The Office recap: Snowball's Chance in Scranton
Dunder-Mifflin decks the halls with plenty of Holly -- and everyone's dreaming of a Dwight Christmas.
Ah! I’m being pelted by snowballs! Snowballs of awesomeness — because the hourlong “Classy Christmas” emphasized a lot of what makes The Office great, particularly this: Everyone was up in everyone else’s business for the entire episode. My favorite!
We opened on the Dunder-Mifflinites taking a group photo and trying to decide on which “silly” pose they should use. Charlie’s Angles? (How did that become such a photo trope? Hm.) Jumping? Okay, all together now: 3-2-1-0.
Pam, in her non-sales job title, disbanded the party planning committee (hey, continuity!) and just organized things herself. And she did a good job, for she is Pam. Michael dressed as Santa, Kelly gave everyone Hello Kitty laptop sleeves, and the would-be Christmas party was destined for greatness — until Toby announced he’d be taking a leave of absence and his temporary replacement would be none other than Holly Flax. Dun-dun-duuuuun! Michael, of course, freaked out.
Also freaking out? Jim. Because it was snowing. Or was it just a light dusting, per Dwight’s analysis? Well, Jim was having none of that, and he marched outside, smushed together a snowball, came back in and threw it right into Dwight’s face. Uh…yikes? The snowball offensive that Dwight launched in retaliation was pretty funny, but Jim’s initial move — throwing an indoor snowball at point-blank range! — was so violent and mean I couldn’t shake my distaste for it the entire episode. Psst. Jim. Don’t do stuff like that.
NEXT: Oscar knows best
Elsewhere, Angela bragged about her senator boyfriend, known to Heroes fans as HRG. Turns out he’s a state senator. And yeah, Oscar “Well, Actually” Nuñez knows what a comptroller is.
After chucking everything from the initial party, Michael tried to class up the party 2.0 with chic decor, a James Bond-style Santa, and a dude playing the upright bass. I guess it was supposed to look downmarket, but I totally thought the revamped decorations were really pretty. Whoops! Michael also insisted that the office Christmas tree be replaced with a real tree, since Holly was coming from New Hampshire, and to her, a synthetic tree might look like “it’s a burning cross.”
Outside, Dwight built an enormous snowman and hid inside it, and then proceeded to fire off dozens of snowballs right at Jim, even as Jim curled to a ball on the ground. “I have no feeling in my fingers or penis, but I think it was worth it,” Dwight bragged. Again, so violent! Neither of these moves were hugely out of character, but it does highlight how isolated Jim and Dwight’s antagonism is, and how it can escalate to a shocking degree without anyone noticing, objecting, or intervening. They’ve made their weird little dueling universe, and now everyone’s content to let them have it, even if it entails Jim using a lacrosse stick and breaking a window. (Or Dwight going full-on Norman Bates in his Pam costume.) It’s like a This American Life segment just waiting to happen. This week on our show, we bring you stories of proximity. Act one, my desk neighbor, my self. Call me, Ira Glass.
Then the bubbly, goofy Holly appeared, baffling Erin who was expecting someone more attractive. Holly and Michael did one of their dorky back-and-forth bits, and the hearts in their respective eyeballs were so adorable I almost died from it. Having a character that perfect for Michael — especially when that is such a weird thing — and then keeping them apart? Ouch, Office. Ouch. Michael and Holly then had an excruciating (for us) conversation about Toy Story, Woody, Andy’s Mom, and the nature of Holly and A.J.’s relationship. Aw. Later, Michael threw Holly’s doll in the garbage and poured coffee all over it. (Did the doll look weird to anyone else? I swear I have that same one [don’t you dare judge me], and the eyes seem different on mine….)
Narddog, Pam, and a despondent Darryl, who thought he might not get to spend Christmas with is daughter, shopped for a new tree. Pam promised to help Darryl throw an extra-fun party for his little girl, and Andy promised that if his grandmother ever died, he’d kill himself.
The women of The Office kibitzed about men and relationships, and this was easily the best scene of the episode. Mindy Kaling’s scripts tend to include these little pockets of girltalk, and I love it, especially because each character has such a distinctive take, such a weirdly them kind of thing to say: Kelly and her ultimatums, Angela and he bragging, etc. The highlight, though, was definitely Erin shouting “I don’t get it!” to the camera. I love love love when Ellie Kemper plays big.
But if the girltalk scene wasn’t your favorite, then the Dwight-in-wigs bit had to be. Holy cats: Dwight’s Pam costume was disturbing enough, but his Kevin wig? Stanley? And then his maniacal facial expressions as he imitated each of them? Rainn Wilson directed this episode, which may be why it was such a terrific showcase for The Unbearable Weirdness of Dwight.
NEXT: More Erin, please
Holly was devastated to discover her sad, desecrated Woody doll, and everyone correctly guess Michael was the culprit, with only the lovable Erin standing up for him. I don’t like Erin and Michael as a romantic couple — shudder — but I love the two of them as a duo, and her protectiveness is really charming. I still wish we knew more about Erin, and that she had more robust storylines (particularly re: Gabe), but I’ll settle for moments like these.
Pam made Jim a comic book for Christmas, which I guess is cute if we had ever known Jim to be particularly into comics, or if I hadn’t seen Anna do it better on the first season of The O.C.. Sorry, Halperts! I have to side with Ryan and Phyllis on this one: That comic is sort of lametown USA. At least Jim liked it.
Elsewhere in the gift exchange, Kevin gave Oscar Uggs — “for your feet!”, which is totally a callback to Oscar wearing sandals lo those many episodes ago — and Angela got Creed a Costco-sized package of deodorant, which is amazingly hilarious, particularly because Creed loved it.
A traumatized Jim went psycho on the terrifying snowmen Dwight menacingly arranged in the parking lot, as a Bruce Wayne-ish Dwight looked on from the rooftop.
++ “Here’s a question nobody’s asking: Is it worth it?” Oscar may be edging out Kelly as the funniest secondary character this season….
++ Dwight’s scary yet superb glee at seeing Michael dressed as Santa
++ Gabe saying that he and Erin are still dating — and then wondering why the documentary crew keeps asking him about it. Aw, Gabe, I wish you were on the show more.
++ “It’s not fun, go get your own thing!” Oh, Andy, even Dwight won’t let you play his reindeer games.
++ Creed: “She’s one sassy black lady!”
++ “Who told you that?” “Nora Ephron.” I particularly loved this line because Mindy Kaling is such a romcom buff.
++ Andy, Pam, and Darryl aren’t a trio we see together a lot, but I really liked the way they interacted with each other.
++ Just the entire arc of Erin not understanding what the big deal is about Holly — so best.
++ As much as I was taken aback by the snowball war, Dwight’s tiny snowball trebuchet is the best thing I’ve ever seen.
++ Darryl’s daughter was adorable — and seriously looked a lot like Darryl. Well cast, Office!
I loved this episode, Officers, and the moments that weren’t ha-ha-ha-hilarious were still really emotionally resonant. There was a lot of story crammed in this hour, but it was perfectly paced. Chalk this one up in the win column.
What did you think?