‘The Office’ Review: “Livin’ the Dream”
With three episodes left, tonight's 'The Office' is an hour long to seemingly help accommodate all that has to happen before we can finally say goodbye to the Dunder-Miflin crew. With Jim and Pam's marriage in a slightly better place at the end of the last episode, perhaps we can have some fun as we say goodbye. Perhaps.
The episode opens with Jim and Pam walking to work looking happy, as they tell the camera that Jim took a vacation from his other job (though his phone has been ringing off the hook), and they've obviously gotten back into the bedroom rhythm of things. Andy asks Jim to help pick a tie, and Andy asks why he's around the office so much. Jim says he can't give 100% to two things at once, which strikes a cord with Andy. Angela comes into the office looking frazzled because the government took most of her cats away. She feels completely alone, even though she has her son. Dwight comes in making an announcement that he got his black belt in off-brand kung fu. His sensei Billy ('The Sopranos's Michael Imperioli) has trained him poorly, obviously, but there's still a ceremony in the office at noon. David Wallace comes to talk to Andy about his latest expenses that seem only to be about his acting career, and it looks like Andy's about to get fired.
But before David can act, Andy tells him that he wants to quit to pursue fame of any kind. This makes David very happy as it lets him off the hook in so many ways, and he gives Andy encouragement. Jim and Clark fight over their shared desk, a fight Clark wins, when Andy announces that he's quitting. No one thinks this is a good idea.
Darryl talks to Andy, and he tries to discourage Andy about quitting for show business, but it doesn't get through Andy's ego. Dwight then gets his ceremony. Billy talks with David Wallace, and says that Dwight is odd, but also tenacious and determined. Dwight's girlfriend Esther gives him a big kiss when he finishes the ceremony, which upsets Angela.
Jim talks to David Wallace in a closed door meeting (but only about his marriage), which leads Dwight and Clark to commiserate outside. Clark smack-talks Jim, but Dwight supports the idea of Jim taking over. David Wallace talks to Jim about Dwight taking over, and Jim thinks it's a great idea. Nellie and Kevin try to talk Andy out of leaving, but Andy's still not buying it. Jim and Pam flirt, which gives Jim a chance to compliment Dwight's black belt, and Jim lets slip that Dwight might get Andy's job. Dwight then runs into Andy, and even though Dwight knows he might get Andy's job, Dwight tells him not to quit. Andy is beginning to waver, so he asks Erin if she thinks he'll make it. She says it's a big mistake, so he goes into David Wallace's office but before he can say anything David says that Andy can stay on as a salesman. David then calls in Dwight.
David offers Dwight the job, which makes Dwight fall to his knees and start crying. He already had cards made (in case Michael or Andy died and there was a trade show the same day), and gets/needs a big hug. Angela is drinking in the office (on the down low), while Pam comes to visit Jim at the annex desk and they flirt (which leads Toby to make a puke face). Andy announces that he's staying on in sales, and everyone says it's a good choice. Andy takes Dwight's desk, which sends Pam to the annex, where Pete is talking with Erin. They joke it's a double date, and Erin suggests they go on one this Thursday, but Pam says it's hard, to which Jim says weekdays are hard, which leads Erin to say forget it and storm out. David Wallace is about to announce Dwight's new position when he gets a phone call, so Dwight gets up on a desk and screams "Dwight Schrute is the new manager!" Both Pam and Jim congratulate him. Clark goes for the high five, but Dwight kicks him back to the annex. Dwight offers Jim the job of assistant regional manager, but JIm says that's not a real job but he'll take the position of assistant to the regional manager, which he agrees to because it's an "awesome added bonus."
Dwight stalks around the office and Angela notes it's a big day for him. Andy questions abandoning his dreams, so -- for the second time -- he quits and to make sure it's permanent he runs to Toby asking that it's noted that he's fired for touching someone's wiener, and then starts touching Toby (though just on the legs, which is enough to freak Toby out). Angela gets an eviction call from her landlord, which sets her off, while Andy goes in to David Wallace's office starts insulting David hoping to make it worse, and ends up pooping on David's car.
Angela goes outside to ask Andy what he's doing, and says it's not worth pride ruining his life, which obviously ties into her relationship with Dwight. But Andy thinks it's about their relationship, which grosses her out. She wishes him luck, though. Andy comes back in to play his guitar and say goodbye with a song (he sings "I Will Remember You"), and it's surprisingly touching. Angela gets closer to Dwight, and she starts crying, while it leads Phyllis and Stanley to say it's possible Andy could make it because less talented people have also succeeded.
As everyone leaves for the day, Oscar sees that Angela is looking for a tent, and Oscar suggests she stay with him for a while. Angela takes his hand (albeit only slightly) and says thank you. She then asks about pets. Dwight is awed with his day, while Darryl tells Jim their other job has been offered a buyout, and it will lead to them traveling even more. Jim says he can't do it to Pam. And when they leave it's revealed Pam can hear. As Angela sits in the car with Oscar, she breaks down crying saying that she loves Dwight.
Though Andy singing "I will Remember You" was more poignant than it should be, the moment that really hit home was -- at least for me -- the simple touch of hands between Oscar and Angela. They've been great this year, playing off each other as both friends and foes, but that simple human connection between them, with all they'd been through together, that Oscar would offer her a place to live spoke to why the show achieved a place in pop consciousness to begin with. Workplaces are often like families, which leads to being involved in people's lives that you may or may not like. But at a certain point, if you work with someone long enough, you care. And on that level the show transcended the British version which didn't have as much time to show those relationships. And that gesture showed that -- we understand that Angela can only go so far, so it's was an elegant thing. That was complimented by the fact that Jim, Pam and Dwight have reached a point where they can be happy for each other, and want the others to succeed, regardless -- or perhaps because of -- what they've all been through.
That said, for an hour-long episode this felt incredibly, incredibly padded. Andy quitting twice was an okay enough gag, but it felt like there was a lot of plate spinning in this episode -- literally everyone had an opinion on Andy leaving and expressed it, when one or two would have been sufficient, while Erin storming out about the rejected double date idea felt like it opened a door that was never closed. It also pointed out how much of this season felt like padding. The moment where Pam overhears Jim works because of the stakes involved, not because we're worried if she's going to have sex with a character we'd never met before.
Which brings up the question, did Brian the boom guy get Poochied, or are we going to have to see him again? Let's hope for the former.
That all said, this close to the end, the pieces are in place, and with the finale a supposed "x months later" type deal a lot of what's been going on is going to get wrapped up next week. That's exciting, perhaps a little more exciting than this episode, but it likely means the final two episodes are going to bring on some very emotional moments. This was a good episode, even if it erred by being bloated, and it seems possible that the show is going to come to a satisfying end. And that's good news.