Review: The Office 9.09 "Dwight Christmas"

Dwight (Rainn Wilson) as the Belsnickel

In its final new outing of 2012, NBC's The Office left a good impression with one of the stronger holiday-themed episodes in the show's history. In the absence of Michael Scott, the Dwight-centered episodes have provided a majority of the highlights in recent seasons, especially this year, and "Dwight Christmas" was no exception. Forced to put together a holiday party on short notice, the Party Planning Committee chose to use Dwight's suggestion of a Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas with all the "austere" trimmings, such as Glühwein (pronounced "glow wine"), hog maw, and the traditional breaking of the pig rib. Topping it all off, Dwight dressed up as a twisted German colleague of Santa Claus named Belsnickel, a nasty and vicious character dressed in filthy, tattered furs who carries a whip and beats bad children with a switch in the weeks before Christmas. In other words, exactly the kind of holiday icon Dwight would fully embrace, and so he does in his phenomenal performance as the Belsnickel. You just know that Dwight has been waiting years to play Belsnickel at an office Christmas party, probably ever since he started working at Dunder Mifflin, and he takes full advantage of the opportunity by diving right into the character.

The Office:The scene in which Belsnickel judges each co-worker "impish or admirable" was pretty funny, as were the Belsnickel verses and Jim's reaction: "Kinda like Santa, except dirty and worse." When Dwight noted that Santa wasn't feared like the Belsnickel, Jim and Pam agreed that fear and authority were their favorite parts of Christmas. Believe it or not, Belsnickel is an actual mythical figure brought from southwestern Germany to the Pennsylvania Dutch community, as Oscar learns from Wikipedia. He also learns that the Belsnickel is often accompanied by Black Peter, a slave character represented in garish pantaloons and blackface during holiday celebrations. This led to a funny scene, as the backlash from Stanley caused Dwight to quickly text a man in the parking lot wearing a Black Pete costume complete with blackface and big red lips, which is another real tradition in the Netherlands. Black Pete turned out to be Nate from the warehouse, who later showed up to the party in his warehouse outfit and faded blackface. If anything, this episode proved that Rainn Wilson needs to star in a Christmas horror flick about the Belsnickel, even if it's one of those cheesy Syfy TV movies. There's plenty of horror potential there.

While Dwight could easily be played as a one-dimensional geek like the Big Bang Theory gang, Wilson infuses him with a human quality that has been featured more often in the final season of the long-running comedy series. Although he acts like he doesn't care about Jim or Pam at times, his behavior reveals his true feelings and while his tantrum over Jim leaving the party early was silly, it felt authentic to the character and the way he has been portrayed. Over the course of the series, the dichotomy between Jim and Dwight has evolved from a bitter office rivalry to a sibling rivalry between two brothers who secretly The Office:care about each other, and this season the show has defined and explored that relationship. When Jim returned to the party and Dwight hugged him, that showed how much he has grown to like Jim and that he knows Jim will be moving on to bigger and better things soon. It was a feel-good moment that just felt right for a Christmas episode, with a memorable ending. Feeling slighted because Jim wasn't taking him to Philadelphia for his business meeting, Darryl got drunk on Glühwein in his office and stormed into the party to confront him, but Jim told him he had scored him an interview with the new company. Completely wasted, Darryl spun around and took a Chris Farley-sized flop through the table, which Dwight deemed "very impish" to close the show. While the episode may not reach the heights of 2005's "Christmas Party" or 2009's "Secret Santa", I would rank "Dwight Christmas" just below 2006's "A Benihana Christmas" in the pantheon of Office holiday specials and a much stronger offering than last week's filler episode. Hopefully the New Year will see the quality hold up so The Office can close up shop on a high note, rather than limping to the finish line. Until then, cheer or fear, Belsnickel is here... how will he judge YOUR year?


- The Office (US)
- Rainn Wilson

Written by: Chrononaut
Dec 7th, 2012, 7:27 pm


Message Posted On Dec 18th, 2012, 2:59 pm
And this is the very spoon that guided my soft skull through the birthing canal when I was born. Cheer? Or fear? Belsnickel is here. To judge your year. I judge you....#impish #admirable I'll be right back I have to go to my car to... take a dump I wish my car had a bathroom WHAT IS HOG MAW?!?!?!?!
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