Christmas at Dunder-Mifflin brings with it a host of shocks and surprises. Phyllis makes a gift in the true spirit of the season but is spurned by Michael who turns Secret Santa on its head in an effort to spotlight his own extragavant contribution. Pam wins the iPod in the ensuing struggle, but comes to her wits before the night’s end and walks away with something infinitely more valuable. All that, plus Packer joins the fray, Dwight finds himself the victim of a torrid love triangle, and Michael comes face-to-face with Meredith in the flesh.
Michael lacks many of the basic decencies that we expect out of adults and children over the age of five.
Michael : Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, “Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth.”
Can he really be this insanely thoughtless? The answer is yes. Yes he can. Michael hits several new lows over the course of this episode.
If there ever existed an evil counterpart to Santa Claus — the Anti-Santa, if you will — Dwight would surely have served as his right-hand elf. Christmas at the Schrute household must have been a brutal, cutthroat affair.
Jim : I bought this teapot for Pam, and I know she really wants it, so can I trade you for it?
Dwight : No trades.
Jim : C’mon, it’s a shamrock keychain. Good luck.
Dwight : A real man makes his own luck. Billy Zane. Titanic.
Prior to the airing of this episode, if you had told me that Dwight would be quoting Titanic, I wouldn’t have believed it. However, if you had told me that he would be quoting Billy Zane, I would have accepted it in a heartbeat. Listen to your friend Billy Zane, he’s a cool dude.
Jim is the type of person that most guys will immediately find relatable, and although we may all declare that we wish we were in his shoes, we secretly wonder if we would have what it takes to contend with the difficulty of his situation.
Jim : So this year, for the first time ever, I got Pam in Secret Santa, and I got here this: a teapot, which I know she really wants so she can bring tea to her desk, but I’m also going to stuff it with some inside jokes… like… this is my high school yearbook photo. She saw it at the party, and it really makes her laugh. Not sure why. Um… what else… ooh, this is a hot sauce packet. She put this on a hot dog a couple years ago because she thought it was ketchup, and, uh, it was really funny so I kept the other two. This would take a little too long to explain, so I won’t, and this is a card… because Christmas is the time to tell people how you feel.
And that is how Jim successfully conquered the entire female viewership of this show in one fell swoop.
Round two of Pam versus Alcohol finds our favorite receptionist in an unexpected state of sobriety.
Pam : Yeah. I think I made the right choice.
It’s not every day you pass on an iPod for a teapot, but in Pam’s case, she couldn’t have made a better decision.
A fine episode for the JP Index, most likely supplanting The Dundies as the quintessential episode for supporters of Jim and Pam. The dynamic beteween these two was the best part of an already phenomenal episode.
The show does a fantastic job of withholding the teapot from Pam until the very last moment. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Jim’s advances met with rejection, and we see his hopes dashed yet again when Pam chooses the iPod over his more thoughtful gift.
Dwight : Pam, steal something, or pick the final gift.
Pam : I want the iPod.
Jim : Sure you don’t want the teapot?
Pam : Well, I mean, it’s an iPod. But…
Jim : Right.
Pam : Sorry.
Jim : No, no, definitely…
To add insult to injury, Jim is forced to stomach the sight of Dwight defiling what is essentially his feelings for Pam materialized.
Jim : You don’t even drink tea.
Dwight : True, but I get sinus infections, and sinus infections can be cured by making a tea from green tea leaf stems…
Jim : Ok…
Dwight : …and pouring it directly into your nose like so.
Jim : To think that my gift to Pam will be used for that… it’s a little too much to handle.
As the night wears on, however, the appeal of the iPod fades as her missed opportunity gradually comes into focus, a detail that is made strikingly clear when we see her watching Dwight with the teapot from a distance. Pam makes the right decision and swaps the $400 iPod for the gift she really wanted, and after seeing Jim’s reaction, it’s hard not to feel happy for the guy.
Jim : You know, you don’t have to answer calls during a party.
Pam : [Laughs]
Jim : Just thought you should know.
Pam : No, I was just, um, checking out my present. [Reveals the teapot]
Jim : But…
Pam : I traded with Dwight. Um. Just, I figured, you know… you went to a lot of trouble, and it means a lot. And also Roy got me an iPod, or, uh, was going to get me an iPod, so…
Jim : Well, either way… this is an amazing gift because it comes with bonus gifts. Look inside.
Pam : Oh my god! The yearbook picture!
[Cut to interview with Pam and back]
Pam : Oh my god! This is incredible! Is this the Boggle timer?
Jim : I didn’t think you were going to get that one, I really didn’t.
After having some time to reflect on it, I’m glad that Jim pocketed his card to Pam at the last moment. That card represents the only physical evidence we have that the relationship between Jim and Pam extends beyond friendship. Everything else up until this point could conceivably be dismissed as innocent flirtation, but a card cannot be denied so easily. Even if we never hear of it again, the mere fact that it exists carries considerable weight, a burden that is sure to grow as Jim and Pam continue to skirt around the issue.
Whatever expectations we carried into this episode will be dwarfed by what is sure to be a cathartic moment when one of them decides to go for it, and fans who have waited so long to see these two together will be that much more thrilled to finally see it happen. For now, I feel content knowing that Jim at least entertained the notion of opening up to her even if he ultimately decided not to follow through.
Even with his last second change of heart, the JP Index for Christmas Party hits the stratosphere with a resounding Up.
This one was damn near impossible to determine with so many outstanding performances to choose from, and that’s why I’m awarding it to the entire supporting cast. Kevin, Angela, Oscar, Creed, Meredith, Phyllis, Kelly, Roy, Darryl, and even Packer contribute to an exceptional group effort.
Jim, definitely. He finally gets through to Pam, and although it may not be the declaration many people were hoping for, it’s a huge step in the right direction. You did good, man.
Kevin : Well, what are we going to do with this hacked off part?
Michael : Well, that is a perfectly good mini-tree, Kevin, and we are going to sell that to charity. That’s what Christmas is all about.
Yes, that is what Christmas is all about: selling crappy, unwanted tree parts to charities. Not giving. Selling.
Ryan : Angela drafted me into the party planning committee. Her memo said that we need to prepare for every possible disaster… which, to me, seems… excessive.
Clearly, Fire Guy has forgotten about his role in what could have been the disaster to end all disasters when he almost burned the building to the ground.
Pam : You do realize that we can’t serve liquor at the party.
Michael : Yeah, I know. Dammit. Stupid corporate wet blankets. Like booze ever killed anybody.
This ranks right up there with not telling a patient they have cancer. Pam’s silent reaction to this colossally wrong statement is priceless.
Toby : I got Angela. She’s into these posters of babies dressed as adults. I got here one of those. I… felt kind of weird buying that.
Angela single-handedly funds the entire creepy baby poster industry.
Michael : Alright. Let’s count it down, like Rockefeller Center. Ready?
Everyone : Three! Two! One!
[Cheers, rapidly fading into silence]
Michael : Not great.
Phyllis : Sorry everybody.
Pam : I think the tree looks nice.
Dwight : Hey, I could get some flares from my car.
Phyllis’ delivery of her apology is perfect and precisely the type of reaction we would expect from a person with her quiet demeanor. Dwight’s proposal to light flares in a paper office of all places is also well within character.
Jim : He obviously forgot to get me something, and then he went into his closet and dug out this little number. And then threw it into a bag.
Creed : Yep, that’s exactly what happened.
Creed’s line is hilarious, mostly because he shows absolutely no trace of shame in delivering it.
Angela : Michael should have asked the party planning committee first. He’s not supposed to just spring things on us out of nowhere. [Breaks into tears]
First you slam the door in her face, and now you’re making her cry. Michael’s disregard for Angela is quickly becoming a habit, much like his perennial mistreatment of Toby.
Kelly : Yikes.
Toby : Well, it’s for Angela, so…
Kelly : That’s like the creepiest thing that I’ve ever seen.
Michael : Angela, you’re up.
Angela : I’ll take the poster. Some people like these.
I like how Michael dangles the oven mitt in front of her face, which she then swats away in typical Angela fashion.
Michael : I hope nobody takes this baby, because this is great. Wow, look at that fine craftsmanship. Somebody really put a lot of work into that. It’s beautiful.
Meredith : I’ll take the oven mitt.
Michael : Ssssssucka! Hahaha!
Whatever miniscule amount of good karma Michael accumulated up to this point in his life vanished after this outburst.
Dwight : Yankee swap is like Machiavelli meets… Christmas.
Have yourself a merry, Machiavellian Christmas.
Cashier : It comes to $166.41.
Michael : Alright, now you’re the expert. Is this enough to get twenty people plastered?
Cashier : Fifteen bottles of vodka? Yeah, that should do it.
Michael : Cool, cool, box it up.
Not only is this more than enough to get everyone in the office completely hammered, it’s also enough to guarantee everyone a trip to the emergency room, with the possible exception of Kevin.
Meredith : The deal is that this is my last hurrah, ’cause I made a New Year’s resolution that I’m not going to drink anymore… during the week.
One can only hope that her liver is covered by Dunder-Mifflin’s health plan.
Phyllis : Hi guys. Uh, does everyone know my boyfriend, Bob Vance?
Kevin : Kevin Malone.
Bob : Bob Vance. Vance Refrigeration.
Stanley : Stanley Hudson.
Bob : Bob Vance. Vance Refrigeration.
Ryan : Ryan Howard
Bob : Bob Vance. Vance Refrigeration.
Ryan : What line of work you in, Bob?
Vance returns! See Performance Review for more details.
Kelly : Hi.
Dwight : Oh, hello there.
Kelly : [Kisses Dwight]
Dwight : W-what are you doing?
Kelly : I dunno.
Dwight : You shouldn’t do things like that. A man is supposed to do that.
The appeal of Dwight’s elvish features is hard to deny. Kelly seizes the moment and acts on impulses she never knew she had.
Michael : Hey, Meredith. Heading over the Poor Richard’s?
Meredith : Yep.
Michael : Cool, cool, cool. Do you need a ride?
Meredith : [Flashes Michael]
Michael : [Turns around and is stunned to see a topless Meredith. Hastily snaps a photograph of her] Alright, let’s head out. Sounds good. Do you have a coat?
Meredith : Yeah.
Words really can’t do this scene justice. Much like The Matrix, you have to see it for yourself.