'The Office': Michael finds God, Jim loses the baby

the-office-christening2.jpgKnowing that this is Steve Carell's last year on "The Office" all this time has made for a different viewing experience this season (at least on this couch).

It's going to take something big -- something more, we suspect, than the return of Holly a little ways down the road -- to get Michael to leave Dunder Mifflin. This is, after all, a guy whose very existence revolves around his job, and so it's going to take something pretty major to shift his worldview to the point where he's comfortable, or at least not petrified of, leaving the Scranton branch.

The events of "Christening" didn't get him there, but they might have started him on the path. It wasn't the fact that he, and then Andy, jumped on the bus to Mexico to join them on their missionary trip; you can chalk that up to a typical Michael scenario of getting swept up in the energy of a moment that really has nothing to do with him. (Andy's just trying to show off for Erin.) It was more the contrast between the genuine enthusiasm among the parishioners and the cynicism of his co-workers; maybe just for a minute, Michael might have realized there was something to life outside the Scranton Business Park.

(And yes, Michael himself surely helped create the office staff's surly mood by inviting them all to the christening when Jim and Pam weren't expecting them, which meant there wasn't enough food and on and on. But on the other hand, Michael kind of had a point when he wondered why everyone was there if it was such a drag; based on what he said, there wasn't any implied threat for not showing.)

Now, was this the funniest "Office" we've seen? No. Not hardly, despite moments like Toby's outburst in the church and Jim thinking Angela had stolen the baby. But it does feel like this episode might help lay the groundwork for us saying goodbye to Michael Scott.

Other notes on "Christening":

  • The Jim-and-Pam story about Cece ruining her dress and Jim fearing he had lost the baby was pretty sitcommy but saved by a couple details, including Kevin's aggressive attempted search of Angela's big purse and the exchange between the parents when Jim brought Cece in wearing a T-shirt instead of the approved backup outfit -- Pam: "You said you checked." Jim: "I did ... say that."
  • Toby's showdown with God in the church was one of the three or four funniest Flenderson moments ever. It wasn't exactly Jed Bartlet cursing at the Almighty in "The West Wing," but "Why do you always have to be so mean to me?" gets to the point just as well.
  • Also appreciated the fact that Jim and Pam having to very firmly tell Michael that he's not Cece's godfather didn't lead to a typical, petulant Michael response like we saw in the Halloween episode last week.
  • Best moment in the cold open: Erin running across the office to make sure she sneezed on Dwight so he could become accustomed to her germs.
  • Ryan in church: "For all their generosity of spirit, they password protect their wireless?" Kelly: "Try 'Jesus.'" Dwight: "'Opus Dei.'"

What did you think of "Christening"? Did Michael's (possible) epiphany carry the episode enough for you?

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Photo credit: NBC