'The Office': The long-distance goodbye

Amyryan_theoffice_240 Sigh. While this was yet another strong episode of The Office -- with three completely separate but well-tended plot threads -- I can't help feeling a little sad now that it's over, as this was episode six in Amy Ryan's six-episode guest arc. Hey Emmy voters, make sure you remember this next summer, 'K?

There's not a lot of money in spoilers, is there?

After corporate found out Michael and Holly were dating last week, Dunder Mifflin forced her to transfer back to her old branch in Nashua, N.H., which according to Google Maps is a little over 300 miles from Scranton (so they fudged the length of the trip a little in the show. Ah well). Michael is understandably willing to make a run at long-distance love, this being the closest thing to a healthy relationship he's ever had. And Holly is too, at first.

But after the third playing of "Life Is a Highway" in the Dunder Mifflin flatbed truck (which Darryl is driving, after he catches them fooling around with the radio) Holly starts to see how difficult it will be to close the gap on weekends. Michael, not so much: "She thinks it's over, but I'm not going to give up that easily. I'm going to make this way harder than it has to be."

The rest of the trip is, how to put this, uncomfortable (especially for Darryl), as both Holly and Michael are blubbering messes by the end. The final scenes with the two of them sharing a hug and brief kiss, and her looking out the window as he slumps back into the truck, were really sweet and sad and, in a weird way, hopeful. Maybe, just maybe, Holly has brought out enough in Michael that he won't immolate this relationship the way he has all the others we've seen.

(And, by the way, kudos to Darryl for helping cheer Michael up by teaching him to sing the blues, or at least hum the "Da-na-na-NA-na" riff underlying so many blues songs.)

Onto tonight's other stories:

Jim and Pam

Jennafischer_office_240We finally got Jim and Pam in the same place for a fair amount of time this week, but unfortunately they didn't get to enjoy their time together very much. Jim's brothers Tom and Pete are taking the couple out to lunch to celebrate their engagement, and Pam asks to meet them early so she can play a little prank on her fiance.

She wants to do act like she lost her engagement ring after taking it off for a ceramics class, but Tom and Pete have a better idea: Remember that thing we did to him in high school? Let's just dog out his girl and talk about how there's no money in a career in art and how it's like having a hobby for a job.

So, then, Jim's brothers are jerks. They play their non-prank prank, and Pam goes along because she doesn't want to seem uncool to her future family, but wow do they overdo it. Jim is not always the most empathetic guy, but he's positively a saint compared to these two. At least Pam comes through it with her dignity intact, and a plan for the future: "Hey, maybe over Thanksgiving we can prank Tom about being bald."

Dwight and Andy

The night's most straight-ahead comedy came from round -- what, like 83? -- in the Battle of Dwight and Andy. Now that Angela has cut him off, Dwight instead tries to torment Andy by going after his other great love -- his alma mater, Cornell -- by showing up to work with a Cornell sweatshirt and all sorts of Big Red paraphernalia. It works, and then it works even more when Dwight says he's applying there.

Edhelms_theoffice_240Ah, but Andy briefly turns the tables by convincing the admissions office to let him conduct Dwight's application interview. Dwight cries conflict of interest, but Andy doesn't much care: "So should I not let you in now, or do the interview and then not let you in?" A one-upping standoff ensues, with Andy informing Dwight that there's no chance he'll get in and Dwight saying he'd rather go to Dartmouth anyway (ooh...).

What I like about this ongoing war is that the show hasn't really picked sides. Yes, Dwight did a pretty awful thing by sleeping with Angela after she and Andy got engaged. On the other hand, though, Andy's kind of a massive tool. And they're fighting over ... Angela. Yeesh.

Other thoughts and observations on "Employee Transfer":

  • The show keeps its Halloween tradition alive with a pre-credits sequence that features a number of great bits, from Kelly's painful Carrie Bradshaw shoes to Stanley sleeping under his Black Lagoon mask Ryan explaining he was Gordon Gekko ("Oh -- from the insurance commercials"). The dueling Jokers riff worked quite well too -- how scary-good was Creed's makeup job? -- but I think my favorite was Pam's super-awkward Chaplin costume at corporate, where no one dresses up ("and I can't even take my hat off, because then I'm Hitler").
  • A couple more Cornell digs, first from Dwight: "Cornell is a very good school. Without their agriculture program, we probably wouldn't have cabbage. At least not modern cabbage." And then from Creed: "It's pronounced 'kernel,' and it's the highest rank in the military."
  • Funny/sad/truthful moment from Michael, who eventually is reduced to begging Holly through his tears: "I'm not going to be OK. I'm not strong -- I'm gonna go back to Jan, and I hate Jan!" It's rare that Michael is that self-aware, but it's good to be reminded that he's occasionally capable of it. I genuinely felt bad for the guy tonight.

So long, Holly Flax. It was great getting to know you, and I hope Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflin Scranton and The Office are able to carry on without you.

I think we're all pretty sad to see Amy Ryan go, but how'd you feel about the rest of the episode? And: Team Andy or Team Dwight?