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‘The Office’ Review: “Customer Loyalty”

The Office "Customer Loyalty"
NBC/Universal

Okay, this is it. The halfway point in the final season of ‘The Office.’ There’s less than six hours left of the show after tonight. And we’re hoping that we’re at the point where they realize that they’ve got to deliver their A game for the rest of the run if they want people to remember the show fondly, not as something that peaked nearly five years ago.

When Dwight wants to throw out old files he finds a letter from Robert Dunder that suggests the company owner has the holy grail. No surprise, it’s a prank that Jim made years ago, and it sends Dwight on a quest which sucks in most of the staff, though Jim forgot to leave a fake grail (or did he?)

Pete and Erin have been working on a Facebook project together, which leads Erin to lightly flirt with Pete and Nellie to realize that she’s paired the two, which — as she already has an awkward relationship with Andy — freaks her out. Jim is trying to get out of Philly early to get to his daughter’s dance recital, but he ends up stuck in trying to keep an investor interested, which upsets Pam and his daughter. When Darryl comes in and talks to Dwight about his new gig, Dwight gets upset and calls Jim, and Jim tells Dwight he plans to poach all of Dunder-Miflin. This leads Dwight to create loyalty pledges and track what Darryl’s been up to lately at work.

Dwight then has a presentation about customer loyalty. And when talking about faithfulness, Nellie seizes the opportunity to suggest that Erin shouldn’t be flirting with someone — which Kevin makes less subtle by naming Pete. This leads Erin to bowing out of the project with Pete, which makes Nellie happy. Pam is at the recital trying to record it with her phone when she gets the news she’s going to design a mural for the city of Scranton.

Dwight gets Darryl to do a delivery with him so he can show Darryl how much fun their jobs are, which he does by playing music and sports in the car, and it totally doesn’t work. And when Dwight goes for a fast food lunch and throws a milkshake on a cashier, Darryl forces Dwight to clean it up. Toby (returning after a couple show absence) talks to Nellie and points out that Andy is a terrible boyfriend, He also suggests that the two of them have something special. Nellie totally forgot about their make-out session and is a little horrified. Pam goes to show the recital video to her coworkers and realizes that she didn’t tape it when she got the phone call. Nellie tells Pete and Erin that they are being forced to work together, which makes everyone happy, especially Toby. Jim finally calls Pam, and he tells her his start up has lost a big investor, and Pam tells him she didn’t tape the recital, which leads to a fight that leaves Pam bawling, and shows Brian the documentary’s sound guy to comfort her. The kicker is Darryl watching a youtube video of Dwight getting hit with the milkshake.

For the first time in the show’s existence we get to put a face to the people making the documentary about ‘The Office,’ which is fascinating as a number of one-camera shows have adopted the documentary style without really acknowledging the documentary aspect. And as we head into the final stretch, it’s not a bad idea to bring in the people who — at this point, very unbelievably — have been following these people for years. But it also seems like this new person is a possible love interest for Pam, which is way less interesting.

As I’ve said before the biggest problem with the show now is that Jim and Pam have become the least interesting aspect of the show, and this was a drama episode for them that – with so many other characters – left it feeling like there was no other place the episode could end except a fight (though Pam in tears was a great moment for the character, having sat on her desire to tell her husband about her success). But what made this a fairly bad episode was that Dwight bugging Darryl wasn’t all that funny. Hopefully this is the lowest point of the final season.

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