The halls are decked at Dunder Mifflin but Michael’s questionable Photoshop skills and two unredeemed tickets to paradise threaten to throw the holidays into jeopardy. The timely prescription of Nog-a-sakes works a little too well and not a waitress is safe from the aftermath. Dwight cooks his own goose, Phyllis learns the hard way that orange is the new green, and Pam and Karen become unexpected allies in a party planning war with Nutcracker Angela. Drunken karaoke for all, and to all a good night.
Michael Scott in the throes of depression has got to be Steve Carell at his finest, all comatose expressions and strangled syllables. Questions of why Carol is still in the picture (both literally and figuratively, I suppose) after the disastrous proposal are insignificant once she delivers a break-up that sends Michael off the deep end.
[Michael is brooding in his office over James Blunt’s “Goodbye My Lover” when Dwight comes in and starts shoving things in a box]
Michael : What are you doing?
Dwight : We are getting rid of of everything that reminds you of Carol.
Andy : Hey, what’s the haps?
[Dwight slams the door in Andy’s face]
Michael : Carol?
Dwight : No. Oh, look at this. Your old condo closing papers. Oh, it’s riddled with Carol’s name. I wish I could throw this in the box.
[The music stops. Michael clicks on his computer and it starts over]
Dwight : Why don’t you just buy the whole song?
Michael : [hoarse] I don’t have to buy it. I just want a taste of it. I just want– I just want a little taste of it.
Dwight : Oh, look at this. She saved you $2000 because they failed to report a mold problem. But wouldn’t that affect the final– how did she– Oh. Oh, I see what she did. That is good. Wow. That Carol is one smart cookie.
Michael : [singing along in falsetto] Goodbye, my lover. Goodbye, my friend.
[The music stops. Michael sniffles forlornly and clicks again]
And that delicate emotional state provides this kind of logic:
Michael : Bros before hos. Why? Because your bros are always there for you. They have got your back after your ho rips your heart out for no good reason. And you were nothing but great to your ho, and you told her she that was the only ho for you, and that she was better than all the other hos in the world… and then… [tearing up] …then, suddenly she’s not your ho no mo’.
[Dwight comes through the door and ceremoniously plops a dead goose on Pam’s desk]
Dwight : Merry Christmas!
Pam : Merry Christma– no! Why are you– why– why did you bring that here?!
Dwight : Don’t worry, she’s dead. Oh wait… [looks between the legs] He’s dead.
Pam : Dwight! What– uhh–
Dwight : I accidently ran over it! It’s a Christmas miracle!
Pam : Dwight, get it out of here.
Dwight : Relax, okay. And because this is Christmas, I am going to roast this goose with a wild rice dressing. Do we have any cayenne pepper in the kitchen?
Question. Which is more disturbing, that Dwight equates plowing a Trans Am over an innocent creature with the miraculous, or that there have been previous incidents against which this scenario pales?
Dwight : So can you watch this? I’m going to get my carving knife out of the trunk.
Toby : Aw, Dwight, we talked about this.
Dwight : No, Toby, this is different. He is already dead.
[Cut to interview]
Dwight : Once I brought in a duck to prepare for lunch, and people got upset. Apparently they got attached to the duck, and didn’t want to see it killed.
Apparently they do not appreciate the benefits of fresh poultry any more than they prize the delicacy of molten goose grease.
Oh, and I’d really hate to see what else is in that trunk.
Witness the #1 reason it pays to be #2.
Dwight : Pam and Karen. I am ordering you to cease and desist all party planning immediately.
Pam : Uh, you can’t do that.
Dwight : As ranking #3 in this office, I am ordering you…
Andy : Uh, I’m #3.
Dwight : You’re #4.
Andy : Yeah, but I’m #3.
Dwight : Uh, no. You must turn over all to me Christmas decorations and party paraphernalia immediately, that will be returned to you on January 4th.
Jim : Okay, I think I can help here.
Dwight : Okay, good.
Jim : As ranking #2, I am starting a committee to determine the validity of the two committees, and I am the sole member. The committee will act on this now.
Dwight : Okay, this is stupid. They–
Jim : Can you please keep it down? I’m in session. [pauses, making a show of thinking it over] I’ve determined this committee is valid.
Dwight : What? No, no! Wait wait wait wait. [raises hand] Permission to join the validity committee.
Jim : Permission denied.
Dwight : Damn it!
Now that’s the kind of power that could go right to a guy’s head.
Pam gets more glimpses into the depths of Michael’s soul than one human being should be allowed to bear.
[Pam is at her desk and we hear Michael groaning]
Michael : Owww. Owww. It hurts.
Pam : I know.
Michael : It hurts my heart. It hurts my stomach.
[The camera pulls back to show Michael’s legs on the floor behind the desk]
Michael : It hurts my arms.
Pam : Okay, well, why are you laying like that?
Michael : [shifts] Thanks. How did you push away the bad thoughts?
Pam : Like what?
Michael : Like maybe the real reason they left… was because… there were things… they wanted you to do… in bed… that were…
Pam : What– um–
Michael : Foreign and scary.
Pam : I don’t– believe–
Michael : And not that you didn’t want to try them…
Pam : I– don’t– I–
Michael : Some wine might have helped. Do you know what I’m referring to?
Pam : I don’t need to know.
That’s not the kind of Christmas bonus Pam was hoping for.
Michael : Pam, would you like to go to Sandals, Jamaica with me?
Pam : No thank you.
Michael : It’s all– okay.
That’s not either.
After Jim’s recent relapse into familiar territory, a little recovery of the senses– or loss, from some views– was to be expected. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the teapot incident of last Christmas, but once again, it’s a thoughtful present at the center of his interactions with Pam.
Pam : I need to give you your Christmas gift now, because… um, well I’ll just tell you.
Jim : What?
Pam : For the past few months, I’ve been sending Dwight letters from the CIA.
[She hands him a folder marked “Classified”]
Jim : Are you serious?
Pam : They’re considering him for a top secret mission. There’s his application. Oh, and this is where I made him list every secret he promised he’d never, ever tell.
Jim : “Last year my boss, Michael Scott, took a day off because he said he had pneumonia, but really he was leaving early to go to magic camp.” Wow.
Pam : So here’s the gift: you get to decide what his top secret mission is. Sorry I didn’t wrap it.
Jim : [hesitates] You know what… um… I really don’t think I should be doing this stuff anymore, though.
Pam : Oh…
Jim : No, just because of the promotion…
Pam : Oh, yeah.
Jim : Just feel a little bit like, uh…
Pam : No, I get it. Of course. Okay.
Coming from Jim, tormenter of Dwight, this is about as harsh as it gets. Though I doubt rejection was his conscious intention; rather, he’s still scrambling to find his footing.
Jim : I feel like there’s a chance for me to start over. And if I fall back into the same kind of things I used to do, then… what am I doing?
What is probably an unexpected turn of events for most– including Jim– is when Pam and Karen hit it off over their mutual rebellion from the party planning committee.
Jim : Yep, looks like the Scranton people and the Stamford people are finally coming together. And that’s what you want, right?
And that’s a face we’ve never seen from Jim before. He looks a little green.
It may be taking the high road, but I, for one, would much rather see Pam and Karen friends than typical jealous rivals played for sitcom laughs. It’s good to see Pam not only having fun with someone else in the office, but finding a female ally in the least likely place. What effect this will have on their tangled relationships remains to be seen, but at this point I don’t think it’s at all unbelievable that they would find some common ground.
It’s another, far more undefinable bond that gets to the crux of the matter. Only this time it’s not Michael inadvertently offering wisdom so much as it is Michael’s idiocy inadvertently offering an opportunity for Jim to speak some wisdom himself.
Michael : I guess I didn’t know her very well. I marked her arm.
Jim : You what?
Michael : I put a mark on her arm.
[They both burst into laughter]
Michael : So I could tell them apart. I don’t– I know, I know. I can’t believe I gave her my bike.
Jim : Yeah.
Michael : Why do I feel like crap?
Jim : You just had a rebound.
Michael : I had a rebound.
Jim : Yeah. Which, don’t get me wrong, can be a really fun distraction. But when it’s over, you’re left thinking about the girl you really like. The one who broke your heart.
In blind support and a “why don’t these kids just get together already!” mentality, it’s easy to forget what exactly is standing between them. And when Jim delivers that last line, it’s as clear and sobering as a punch to the stomach. If he’s conscious of the projection on himself, it could be part of what leads to his last minute reconsideration.
Jim : Night, Pam.
Pam : Night.
Jim : Oh, you know what? Sorry, I forgot to tell you. I intercepted a transmission earlier and it seems that the CIA’s gonna need Dwight down at their headquarters in Langley for training and an ice cream social with the other agents.
Pam : We should get him a bus ticket. To make his trip easier.
Jim : Oh, no, that would be very patriotic.
Pam : [types on the computer] It costs $75.
Jim : Hmm. Well, maybe the CIA could send a helicopter.
Happily-ever-after it’s not, but the team effort involved in having Dwight hurl his phone from the helicopter pad into the dark oblivion of aborted CIA dreams is enough of a step in the right direction for now. In the end, the JP Index staggers through A Benihana Christmas to break Even.
The entire supporting cast was absolutely stellar, thus invoking what seems to be a holiday tradition for the second year in a row. Angela! Kevin! Toby! Karen! Andy! Kelly! Stanley! Phyllis! Meredith! Creed! Roy! Darryl! Hannah! Carol! Oscar!
Michael flat churned out the classic moments tonight. Pam saved Christmas a few times over. For the sake of the super-sized holiday, I vote for a tie.
[Creed pockets a toy from the toy drive box]
Jim : Oh, I think you’re supposed to put a toy in the box, Creed.
Creed : And a happy holiday to you!
Creed is the master of both blatant theft and illogical deflection.
Carol : What is this?
Michael : That is my Christmas card. It’s a picture of you and me and your kids on a ski trip having a blast. “Ski-son’s Greetings!”
Carol : See, no, we never went on a ski trip.
Michael : I know–
Carol : I went on a ski trip–
Michael : Right–
Carol : Two years ago with my kids and my ex-husband.
Michael : Yes, but what you didn’t realize at the time was that I was with you, in a sense. I was in your heart.
Carol : Michael…
Michael : And next to your kids. What?
Carol : This is so weird.
Michael : I don’t understand.
And he never will, because in his mind, it makes perfect sense.
Jim : It’s a bold move to Photoshop yourself into a picture with your girlfriend and her kids on a ski trip with their real father. But then again, Michael’s a bold guy. …Is bold the right word?
Well, there are a few other adjectives for it.
Michael : I’d like everybody’s attention. Christmas is cancelled.
Stanley : You can’t cancel a holiday.
Michael : Keep it up, Stanley, and you will lose New Year’s.
Stanley : What does that mean?
Michael : Jim, take New Year’s away from Stanley.
Now that’s the Christmas spirit.
Dwight : I’m sorry to interrupt. It appears we’re one bathrobe short.
Michael : Take it from Toby.
And there’s some more of it.
Karen : I understand that this can be confusing for everyone. Let me explain. There’s a party that starts at 3…
Kevin : Right…
Karen : And then there’s a way more fun party that starts at 2:45.
Pam : Right, and if you’re interested in the way more fun party, all the info can be found here, on our more brightly colored flyer.
What is that, fighting flyer with flyer? Ahh, sorry. What I meant to say is, seeing Pam tag-team with Karen is unexpectedly rewarding.
[Andy has convinced Michael to have lunch at Benihana’s]
Michael : Well, I need my entourage. Jim, Dwight, Ryan. Come on, we’re going to Asian Hooters.
Ryan : Oh man, I can’t.
Michael : Why not?
Ryan : I’m not feeling so well. I’ve got a ton of work to do here. MSG allergy, peanut allergy, I just ate there last night.
[Michael feels his forehead]
Michael : Okay. Feel better.
Ryan : Thanks.
Michael : Come on, Jim. Let’s go.
Jim : Okay. [to Ryan] Wow, thanks for taking all of the excuses, dude.
Ryan : Doctors appointment, car trouble, planter warts, granddad fought in World War II. Use your head, man. [holds up his phone] I keep mine in here. Look alive, Halpert. Welcome back.
This is hands down one of Ryan’s best scenes this season, possibly ever.
Andy : So, she looks at me, right, and she goes, “I’m sorry, do I even know you?” After a year. A year of buying lattes from her. Do you believe that?
Jim : Yes.
Dwight : I can’t– uh– I can’t hear what you’re saying!
Michael : Carol used to drink lattes.
Dwight : What are you talking about?
Michael : She would get this little foam mustache.
Dwight : Carol had a mustache?
Michael : And I used to say, “Hey, got latte?” and she’d say, “That’s not funny.”
Dwight : What are you guys talking about?
Michael : She totally got me. She understood that we didn’t have to laugh to enjoy each other.
Dwight : Michael! Repeat what you said, louder…
Which is better, Michael’s end of the conversation or Dwight’s long-distance interjections? It’s nebulous.
[Jim is relaying their conversation with the waitress down the table for Dwight]
Jim : And she’s trying to describe how to correctly butcher a goose, but she’s having trouble coming up with it.
Dwight : Okay. Cindy. Yo, Cindy! Cindy! Hold its neck back, insert the knife beneath the jaw, bring it all the way around. There’s gonna be a good amount of blood. Don’t let that bother you. Have a bucket there for the blood, and the innards, and the feathers.
The woman next to Dwight is seriously considering putting one of those usuba knives to use on Dwight’s soul.
Angela : Meredith, if you don’t come to my party, you will be very, very sorry.
Meredith : Is that a threat?
Angela : No, it’s an invitation.
The most threatening invitation ever.
Kevin : I hear Angela’s party will have double fudge brownies. But it will also have Angela. So… double fudge… Angela. Double fudge… Angela. Hmmmm.
Angela : Where’s Dwight?
Cindy II : Is he the hot one or the giant baby?
Michael : The giant baby.
I gather Angela disagrees. And what with their united shenanigans and karaoke antics– not to mention some fairly glaring PDA– how Dwight and Angela’s relationship remains a secret to all but Pam is completely beyond me.
Kelly : [singing karaoke] Whatever we deny or embrace, for worse or for better… we belong… we belong together, Ryan…
Is it possible to chug a frozen margarita? Ryan finds out.
Oscar : Too soon.
Hello, Oscar! Or… not. Goodbye, Oscar.