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"Call it a Christmas miracle."

I do not even know which part of this news makes me happiest: Tony-award actress Phyllis Frelich, who is deaf, will guest star as Grissom's mother, a professor at a school for the deaf. In the episode, the team will investigate a murder at Mrs. Grissom's school. Sara and Mrs. Grissom do not get along, and it's partially the fault of Mrs. Grissom's protégé and colleague (Marlee Matlin), who once dated Gil.

Though I thought we as a collective fandom had decided Grissom's mother had passed away offscreen, I think we're all fine with this development, right? On account of how it will give us an excuse to talk about Absent Center Grissom?  Little sad that Mom and Sara do not get along, but that should just mean excellent character development. Also the plot of 1,000 fanfics. Meanwhile, MARLEE MATLIN, whom I love so much that I don't care about her already having a meaty guest star role on NY. That "once dated Gil" part also may or may not be alighting my brain with possibilities. Oh, and setting the murder at a school might even make for an intriguing case. In short, I see no way this can fail. Bring it on, show.

But first I should probably watch the most recent episode.
------
Glee, 2x10, "A Very Glee Christmas"
Epic amazement, sudden new classic, best of season, etc. This doesn't even feel like an episode of the show. I mean, it does in the sense that I am happy to keep all this in canon, but it's a shot of such concentrated enthusiasm and perfection that it feels like it was commissioned as an extracurricular bonus addition to the show, not unlike the "Last Christmas" track last year. Or a UK-style Christmas special, between seasons.  When Ian Brennan hits, he hits.

I went in skeptical. Does the phrase "gaudy, cheap crap" ring any bells? Because that's the grumpy mindset I was in. I was starting to think that episodes 6 and 7 were a fluke, and I was firmly resolved that if I didn't love this one, there would be no benefit of the doubt. But suddenly I realized that everything I saw was making me happy. All the animosity melted away and was replaced with sheer CHRISTMAS SPIRIT!

Table of Contents: Yeah, It's That Long
I. Music & Performances
II. Quarantine (Section o' Suck)
III. Itty Bits of Greatness
IV. Queries
V. Macro
VI. Grand Stuff
VII. Grand Stuff: Ship Discussion
VIII. Even Grander Stuff
IX. Personalized Christmas Presents for RS

I. Music & Performances
First, I need this album right now, because I never think I am a huge fan of Christmas music and then some artist I love makes a Christmas album and I realize, sure I do, I love it a lot in the right voices. And looking at all the tracks, I think listening to the whole thing together would be an exercise in happiness. YouTube is confirming this, so now I'm having an existential crisis over whether I can justify getting three CDs this Christmas.

++The Most Wonderful Day of the Year: Oh, my little choir room of misfit kids. They are so precious with their stolen tree-decoratin' antics & songs of innocence. I recognize the "misfit toys" phrase, but I don't think I know this song at all. It's perfect; I love how it goes from bittersweet & slightly haunting to ADORABLE. Sam and Quinn's lines were especially uplifting; I respectfully request that Quinn take over for Mercedes in the number-of-solos quantity because her voice is a distressingly rare treat and yet every time that light, sweet tone comes out it is so pretty. This whole scene is a little surreal in its perfection. Which makes me a very happy viewer.

[edit: so, listening to the album versions on YouTube, and just as I'm beaming and expecting to hear Quinn's pretty parts, I hear someone else crash-land on the words. Someone else named Chris Colfer. Screw getting the album, perhaps will just snag good episode tracks + God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; omg]

+We Need A Little Christmas: Fun and quick, but I'm busy feeling traumatized and betrayed that this student body is so full of suck that they cannot appreciate a break from class to hear some world-class singers. That said, "You're making me hate Christmas!" was awesome, and "I'd seriously rather be learning" girl is the one I've decided we need to replace Disgusting Girl. I'm sure her complaints were just for show; her pretty crocheted scarf is proof of good taste.

+Merry Christmas, Darling: I know this one only very vaguely, but between Rachel's stage full of light-draped pine trees, her thick curls & adorable red beret, her falling fake snow and her heartfelt emotion, I liked it even if the melody's not the most exciting. The worst thing about this year has been the utter lack of emotional connection with Rachel's leads/solos. Tonight she finally hit one home and broke my heart. Hit two home, actually, but we'll get to that. Right now I have watch this 7 more times and wonder if there's something wrong with me that only like Finn/Rachel when the latter is pouring her heart out in vain, and find her a more compelling character when she's upset.

Baby, It's Cold Outside: I had no initial objection to them singing this together, and then I heard Kurt's part and realized, "You know, you're right, this is a little weird. Go with the girl." I am trying to just appreciate their pair of lovely voices, because it wasn't bad, but I'm not a fan of this song to begin with. Will Blaine ever sing something I enjoy? As to performance, nothing wrong there, but I have more to say about this so my judgments are on hold.

-You're a Mean One, Sue The Grinch: The song seemed unnecessary, and k.d. lang (if episode version is the same as the album) seemed super unnecessary, but it also made me giggle, and it's worth having as background music just because that scene was hysterical. It might actually have been the precise moment I declared this the season best, if they could make me love Sue even in the middle of a full blown Glee-destroying attack of pure evil.

++Last Christmas: SO IMPRESSED they worked this in! I'd become somewhat bored/disenchanted with the track, but the unexpected performance in this episode brought it roaring back with a vengenace. Dare I imagine that they broke Finn and Rachel up JUST so they could pull it out of storage and into a useful context? I don't know. I just think that for all we rag on it, there is a lot of skill that goes into the music half of this show, whether matching songs with contexts or vice versa. Like everything else, I loved this.

++Welcome Christmas: I think I cried a little when I saw them in their matching green scarves, lined up like a proper choir and giving the sort of beautiful chorale performance you rarely find outside of church. ...even if it is from Dr. Seuss. Well, that took a little wind out of my sails. Still. I'm going to pretend it's Latin.

II. Quarantine Section: Infectious Enjoyment-Suckers
-Disgusting Girl trampling her unwelcome presence all over the scenes with my precious Glee babies. Fandom is not living vicariously through her. Remove her at once.

-Goddamn slushies! And I really wanted to appreciate my buddy's "Ho-ho-ho, losers!", too. >.< I'll have to preserve this insult for use at a later time.

-That unsettlingly dark line of Rachel's about how "you don't know how many kittens I've given away because they haven't been just right."  I'm genuinely disturbed and worried about her definition of "given away."

III. Itty Bits of Greatness

+ More than anything else in this episode, I want Christmas-themed earrings (bells, stars, candy canes; Brittany's looked like snowmen but couldn't get a clear shot). I want to hug the wardrobe people for everything, though. It was like a living catalog of picturesque Christmaswear.

This is me being restrained.

+ The band was working overtime at being awesome this week.

+ Quinn's bouncy, curly ponytail!

+ "I want Channing Tatum to stop being in stuff." Preach it, Mike Chang.

+ Will's present ideas for Sue: 1) Dog robot 2) A soul

+ Will's idea of Making a Statement as he storms out of Sue's office is to vindictively...knock the phone off its hook. That'll show her.

+ Quinn spoke 4 words to Artie and I'm already shipping it harder than either of their actual relationships. It's so easy when you give me decent people to work with.

IV. Queries
+ Previouslies: "I'm done with you." I love how they pulled in a clip from sectionals 2009, which I'm pretty sure was directed at Quinn, and played it off as how Finn broke up with Rachel. Do they do that often, use scenes in the wrong context? I always skip this part of episodes...

+ Was it me, or did Mr. Schue's inflection at the end of the first choir room scene sound like lines left over from the song? "The only way we know how!", and "Well, if there are no students in them, how are they going to put money in the collection box while we sing?" seemed so cartoonish that I fully expected him to call them silly-billies after every response.

Can you even sell your hair anymore? I was not aware that was still possible, which is a pity, because I've kinda wanted to do that since I first read Little Women. Growing it out just to cut it off and give it away is madness, but if there was something in it for you, I could probably sacrifice my long locks every now and again.

V. Irresistible Macro Moment


VI. Grand Stuff
+ Kurt was in this episode for literally 5 minutes, and he was not annoying in any of them. Perhaps it is wise to keep him sequestered at Fancy Academy forever after all. I could get used to a Glee like this.

+ Emma was in this episode even less, and most of her time was spent admitting that she and Will don't talk very much lately (fine by me!) and describing the holiday party she and Carl are throwing. You remember Carl, her super-hot and doting husband?  Not only does this episode keep Emma out of sight, it throws you daydream bones to imagine the sort of sweet holidays that are happening off-screen. *has a thought* That sentence had better not be ironic in any way when the show returns.

+ Loved Brittany's childlike faith in Santa, from how the suit alone could fool her to how every single person worked to keep the magic alive for her. Also, the tinkling piano note theme of her belief.

+ Shannon's never going to be a favorite character and I wouldn't mind if we drop-kicked her immediately and brought in a hot football coach like they have down in Dillon, Texas...but I'll be damned if I didn't get choked up during her speech about how Santa didn't give her
quite what she wished for as a little girl, but it eventually turned out OK. Well, OK-ish. The woman I saw a few weeks back seems like she would have happily thrown over professional success for love.

+ Your mission: find out what kind of connections Shannon has to the medical community get that device for Artie. The internet seems enraged because "there's no way she could afford that," even though that fact seems obvious enough, so -- simmer down and use your brains.

+ You notice how Will, after wearing 1,538 festive red/green shirts/vests/ties throughout the episode, winds up in black and white and depressing for the last scene? I didn't until I threw together my collage up there, but think it a clever and symbolic thing.

+ The direction/cinematography was super-pretty this week. I found myself wanting to freeze-frame everything.

+ Roughly everything not mentioned elsewhere

VII. Grand Stuff: Canon Ship Discussion
+ Sam/Quinn: I kind of liked them kissing by the lockers, because it was cute and they are gradually winning me over with their bland complementary prettiness, fitting together like a matched pair of carriage horses. Unfortunately, thanks to episode 6 all I can ever think about is what a horny little bastard he is. Which kills the romantic appeal stone dead.

However, keep him in the background and let me hunt down a few YA novels with central boyfriend plots to cast him in, and see if we can get my brain to come around. Here, self. Look at it and learn to love it.


+ Finn/Rachel: I feel so much for her endless quest to beg Finn's forgiveness, and yet it's so much more satisfying to keep her at arm's length than to let her be happy. I think there's a name for this syndrome. And when he bailed on the tree shopping, claiming "This is wrong"...honey, I have heard "this is wrong" so many times from Life Unexpected in the week surrounding this episode that all it signals to me now is EXCITING SHIPPY TIMES. 

Picture 1: Oh dear, this is so cute I want them back together.
Picture 2: Right -- dumped!Rachel is pretty enough to make up for it.

+ Aw, you're sympathetic too, Finn. "You messed me up, Rachel. Can't you see how screwed up I am about this? I've had two girlfriends and both of them have cheated on me."

+ Artie/Brittany: Still gross. The internet thinks it's because he's too paternal and she's too childlike; I think it's because Brittany is a skank whom I envision crawling with either real disease or symbolic cooties. I love the way he looks out for her -- that's part of why I hate this ship, really; his character can be a little uneven in the romantic department (see: video games > girlfriend), but with her he's been particularly sweet -- and I want all that caring to go somewhere better.

The wish she made for him was sweet too, but I was much more fond of the way Tina went about it, with her misguided internet research. And...I...don't know where I'm going with this since it's in the "good" section, except that if I could somehow purge the knowledge of them sleeping together and she wasn't a cheerleader, I would have more legitimately enjoyed the care he took to preserve her innocence.

+ Kurt/Blaine: Here is the deal -- I want to ship them. I want to think Ryan Murphy is full of it, Idina-Menzel-casting style, when he plays coy and isn't sure if Blaine will wind up being the mysterious boyfriend. I think if anyone could date Kurt and make it watchable, it would be him, so if it's going to happen then I want it to happen this way.

BUUUUT, while they have nice working chemistry, I am having trouble seeing the potential romantic sparks. What I see are cartoon hearts in Kurt's eyes, albeit in a more consciously restrained manner than last time, but still predominantly spelling out "gay savior hero worship." There is a good basis of friendship, but he's too dependent for this to develop yet, in my mind. Meanwhile, Blaine just seems like a nice guy. A guy who likes Kurt and finds him easy to get along with, even cute, but in the way an enthusiastic puppy is cute. Like Kurt's just sort of a sweet kid. Besides, it's a huge responsibility being Kurt's first boyfriend, isn't it -- especially knowing what you do about what he's been through so far? -- and it just doesn't feel like the time for that to click without some giant catalyst. A long time from now.

That said, Blaine showing up with a CD player to randomly "rehearse" a song seems eerily remniscient of Will's preferred way to flirt with similarly inexperienced Emma (except with vastly less disturbing choreography). So maybe I am supposed to read things into it? Mostly I just felt like a determined fanfic writer was hammering Blaine into a predetermined storyline.

VIII. Even Grander Stuff
+ OH THANK GOODNESS, Will saved the girls' hair. Do you realize what this means? He is my Holiday Hero! ...I may have had several small heart attacks when I saw the scissors poised to wreak havoc and devastation, yeah. Bonus, their stupidity re: Gift of the Magi allows him to have a bonus teacher moment, sitting in the middle and giving an (eventually) inspiring pick-me-up.

+ "And then when you get to my age..." you realize you have made a horrible mistake and driven away your other half forever, leaving you lonely and bereft? "You're so desperate to get that magic back, you'd do anything to feel how you did that first Christmas." Close enough. Out of context like that, there's nothing to stop you from pretending that line is about remembering the first Christmas you were in love. You see where I'm going with this.

+ Sue. Rigging Christmas exchanges. Threatening legal action if they attempt to get them back. Failing. Putting on green face paint and dressing Becky up as her henchdog to steal them all back with style! There is not a large enough =D to describe how much I enjoyed that. Do you know, I think I would not hate it if Jane Lynch were to be nominated for an Emmy again? I still don't think she deserved the first win, but Sue is much more palatable and legitimately funny now.

+ Even better was when Sue got all misty-eyed as "Welcome Christmas" (I told you it was powerful and amazing!), had an actual feeling, and restored both the gifts and the choir room to order. And was that enough? No. She reached out to Mortal Frenemy #1 and, in what I believe was an actual if temporary truce, saw to it that he wasn't alone for the holiday. I'm not convinced she didn't pocket a few incriminating things for later nefarious purposes while she was there, but there was some genuine warmth in the last frame there. 

"Merry Christmas, Sue."
"Merry Christmas, Will."

Is that a tear in my eye? You can't prove anything!

(Weirdly, I think I am still okay with them being enemies again come January, but it does my heart a world of good to see them exist for a moment as friends.)

IX. Personalized Christmas Presents (To: RS. From: TPTB)
Universe: Somebody named RS call for every Glee kid to get a hug from the teacher by graduation?
RS: That's the ideal wish, yep.
Universe: Here. For the holidays, you get Kurt's.
RS: =D

Will agrees.

+ I can't actually remember the last time Kurt looked happy to see Mr. Schue. Possibly the latter had ulterior motives for stopping by, like needing Kurt's shopping prowess, but the fact that he came to his school to see him at all made my day (also, the hugging. Greeting hugs happened!). I also love his super awkward, dorky attempt to be supportive and inclusive by asking if Blaine is someone special. And how Kurt is so busy floating on dreams that's apparently fine with being candid and open about it with his teacher, too. "Unfortunately, no...but on the upside, I'm in love with him and he's actually gay."

+ TERRI!  I don't even care if it's a flashback designed solely to show us that Will is terrible at giving gifts, EIGHT BONUS SECONDS OF TERRI! Besides, I'm going to write that claim off kind of like how everyone ignored that Sam apparently didn't know how to tie his shoelaces, and just bask in the sound of my squee. And/or start thinking of ways I can spin this into a positive, like inventing a time Will got it amazingly right and blew her away, or how Terri decided this drastic gift-fail must end, and craftily promised that it wouldn't lessen the effect any if she, say, told him exactly what to buy and he just put it under the tree.

Or! Possibly he got her some particularly hideous ornament early on in their marriage, which she lied and told him she loved, so now every year he gets another one that she has to resign herself to putting on the tree, but which somehow always ends up migrating to the back or hiding deep within the branches (aw, I got carried away and forgot to use past tense). Uh, we could be on this train of thought for a while...look at the pretty picture while you wait.


+ Now I know why I don't want Rachel to be happy -- when she's lonely and unhappy, she does things like invite kindred lonely spirit Mr. Schuester over to her house for Christmas. !!!!!!!!!!  I don't even need this invite to happen, I just adore her talking to her teacher again and actually broaching this wildly inappropriate but innocent and well-intentioned offer.

+ Present #4: A few spare seconds to follow Will home at the end. This is a present all on its own, and then GLEE CLUB. SCHUE'S APARTMENT. GLEE DECORATING/PARTY AT HIS PLACE, MY LIFE IS COMPLETE. The fact that Rachel is the first to come around the corner was just the star atop the tree, as it were.

Conclusion: Yeah. This is joining the ranks of classic Christmas episodes everywhere.

-------------
Just one more thing about Raising Hope -- not only was it my new favorite episode of that show, and not only did it cement my love by closing with the classic BNL/Sarah M. version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," it contained this shot (now with bonus dialogue):


Virginia: [That doll] is stupid. What kind of idiot wants to play with a sick baby?
Burt: What kind of idiot wants to play with any baby?
Jimmy: You see I'm playing with the baby, right?


And aw, look who can't resist one more picture of cuteness. Here is why you should be watching:

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
eleigh
Dec. 16th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
I kind of love Rachel's little plaid dress with the red tights. I'm not sure what this says about me but, man, I really kind of want it.
rainbowstevie
Dec. 17th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
Consider yourself in good company. I think the red tights make this one.
rainbowstevie
Dec. 21st, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
Update: And courtesy of the conveniently spotlighted gleestyle, why look! Only $575.
eleigh
Dec. 21st, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
Well score. If Target ever comes out with a knock-off I'm there.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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