The Office has been hit or miss for years. Since about season 3 it has been made up of a lot of seriously broad humour and decently funny material combined with the occasional glowing moment that balanced it all out. Christmas is usually a time for standard Office fare. Usually someone gets drunk, there’s some sort of Santa hijinks, Pam and Jim exchange cute presents and we’re all sent home mildly underwhelmed but filled with some sort of holiday cheer-like message.
But this week’s Office Christmas episode was pretty great actually. It was a full hour (always a danger with this show) but filled the time nicely.
First of all, there was the much-anticipated return of Holly. Her and Michael’s epic romance story wasn’t moved forward at all, really, but it played on some of Michael’s more interesting character notes. The Woody doll bit was a truly excellent addition; it’s destruction showcased Michael’s lowpoints but his makeshift bathroom laundromat reminded us why we love him. Holly’s ultimatum story seemed out of character and strange (though they did make a point of saying that was true) but it gave Pam a nice moment at the end (and the fans a nice callback to Jim’s years of waiting for her).
Andy had some fun business, as did Phyllis, Stanley, Kevin and Creed, as usual. Toby, naturally, stole all his scenes as he desperately tried to connect using his stories from jury duty. Erin, my favourite Office worker, played a brilliant angle on the Holly story, unable to understand why Michael loved her so much. Her protective moment after Michael called Holly out was truly inspired.
Darryl had a rare storyline, a lovely one in which he struggled with the fact that his daughter didn’t want to spend Christmas with him; it was heartbreaking but sweet. I love the detail of Angela’s boyfriend being in the closet (even if it is overdone). Ryan’s quest for a fancy cocktail was great (as was his brilliant critique of Pam’s comic book) and any time Kelly references her minority executive training it gives me hope that maybe she will be the one to take over the office when Steve Carell leaves at the end of this season (she’s my first choice, hands down).
Jim and Pam’s obligatory present story was sweet as usual, but it was Jim and Dwight’s story that was the highlight of the episode for me. We start out with Dwight calling Jim a little girl for being excited about snow. Jim then collects a snow ball from the parking lot (complete with dirt and a pebble), brings it inside and whips it at Dwight. This gross overreaction is supposed to be a joke but comes across (as golden boy Jim sometimes does in his ugliest moments) as just plain mean. The result is, in classic Dwight fashion, the most wonderful myriad of mind games concocted since Slapsgiving. Dwight gets his revenge, makes Jim feel bad and drives him off his rocker. By the end of the episode, the bloodied, exhausted and paranoid golden boy attacks a series of snow men as his tormentor looks on from the roof. It’s beautiful, evil but beautiful, and ultimately hilarious in a character-perfect way.
So hey, maybe The Office has something left in it after all.