After last week’s conceptually successful episode introducing us to the final season of The Office, we return tonight with an edition far less satisfactory. Oddly enough, my biggest complaint about “The New Guys” (its forced central plot) is absent here as nothing really takes center stage story-wise. Unfortunately, the multiple plots going on felt meandering, even if they are thankfully more toned down than most of the past few seasons.
As the title states, tonight, we see the wedding of Roy, the ex-fiancé of Pam who had a one time death vendetta against Jim. While I can complain about it making no sense for the cameras to be there or for Jim and Pam to attend or for the Vances to attend (unless they had a relationship with Roy that I can’t remember), the only cast members at the event were the Halperts; the Vances; and Darryl, who makes total sense as a guest. This wasn’t an event that required the presence of everyone at Dunder Mifflin, like Cece’s Christening or Andy’s play, and it was over before the end of the first break. Its sole purpose was to introduce (or re-introduce) the boredom in the Halperts marriage- not to ignite jealousy or serve as a wacky set piece.
Seeing Roy change made Pam realize that she knows everything about Jim and vice versa. To test their memory, they even have a small Newlywed Game “hosted” by other employees that goes on in the kitchen. This was another moment that was appropriately underplayed. However, Pam realizes that Jim has a secret, though she doesn’t find out that it’s Jim’s new business venture because he refuses to tell her about it until “it’s real.” While I commend the show for making this storyline more human and less “The Office Family Helps Jam Out of a Bind,” it seemed overly personal for The Office. Emotions on this series, at least those not connected to big moments, usually come as a reaction to the plot rather than serving as the plot itself.
The B-plot involves Andy, Erin, Pete, and Clark. Clark, doing his best Jonah Hill, tries to hit on Erin by telling her that he’s doing news anchor tryouts in his apartment so she must come later that night in sexy outfits. Bringing Pete with him as his make-up guy, Andy tags along as her co-host, and the failed suitor has to indulge Andy’s passion for attention while Pete and Erin go out for dinner.
This probably sets up two storylines: 1) Erin realizing she can be more than a secretary and 2) Erin and Pete as an item. As for the first point, although I understand that some characters are going to get a happy ending, I will be awfully disappointed if everyone gets to live their dream. Secondly, not another Andy/Erin/Third Wheel love triangle. It was one of the weakest parts of last season, and now I have no reason to want to see Andy and Erin together. We’ve barely seen them as a couple, and they don’t seem to have much chemistry as it is.
Finally, Nellie wants to implement a mandatory Dunder Mifflin-funded charity program, which Dwight refuses to participate in because, as studies explain, charities don’t work. This leads to Dwight expressing his desire to live under Taliban law, Nellie stealing a pen, and Dwight being too scared to chop her hand off as a penalty. (Now the top picture makes sense.) Since the introduction of Nellie on The Office, the show has had a difficult time figuring out who she is. I thought her best “incarnation” occurred during the first part of the Florida trip where her odd/stupid behavior seemed a front for a far more calculating and malevolent personality. Tonight, this side returns as she plays Dwight and calls his bluff. This is a Nellie that I wouldn’t mind seeing throughout the rest of the series. I just hope she doesn’t get her boyfriend back in May.
• Toby also shows his in depth knowledge of Pam’s personal life. A nice nod to continuity.
• Darryl brought Val to the wedding. With less than ten second on screen, tonight is her best appearance yet because it contributes to the “outside the office” universe. I guess this puts an end to the Dellie that was floated at the end of last season. Unless … another love triangle?
• During the B plot, Ed Helms could have easily mugged to Andy’s heart’s content. Yet he didn’t. Another sign of better days ahead?
• Funniest moment: Darryl’s face when he sees Dwight and Nellie in the break room with the butcher knife.
• Is it just me or has no work been done for the past two episodes? Usually, people are doing stuff in the background or phones are ringing, but over the past two episodes, I can’t think of anything that indicates that Dunder Mifflin is even operational.