Credit: Adam Rose/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Tina, Rachel, and Quinn Sing in Glee Season 3, Episode 9,“Extraordinary Merry Christmas”

The holidays arrived early with tonight’s delightful Glee Christmas episode, "Extraordinary Merry Christmas." And we’ll go ahead and say it: This might have actually been the oddest episode ever! (We’ll explain why shortly.) That said, it might also be among the most heartfelt episodes in a while — well, except for when Finn hit Sam with a snowball in his, uh, real balls. Ain’t nothin’ heartfelt about that!

The festivities begin with Mercedes giving Mariah Carey a run for her money with her take on “All I Want for Christmas Is You” as the gang trims the tree. Then, Finn is panicking about what to give Rachel for Christmas, so she displays her truly generous nature by giving him a list with fifteen options. As Finn points out, Rachel is acting an awful lot like a Kardashian (and not just because she’s dating a jock).

Sue has decided to make nice for the holidays by inviting the glee club to perform at a homeless shelter where she’ll be volunteering. And we were just as shocked as you are to find out that, no, it isn’t some kind of evil homeless shelter that turns the homeless people into coats or something (hey, can't put anything past Sue). Just a regular, non-human-coat-harvesting shelter. (BONUS: We are introduced to Sue's new nicknames for Blaine: "Other Gay" and another which we'll relish in later.)

Mr. Schue informs New Directions that he has a spirit-lifting speech to make, which we’re pretty sure is actually Schue’s fourth-favorite type of speech to give, behind 1.) Speeches that help you focus on what really matters; 2.) Speeches that help you see the silver lining in something bad; and 3.) Speeches that help you find the life lesson in something good. (The guy gives a lot of speeches, is what we’re trying to say.)

In this particular speech, Schue informs everyone that the program director of Lima’s PBS station was in the audience at Sectionals this year (sure — why not?) and wants New Directions to perform a holiday special, directed by Artie. Artie meets with the station guy and agrees to direct, provided Chewbacca is involved. (A note to Artie: We can’t help noticing you’re not exactly Mr. Ladies’ Man this season. Is making more Star Wars references really the direction you should be headed? Just a thought.)

Credit: Adam Rose/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Finn and Rachel in Glee Season 3, Episode 9, “Extraordinary Merry Christmas”

Artie really embraces his new image as the pushy headstrong director, and he’s demanding that this holiday special be strictly happy-go-lucky. Sue then informs everyone that she’ll be volunteering at the shelter on the same day as they’re taping the TV special, forcing a tough decision. (Uh, remember how cheesy sitcoms used to have episodes revolving around a guy scheduling two dates with two different girls — one hot and probably no good, the other sweet and good but not as hot — on the same night? Does Glee really need to dust off this old chestnut?)

Aaaaand here's where the episode gets a little strange, as a big chunk of it is presented as a show-within-a-show. Don’t get us wrong — this part of the episode is really awesome, as Kurt and Blaine make for delightful hosts, and this section is a hilarious parody of old-timey variety specials, replete with a laugh-track. Plus, the performances killed, especially Kurt and Blaine’s “Let It Snow.” But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a little bizarre.

Back in the real world, Finn had decided that the perfect gift for Rachel the vegan is an African sow pig, which is a little like giving a Twilight DVD to a guy. But Rachel has done her best to come around, even going as far as naming her pig — what else? — Barbra. And between this scene and the new Muppets movie, we sure are getting a lot of anthropomorphized swine this holiday season. (We don’t care what subliminal messages Hollywood is trying to send us — we’ll never quit eating bacon! It’s just too delicious, okay?)

Credit: Adam Rose/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Rory in Glee Season 3, Episode 9,“Extraordinary Merry Christmas”

Just in the nick of time, Schue and the glee clubbers from the holiday special pop in on Sue’s shelter with more food and one more song. We never thought that Sue would ever actually request to be within 100 miles of a New Directions performance, let alone in the same room as one, but that’s what holiday miracles are for.

Finn — who couldn’t be more huggable these days, even if his name were Huggy McHuggerson — goes and gets even more huggable by selling his letterman jacket to buy earrings and a star for Rachel. But then Rachel has a change of heart inspired by Finn, and they take back their gifts and give the money to the charity that Sam and Rory are helping out. Everybody wins! (Well, everybody except for Barbra the pig, of course.)

So this episode may have been a tad light on plot, but it was impossible not to find it completely touching (especially with all the references to the Charlie Brown Christmas special). We love that outcasts Sam and Rory are starting to bond — and the fact that their new bromance might mean love for Rory in the new year!

Credit: Adam Rose/FOX ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Photo: Sue and Kids in Glee Season 3, Episode 9,“Extraordinary Merry Christmas”

And after Sue’s absence last week, it was nice to have a noticeably toned-down Sue back. That said, she still got in some great lines (Sue and Sarah Palin are BFF!), with perhaps our fave being when Sue referred to Blaine as a “young Burt Reynolds.” And that leads us to this: Remember the early ‘90s comedy Cop and a Half, in which Burt Reynolds played a disgruntled cop whose partner was — wait for it! — an eight-year-old kid? Long story short: Let’s hope Darren Criss makes better decisions with his film career.

In the end, it was the perfect tinsel-covered, pre-holiday episode to close out the first half of Glee's third season. But enough about us: What did YOU think of "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"?

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