Christmas episodes are historically horrible (except for Chrismukkah, obviously), and this episode is no exception. No one even died. Remember last year at Christmastime, Michelle and James murdered that alcoholic bum to harvest his organs, even though there were FBI security cameras all over the place? That was dumb, but at least someone left the office in garbage bags. This year, nothing. Come on, writers.

A group of carolers comes in all banged up because they tried to go caroling in Cryps territory, and the Cryps were offended by their Bloods-colored clothing, so they beat the hell out of them. The head caroler (surname Carol) requests that Sean and Christian do the surgery for free, and in exchange they will Christmasify the office. To me this would seem like a horrible trade-off, but Sean and Christian are idiots who want to have a group of carolers in their office being annoying all episode, so we're stuck with it.

Back at the homestead, Sean, Christian, and Julia draw names for their first annual Secret Santa gift exchange. They set a $10 limit, which seems extremely cheap for three best friends who are also rich. They also put their three names on pieces of paper in a saucepan, as you do, and they're like, "Remember, if you draw your own name, we all have to pick again!" Miraculously, no one draws his own name. I'm no statistician, but that must be next to impossible. Every Thanksgiving when my cousins and I draw names for Secret Santa, at least four people get their own names the first time around, and there are like 12 of us. I had an easier time believing in aliens. Also, Christian and Julia make googly eyes at each other, because if you'll recall, they're doing each other now.

Unfortunately for the future of humanity, Matt survived the firey swimming pool fiasco, and is undergoing treatment at a hospital. His parental love triangle shows up to see how he's doing, and Julia is all, "Wait, Matt was doing meth and you didn't tell ME?!?!?!?" and Christian and Sean are basically like, "Yeah, well, he said he was clean, and even though it's annoying how he reneges all his promises, it's even more annoying when you bitch about everything, regardless of how little it actually involves you."

After they cut off all his crispy skin, Matt's parents scold him for being so irresponsible and abusing drugs. Well, his dads do. Julia is just like, "How could you do this to yourself [me]?" and he's like, "Well, I'm an idiot. Also I miss my baby." Sean, never one to miss his own babies, un-invites Matt from the family Christmas get-together. Probably because he knows that Matt doesn't have the $10 for a present.

The titular character, Duke Collins, show up to the office with a wrinkly mass of scar tissue where his left cheek used to be. The year prior, a kid shot him while he was working as a mall Santa. The flashback is characteristically awesome, with an intense CSI knifey slash soundtrack. The kid sits on Duke's lap and complains that he never gets what he asks for: a Nintendo, an iPod, and a digital camera. Hey, this kid and I have the same Christmas list! Then, stilted and jealous of his friends whose parents love them, he shoots Duke in the beard. All the kids in line freak out because they just watched Santa die, and all their parents grumble about having to think up new ways to perpetuate the most magical lie in the history of the Western world.

Duke insists on having the surgery immediately so that he can play Santa again on Christmas Eve. Sean is amazed by his ability to forgive the kid who marred his already ugly mug, but that's the point of this episode: Forgiveness. It's the next logical step after Secrets and Revelations, plus if Joseph hadn't forgiven Mary for letting God knock her up, then Jesus wouldn't have been able to forgive us for our numerous sins, and I'd still be on the shitlist for "fighting with my brother and sister" and "sometimes not obeying my parents' every whim" and "swearing, but only a couple of 'hells' and 'damns,' and only when I stub my toe or drop something." Confession is so textbook.

Speaking of something that needs to be forgiven: Christian and Julia lie in bed, in the apartment that Christian shares with Sean, post-coitus. Christian asks when they can tell Sean and Olivia, and Julia says she wants to do it "after the holidays." She claims that this is because of "everything going on" with their respective ill-behaved children, but obviously it's because she knows that she won't get as good of presents from them if they're pissed off at her.

Sean comes home just then, and defies all laws of physics by somehow not being able to see them through the open doorway. Julia scrambles for her clothes and makes a hell of a lot of noise as Sean meanders over to the bedroom at 0.35 mph. Finally Christian hides her in the closet. This scene would have been one million percent better if it had continued as a "Trapped in the Closet" video, but instead Sean just asks Christian to come with him to get a tree from some pansy-ass organic tree farm, and Christian claims that he needs to stay home and masturbate some more. He's like, "It'll take a while; go without me," and Sean's like, "I'll wait/watch/help." No one can resist naked, exercising Christian.

There was a stupid and long P.S. I Love You trailer, which I would not mention except that the way they introduce the tape recorder is very amenable to a Saw remix spoof. Especially when you consider that you can splice in footage from The Reaping. Somebody had better get on that immediately.

So back in Christian's room, Julia complains very loudly that she feels like she's in a "sealed coffin," which is pretty appropriate, since she looks like a corpse. Sean comes back in and he's like, "Wah wah wah, Christian you have to come with me to get the tree," and Christian is like, "Listen, I'm having sex by myself; you can get a tree by yourself. We're adults now. We do things by ourselves," which is Theme #2 for the night. Sean eventually goes, and the second he leaves the bedroom, Julia bursts out of the closet and starts shouting again. She's really pretty horrible at being stealthy. R. Kelly never would have been so imprudent. They decide to go yell at Kimber for stealing the baby, and also I guess to tell her that her husband was burned up in a meth-fueled inferno.

During Duke's face surgery, which is about a 6 on the scale from 1 to "satisfactorily gory," the stupid carolers are hanging around outside being annoying. Liz bitches to them, pretty immaturely, about how much she hates Christmas because no one loves her and she's sad to be alone (and Jewish, I always assumed. Between the Secret Santa thing and Liz being a gentile, this episode is really stretching my suspension of disbelief). Sean invites her to join his party, and she gladly accepts, until she finds out that Julia and Olivia are both going to be there. Sean is all, "Come onnnn," and she's like, "Fine, maybe we can both learn a lesson of forgiveness from Santa." Because he forgave that kid who shot him, which is unthinkable to Sean, who suspects that he would not forgive a similar assailant of his. Well, of course not, since Sean can barely bring himself to let his kids live with him, let alone shoot him.

At the hospital, Matt is visited by a scary Israeli burn victim named Rachel. Her scariness is two-fold: Her face is basically the same level of gross as Gary Oldman in Hannibal, plus she's Israeli. Her story is that she used to be hot stuff, but then her flesh got incinerated in some dude's suicide bombing while she was eating falafel. Fucking falafel. It would be improved a lot by the introduction of some seared human flesh. Anyway, she and her Phantom of the Opera face make Matt get out of bed and take a stroll around the halls. Matt cries because he is a little bitch.

Julia and Christian show up at a wild n' crazy Santa-themed Porno Party! to bitch out Kimber and Ram for stealing the baby. Julia is like, "Matt exploded himself trying to make meth. I hope you're happy." Kimber is like, "I am happy that I got all my shit out of the apartment before that happened. Would you like to hold the baby?" and Julia is like, "Yes please," and Kimber is like, "PSYCH! Take the baby away, porn servant. I have finished using her to make people jealous." She and Ram brag about their future plans of getting married, divorced from their former partners, and then adopting the baby, in that order. Julia is all indignant and shit, like, "You can't have that baby, Kimber. You are a bad parent. I know it because I can see like 70% of your jugs right now," and Kimber is like, "What makes you think you're a better mother than I am? Because you went to college and you've never worked a day in your life?" Two points: 1) Julia only went to college for a year, at which point she dropped out to sit at home and plot about ways to misconstrue every situation so that she appears to be the victim. People need to stop acting like she learned anything besides her way around campus. 2) Kimber also has never worked a day in her life, unless you count doing a bunch of coke in restaurant bathrooms and then getting railed on camera as "working."

Kimber does make a good point, though, which is that she and Ram can actually provide for Jenna, whereas Matt is an ugly fuck who just exploded himself while trying to make meth. She goes on to elucidate the ways they can provide for Jenna, including "designer clothes," "gourmet food," and "three extra pacifiers in case she loses the first one." Julia and Christian realize that their son actually sucks a lot, especially since he was willing to take it in the ass for drug money, so they leave. Bitterly.

Eden bakes what appears to be evil poisoned fruitcake for Julia. She definitely makes a big show about pouring some darkish syrupy stuff out of a vial, anyway. Then she apologizes to Julia with a remarkable amount of feigned sincerity, and Julia, who apparently used to love fruitcake back when she was younger and still ate food, accepts the peace offering, even though fruitcake is "so fattening." She even invites Eden to spend Christmas with them, and Eden is like, "Well, I dunno if Sean will like that very much," and Julia is like, "Nah, it might help him forgive and move on." I wish they would spell out the themes more on this show. I'm having trouble absorbing them. Eden is cartoonishly evil some more, cackling and prancing around in her undone sequined bowtie. I actually like her now, I think. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

At the hospital, Matt and the Phantom walk around shooting the breeze about how many years of her life she spent trying to find a husband. Christian and Julia show up to tell him that Kimber is keeping Jenna. When Matt righteously professes how much he wants his baby back (baby back baby back), Julia is like, "Dude, you exploded yourself trying to make meth. No judge is going to give you custody. How you gonna take care of that baby when you can't even take care of yo'self?" Rachel berates Julia and Christian for being such jerks to Matt, and like a kitten on a motivational poster who dreams of being a tiger, she insists that he can do anything he sets his mind to. But even she admits that he needs to take charge of his life and stop relying on his parents to wipe his ass and tie his shoes for him. Julia starts to show signs of being poisoned by acting exactly the way she always acts: Being too weak to support the pile of skin and bones she calls a body.

Christian chases Rachel down the hall and offers her some free corrective surgery, I guess because McNamara/Troy has entirely given up on ever turning a profit. She explains to him that she is fierce and working her gross, wrinkly face, because it shows that she is a survivor. I definitely wish Tyra Banks had been present to make her cry about how little her parents loved her or something, but instead she just tells Christian to be honest. Boring.

Back at the apartment he shares with his lover's ex-husband, Christian trims the tree with Julia, who is showing more signs of being poisoned. It would be awesome if she would just keel over already, but it's still a little early for that magnitude of Christmas present. Sean has some pictures of their Christmas tree from freshman year, which apparently burned to a crisp, just like 40% of the character in this episode. All three reminisce and giggle about Julia's single year of college, and it's really bullshit that they had a Christmas tree their freshman year. Maybe a stack of beer bottles in the shape of a tree, I would believe. Maybe even some metallic garland or a wreath, but no one has space in a dorm room for a real, live tree. That's three totally unbelievable, mundane things so far this episode. Come on, writers.

Time to exchange gifts on which, if you'll recall, there was a $10 limit. Sean got Christian a McNamara/Troy t-shirt that says "Put your tits in our hands," which 1) Christian doesn't ever wear t-shirts, but good try, and 2) would have cost at least $14.50 on, so he went over. Christian got Julia an edible thong, which is gross, plus some earrings. We never actually see the earrings, despite the fact that Julia puts them on right in front of us, and we also never get to see what Julia got Sean, because he figures out that Christian spent more than $10 total on both gifts, and immediately deduces that they are screwing. I guess Julia's present is disappointment and treachery. Detective Sean gets really upset, and Christian insists that it's not like they're doing it to spite him, it's just that they love each other. Julia demurs, silently admitting that she loves only herself and poisoned fruitcake.
At work the next morning, the carolers are still going at it while Sean makes tea. So gay. Christian shows up and tries to explain himself, asking Sean to give the relationship his blessing. He hits upon the core point of this series, which is that Sean and Christian are what's most important to each other, and Julia is really the only thing that can come between them. (Pun! Hey-o! Well, except for that one time when they ran a train on that girl at the medical convention, I guess.) Sean is not ready to condone the relationship yet, since his tenuous possession of Julia is the only thing he's ever been able to lord over Christian.

Duke's face has been fixed, leaving a nifty little question mark-shaped line of stitches. He's busy thanking Sean when his shooter rolls in with his mom, who tells him to apologize. It turns out that they are his wife and son, which means that his son shot him in the face! Also, according to his wife's story of sadness and vengeance, the kid didn't shoot him over a Nintendo, although that would have been a worthy cause. He shot him because Duke apparently put the loaded, cocked gun in his hands and double-dog dared him to do it. I guess he's a lousy, negligent father, etc etc, same old story. All this bickering reminds Sean of his own lousy, negligent father. Then Mrs. Collins pulls out a gun of her own and aims to shoot Duke, but Sean intervenes and the bullet ends up in the belly of an Asian caroler dressed as a snowman. His blood running down the front of the snowman costume reminds me of a sno-cone. Delicious.

The carolers sing a slow, sad "Frosty the Snowman" as the Asian – still wearing his carrot nose – gets carried out on a stretcher. He's alive, apparently, so the body count is still 0. Duke high-tails it out of there, his wife is escorted out by the po, and his son leaves in the custody of a social worker. Sean and Christian watch the kid go and dream about maybe one day having some children of their own.

Speak of the devil, Matt is clumsily dressing his mummified torso in a button-down when Sean gets to the hospital. He apologizes for being a dick, and exposits that his dad was a dick also, and he doesn't want to continue the cycle of negligence with Matt. I guess it's too late for his other kids. He presents The Only Child He Acknowledges with a "dream box" that his dad gave him before he left, and he very pathetically says, "My dream is for you to forgive me." Matt's like, "Keep your dream box; I'd just sell it for drug money anyway." He also declines Sean's invitation to be his only friend at the Christmas party, as he will be spending the holiday in the pediatric ward, helping Rachel scare the bajesus out of children.

Christmas party at the apartment, and you will never guess who is there: Annie, Connor, and WILBUR!!!!! They are alive after all! And playing Hungry Hungry Hippos! Liz also showed up, dressed as a French Jew. Sean sort of agrees to be alright with the fact that Christian is sticking it to Julia, although he and Olivia seem to be on the same level of I'm Not Sure Why Anyone Would Like Julia So Much, But I Can't Condone Her Getting It On With Anyone But Me. Then Eden shows up with more poisoned fruit cake, and that's about it. In hindsight, Julia only seemed to be experiencing mild discomfort from the cake, so I'm thinking that maybe it wasn't poison after all, but dark corn syrup, and maybe the discomfort Julia was feeling was from the fact that it's the first thing she's eaten in 14 years.

Nip/Tuck is on hiatus until mid January, so I'll see you all again then. In the meantime, enjoy some time at home, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and I hope you get a Nintendo.