Oh, Andy. You poor, poor, delusional man. Ever The Office’s tragic hero, Andy’s latest foray into transcending his lot in life brings him to the community theater’s production of Sweeney Todd. Andy’s transformation over the now four seasons we’ve known him has been one from an anger ridden suck up to a doe eyed love sick puppy. All thanks to a little anger management.
Andy has always dreamt of bigger things. Raised under the illusion of wealth (and talent) he constantly tried to improve his life. When he first moved to Scranton he thought he could weasel his way into management. But a punch through the wall and a stint at mandatory anger management later, that drive is gone. Instead it was replaced with the desire to possess the un-materialistic things that make up a rich life: a soul mate, a good conscience, a venue to express yourself, etc.
Which leads us to his current state. He lost Erin to Gabe but he can still woo her back with his awesome singing and performing with a little Scranton Community Theater action. Since he can’t openly try to win her back, he has to openly try to impress everyone in hopes that it impresses a single person. It’s like using a shot gun when a rifle would do. It gets the job done, but it can be pretty messy. And yes, I was raised in the South, so? I like gun metaphors.
Anyway, Andy’s production takes the whole office out of the office. Now, I’m all for adventuring outside of the office. Some of the best bits of The Office have taken place outside of the office because after all your job isn’t necessarily always limited to just your office. You go outside, take meetings, you do other stuff. But not always with the whole staff. When everyone at Dunder Mifflin leaves, it can be hit or miss. They’ve taken booze cruises, gone to the lake, and everyone traveled to Jim and Pam’s wedding. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work this time with Andy’s play.
It’s not that they didn’t try, everyone was included and had a decent story, but it just didn’t seem that worth while. So what happened?
As mentioned, Andy is in a production. His invitation for the office was bringing in the chorus (in full costumes, makeup, and heavy post dance breathing) to woo them with a little song and dance. Seeing as most community theater sucks, everyone was hesitant to go. But since this is a television show, everyone went anyway.
Jim and Pam attempted to use their baby to get out of going when their sitter backed out (babies! So useful! I should get one). But when Andy’s disappointment guilts them into finding a replacement, they turn to the one person in the whole office who should never be in charge of someone else’s life - Erin.
This, of course, ruins Andy’s plan (curses! Dramatic irony!), but the show must go on! Which it did, without Michael. The only other person who dreams bigger than Andy is Michael, so he naturally auditioned for the play as well. When the chorus shows up at the office, Michael is confused because he hadn’t seen the cast list and then naturally he resents the whole production when he isn’t included.
Dwight and Angela are still trying to work out their contractual obligations to each other to bear a child. It seems Angela has gotten a little hungry and is trying to lure Dwight back. Her plans to seduce Dwight and make him fall back in love with his “monkey” really showcase another side of Angela that we haven’t seen before. Namely, Angela can be kinda hot when she tries. I mean, she has nothing on Pam or Karen, but it was nice to Angela attempt it at least. By the end of the episode she hasn’t entirely gotten Dwight back but it was nice to see her try.
During the whole first act, Michael stews in a silent jealous rage when he watches everyone on stage perform without him. We get to see Michael at his pettiest - he is the only one to boo during the lead’s standing ovation, he steals a bottle of wine from the concession stand, he talks down about the whole production. In fact, everyone passes the bottle around during the second act which then leads to the awkward clank, clank, clank, clank, clank of the bottle rolling to the bottom of the seats. Curse you slanted floors! The moments around the bottle falling were perhaps the only seemingly authentic moments of pure awkward embarrassing silence that has define The Office of the whole episode. We needed more moments like this for this episode.
Jim and Pam sat nervously in their seats (which were further back than they liked when another couple claimed their seats), worrying about their child. And they had the right idea because Erin showed up with Cece who had hoped to stop in and see how things were going before grabbing some ice cream. They take their baby back and head home which allows Erin to watch Andy perform after all.
Then we get to the stuff that just did not work for me at all. Erin and Andy share a few moments backstage together, alone at last. I get that they are trying to make their relationship interesting and “will they won’t they?” like they did with Jim and Pam, but it doesn’t work the same for Andy and Erin. Jim and Pam were the lone sane people in a sea of crazy. And when you try the same formula for two of the crazies like Andy and Erin, it just doesn’t work. They didn’t try to make Dwight and Angela have the super sweet relationship because they’re the mayor and duchess of crazy (the titles are weird in the crazy sea) and they shouldn’t try with Andy and Erin. But we still have a whole season for them so hopefully it’ll become it’s own relationship.
Erin eventually has to leave in a hurry because of Gabe which depresses Andy. And what do you know the whole office gathers around him and cheer him up with their encouragement to sing another song. Because that is what normal offices do. They all gather together to sing. That’s just strange and not in the good way.
But whatever, its The Office. It’s still better than most of the stuff on television. I have hope for it. And even with a rather unsatisfying episode like this, we still have some gems. Like Michael reenacting an entire episode of Law And Order. I will sit through a less than stellar episode a thousand times if we get him making the “bum bum” noise every time.