So, I guess I should begin with tonight’s big Office reveal. We see two of the people behind the camera and hear the third guy! It happens at the end in a sequence that probably should have been placed during the closing credits. Jim (who is still in Philly) and Pam have a phone fight because Jim’s stressed at work and Pam screwed up recording Cece’s boring dance recital. (It’s actually nicely acted by both Fischer and Krasinski despite them not being in the same “city.” And it felt realer than any part of This is 40.) Pam breaks down and the mic guy consoles her. We also see what I assume is a producer and hear the cameraman as the mic guy tells him to shut off the camera, and he does. It doesn’t give us much insight into anything or what the documentary is being used for, but it does break the fourth wall like the show did in the first episode this season. Also with this being episode 12 of 24, it makes sense to have a moment like this at the halfway point.
Yet it’s also an odd scene. We’ve seen plenty of scenes of people crying or in emotional turmoil before. Pam included. Michael too. While usually they’re with someone, occasionally they’re alone. Why did the documentarians chose this moment to “break character,” so to speak? It was effective, so I’ll give them that- and I thought it would have been more effective if we didn’t come back with a goofy credits sequence- but I didn’t think it ranked higher than other emotional Office moments. Then again, Jim and Pam are probably the producers’ pets. How else would you explain showing them kissing in the opening credits, following Pam to art school, and joining Jim in Philly with Athlead? I’m sure Angela’s off on her own crazy adventures as a state senator’s wife.
Now that I’m talking about the show as a whole, I feel I should comment on the latest reports that Steve Carell will probably not be reprising his role as Michael Scott in the finale. I am a bit conflicted about this. On the one hand, I wouldn’t want the final episode to be all about Michael Scott. However, this show is a documentary about the people who work and worked at Dunder Mifflin, so I would want to see what happened to its main and side characters more so than in other shows. For example, next week, I wouldn’t care about seeing what happened to Josh on 30 Rock. However, I would want to see what happened to Roy on The Office even if we didn’t have his wedding episode earlier this season. I still would like to see what happened to Devon from Seasons 1 and 2. So even if it’s just a title card saying, “Michael Scott Refused To Be Interviewed,” I feel something like that would be more true to the series’ format than not acknowledging him or having characters speak of him in past tense in the finale.
The episode itself was fine and comprised of several small storylines, all of which worked. The title, “Customer Loyalty,” refers once again to Dwight’s plot. Upon learning that Darryl is also leaving Dunder Mifflin for Athlead, he freaks out and accuses Jim of trying to poach everyone from the staff. But really he’s afraid of change and being left alone. Discovering that Darryl is more interested working in a place that’s fun and engages his interests, he takes him on a horrible road trip that ends with Dwight cleaning a fast food restaurant.
The Office occasionally tries to give Dwight serious moments that present his quirkiness as mental illness. This season’s Here Comes Treble is one example as Dwight confesses to Nellie that he might need therapy. Mostly, I don’t care for these parts because they spell everything out too obviously. Tonight though, the show didn’t pull a “The moral of Dwight’s attempt to hang out with Darryl is that…” It lets the characters and their actions speak for themselves.
Our final major plot revolves around Erin and Pete, again. Nellie tasks the two of them to set up fake Dunder Mifflin accounts on social media websites (insight into modern day business practices, and the type of stuff I was hoping for but never got from last year’s Florida subplot), but she soon realizes that they’re flirting with one another. Upset that she might have ruined Andy’s relationship, she attempts to warn the two off one another so she discusses the dangers of flirting in a Conference Room scene and, finally, cancels the social media project. Not much happens on the Erin/Pete front, but at least it’s out in the open so we hopefully don’t have to contend with more episodes of them pretending they’re not into one another. The conference room lesson also reignites Toby’s spark for Nellie.
Rarely do I devote legitimate space to the cold open, but I should tonight. Entitled “The Dunder Code,” it revolves around a prank on Dwight set up by Jim around six years ago- it was kind of silly seeing them try to turn 2013 Jim into 2006 Jim by giving him his old curls. This scheme sends Dwight on a quest for the Holy Grail throughout the office. It was pretty well done, and I was disappointed to see them blow through it in a 2-minute cold open when it could have easily been a decent B plot. If that were the case, we probably would have gotten a better ending to the gag than them just giving up. Nevertheless, as I’ve said over the past two years, the cold open is generally the part of the show that feels most classic Office, and a Jim/Dwight prank certainly falls under that category.
• Meredith is still wearing a wig, but a different one from last week
• Andy’s STILL not around.
• Steven Pasquale doing the scary face at the end of the Do No Harm promo looks more silly than intimidating.