then he should buy her jewellery. If you wanted to make Rachel seem more selfish, you could have presented her as if she were Jewish and expected two presents a day for the eight days leading up to Hanukkah, with a special present on that night oh, wait... And again, Lucy would know how to handle this. Just saying.
Back to the choir room for the gift of a Blainechel duet. Joy. Afterwards, Sue walks in and applauds them for practicing for the homeless shelter, and most of them nearly manage an expression suggesting Oh, Crap!. They've forgotten, and it turns out that the TV recording is the same day... guess what. This is when Quinn decides to jump ship, too - as Dianna is wishing she could with the real TV show. 13 more episodes, girl, then you can make all the lesbian indy films you want. It's obvious ND (besides Sam and Quinn) don't want to waste their vacation being good Christians/people. Why Quinn and Sam? Well, though the logical answer would be that they've both been homeless and know how much it helps and want to give back and are wonderful Christians by nature, the show needs an excuse to Ship Tease them. In case you're forgetting that they're apparently straight. As certain fanbases attested to, we wished they weren't.
After the break, we're in the black. Well, Deliberately Monochrome. We're now in the Show Within a Show that is the Glee Holiday Spectacular. There are songs, non-explicit Star Wars characters - the real Chewbacca is there (as in Peter Mayhew himself), but George Lucas wouldn't give permission even for the likeness of anything else, so Finn and Puck are on thin ice with their costumes. More music, and then Itchy the Elf - Rory, swapping out one small green mythological creature for another - comes to sing a happier "Frosty the Snowman". The songs list will tell you that this didn't happen: he instead reads the Nativity (from the Gospel of Luke).
As that entire sequence took up a whole act, we return from break to living color, as Quinn, Sam, and Sue, are serving homeless people because they couldn't get Chord to record a duet at the time it needed recording. Sam finds out about Lucy's rough patch and Q reveals she's back to normal, having obsessed over what she didn't have and not focusing on what she does. Like Rachel for instance... what? As the food starts to run out, we of course get the Foregone Conclusion that is the guilt-stricken ND having had enough time since they finished recording (they ended 10min early due to last-second yule log negotiations) to get changed, buy presents and food, and arrive at the shelter. Why were they panicking about having to choose? Because drama. Anyway, we cue the Band Aid as we see ND interact with the shelter residence. From there, we start the holiday home stretch with Rachel revealing to Finnegan that she named that shall be slaughtered by Africans "Barbra". Since that would still leave her with no gift, Finn reveals that he named a star after himself, because there's already a star named Rachel. You know, factoring in Finn (and Cory's) death, that's actually sweet. Huh. Anyway, he produces the earrings she wanted, but of course selflessness goes with selfishness, so we cut to Sam and Rory bellringing for the Salvation Army... Wait. The extremist-Christian notoriously-homophobic Salvation Army... well, suspension of disbelief and what not. Anyway, Finchel arrive and Rachel reveals she sold all the expensive presents Finn bought (in a deleted scene, Finn got a major discount jewelery thanks to Santana tagging along and charming the salesmen whilst Finn eyed up engagement rings... wait), and is donating that money. All well and good, but still, Salvation Army? Dear Lucille would like a word with you on that one. Finchel take bells and we're out.
Next Time: Elaborate swimming routines, a Real Housewife joins the madness, and two couples attempt proposals. Guess which one is less evil.
- All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey, performed by Mercedes with New Directions girls
- Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley, performed by Rory
- River by Joni Mitchell, performed by Rachel
- Extraordinary Merry Christmas, Glee original, performed by Rachel and Blaine
- Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt feat. Henri René, performed by Santana*
- Let It Snow by Vaughn Monroe, performed by Kurt and Blaine
- My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music, performed by Rachel, Kurt, Mercedes, and Blaine
- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Bruce Springsteen version, performed by Finn, Puck, and Joe
- Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, performed by Brittany with the Cheerios!
- Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid, performed by New Directions
- But Not Too Gay: Kurt and Blaine refer to each other as holiday room-mates, but Santana and Brittany get to hold hands and snuggle.
- Dawson Casting: The performance of "Santa Baby" by Naya Rivera was definitely not starring a teenager.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The TV spot scenes, designed to emulate The '50s.
- Directed by Cast Member: Matthew Morrison directs, able to because he has a greatly reduced part in this episode.
- In-Universe the glee kids help direct the TV spot they're in.
- "Not Important to This Episode" Camp: Second of seven absences for Glee's resident future offspring.
- Specifically, taking time to spend Christmas with Mama Brittany and the grandparents Pierce. Most supporters of the "Sugar From The Future" theory believe Santana didn't find out until towards the end of Season 3.
- Shout-Out: To Star Wars and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
- True Meaning of Christmas: The moral.