WARNING! SEVERE SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ UNTIL AFTER WATCHING THE OFFICE EPISODE “GARAGE SALE”!
I admit it. I cried like a baby while watching this week’s episode of NBC’s The Office. It started when Michael (Steve Carell) begins taking Holly (Amy Ryan) on a tour of all the places that played an important role in their relationship in the Dundler-Mifflin building. That place is Michael’s life, and it only makes sense that his true love would share his fondest memories there. It got worse as Michael opens the door and reveals the staff, all of whom have shown up to support him. Truly, his family, there to shower the two with love and share in their special moment. Of course she says yes! She has to! Though I knew the announcement would eventually come, but didn’t expect it to come right then, Michael tells his co-workers he is leaving the company, leaving them, and they all stare back, speechless and stunned.
It is necessary to walk through those moments again, certainly among the most powerful The Office has yet produced, to get just how great this is. For all the squabbles and antics the staff of Dundler-Mifflin goes through, they are a tight-knit group. When it was announced long ago that this would be Steve Carell’s final season with the show, it was a sad day indeed. But it didn’t really sink in to me until Michael broke the news to the other characters. Their looks tell it all. I’m tearing up just remembering it. Their boss, leader of the gang of misfits, is going away. They are just beginning to cope, and now it’s time for us, the fans, to do the same.
The fact that the writers chose to bundle that news with Michael’s proposal to Holly make the emotional impact a double punch. One second, it is tears of joy pouring forth, the next, tears of sorrow. A better time could not have been chosen to make the biggest possible impact. When Michael is fondest in our hearts, they rip him away. I am not complaining; it’s the gripping intensity that made the scene so good. Michael still has a few episodes left (Holly will be leaving sooner), but now there’s an end in sight. A ticking clock, if you will. Evey moment that Michael Scott is on screen from now until the end will be infused with sadness at his imminent departure. Keep the tissues handy.
Now who will be the new boss? Rumors abound, as everyone has an opinion. Will Ferrell (Saturday Night Live) will begin a several episode arc next week. Recent reports that Will Arnett (Arrested Development) will be in this May’s season finale have also sparked speculation. After all, series creator Ricky Gervais, who starred in the British version, has said Arnett would be ‘amazing’, and nominated him for the job to NBC. Gervais himself will appear in the finale, too, I assume to reprise his British character for a second time (he had a cameo in an opening this past January), but I find it highly unlikely he could be drawn to the show on a permanent basis. He has too many other things going on, and as much as I enjoy David Brent, he doesn’t match the American tone well enough for an extended stay.
Myself, knowing three new staff members will soon be added, am in favor of internal promotion. There is no need to take away any more screen time than necessary from the central cast, and plenty of staffers could take the baton. My top suggestions are Darryl (Craig Robinson), Stanley (Leslie David Baker), and Toby (Paul Lieberstein), each of whom would bring something very different to the table. Pam (Jenna Fischer) could also work. I am not in favor of either of the obvious choices, Jim (John Krasinski) or Dwight (Rainn Wilson) because both have temporarily taken control before, and neither went very well.
“Michael, you’ve had two ideas today. And one of them was great. And the other one was terrible.” ~ Pam
“I am not in the mood for riddles, Pam.” ~ Michael
Those lines are spoken as Pam catches Michael in the middle of executing his first proposal idea, spelling out his question in gasoline in the parking lot, dangerously near everyone’s cars. Of course, the road to asking Holly is quite bumpy. Michael only pulls off his great success (even the sprinklers going off didn’t detract) with the help of Pam, Jim, Oscar (Oscar Nunez) and Ryan (B.J. Novak). It is those people who care about Michael most that help him with the biggest task of his life.
I think the writers knew it would be folly to make this episode anything but touching. While there are some funny bits, the B stories focus on relationships, too. Andy (Ed Helms), Darryl and Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) engage in a round of Dallas: The Board Game, making up their own rules as they go. Andy and Darryl have been hanging out more and more, and their buddy-buddiness is a highlight. Two wonderful actors, brought into the series as their careers were taking off. Both do movies (The Hangover, Hot Tub Time Machine), but both still have time to have fun on a brilliant sitcom.
The second subplot involves Jim tricking Dwight. A good prank between the pair has been a staple of The Office from its earliest days. Getting back to that chemistry is always a good time, and this is no exception. Jim convinces Dwight he has magic beans, so to speak, and Dwight, while continually insisting he won’t fall for it, can’t bring himself to pass up the possibility. He trades Jim a telescope with a $150 price tag for the legumes. The final teaser shows Jim replacing the soil-filled pots Dwight has planted with large stalks. Talk about commitment to the joke!
Relationships don’t have to be all nice and romanticized to work. I think Jim and Dwight are a great pairing. We have seen that they are willing to come through for each other when the chips are really down, but most of the time, mild animosity rules. It is perfectly realistic to believe you can be friends, of a sort, without liking each other. They may not hang out much in their off-work hours, but there is a certain level of respect and trust between them, and I do not see either one ever getting malicious. It’s more of a sibling vibe. I definitely think Jim would not put up with someone else being seriously mean spirited towards Dwight, and vice versa.
I will likely be covering The Office again soon, as the rest of this season has some big changes ahead! Make sure you do not miss out. The Office airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.