I had no idea that tonight’s “Classy Christmas” Office episode was going to be an hour, but it is a good thing it was because a lot went down along with the cocktails. Many of our favorites were given plenty to do, from an epic (and terrifying) snowball fight, a poorly executed Grinch scavenger hunt, a Hello Kitty laptop sleeve, a Scranton Strangler juror, and most importantly, the return of Michael’s true soul mate Holly Flax (cue Erin saying, “I REALLY don’t get it” regarding Holly’s appeal).
The episode started with a cold opening, literally, as the group tried to take its annual Dunder Mifflin holiday photo outside. I appreciated the arguments and failure at capturing a “wacky” photo of them jumping (and once again Erin wins for the best line of the scene when she explained why she jumped too early: “I didn’t want to miss it!”). Back inside, Pam was arranging the final details for the staff party and for once everyone seemed pleased with the arrangements. This was mainly because office administrator Pam eliminated the infamous Party Planning Committee (that did bring a little tear to my eye, as we have had many funny staff parties under the guidance of the Party Planning Committee). The only one who didn’t seemed pleased was Michael—since there was no drama, there was nothing for him to do that day. Well, that didn’t last for too long…
It turned out that Toby had been selected as a juror on a high-profile trial—one that just might (wink, wink) be for the Scranton Strangler. This was a great way to make the ongoing background saga of the Scranton Strangler actually play a pivotal role in our characters’ lives, since this led to Holly being recruited to fill in for Toby during his leave of absence (I still don’t get who would replace Holly at her branch, but I guess we are supposed to ignore that because this is TV). Michael was as happy as a little boy on Christmas because his wish to have Holly return came true: “Thank you Scranton Strangler, you just took one more breath away!” Sigh. This being Michael Scott, nothing says “welcome Holly” quite like trashing the current holiday party that Pam planned and creating a new party that is even classier to woo his beloved.
When Holly arrives, she is greeted by faithful Erin who refuses to help her with her boxes because she is “waiting for her boss’s pretty friend.” Oh Erin, you never cease to amaze me. Holly and Michael immediately fall back into their special bond and endearing impersonations, until Michael learns she is still serious with A.J. and they are living together. Kudos to Steve Carell for trying to keep it together with the hurt coming through in his eyes. Then Michael does what Michael does best and gets jealous and acts out—by trashing the Woody Toy Story doll A.J. had given Holly. Ultimately, the ladies of the office learn that Holly is planning to give A.J. an ultimatum that if he doesn’t propose by the end of the year, their relationship will be over. This gives Michael the sliver of hope he needs to keep the faith alive; and we can already see Holly beginning to melt for Michael again as she looks on lovingly at him playing Santa for Daryl’s daughter.
Speaking of Daryl’s daughter, another key storyline of the night dealt with Daryl’s struggles of being a father who doesn’t get to see his daughter as often as he would like. It was nice (and long-overdue) to give Daryl’s life outside the office a little screen time. And I truly felt for Daryl not knowing how to cope with his daughter preferring to spend Christmas with her mother over him. My one big complaint of where this story went from there was that Daryl is way too smart to ever think that bringing his daughter to the Dunder Mifflin Christmas party would be anything other than a disaster. There is no way Daryl, of all people, would think it would be appropriate for his daughter, much less fun (does he not recall behavior at previous Christmas parties…or any Dunder Mifflin function?). It did lead to some amusing moments with Pam and Andy trying to help him out by creating a Grinch fun-land in the warehouse; and then Daryl’s ultimate discovery that the real fun-land was the vending machine room!
The great silly storyline of the night (and also rather terrifying) belonged to long-fighting adversaries Jim and Dwight…although, according to Holly, the two were best of friends last time she was in Scranton! What started as a simple snowball fight (after Dwight insisted that the snow outside was merely a dusting) turned into an epic battle to end all snowball fights and surprise attacks (hello creepy wig collection!) that are sure to give Jim nightmares of snowmen for the rest of his life. By far the highlight was a wonderfully plotted closing scene where a badly beaten and traumatized Jim finally let Pam lead him out of the building to their car, only to enter a lot full of creepy snowmen taunting him. Jim freaked out and started bashing each snowman—convinced Dwight was hiding inside one of them again. Meanwhile, high above from the rooftop, Dwight stood keeping watch and left us with this wonderful line: “The greatest snowball isn’t a snowball at all—it’s fear.”
There are so many little details I failed to cover, from Kelly’s selection of the Hello Kitty laptop sleeves as the corporate holiday gift to Pam’s “Bear Man” Jim Halpert homemade comic book present to her husband (which Ryan hilariously critiqued, ahem, ripped to shreds). And, let us not forget Angela’s new (state) senator boyfriend, who Oscar immediately determines is gay. My wish for the New Year is that we get more on the Angela-Robert relationship and, of course, more Holly! The latter certainly seems like a safe bet.
How did you think this Office Christmas episode compared to the holiday parties of yore? I don’t know if anything could ever top the karaoke Christmas when Michael “marked” his Asian date, but this was a holly, jolly good time!