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‘The Office’ Review: “Moving On”

The Office: "Moving On"
NBC

We may be in crunch time of ‘The Office‘s final season, but there’s still a number of places left for the show to go. As was introduced recently, there’s the looming threat of Brian the boom guy to Jim and Pam’s marriage, and Andy may be in hot water with corporate for his three month absence, while Erin and Pete may take it to the next level. Tonight’s episode “Moving On” (directed by Jon Favreau) is an hour long,and we’ve only got so many episodes left, so hopefully it delivers.

The episode starts with Andy being chewed out by David Wallace, and flounders with his excuses, but he’s left off with a warning because David Wallace says that he knows he owns the company because of Andy. But he’s on thin ice.

As Andy comes into work he tries to talk to Erin, but storms into his office, closes his blinds and cries like a baby. Erin reveals that she and Pete are now dating, but they’re keeping it on the down-low for Andy’s sake. Pam’s got a job interview in Philly and she confesses that she’s nervous with how fast things are moving, while Dwight goes to Angela for help with his dying aunt Shirley, which Angela reluctantly agrees to.

Pam heads out for her interview, and Dwight and Angela take off, which Andy questions, but everyone throws his three month absence in his face. Erin tries to give Andy phone messages, but he acts pouty so he goes to Pete and Clark to get some sympathy. Andy then looks at Erin’s phone while she’s in the bathroom (kind of a plot device, who doesn’t take their phone into the bathroom these days?), and sees that she’s been texting a guy named Pete, but doesn’t put two and two together that it could be the Pete in the office, so he goes to Pete (and some of the other guys) trying to figure out who this Pete is. Pete’s theory: Andy forgot his real name.

Dwight and Angela show up at aunt Shirley’s and find that one of her breasts is hanging out, and the only way to get her calm is to give her a liter of Schnapps. This knocks Shirley out, so they plan to take her outside and spray her down. Andy brings Pete into his office, and tells Pete that Erin gave him an incurable STD (called “Chamidia”), which makes Pete admit their relationship but he says there was no overlap. Andy then says Pete’s fired and starts singing, which Pete ignores and goes back to his desk. Andy then goes to Toby, and is told he can’t fire Pete.  In Philly, Pam meets Jim and heads off to her interview with Mark, who is played by  Bob Odenkirk (Yay!), and he acts a whole lot like Michael Scott, which Pam notes. Even if Odenkirk is doing an impression of Steve Carell‘s character, not only is it great for the non-comedy comedy, but you can totally see a parallel universe where Odenkirk played Michael Scott and nailed it as well as Carell did. In about twenty seconds this became the best episode of the season.

Outside, Dwight chains up his aunt and plans to hose her down, but Angela won’t do it, and says she’s going to give Shirley a bath and a haircut like a real lady. Mark gives Pam an office tour, and he really is Scott-esque all through the interview process. Andy blames the office for his relationship going sour, but no one cares, so Pete goes into Andy’s office to talk to him (with an Erin assist), but Andy isn’t buying it.

Pam goes through the interview, but when the job isn’t so much office manager as secretary, she turns it down. Angela cleans up Aunt Shirley, Toby plans to go to prison to visit strangler he’s obsessed with, while a new girl comes to work as a consultant at Dunder-Mifflin. It’s Alice, Pete’s ex-girlfriend, and it seems that Andy also hired back Gabe “The Birdman,” aka Erin’s ex.

Toby goes to the prison, and gets strangled by his strangler (Toby lives). Andy comes in to talk to Pete, Clark and Alice — who’s ready to work — and reveals that she only got hired to make Pete uncomfortable. Gabe tries to talk to Erin, and just makes her uncomfortable. Angela makes dinner for Dwight and his aunt, and the chemistry between her and Dwight is reignited briefly. Pam goes to Jim’s office where he’s ordered food and got champagne. She tells him that she didn’t get the job, but he’s happy anyway.

As Angela and Dwight leave aunt Shirley’s the two start making out, but Angela won’t leave her husband. Andy has a conference with Pete, Erin and their respective exes, and that leads to Erin and Pete fighting with their exes, which makes Andy happy. Pam and Jim have dinner and it’s nice until Pam reveals she doesn’t really want to move.The episode ends with Oscar doing exercises that leave him hanging in a doorway, and a reveal that the documentary of ‘The Office’ will be debuting in May.

The episode was a little bloated, this was a surprisingly good episode for a number of reasons. Though Andy was a total jerk in the last episode, it was never that funny — It felt like plotting. So if they are going to keep him around, he needed to do something interesting, and the pay-off in his hiring Pete and Erin’s exes was a great bit. It was a perfectly terrible thing to do (though it would seem that Alice would leave right away). It also was good to have some motion on the Angela/Dwight relationship, as we’re guessing that’s going to come into play in the final episodes — which may have been changed when ‘The Farm‘ wasn’t picked up. Actress Angela Kinsey was never signed on for the spin-off, but maybe now that ‘The Farm’ is dead, the two can have a happy ending.

But more than that, Jim and Pam were used well. Sure, much of that was having Pam act as a foil to Bob Odenkirk, but the final section is what they’ve been building to for a while now, and it was good to have that conflict come out in a way that felt right and not silly. Their problem is a real problem, and having possible secondary love interests makes the truth of that drama feel cheap. Though we’re sure that Brian the boom guy is going to come back into the picture, tonight the (occasionally forced) drama felt earned in a way it hadn’t previous. And now there’s also the ticking clock of when the people involved actually get to see the documentary about them.This was the highpoint of the season so far, and it suggests that maybe this could end well. At least, I hope.

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