The Office: Stairmaggedon

Photo courtesy of NBC.

Photo courtesy of NBC.

While it did have its laugh-worthy moments, “Stairmaggedon” was overall a very forgettable episode. Important plot developments were revealed, but the episode just felt very uneventful. It centers around the insecurities of the employees of Dundler Mifflin after early reviews of the documentary “The Office: An American Workplace” are published. 

In particular, one critic comments that Dwight seems to be totally oblivious to the fact that he has spent the last nine years chasing after a managerial position he will never obtain. This leads Dwight to feel the need to prove himself, and take extreme measures to secure a new client for the company. Because he knows Stanley is good friends with the client, he wants Stanley to join him during the negotiations, but Stanley refuses to go since the elevator is out of commission and he barely made it up the stairs once (the gag in the cold open). After obtaining the help of Clark (Dwight’s recent go-to sidekick), Dwight shoots Stanley with bull tranquilizers, proceeds to slide him down the stairs wearing an Evil Knievel helmet, and bubble wraps him into the car so “his suit doesn’t get wrinkly”. Ultimately, Dwight is successful and lands the client, after a drugged-out Stanley compliments a picture of the client’s grandchildren. While this plot was completely ridiculous, it was also arguably the strongest and most entertaining. It showcased Dwight’s resilience, even after being insulted, and his devotion to the job, a theme that has remained consistent throughout the course of the show. Somehow, Stanley came out of it unharmed, and was happy to find that the operation was a success, as was Clark, despite his reluctance to be involved.

Pam and Jim decide it is time to start marriage counseling, and consult with Nellie and Toby respectively about their situation. Pam vents to Nellie about how Jim makes every decision for them unilaterally, including buying their house and starting a business in Philadelphia. Toby points out to Jim that it is unfair to tell Pam that his new business will eventually payoff for the Halperts, but in an indeterminate amount of time, which leaves her hanging. Overall, this plot was merely set-up for the next step in their relationship, and although it did not make for a very entertaining plot, it was essential to their character development. Many critics have been upset with the turn the relationship between Pam and Jim has taken, but I actually appreciate what the writers have done because it makes for a very realistic plot.  Most stories end with the “marriage that results in happily ever after”, but that is not very realistic, nor does it make for interesting television. I’m excited to see where the writers take their relationship in the next months.

Meanwhile, after the documentary reviews reveal a “politician secretly having a gay affair”, it does not take long for the office to figure out who that is in reference to. Angela decides to be “the good wife” standing by her husband, but the Senator surprises her when he reveals at a televised press conference that he is indeed gay, humiliating her, much to the pleasure of her co-workers. The Oscar-Angela-Senator love triangle finally reaches some closure, as the Senator also reveals a relationship with his chief of staff, meaning it is over for both Oscar and Angela. During all of this, Kevin is by far the happiest, pleased with himself that he successfully kept the secret (a point he makes very clear to everyone) and is proud to work with two famous people (referring to Angela’s appearance on television and the Senator’s mention of Oscar).  

Finally, Andy decides to finally pursue an acting career, and seeks a talent agent to help him. He finally finds someone who will take him on, played by guest star Roseanne Barr, who cons him into paying an upfront $5,000 for her services. In my opinion, Andy is the most annoying character on the show, and his return a month ago after being absent for nine episodes was not a welcome one. However, this subplot was semi-tolerable with comedic aspects coming from the fellow clients he met at Barr’s agency (ie. a man who tours with a mouse on top of a cat on top of a dog for entertainment purposes).  

This episode is a step down from last week, but still worth watching if you are following the show, due to the critical character development and semi-closure to some arcs. It feels like we have reached the point in the season where everything now will just be build-up to the finale, which in some ways makes for duller episodes, but is also better than introducing new arcs. If you’ve made it this far, keep watching. I have a feeling the finale will be worth it.  

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