Objectively, as a critic, I probably wasn’t supposed to like “Threat Level: Midnight,” in which Michael Scott’s long-gestating movie finally came to fruition. It probably wasn’t plausible that the entire office would participate, and the episode was essentially like a giant, well-produced webisode bonus. But objectively or not, I loved it. It may just be that I have so much invested in The Office that I enjoyed the memory-lane cruise (there’s Roy! there’s Michael’s condo from when he lived with Jan!).
But there was also a real and significant moment when Michael realized that he could accept how terrible his movie was and laugh along with it. It wasn’t so much about Michael gaining perspective on his talent, I thought, as a sign of how much being with Holly is changing him: he realizes that actual, attainable happiness is enough for him, so that, after all these years, he can start letting go of his various escapist pipe dreams.
I still feel the episode would have been even more powerful a curtain call if the show were ending with Steve Carell’s departure. But “Threat Level: Midnight” still made me glad I bought my ticket. (If you agree, the movie itself is now available as a 26-minute video on iTunes.) It may not work as a summer tentpole—that’s what she said!—but did it work for you?