S8:E5 So yes, Halloween happens without Michael Scott. But it’s not necessarily a good Halloween…as in, this episode wasn’t really up to par. It was a little disorganized, and I don’t know. It just felt weird. It felt like because the storyline with Erin and Andy took up so much time that there wasn’t a lot of other time for the writers to devote to the other characters…but since the writers couldn’t devote a whole episode to Erin and Andy, they felt compelled to make up little meaningless storylines for the rest of the crew. This episode just didn’t feel cohesive, I think.
“What’s going on? I was in charge of this party.” – Erin
Andy tries to go about business as usual and puts Erin in charge of the Halloween party. She happily buys all the decorations for the office because she is thrilled that Andy seems to openly trust her. However, when Andy learns Robert California is stopping by on the holiday to spend some time in his favorite branch, he is petrified that the party will not be up to the CEO’s standards. But before any reparations can be made, Robert shows up with his son, Bert, and Bert takes one look at a “pin the wart on the witch” game and says how lame everything looks. This sends Andy into a tailspin and he tells Erin he wants to talk to her at the end of the day (he also enlists Phyllis and Angela to change the decorations behind Erin’s back). But Erin is quick to figure out that Andy thinks her party isn’t good enough, and that realization (in combination with the nebulous detail that she’s supposed to meet with him at the end of the day) makes her think she’s going to get fired. And so she asks Gabe to help her make everything scarier so she could earn Andy’s affection again. But she fails miserably when she pulls out playing cards with penises on them and shows a very creepy and strange video, and she is sure she’s going to be let go.
"What are you supposed to be, anyway?" – Bert
While the adult party is going on in the conference room, Bert sits at Jim’s desk researching a storm that’s coming and talking to Dwight about whether or not anything is scarier than a tornado. Dwight names a few things, like influenza, but for the most part Bert remains assured that tornadoes are always worse than anything. Jim also gets into a debate with Pam about whether or not she truly believes in ghosts after she tells a story about how when she worked at some bar somewhere, she saw a figure in a mirror that wasn’t one that belonged to a human. While his kid is occupied playing World of Warcraft (or something) with Dwight, Robert goes around the office asking people what they are scared of. He learns Meredith is scared of Jim, Pam is scared of ghosts, Creed is scared of snakes, Kelly is scared of dying alone, Kevin is scared of mummies, and ultimately incorporates everyone’s fears into a scary story that he tells to everyone and totally freaks them out because of how horribly bleak and realistic it is.
“Erin, I think you know I’ve been dating someone.” – Andy
After Erin pulls out the penis playing cards, Robert escorts her into Andy’s office and Erin explains that she upped the sexiness of the party because she got the impression from Andy that she wasn’t exciting or good enough and didn’t want to lose her job. Andy says no, he was never going to fire her, and he reveals he wanted to meet with her at the end of the day to tell her he’s been seeing someone, and it’s gotten pretty serious because they’ve been on 31 dates. Erin pretends she’s happy for Andy, but it’s obvious she’s not and it’s obvious she feels defeated because she felt hopeful she could use Halloween to convince him to date her again. But unfortunately, Andy makes it clear he’s involved with this unnamed person, and there’s not much Erin can do about it. The ex-couple hugs, and Robert California closes the episode with some observation about how interesting it is that we let fear manipulate us.
See what I mean? The Dwight and Bert storyline was fine, and the fact that Erin freaked out so easily wasn’t terribly inconceivable, but this episode just completely lacked any kind of emotion or sentimentality or…depth. It didn’t have any subtext, or anything truly meaningful. The only thing we emerged with from this episode was the idea that now we’re going to eventually meet Andy’s new girlfriend, and we’re going to have another Jim/Pam/Roy situation again. Granted, I have faith the writers wouldn’t do that to us, but the fact of the matter is this episode didn’t have any spirit to it. The best The Office episodes are when situations arise in the workplace that make people display raw emotion – and yes, this was the Halloween episode so how much raw emotion could there be. But the point is this time, there were no feelings, or emotions, or anything (aside from the very end, when Erin hugs Andy and her it’s obvious she longs for him)! This show is about the inner workings of people who work at Dunder Mifflin, and it’s unfortunate and surprising that this episode seemed to forget that.