It’s a New Year for The Office—and, as we know, the last for Michael Scott at Dunder Mifflin. The office crew was back to work and that meant it was time to set some resolutions. It was also a day which will live on in-famously (as Michael put it) because he would learn the outcome of Holly’s proposal ultimatum to AJ. Ultimately? This episode kind of made me feel the way I do about New Year’s resolutions: kind of excited at the prospect, but also not entirely feeling it.
The main focus of the episode was obviously learning whether Holly had gotten engaged over the holidays or if she broke up with AJ. Everyone is dying to know—as evidenced when the entire office follows Holly anxiously to her desk to get a glimpse of her mitten-covered hand. I appreciated Michael and Erin’s ridiculously thought-out contingency plans for whatever the news ended up being, particularly the happy box and the sad box stocked with varied supplies. I really like how the show has established the Michael-Erin relationship because Erin genuinely admires Michael as a father-figure. Ellie Kemper truly brings interesting quirks and depth to the character of Erin—her earnest enthusiasm to celebrate with Michael or “follow Phyllis’ lead” (literally by repeating everything she says) actually makes her endearing. And then at the same time she has a much darker side stemming from a messed-up childhood and whips out insults that she herself doesn’t even recognize as nasty. In one sentence she manages to pull off a comment about being happy for Michael if Holly does pick him, but also explains it would be the greatest mistake of his life!
Meanwhile, Pam leads the office in a New Year’s resolution project that belongs on an elementary school bulletin board. Here is one area where I struggle with The Office this season: I am really not liking Pam’s new self-assigned position at Dunder Mifflin. Sorry if you disagree, but it is such a ridiculous position when there is also a receptionist (Erin) and rep from corporate (Gabe) and HR person (Toby and/or Holly). I know, I know, this is just a TV show. But part of what made The Office an amazing show in its early years was how closely it mirrored the day-to-day minutia of office life. There is no way a small regional branch in these economic times would be paying a full salary and benefits to a worker for them to plan parties and make poster boards. In other words, I would be fine if every once in a while Pam enacted some group motivation project, but this season it seems like every episode she is only coming up with something completely inane for the staff to participate in and then acting exasperated when it doesn’t turn out as expected.
Part two of what I am struggling with this season (which started last season) is that the three characters that used to be my favorites—Pam, Jim, and Dwight—have basically come to irritate the most. Jim and especially Pam have become quite smug and condescending, while Dwight has basically been reduced to a cartoon character. They each used to walk a fine (and hilarious) line, with Jim and Pam being just a slight step ahead of the rest of the office and Dwight having cartoonish tendencies. But they have jumped into the deep end, and it is making them more one-dimensional as characters when they used to be more complex.
OK, back to the resolutions. So, even though I wasn’t a fan of how Pam’s project was carried out, I did enjoy the various resolutions we got to hear or see on cards. Let’s recap them, shall we?
- Kelly: Get more attention, by any means possible (saying you are pregnant when you are not is a good start!)
- Meredith: 2 cigarettes a day (way to try, Meredith!)
- Oscar: Finish the living room
- Michael: Floss
- Holly: Cross train
- Pam: Less caffeine
- Jim: Bike more
- Gabe: Be less __(couldn’t make out the word, wish I could)__around people’s dogs and babies.
- Ryan: Live life like it’s an art project (or, thanks to Kevin, a Fart project)
- Kevin: Eat more vegetables (despite literally not knowing how to eat broccoli)
- Angela: Make more time for romance…with the senator (who only Oscar continuously points out is gay and also a state senator)
- Creed: One amazing cartwheel. (Enough said)
- Erin: Learn a new word every day…and according to Erin, “it is going immensely”
- Darryl: Read more
- Andy: Learn to cook for one (poor Andy)…but then changed it to Dwight’s resolution which is…
- Dwight: Meet a loose woman
On that last note, Darryl convinces Dwight and Andy to meet loose women in bookstores so that he can have a ride to Border’s. As Darryl caves to the temptations of an e-reader, Dwight caves to the temptations of, well, Temptations—a seedy strip club. We don’t actually see Dwight in the strip club and, honestly, I don’t think we want to know what he did in there. Andy, on the other hand, tries his luck at the roller-rink across the street. Since it is the middle of the day on a Monday, poor Andy is already facing his original resolution of being alone. But, here is why the Nard Dog is still my favorite character this season: Andy jams out to his DJ request of Dave Matthews Band with his glo-necklaces and then has a blast meeting a special person—“His name is Andy. And he roller skates like a Greek God.” Here’s hoping cupid’s arrow finds Andy Bernard this season…except, I have really been enjoying borderline-depressed single Andy as well.
As for Michael and Holly…well, after Michael first pops the champagne and dances to “My Life Would Suck Without You” seeing no engagement ring on her finger, he then learns she and AJ are still dating because she did not got through with the ultimatum. However, at the very end of the episode, Holly quietly phones AJ to tell him she needs them to take a break while she is in Scranton.
So, we stay tuned til next week (or, more likely til the end of the season as they keep us pining for Michael and Holly to ride off into the Scranton sunset together).
What did you think of “The Ultimatum”? And what resolutions should the show make as it prepares to say goodbye to Michael?