9:36 pm EST, December 6, 2013

‘Glee’ recap: season 5 episode 8, ‘Previously Unaired Christmas’

Glee manages to give us a holiday episode that somehow makes sense, even though it’s not Christmas in Lima, but  Read our recap of Glee season 5, episode 8 “Previously Unaired Christmas” below!

Given that in the show’s timeline, it is not December, the idea of a Glee season 5 Christmas episode has been the source of confusion for many months. When rumors of Christmas-themed filming began, fans wondered if the show was just going to blatantly ignore its own timeline. Then, the cast and execs started dropping hints about an unaired Christmas episode, which drew more questions. But in the introduction to “Previously Unaired Christmas,” Jane Lynch gives an explanation – as herself, while dropping coal into the stockings of award-show queens like Meryl Streep, Melissa McCarthy and Merrit Wever – that makes everything fall into place. Glee presents a fiction that the original cut of their 2012 season 4 Christmas episode was deemed too controversial by Fox, and that “Glee, Actually” was hastily shot in its place. After a year of fan campaigning, we’re finally being allowed to see the “original” season 4 Christmas episode.

The crew at McKinley have two Christmas projects on their hands – the annual classroom decorating competition – which Tina desperately wants to win, and the creation of a “living nativity scene,” because the school’s plastic display was defaced. The team commit to Tina’s dictator decoration plan for the “green Christmas” theme, but when Blaine earnestly and expectantly starts singing “Joy To The World,” the entire club rounds on him and snaps “SHUT UP, BLAINE.” Ah. It’s going to be that kind of episode. Coach Beiste heads up the organisation of the living nativity, for which Tina, Unique and Marley all want to play the Virgin Mary. Kitty – this is back in time, remember, so Kitty’s still at psychobitch levels – is scathing and disgusted by the whole concept, but Beiste announces auditions will be held for the part.

Santana comes to New York for Christmas, allegedly because she can’t cope with being in Lima right now, because of Brittany. I suppose, logically, this means that Brittany should still be in class at McKinley, but we’ll just say she’s invisible. Santana brings Kurt and Rachel gifts – Kurt’s is an all-expenses “Bachelor Package” trip to Dildo Island, apparently a real place, in order to live it up as a single man. (It is a real place. I looked it up. However, it’s home to a massive archaeological site, not a gay sex paradise.) Rachel comes home and is surprised to find Santana there, but invites her to get in on the job she’s just scored for herself and Kurt – as Christmas elves in a mall.

Tina and Sam are discussing foraging in the woods for Christmas decorations like pine cones when they’re stopped by Becky, who’s taped mistletoe to her hat and demands, in her usual, inappropriately and graphically sexual manner, that they both need to french-kiss her. The pair are taken aback and tell her that she can’t force them to do that, that Sue has made her think that rules don’t apply to her, and Becky demands that if they don’t acquiesce to her request, it’s discrimination against her special-needs situation. Sue overhears this and gently deflects Becky, sending her away and telling Sam and Tina that they’re right in what they said. It seems genuine, but they groan when they realise that Sue is judging the Christmas tree decorating contest and makes it clear that she hopes to mark their efforts dead last.

At the mall, Santa’s Little Helpers are facing difficulties: a mob of impatient children await the arrival of Father Christmas, who shows up drunk. When Kurt, who looks exactly like an Elf on the Shelf, suggests hurrying things along a little, Santa takes offence at being told what to do, and stumbles off to drink more. Rather panicked, the group quickly organizes a performance of “Here Comes Santa Claus,” assisted by the rest of Santa’s Workshop – all the other elves working there are actual little people, making Kurt, Santana and Rachel look rather odd. The crowd are less than impressed and start throwing things at the end of the song.

Later, when Santana’s gone home to take a bath, Kurt and Rachel call her in desperation, because Santa has passed out in his own vomit. Until he can be replaced, they need someone to come play Mrs Claus for the kids. “No, no, you play Mrs Claus, Lady Hummel. You were born to play Mrs Claus. And Mrs Butterworth, and Bea Arthur, and Barbara Bush…” God, this accuracy. Santana does show up to help out, though, and it becomes clear that none of these three have a future with children as they all say terribly inappropriate things to the gathered masses – Kurt out of anxiety, Rachel out of moral superiority, and Santana because she just doesn’t care. The moms aren’t too thrilled with Santana’s sexy Mrs Claus get-up, either, though funnily enough the dads don’t seem to mind.

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Marley asks Kitty if she’d like to do a group audition with all the other girls, to try out for the Virgin Mary. I’m a bit lost in how doing a group audition – by choice – would help people who are competing for the same part, but whatever, Kitty says no. She also says that if she wanted the part, she’d get it, hands down, but that she isn’t interested. The New Directions then decorate the choir room and their tree while singing a rather boring version of “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” featuring way too much Mr Schue. We also see glimpses of other clubs decorating their trees – the football team’s effort, made of recycled cups and mouth guards, and Stoner Brett’s 420 Club, where the “tree” is literally a dope plant. The glee club’s tree is actually quite nice, and when Sue comes in to judge she seems impressed, but she does give the group a skeptical look for their incessant humming of “O Christmas Tree” as she examines it. She quizzes Sam and Tina on the ethics of their tree – the ornaments, the species, and is finally unable to find fault with anything, especially when she sees that Sam has rescued the red tree vole whose habitat was destroyed when they cut down the tree. It’s a hamster in a Santa hat. Okay.

At the auditions for the living nativity, Marley, Unique and Tina do a version of “Mary’s Boy Child” while wearing white leotards and white fur coats, exactly like the reggae-synth steel drum Boney M cover of this song. It’s not clear if it’s intentionally bad or not, but it’s real bad, and Kitty certainly agrees with me, as she walks out. The next day at McKinley, Sue announces that the glee club has won the tree-decorating contest, and the sacred thousand-year-old plastic angel tree topper that Tina was so desperate to get. Becky, horrified that her literally green-colored display didn’t win, and that Sue isn’t spoiling her or giving her special treatment, has a fit of rage that’s audible over the PA system, which puts a slight buzzkill on the glee club’s delight.

The results of the audition are also posted, and Marley gets the part of the Virgin Mary. She’s thrilled, but Kitty snarks at her, which Marley doesn’t understand, as she practically begged Kitty to audition. She realizes that this is actually really important to Kitty – more important to Kitty than it is to herself – as Kitty explains that she’s a Christian, this means something to her, and that she knows’s she’s not a great person – she simply doesn’t believe that she deserves to be her. She compares herself, instead, to Mary Magdalene, who, by the way, was a BAMF, but it seems to be a point of shame for her.

The Christmas Elves are saved by the appearance of a sexy Santa – a youngish dude with his Santa coat open over his washboard abs, who swoops in to save the day and invites himself over to the loft for dinner. He flirts outrageously with all three of them, and Kurt is utterly shameless in his responses – an odd look coming from a rosy-cheeked elf, it must be said. Later, they’re giddily preparing for sexy Santa’s visit to their home when he shows up – still in the costume – with no jacket, just a bare chest and suspenders. He’s impressed by their place, looking around admiringly, and the three totter after him – even Santana is keen, maybe because of the eggnog and cooking sherry.

He tells them about how he does party entertainment, for children and adults, and asks them about themselves. They explain their situation in a way that absolutely makes them sound like they’re all in a polyamorous live-in relationship, and when he learns they were in glee club, he gets the idea to do a song. He pulls out a canister of helium from his party bag, and we are then treated to a drunken, delightful rendition of Alvin and the Chipmunk’s “Christmas Song,” in which Kurt, Santana, Rachel and sexy Santa use each other as playthings, in a way that hints at some sort of orgy. Well then. At least one of the loft residents gets some – after Santana and Rachel have a gurgly conversation about Santana potentially moving to New York, they walk in on Kurt and Santa – who I think is called Cody or something, going at each other tongues first, in a clinch that seems a lot more randy and passionate than anything we’ve ever seen with Blaine. Before anyone starts screaming about Blaine, by the way, remember that in this timeline, they’re broken up, and Kurt is absolutely happy to delight in the advantages of being single. The girls are shocked, Santa invites them to join in, saying he “swings both ways,” and the group continues to, at the very least, drink together.

The girls do wake up the next morning fully clothed – absolutely trashed, but clothed – which is disappointing – but they quickly discover that their entire apartment has been stripped. Not the furniture, but everything small of worth. They also find Kurt, gagged and hogtied by tinsel and Santa’s suspenders, in his underwear. “What happened, are you okay?” Rachel squeals at him. “Rough trade Santa, that’s what happened. We were roleplaying and he wanted me to be is Rudolph, and when I said no, well, he stopped being so jolly.” Just take a moment to fully appreciate that we have now seen Kurt Hummel in this situation, people. He insists that no one ever, ever, find out about it – especially Blaine – and Rachel later tells them that Rough Trade Santa ransacked the Santa’s Village at the mall too, and that they’ve been fired. She has found new Christmas jobs for them, though, on upper-class Fifth Avenue.

Becky, rather defeated, gives Tina and Sam her idea of a loving gift – a box of her old teeth – and expresses her disappointment over not winning the Christmas tree contest, and while setting up the Nativity, Sam tells the group that he and Tina have decided to give the angel tree topper to Becky to cheer her up Marley explains to the others about what Kitty had said. They hatch a plan to force Kitty into playing the Virgin Mary, in the hope that it will make her like herself a bit more, and make her a nicer person in general. They set up a “dress rehearsal” of the nativity, in which Marley appears to have given her role to Unique, and the three girls, dressed as the Supremes with Unique heavily and lumpily pregnant, perform “Love Child” while acting out a ridiculous and politically incorrect birth scene. Kitty looks scandalized throughout the whole thing, as she watches with Schue and Beiste. She looks to them, but they’re in on the plan, so they just give the club encouraging notes. She finally reads them all the riot act and demands that they do it properly, agreeing to play Mary.

The living nativity is finally set up, with everyone in costume – do they have to stand there all day, every day until Christmas? Kitty arrives, pretty and peaceful in her Mary vestments, and when the scene is set up, they begin to sing “Away In A Manger,” a number that’s joined by the NYC crew at their new job, caroling in a department store window.

Glee season 5, episode 8 “Previously Unaired Christmas” was the final Glee episode for 2013 – Happy Holidays! Glee switches to Tuesdays next year, and returns February 25, 2014.

Check out a preview for episode 9 titled “Frenemies”:

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