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Hold on to Sixteen & Extraordinary Merry Christmas
mjacton
Spoiler Alert!

ince I was unable to write my regular gleeviews for these two episodes on time, I'm writing my general thoughts for both here.

Quinn
I'm very glad to see Quinn getting some tough love from people and actually listening, at least temporarily.  We'll see how long it lasts.  Some people might think her turnaround is sudden, but I don't think it's that drastic.  She's gone through periods of less crazy before.  I think she's still going to make mistakes, but hopefully they won't be as disastrous as they have been up to now.

I was very happy when she mentioned applying to the Yale drama program.  I was afraid she might take Puck's suggestion and go to Florida, California, or Canada or just stay in Lima.  I think she's much better off being close to New York, where Rachel, Kurt, and probably a few of her other friends will be.  She will need a support system.  She was never destined to be a Lima Loser, but she had and still has a lot holding her back.  I have more to say about the official establishment of her friendship with Rachel later.

Sam
To be honest, I was not unhappy when Chord Overstreet (Sam) decided not to accept a smaller role and leave the show instead.  So, I was a little skeptical (though not really surprised) when I heard he would be returning after all.  I'm actually pleasantly surprised by his character's development just in these last two episodes.  I like the idea of his pursuit of Mercedes.  It is an interesting pairing to say the least, and much more so than Sam and Quinn.  But, I also like the Sam/Quinn friendship more than their so-called romance.  That made me a little nauseated, but their friendship is nice and hopefully helpful to both.  Plus, I do think they sound pretty close to spectacular when they sing together.

Rachel/Finn
As sickeningly sweet as Rachel and Finn were in the Christmas episode, there were still hints of how temporary this relationship actually seems right now.  As much as Rachel speaks of love between them, I know that she's much more emotionally and mentally invested in going to New York and NYADA.  She pointedly talked in "The First Time" about being happy with Finn for the next four months, and Finn seems to be resigned to at least a long-distance relationship after that as well.  The only time she ever talked about a future with Finn was in "Grilled Cheesus," and that was early when everything was new.  It was more of a test than anything (somebody pointed that out to me, and it seems obvious now).

The message behind hIs gift of a star named "Finn Hudson" that will watch over Rachel when they're apart is pretty clear.  I think he's more invested in the relationship than she is, but he also seems decidedly not headed to New York (he is a Lima Loser, though that's not necessarily a bad thing) after high school graduation.  For me, this is all good news, and I hope they don't try to "make it work" more than they should.

Rachel/Quinn
I know these two characters are seen by many fans as rivals for the affections of certain boys and on complete opposite ends of the social scale, but if you look a little deeper you'll see that really this friendship was all but inevitable.  The aforementioned rivalry has put them at odds with each other in the past but has also kept them in each other's sights.  There's some apt metaphor, like magnets, or planets orbiting, or something, but I'm not sure what the most fitting would be.  I just think there are many reasons for them to be friends.

They're both strong personalities.  They're both flawed.  They both obviously care and inwardly admire each other.  Just watch their shared scenes; when they're not yelling at each other they do things for each other and say things to each other that neither would say to anyone else.  They openly admire each other's talent.  And, let's not forget their chemistry.  Obviously, the close relationship between the actors contributes to this, but it also makes the characters' interactions sizzle and sparkle.  It's an amazing thing to watch, and hopefully there will be much more of it before the end of the season.

The Glee Holiday Spectacular
This was, in my opinion, a weirdly wonderful concept.  It might have gone on a little too long, but I don't think so.  The mix of '50s/early '60s decor, black-and-white, set in the present allowed for some very good satire.  Clearly the message was that as much as conservative America would like to continue to ignore, deny and pretend it isn't true, the "Leave it to Beaver' image of life isn't normal.  The acting, especially from Lea Michele, was amazing.  It was so over-the-top, I thought it would get to be too much, but it never did.  It wasn't exactly "roll-on-the-floor" hilarious, but it was definitely funny in the way it was supposed to be I think.

To top it all off, as part of the story of the episode, it turned out to be something that the New Directions participants should not have been doing in the first place.  This only added to the message that these things, while important, shouldn't be an issue anymore.

Music
I won't run down all the music, but I kind of was less-than-impressed with it in these episodes.  But, as I've noted many times before, that's not necessarily a bad thing because it meant the story took precedence.  The Sectionals episode music was obviously more important, and I loved the New Directions Jackson medley.  I always like hearing Dianna Agron (Quinn) sing, and it more than anything, for me, made up for Rachel's absence.

The Christmas music was mostly unspectacular to me.  I obviously loved hearing Lea Michele singing, but in general the songs were pretty dull.  I especially thought that "Do They Know It's Christmas" was way preachy for Glee.  Usually, the messages this show sends are much more subtle than this.  Eh, whatever.  I guess it fit.

Watch for more episodes and gleeviews in January!