In its recent advertising for the show, NBC has really been stressing that the end of The Office is near. In the hour before this episode aired, multiple promos declared that only four episodes remain, and this episode marked the beginning of the end. Unfortunately, “Paper Airplane” was hardly satisfying, with its only redeeming moments coming from the last minute of the episode.
Many fans on Facebook use any photo or status posted by the show as an opportunity to comment that the show “sucks now” and is “terrible without Carrell.” However, while the last two episodes may have been rather weak, I can still appreciate the writers’ dedication to the series and see that they are trying to give the show a satisfactory conclusion, which I still expect to see in the end.
Perhaps what made this episode feel so insignificant and disappointing was the main plot itself. The episode centered around an office-wide paper airplane contest that revealed Dwight and Angela still have feelings for each other, and Erin has anger issues that date back to her days in the orphanage. I realize The Office has had many low-key and uneventful plots that lend themselves to bringing more attention to the characters themselves over the years, but because the characters are so established at this point, it feels like the show is just killing time until the finale. I also found it interesting there was absolutely no mention of the upcoming documentary about the employees of Dundler-Mifflin considering how obsessed the last few episodes have been about the impending premiere. I guess now that the characters realize their deepest and darkest secrets will soon be revealed, there is nothing they can do but wait…
The B plot at least attempts to develop a new direction for a character. But due to the insufferable nature of Andy, I did not enjoy this plot that found him acting in a corporate training video arranged by his talent agent played by guest star Roseanne Barr. As a film major however, it was a bit entertaining to see the director’s frustration having to work with an actor as difficult as Andy. Clearly, Andy will never make it in show business, but I give credit to the writers for at least taking him out of the office with him seeking a new goal.
Finally, the ongoing drama between Jim and Pan continues. The two have been going to counseling, and attempting to practice what they learned by frequently reminding each other they appreciate one another, and using the term “opportunity” in place of more negative terms for things they do not want to do. As I said in the beginning, the best part of this episode came at the end, which gave closure to this plot in the episode. After Pam chases after Jim to give him an umbrella he forgot on his way out of the office, he embraces her, much to her surprise. The two then hold on to each other and for the first time in a while, the audience sees how much these two characters love each other.
My biggest issue with this episode is that it feels exactly like what it is: filler material to kill time until the finale. I wish it felt more significant and rewarding. At the same time, I understand it is hard to make an episode this late into a show’s life feel fresh and important, but I guess I just have higher expectations for Greg Daniels and The Office. I sincerely hope the last three episodes are an improvement over this week.