Sunday, October 19, 2008

it's so bizarre and unnatural, but it... it happens


we saw michael and holly's first fight and then last week we have the ex rearing her head; that's a lot of relationship drama for something that isn't a relationship.  the office is throwing a baby shower and michael takes a seat on holly's trash can to talk about his concerns for jan's feelings in the terminal stages of her pregnancy.  long story short, jan's fat and holly's pretty so he will be acting cold to her- (holly's smile here is reminiscent of one formerly meek receptionist).  and he'll be treating ryan the same way. of course.

michael is predictably anxious and wants the perfect party.  not everyone is excited, stanley feels pissy that preggers ladies get to bitch about their hunger and varicose veins when he suffers from all the same problems and is not looking forward to listening to is all day.

michael is not impressed with phyllis' effort of balloons and personalized m&ms and thinks she should "get the led out" while a smug angela nods in agreement.  in fairness to mrs. vance the party also has activities at the party like guess the baby photo. andy sticks up a pic of "the nard puppy" (ha!) next to the baby he presumes to be his future bride but turns out to be phyllis.  angela's response?  "pervert".  wait no, good question andy, why DOES that make him a pervert.  


michael is also anxious for the baby.  he loves babies, as evidenced by this montage of him holding and being adorable with babies.  he is also ready for the birth, no doubt because of the rigorous prep sessions he has had with dwight.  jim breaks it down nicely- jan is having a baby with a sperm donor who will be related to michael (who is having a watermelon with dwight) through delusion.  the birthing scenarios were a little over the top right out of the gate but some really great moments that pulled it out like dwight acting like a screaming mother "i'm screaming, i'm screaming, i'm screaming".  unfortunately michael exuberance is short lived and he is crestfallen when jan arrives, baby in tow.  dwight is also upset, without out michael there to mark with a special mark that only he would know and no baby-snatcher could ever copy means that this child could be ANYBODY'S.  except michael's.   


with the stage awkwardly set we get the baby shower under way.  we also see michael being mean to holly.  his strategy seems to basically be 'pretend she's toby' right down to calling her an h.r. weiro.   "i'm fine, weirdo".  the shower is of course no less awkward.the staff all pitches in and buys jan a cheaper stroller than the one she already has- a $1,200 orbit.  i love that oscar knows the name brand and cost of the stroller.  dwight thinks this is absurd, wasted money that could have been use to build a bomb shelter, so he feels obliged to test the stroller and measure its worth.  funny concept and very dwight but i didn't need to keep seeing it happen, by the time he had it tied to the trans am i had gotten the point.  i did however love the mystery he tried to convey over the little something he called "the bumper test".  what could the bumper test be, dwight sitting in your car?  plus which the time could have been put towards more baby shower footage, which felt too random with so few scenes.  between that, jan and michael, holly and michael, jim and pam, dwight and the stroller, and beaucoup d'autre stuff, the baby shower gets a little lost.  


meanwhile jan is so fantastically self-absorbed that she is holding the entire staff hostage as she performs son of a preacher man which i can only assume started passed off as a lullaby.  about losing your virginity next to a church.  when that eventually ends andy tries to get a conversation going suggesting "tell my intended about the miracle of childbirth".  that conversation turns out to be grosser than i imagined and also opens up michael's wounds over being excluded from the birth.  jan tries to sooth him by letting him hold astird which has an unexpected result.  nothing.  michael feels nothing but shortchanged.  he unloads the baby who then falls into the hands of andy and angela.  the ann geddes style baby photo shoot in the nature's bounty cornucopia is, in my opinion, the funniest visual joke of the episode.  it is also a great reference to angela's beloved saxaphone baby poster.  does a photo of jan's baby shrouded in vegtables also make you feel like babies are the true artists and god has a cute sense of humor?  michael decides to consult fellow baby daddy darryl about how he felt the first time he held his baby baby.  darryl is pretty clear that michael is NOT a baby daddy and suggests he might feel an unwarranted connection to other babies, or weight belts or even darryl if he held him.  this turns out to not be a serious offer.

so he jan betrayed him and he feels nothing for the baby he was so excited about.  final straw?  as he helps her to her car, jan asks that he not date holly.  he does a terrible job of being incredulous over the mere suggestion.  michael is so transparent about his feelings, but i think that the real motivation for jan's request, nay insistence, that michael not date holly was her interaction with the lovely h.r. lady when holly demonstrated her shared sense of humor with michael.  she gave holly the same cold degrading response to "waaaaah, more paper, waaaaahhh!  no, she's on a coffee break" as she has given, accompanied by heavy sighs and shaking head, to michael all these years.  in that moment she knew that michael is working with an attractive woman who is perfect for him.  and that is a very threatening prospect for jan.  we saw it in the premiere you guys, cutthroat corporate jan is not gone, she is just channeling that aspect of her personality in weird other ways.  michael reluctantly agrees and my heart sinks...but only for a moment.  walking to the annex of the office with nervous determination we've seen before, he moves towards holly for a well played...hug.  if i am supposed to be disappointed that he didn't go for the kiss, i am not.  michael asking out holly was perfect for who they are, which is 2 awkward 14 year olds (who act like 8 yr. olds) who really, really like each other.  i really like that michael went in for the hug.  it could not be smooth, and mumbling "wanna go out" was the appropriate level of smooth as well (that level being zero).  because he isn't smooth and she is a dork.  he walked in like jim in casino night, but he finished like michael scott.



jim and pam may no longer be the uncertain love triangle of seasons past but their dynamic last week was distinctly reminiscent of the classic lovesweet  tension and i mean that in the best way possible.  

they spent this episode playing phone tag and having those frustrating and dissatisfying conversations we have all experienced when distance separates us from loved ones.  and, just like a perfectly played season 2 episode, they left us realizing, before the characters do, that they are more in sync than they realize.  the simultaneous messages may seen like a bit of a device but i forgive it.  it resolved out icky feelings without resolving the issue and that felt like classic jim and pam.  bring me more.


overall i like the episode and loved parts of it, but i did not love it as a whole.  it felt a little packed and thus a little choppy.  i thought the fire was a little choppy upon the first few viewings and then i got used to the pace, i imagine that will happen here to.  this may sound weird but it also felt like the cuts to commercial were a little more abrupt but i am nitpicking.  they are successfully keeping a lot of balls in the air and i am still interested to see where they all fall.

1 comment:

St. John Gogarty said...

I liked everything about the episode except the Jim & Pam storyline. It was the only time their story has seemed a bit "precious" and also forced. Although their being "out of sync" was played realistically, it somehow felt a bit un-Jim & Pam. My only other strong impression of the episode was the Michael & Holly interaction and, finally, hug. I thought it was yet another perfect Office moment: somehow making the awkward, unexpected and off-kilter seem normal, charming, and true. Excellent - with Holly showing some real emotion & Michael finally doing something he knows is right. After watching "Gone, Baby Gone" last week, I am even more impressed by Amy Ryan as an actress.