Doing five separate vignettes that come together at the end, reminiscent of Love, Actually, is a solid idea for an hour-long television Christmas episode. Sadly, Glee's attempt, "Glee, Actually," falls short, not just because of the lack of a serious romance (other than for our favorite gays, on which we don't get any real movement anyway), but because things don't tie together in the end. Not that "Glee, Actually," is a bad episode; it just doesn't fulfill the mission statement given for the hour.
The first section goes to Artie (Kevin McHale). In what has pretty much become a Christmas tradition, Artie wishes he could walk. I don't know why this comes up mainly around the holidays, but once more, it does. So what we get is a dream sequence in which Artie has always had the use of his legs.
I could spend much time picking apart the plot in this part of episode, especially concerning the status of certain other characters, but there's no point, because the entire thing happens in Artie's head. This isn't what life would really been like had Artie not been in a wheelchair; it's what Artie imagines it might be like. Of course, he is more important in his fictional version of the world than he is in reality, and his friends stay close by, instead of moving on with their lives.
Stylistically, it works pretty well. A segment called "Feliz Navidad" is a fun, if not overly exciting, piece, and the black and white It's A Wonderful Life play looks good. Artie is still a somewhat annoying character, but the echoes of previous seasons, like Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) stuttering again and Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) popping in, make it worth it. I love, love, love that Rory (Damian McGinty) is Artie's guide, and wish that he would return to the series. Overall, I would rank the quality of this sequence right in the middle of the five presented.
Moving on, Burt (Mike O'Malley) pays a surprise visit to Kurt (Chris Colfer) in New York. At first, it just seems like a nice gift for his son, but Burt's real motives are soon revealed; he has cancer. He thinks it's been caught early, and he'll be fine, but given the sappiness of the plot, and Burt's past medical ailments, "Glee, Actually" kind of feels like a goodbye for the character. Not that he dies during the hour; that would ruin Christmas. But it would not be surprising if this plays out tragically in the near future.