NBC originally announced that the last two episodes of “The Office” would both be an hour long, with tonight’s episode being the final half hour installment in the series. However, at the last minute NBC decided to extend “Livin’ the Dream” to fill an hour-long timeslot, much like this season’s earlier episode “Moving On”. Director/editor Dave Rogers justified the extension by saying “we still had a lot of great storytelling to do” leading up to the finale. So… was this a good decision? Was there really a need to give the show a full hour to tell this story?
But the good news is that the extended runtime is my only complaint about the episode. Overall, “Livin’ the Dream” was a solid story and a satisfying episode, but the runtime was simply too long and felt a bit unnecessary. The show could have been trimmed down to 30 minutes and resulted in the same emotional takeaway as the 60-minute cut. But enough about the editing, what about the actual plot?
Well the big news is that after nine years of waiting (at least for the audience), Dwight finally got the promotion he has long coveted. David Wallace arrives at the office with the intent of firing Andy, but before he can, Andy announces that he is quitting his day job to put his full attention into becoming a star, much to the disapproval of all his co-workers. Not because they don’t want to lose him as a manager, but because none of them believe he has the talent to make it. As much as I dislike the character of Andy, I have to admit that his send-off was very touching. He sang (surprisingly well) “I Will Remember You” while playing guitar, offering his fellow employees some faith in his talent. This of course also doubled as a touching nod toward the ending of the series, offering a justifiable excuse to play the overused song. Was this the last we’ll see of Andy? Probably not overall, but definitely in the office setting. If the finale really takes place months into the future as the rumors say, we’ll probably get some sense of how Andy is doing in his quest for fame.
All is well with Jim and Pam now. Counseling (and the theatrical kiss in the previous episode) seem to have done the trick. So is the drama finally over? Nope. Turns out Jim’s Philadelphia-based startup company hit gold and has an offer to go out west and cover LA-based teams, but Jim turns it down to be with Pam, which Pam overhears. This plot reeks of typical “Office” drama, but I have to admit it’s not obvious to me which direction they’ll take this. Pam can tell him to go because it is important to him, thereby negating Jim’s revitalized passion for Pam, or he can stay and Pam will feel guilty. Guess only time will tell what happens.
Angela and Oscar are finally friends after nine years. After Angela gets evicted from her apartment, Oscar offers his place for her to stay for a while. I guess considering all the drama the two have gone through with the Senator it is nice to see the two don’t have bad blood. Personally, I am just really annoyed with the character of Angela and could care less if she ends up with Dwight the way they are building it up to be.
The best character and best plot of the night go to Dwight. Rainn Wilson continues to give an excellent, convincing, and consistent portrayal of the legendary Dwight K. Schrute, and seeing him finally reach his goal of becoming regional manager was very satisfying. The look on his face when he found out the news was priceless, and as both Jim and David assert, he deserves the position more than anyone.
Overall, “Livin’ the Dream” was a good episode, and offered many redeeming moments, particularly the promotion of Dwight and the departure of Andy. The episode was a tad too long, but given how much devoted fans of “The Office” want every new minute of the show they can get, I can overlook this flaw and look forward to seeing how the episode is cut down in the future for syndication. Only two episodes remain. And I, personally, am very excited for the next installments.