“Bears sad, worms happy.”
Not much can happen in an episode all about lacking commitment, but at least The Office started 2011 with an honest attitude. And to fair-weather Office fans everywhere, listen up! Whether you lost interest after Pam and Jim married (turning Pam into this irritable, directionless older sister figure and turning Jim into such a tired guy he’s become unrecognizable) or the merger (which shook up all the relationships on the show), or even if you just lost your sanity after years of enduring Michael’s embarrassing awkwardness, you owe a little something to this show. The existence of Michael Scott — from his homemade videos to his improv classes to his hasty marriage proposals — has entered its twilight phase, so you should come back until he’s gone forever. We all know he’s leaving, there’s no ultimatum there. And the episode was well aware of this.
“Ultimatum” was all about commitment issues. There was Holly’s commitment to her boyfriend, Michael’s commitment to Holly, Andy’s commitment to curing his loneliness (which is really making him likeable, no?), and Pam’s “What’s Your Resolution?” board, which turned from an overly-optimistic idea to a way for all of Dunder Mifflin to show off their cynicism to a way for Michael to completely take over another office meeting. It was also about Kevin getting a bunch of broccoli shoved up his mouth.
I wouldn’t say the episode focused on one character or showed much progression of any character, but I have to give a little credit to Holly, who finally managed to take some action. She left us hanging in 2010 with the ultimatum she gave to her boyfriend to propose by New Years or it would be over, but I’m not really digging her wimpy indecisiveness. She looks tired these days! Worn from the love triangle, I guess. The twin-like silliness she shares with Michael has been made more than obvious for ages now, and wasn’t it great to see Michael use his “Happy” box instead of his “Sad” box?
After Michael found out Holly was still with her boyfriend, he turned Pam’s “What’s Your Resolution?” board into a way to semi-secretly yell at Holly for her lack of commitment to him. The presence of Pam’s glittery board was a constant reminder of double meanings, and almost every “resolution card” on there was just someone’s defensive response to someone else’s resolution — like Angela’s “Make time for romance! (with the Senator)” versus Dwight’s “Meet a loose woman.” Michael also forced Kevin and Creed into fulfilling their resolutions on the spot, disgusted by the idea of it taking over a year to meet a goal. Or the idea of it taking Holly over a year to change her mind. I mean, Michael can keep his resolution to start flossing, so why can’t Holly dump her boyfriend?
Darryl, Dwight, and Andy had a little field trip this episode, playing hooky for a few hours in hopes of Andy finding a woman (and Dwight finding a loose woman). Instead, Andy has an epiphany about appreciating himself, and all it took was a few laps around the roller rink by himself with “Ants Marching” blasting. It’s nice to see Andy pleasantly alone, with no temper tantrums. That’s commitment. Plus, he so stylish!
All in all it was a quiet but decent episode, but I’m so distracted by all the Office news. Between the Ricky Gervais cameo next week and Steve Carrell now leaving even earlier than previously reported, there’s a lot of excitement and tension on this show right now. Will the characters be able to ride that to the end of this season and beyond? I hope so.
Megh Wright is a writer, TV addict, and Harrisburg native. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and is a Gawker TV contributor.