Though I love the Office, I believe a half hour is the right dosage. Good to see it back, don’t stay so long when you show up again.
The construct of this episode was clever: Dunder-Mifflin is holding a weight loss contest for each of its branches, the prize being extra vacation days. Each act gave us one week in the life of the employees. So for once we can see the whole summer rather than getting what happened dealt out over the course of an episode. Less surprises, but a bit more real.
Michael & Holly: The major dorkiness (“Exsqueeze Me” and “Dreadmill”) and parallels between this pair are wonderful, even though when Holly embarrasses herself it comes more from her humanity - she’s actually well-meaning rather than clueless (with Oscar but more disastrously with Kevin). They’re not as funny as Michael’s mistakes, but you can’t have her be a carbon copy of him. It ruins any shot of rooting for Michael to be with her rather than Jan.
With Holly as HR person, I think we’ll probably see Dwight or someone else be the cause of sudden Office staff meetings for some time. If Holly has to go through what Toby went through, there’s no way they could make this work out either. She’ll just have to get hints about how clueless Michael is by having him miss perfectly good opportunities with her - like tearing up those tickets. Sigh.
Pam & Jim: It’s hard to keep a stable relationship like this interesting without introducing tension between the pair, but thankfully they still don’t want to go that way. There’s still good fun to be had by Michael getting involved in it (Michael trying to kiss Pam, Michael stealing their live chat session, Michael throwing condoms at Jim)
Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to misdirect us on by making it look like there’s already another love interest in Pam, along with the typical problems with long distance relationships. But in the end Receptionitis and Jim9334 got engaged. Good for them.
My favorite thing in this episode came from this story. When Pam discovers she’s in the wrong class, she can’t bring herself to leave because the teacher draws attention to her. It’s a wonderful telling detail about who Pam is - that despite her own new-found confidence and excitement, it’s not a natural to her. And she can very easily fall back to a default setting of comfort in something that’s not working. Foreshadowing? Good bad font joke too.
Angela, Andy & Dwight: Strangely one of the things about hour episodes is sometimes not much happens. This storyline in particular was just repeating the same beats over and over again. Andy excited about wedding plans shares them with Angela. Angela Pavlovian dials Dwight. They have sex downstairs is the shipping area. Repeat. (I kind of wish they put Andy’s line about wanting to have washboard abs the first time Angela sees me naked around one of these - it’d up the sad funny. She’s not even sleeping with Andy!)
Repetition is a great tool for comedy, even when its abused - see Austin Powers - but here’s its not really played for laughs, it’s story. I don’t think it helps much that we see very little of the human side of Dwight throughout much of the rest of the episode. Angela has a couple moments of regret, but they go nowhere. There’s no reason to explode this story with Andy finding out… but something?
Still great lines from Angela: “I have a finaceé I very much like!” and “I have a nice comforter and several cozy pillows. I usually read a chapter of a book and it’s lights out at 8:30. That’s how I sleep at night!”
Others: Ryan’s back. And he hasn’t learned anything. Love how Jim can see right through him. Seeing him trying to grovel back to his initial status with Kelly gave me more than a little joy. And the goatee stuff means we’ll see more of Michael’s strange attachment and also Dwight’s desperate attempts to curry favor.
The runners were hit and miss. Stanley’s weight loss didn’t make me laugh much. But Kelly’s crazed attempts to lost weight were given a little poignancy in Michael’s “this big fat pig is beautiful” meeting (of course they’re immediately undercut in the next act). That one alone makes me glad they have such a deep bench for when NBC makes them do an hour like this one.
Best Dark Joke I’ve Heard in a While: Jan expressing disappointment that her candles won’t be used for any more midnight vigils: “Oh, they found her?”
Longest Payoff After a Setup: Holly’s revealing that she believes Kevin is mentally challenged while defending him from Angela. Is there a worst person to have judging you than Angela?
Most Pathetic Man in the Universe: Toby. No Costa Rica beach for him. Christ, it’d be sad if it wasn’t so funny.
Obscure Reference I’m Going to Make You Re-watch the Episode For: What the hell happened to the Nashua branch? They were up by like 8 pounds at one point. I guess Karen in Utica is a real good motivator.
Oh and speaking of the Nashua Branch. They sort of fit into this cut clip from the episode: