The Office: A.A.R.M.

Photo courtesy of NBC.

Photo courtesy of NBC.

Like last week, an hour-long timeslot is devoted to the penultimate episode of the series. All remaining loose ends are tied, most notably the romance between Dwight and Angela. In a strange way, last week’s episode felt more like the end was approaching than this episode. With Dwight now as manager, this almost felt like the beginning of something new, and the build-up to the airing of the documentary seemed a bit too played down for how significant the event is in my opinion. That being said, this was a very solid episode with many redeeming elements that certainly make it worth watching.

The episode gets its title from the acronym for a new position that Jim convinces Dwight is a necessary job to fill: Assistant to the Assistant to the Regional Manager. All goes as planned when Jim convinces Dwight the only person who is qualified enough to fill this role is none other than Dwight himself, therefore making Dwight an assistant to Jim. This subplot was a nice callback to the pranks Jim would pull in earlier seasons, and also demonstrated to Pam that Jim could still have fun with his job in Scranton. And despite the fact Jim still pranks Dwight, we can see that the two characters are genuinely friends now, which is rewarding to see after all these years. In the beginning, Dwight was portrayed as the annoying co-worker who was impossible to connect with, but now we can see Jim is genuinely happy for Dwight’s success, and Dwight is happy for Jim and Pam’s saved marriage. Their ability to connect over the years has led to one of television’s most unlikely friendships.

Meanwhile, Angela and Oscar play the role of mommy and daddy when Angela’s son Phillip has to come to work since daycare won’t take him anymore. Now that the two live together, they both assume responsibility for the kid. When the two fight over how to take care of Phillip, Kevin becomes jealous that his two co-workers aren’t giving him attention, which leads to some humorous exchange involving Kevin’s classic immature, yet innocent remarks of distress. But more importantly, Dwight finds out that he is Phillip’s real father after he finally proposes to Angela in a way only Dwight could: by cutting her off in traffic and addressing her with a megaphone.

The weakest element of the show involved Andy. SHOCKING. Even though he quit working as the regional manager of the office last episode, an entire subplot was devoted to him. Andy auditions for a show called The Next Great A Capella Sensation, essentially a knock-off of American Idol that even features Clay Aiken as one of the judges. He bonds with a woman in line who is attracted by the camera following him around, but that ultimately goes nowhere. As does his audition. What was the point of this plot? I don’t really know. It was stupid. But at least it was better than a plot that would have found him actually reaching success. Although personally, I think Andy would have had a much stronger exit from the show if they had left it with last episode and his performance that mildly impressed his co-workers. Whatever. Andy sucks. At least he was consistent from start to end.   

Again, overall I really liked this episode, especially the parts that involved Jim, Pam, and Dwight. I really like what they did with Jim and Pam, and it was a nice gift to the audience to make us feel like Jim and Pam today are the same couple we fell in love with years back. I’ve never been a huge fan of Dwight and Angela together, but I guess they make a good pair and it is nice to see Dwight happy now that he has his girl and his dream job. Good for him. My biggest problem with the episode aside from including Andy is how they dealt with the premiere of the documentary. Viewing it in a bar just felt wrong. Who watches a documentary in a loud bar? Plus, none of them seemed all that excited about it compared to previous episodes and the anticipation that corresponded with those episodes. I feel like that part of the story could have been addressed better.

Obviously, the number of people watching The Office is smaller today than it was a few years ago, but to everyone online who says the show “sucks” now, I say this: GROW UP. Every show declines over the years and some even get so terrible they no longer resemble what they once were (have you seen Community recently?), but in its final season, The Office has done an excellent job wrapping up arcs and stories that have been years in the making, and although it may still have its weak moments, the show is still solid and worth watching to the end. I know that no show airing today will ever reach the numbers of the M*A*S*H finale (125 million viewers) or Friends finale (52 million viewers), but it would be nice to see a show as significant and game-changing as this to see 10 million people tune in. But more realistically, I’d like to just see 5 million. 

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