And lo, Holly re-entered Michael Scott’s life, and the world of The Office was complete again. For this season finale, several stories came crashing in on each other, and what better place for that than the company-wide picnic, full of food, games and seeeeeecrets…
Aside from learning, for instance, that all Human Resources leads talk with the same joylessness and boring tact as Toby, the biggest event of the day is not the competitive volleyball game (more on that later), but Michael and Holly finally reuniting after her relocation to New Hampshire after it was discovered that she and Michael were fraternizing (boss + employee + sex = no good). Still with boyfriend and coworker Rob Huebel, she and Michael nevertheless still have major chemistry, but they must put that aside in order to do a comedy sketch for the picnic. After going through several bad ideas (a Jaws parody that would have them muttering “Dun-der, dun-der, dun-der”), they settle on a deliriously weird take-off of Slumdog Millionaire, complete with the torture scenes. The questions are based around the origins and history of Dunder-Mifflin (it seems Dunder and Mifflin met on a campus tour of Dartmouth, and one of them shot himself in the head), the sketch finally makes waves when one of the Millionaire questions reveals that the Buffalo branch is about to be closed, a piece of info David shared secretly with Michael.
Why David told Michael I’ll never understand (what were you expecting from someone who recently defected and battled your company), but I think the revelation might have done a very good job in revealing some of Corporate’s misdoings, and that Michael has become the kind of person to not go down without a fight.
Post-sketch, Michael and Holly have another moment, but alas, it cannot be, as she and Rob Huebel exit, leaving Michael to understand, in a stunning bit of maturity, that he is willing to wait for her and not force his hand too much.
“I think that today was just about having today.” – Michael
Meanwhile, on the field, Dunder-Mifflin is rising up in the ranks of the intramural volleyball tournament, thanks mostly to Pam rocking the ball hardcore. (She never revealed to anybody that she played in middle school, high school and some college, as well as attended volleyball summer camp frequently.) But when they go up against the Corporate team, led by Charles Minor, the game gets nasty.
On the sidelines, one of Dwight’s newest friends, Rolph, is relentlessly haranguing Angela for breaking his friend’s heart.
“What does one fiancée plus one lover equal? Answer: a whore!” – Rolph
Finally, Rolph goes too far, Dwight forcibly tells him to back off, and Angela realizes that she and Dwight may not be a lost cause after all.
(I don’t know if this was intentional, but I find it extra funny that Dwight says he met Rolph at a shoe store. The actor playing Rolph, James Urbaniak, is a wonder at playing terrible creeps, from being R. Crumb in American Splendor to voicing Dr. Venture on The Venture Brothers, but he will always be the foot fetishist shoe salesman on Sex and the City.)
But back to the volleyball game. During a particularly aggressive defense, Pam trips and busts her ankle, prompting Jim to take her to a nearby hospital (ever the paranoid naturalist, Dwight knows exactly how many miles away it is) and Dwight to stall the game as much as possible. But at the hospital, a busted ankle becomes something else, and in a scene respectable not just for its emotion but for the fact that it’s done in silence, Jim and Pam find out that they are having a baby, prompting Jim to call Dwight back and uttering the best line of the week:
“Hey Dwight, send in the subs.” – Jim
I realize I’m in the minority, but as I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, I think this is the best season of The Office yet. No longer insistent on simply telling a bunch of goofy office stories, the world has opened up even bigger than before, willing more than ever to turn up the drama when it’s necessary. Jim and Pam may seem irrelevant to some, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, as we see this beautiful flower emerge from the cracks within the concrete that is Dunder-Mifflin. Michael and Holly’s relationship was top-notch, helping turn Michael, finally, into an actual human being and not just a caricature who would sometimes change personalities just to service each week’s plot. Ryan’s return was handled well. Pam’s failed attempt at art school was realistic and understandable. The entire Michael Scott Paper Company arc worked better than I would have expected. How is this not a great season?
I leave this season with two more good quotes from the episode, the first just goofy, the second a cheap, easy joke for Dwight, but a funny one nonetheless.
“Yeah, you don’t grab these for balance.” – Pam
“I have an appointment with a horse doctor. How that horse became a doctor, I’ll never know. I’m just kidding. He’s just a regular doctor who shoots your horse in the head when his leg is broken.” – Dwight