Spoilers for last night’s episode of The Office coming up:
If you’ve been following The Office this season, the one in which Steve Carell is leaving the show and thus Michael Scott is leaving the Scranton branch, you may have been wondering by now when exactly the show would get around to the business of Michael actually leaving. “PDA” did not directly address this, but with Michael and Holly’s relationship finally blooming (and a clock ticking), it began what looks like the process of his eventual exit. And more important, it did so with one of the strongest episodes in quite a while.
It began with probably the show’s best opening gag this season, a simply but deadly (so to speak) hilarious setup with Darryl’s coworkers mistaking his bereavement card, after his grandmother’s death, for a birthday card: “It’s time to celebrate. You deserve this.” (Note that the scene took pains to establish that Grandma was almost 97 when she died, which, I guess, made it easier for us to laugh. Has anyone done research about at which age death becomes acceptably comic? Is it based on actuarial tables?)
The central Michael-and-Holly storyline, meanwhile, went from a big physical, cringe humor gag—basically, how many ways they could make their coworkers uncomfortable sucking face—to a crisis, as Gabe articulated what has to have been in the back of our minds all along. Justice must come for the Scranton Strangler eventually, and when it does, what the hell happens when Toby comes back?
Was it implausible, by the way, that it never occurred to Michael to think of this problem? No: it’s exactly what he wouldn’t think. Not thinking of an unpleasant eventuality is exactly the defense mechanism his brain has employed all his life; think of “Scott’s Tots,” where disaster happened because he could not accept, until the last minute, that he would not become a millionaire at a young age. I did find it a little unbelievable that Holly would be as obliviously inappropriate about PDAs—she’s always seemed a very conscientious HR rep—but I’ll chalk that up to the throes of love, and to the denial that Gabe pointed out.
I don’t have any advance knowledge, but I have to guess at this point that Michael’s exit from Scranton has to do with Holly—whether he follows her to Nashua or goes to some unforeseen Plan B. But “PDA” established, with a classically Office mix of cringe humor and heart, that he and Holly are in this for the long haul.
Quick hail of bullets:
* The two subplots, meanwhile, showed that it’s not hard to find Valentine’s-themed stories in a show that has always been as much about love as work. Pam and Jim’s was amusing enough, but—and I may be the only one—I care more about Andy and Erin than any other pairing right now, and once again, their mutual shy inability to recognize that they’re still attracted was as sweet as it was infuriating.
* It’s been a while since we’ve seen Michael’s Hollywood aspirations, so I was glad he was able to interrupt his anguish long enough to dictate a pitch: “It’s like a time bomb… a sexual time bomb… [click] Boner Bomb, with Jason Statham. Or we go against type with Eisenberg or Michael Cera.” “Movie idea?” “No. ‘Saving the world has never been this hard.’ [click]”
* Ditto for a classic Michael moment of drawing exactly the wrong life lesson from an experience, and yet making it sound completely wise and apt: “It goes to show that everything you want in life you get. And you can’t work for it. It just comes to you.”
* “Look for a heart or some s— in the break room when you’re through.”
* Holly used the “weeky-weeky-weeky” bedsprings joke the same week Barney Stinson did on HIMYM! Who will go for the trifecta?