The Office "Moving On" Review: Better Call Saul

By Nick Campbell

Feb 15, 2013

The Office S09E16: "Moving On"

Andy wouldn't be such a monster if everyone in the office wasn't so complicit to his tyranny.

I know that's like saying Tokyo would've been better off if they'd just ignored Godzilla. I'm not trying to blame the victim. But Pam, Dwight, and Angela's way of gutting the beast, by ignoring him and undermining his authority, is the only reasonable course of action. The man ditched work for three months and is now only sticking around because of a pass from a guy who doesn't deserve to run a business. Wallace kept Andy on because he owed Andy a favor? Logical but not reasonable.

Pete and Erin are feeding the monster, though. While everyone else in the office is ready to ignore or straight-up ditch Andy, these two pathetic souls feel like they owe the guy something for their not-so-clandestine relationship. How are you, Pete the girlfriend thief, going to offer advice to the man that you burgled?

Wait, that came out weird.

The show maybe, possibly suggested that Erin wasn't so much into Andy while he was gone, maybe, possibly so often that the storyline itself got so dull in its holding pattern that I could've sworn they were just repeating the same script every episode with regard to these two. With that, I don't think Pete was an actual "thief" of a person, although that would be how Andy feels. And, as a person in the awkward position of being too nice for his own good while feeling guilty about wrecking a man, I can see how Pete might feel compelled to give Andy some assurances about the relationship.

But I won't forgive Erin and Pete for providing Andy the only pathos he's had since the beginning of the season. When they both came in and tried to convince Andy to move on (which felt more like an excuse to bring up Alice, Pete's ex, than anything reasonable), I almost felt sad for the man. Here he was, enduring sanctimonious platitudes from the pair that conspired behind his back. Watching it, I was overcome by a feeling that I hadn't felt for the Nard-Dog in some time. "What is this? Sympathy?" I asked myself, disgusted.

Happily, that was enough to sic him to ravage the office. My sympathy melted in the conference room scene at the end. But none of it would have been possible without everyone involved being complicit to the monsterdom. Gabe's presence was easily explained because he's a weirdo and still in love with Erin (this possibly being the best version of Gabe I've seen—the insane almost-stalker) but everyone else just stayed in the room. Erin may have stayed out of guilt. Pete sticking around seemed out of character for him, particularly since he'd walked out on Andy's last tantrum, when Andy fired him. And Alice? Why didn't she just bolt when she found out there wasn't a marketing department?

I want to say this was a good cap to Andy's consistent villainy but he seems to get worse every week. He's on thin (vanilla) ice with Wallace, but what will it take to bring him down to earth again? If the writers were ever planning to restore Andy's underdog status or to make him at all sympathetic, could it possibly work with the height of antagonist he's become?

One of the best lines of the episode, and proof that Andy might be reduced to the poor whelp that he is, came from Pam as she departed for her episode arc. "Where are you going?" Andy asked. "Not on a three-month boat trip." Throwing how Andy shouldn't be qualified to sit on the throne of the Scranton branch in his face is enough to undermine him and maybe take the evil wind out of his sails, but not until he admits some fault. He hasn't done that at all since returning and it seems like that's the point. He will in no way be sympathetic until he admits some fault for splitting for three months with no repercussions. Maybe that's what makes us working stiffs the most upset with him.

But let's backtrack to Pam's arc a little bit because there was a bit of disappointment here, too. We didn't get the fight. Not even a snippet. Not even a mention. It was just Pam going for a job interview in Philly, leaving us to assume that the result of the fight was that the family should just pack up and move to Philadelphia. Not that the plan is a terrible one but I was hoping for some catharsis from the argument. Instead it looks like we'll have to wait for a while longer.

The beginning of the dinner was nice. Jim: "This is consolation champagne. It came from the part of France that immediately gave up to the Nazis." I think the worst part about Jim and Pam heading into Dullsville, PA, was the elimination of their banter. It's probably what made us fall in love with them the most outside of carefully choreographed will-they-won't-they scenes. I mentioned in an earlier review the phone conversation at the end of "Initiation" being important to the story of Jam. Most of it was about nothing: Sandra Bullock, having a number of kitchens, time zones. But that's the part of them that makes us understand why they belong together, that their conversations operate like a Swiss clock with timing and delivery that almost couldn't happen in real life but they make work because of their undeniable chemistry.

By the time they rolled around to the end of dinner, when Pam suggested that she maybe didn't want to do the thing we assumed they decided to do, we found ourselves at a crossroads. Again. It's like the fight never happened. So, to me, I'm going to assume it never did. At least we didn't have to see Brian.

We did, however, see Dwight and Angela kiss and it makes me happy to see that story progress. We know how it's going to end, but I'm looking forward to that specific journey. Especially if it'll provide a reprieve from Andy's reign of terror. A head who has been unquestionably blessed by a higher power but sits unjustly as ruler of everything he surveys, and terrorizes his subjects, even going so far as to (metaphorically) behead them. If you think about it, Andy is kind of like Joffrey Baratheon. Don't think about it too much.


NOTES


– Well, there goes our theory that Toby is the Scranton Strangler. UNLESS HE STRANGLED HIMSELF AS A COVER!

– What a waste of amazing talent at the real estate office. Bob Odenkirk was wonderful, as you could expect, and played Michael Scott almost as well as Carell himself. But that he was only around for that one-off and that Michael Weston only had a single line is a crime. I also appreciate Odenkirk's, "I think they indulge themselves a little too much." It's like they know we know they know.

– No single document in the history of television has appeared as often as the relationship disclosure form on this series. Dunder-Mifflin Employees bone more often than at Señor Frogs in Cancun. (Full disclosure: I don't officially know anything about the inter-employee relationships at that particular establishment—it's fair to assume they bone less).

– Erin: "I've seen Pete's butt. It's sick."

– This was a good episode for the background characters: Meredith with floating kisses to the "fresh meat," Stanley feeling the same way about horny people that Phyllis feels about sad people, and even the coda with Oscar and the boots was pretty good (mostly for little things like Phyllis bringing Stanley some tea and not the contrived scenario that was only meant to bring about the mention of the documentary premiere). If The Office has done anything consistently well over the course of the series, it's make sure the bit players have decent material.

– God help us all if they do show the documentary and it turns out to be an excuse for a clip show. I despise clip shows.

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  • Loooooooooooost Feb 19, 2013

    Clip shows are inevitable. Man, I was so happy to see Michael Weston on tv again! I even thought he was going to incorporated as a recurring character. Nope.

  • EsmeBuffay Feb 18, 2013

    I'm with you when it comes to clip shows, I would rather stab myself in the eye with a pencil (actually happened to me once, not a funny story) than sit through one, even if it was my favorite show it would still piss me off. And like you said it's strange that Weston only got the one line, is he desperate for any role he can get his hands on or will Pam go back to the real estate office and he'll turn out to be a bigger character? That would also fix your complaint about Odenkirk being underutilized.

  • youngnan Feb 17, 2013

    Saul, mmm... Busted out a guitar, called Pam kinda cute but married. lol

  • mrvanzant Feb 17, 2013

    I got the impression that this was supposed to be the build up to the launch of the series that we've been watching. The "documentary" they showed, is Season 1. As in...I assumed this is just another example of bad writing and trying to bend the show to their needs instead of working around it.

  • nimrod Feb 17, 2013

    I was so disapointed with the Halpert's storyline. They are just retreading everything with them. I totally agree that Andy's set up with the ex's was too contrived. I guess times are tough for everyone, and what better way to make a paycheck than not having to do anything?

  • JT_Kirk Feb 17, 2013

    First off, yes that did seem to kill the theory that Toby is the original Scranton Strangler. However, I still feel like it leaves the door open to Toby being a copycat, and this episode could have been the catalyst to that, he takes brave action only to see the raw power that is the maniac strangler. C'mon Toby, 2 birds with 1 stone - you explain your utter weirdness, and you get rid of Nellie!

    Bob Odenkirk did a really good job playing Michael Scott, perhaps that's partly because the baseline character Odenkirk and Steve Carell play are surprisingly similar even before this casting move - shallow, selfish, just stupid enough to make it to where they are, and they both want to be liked but not by being genuine and liking others. But it was indeed totally wasted, as was Michael Weston just appearing out of nowhere for one line, what was that???


    As for the main event... Wow, that is a brutal assessment! If this show were better written, I'd agree with you, but Andy's been slowly becoming a monster since replacing Michael Scott, long before this season even started really. Season 8 Andy is a limp dishrag, he lies and misrepresents to cover this up while trying to make nice to prove himself. His jealousy over Gabe & Erin comes out in ugly ways, and he eventually abandons his job to track down Erin and get her back, during the return from that personal mission he treats his then-girlfriend horribly due to his wishy-washy ways. Andy becomes a real douche once he starts scheming to get his job back from Nellie and has to be fired for his inability to do what the company owner tells him. Eventually he simply undermines the company altogether to get his job back. This is Andy being a failure as a person and as a manager, and that's before the season 9 personality disorder changes. Andy brought this upon himself every time, your assessment is just our characters reacting to that.

    All that said, Pete and Erin coming to Andy so soon was grotesque and cruel under their pretense of making nice. They brought out the ugliest side of Andy in his Michael Scott-like selfish, cruel actions. Erin tried to stay into Andy while he was gone, she just asked for some interpersonal time, and he blew her off at every opportunity - of course she fell out of love with him, his personality changed entirely. Pete isn't a thief, he tried to keep this from happening, but the real culprit is unfortunately the writers for contriving such a mess out of these characters, and that is the sort of thing that takes away from an episode - when the writers are in the way of the story working, nothing can work.

    Good writeup on Pam & Jim all around. The problem with these characters is that we've become so familiar with them, and the writers know that, so they write them as if it's a cliff's notes version, taking out the meat and just giving raw mention to the majority of their lives. We don't get a look into who they really are supposed to be most of the time, we just get a head-nod acknowledging that they argued and something came from it.

    Dwight & Angela's storyline was unwatchable, this felt like the backdoor pilot it probably was meant to be, it was awfulness in every conceivable manner, and didn't even feel true to the Dwight universe we already knew, more like a clumsy parody of that.

    Oscar's bit at the end tag felt really forced, even if it did further the documentary's existence as a thing. Might Brian's actions have forced that card? Probably not, it takes a long time to cut something like this into a cohesive documentary movie or series, and they wouldn't announce its upcoming airing before it was nearly ready to go, but I'd like to think Brian breaking down the walls with Pam forced the situation.

  • BobPadilla Feb 16, 2013

    I thought it had a lot of good moments. I think people are kind of ready to find flaws in every episode at this point.

  • Mantis82 Feb 16, 2013

    Don't like the Pam and Jim storyline. Pam is being portrayed like a selfish child that doesn't want anything to change, thinking this paper company will live forever. Like screw Jim and chasing his dreams and making more money and giving a better life for her and the kids. Forget, Jim waited and supported her through art school or when she quit to work with michael scott paper company. It's like the writers just threw out the last 8 years, and just did whatever they felt like, its kind of annoying. But I did enjoy Andy being a douche this episode, even though it contradicts everything he was before this season.

  • JT_Kirk Feb 17, 2013

    Seems unfair IMO, Pam made a life with Jim in Scranton, and now that he's out of town most of the week she has almost no support system and he acts like she should be able to handle it all and go with the flow while he lives his dream. She has 2 kids and a house, bills and a full-time job, that's a lot to contend with while Jim isn't even really phoning it in, just texting it in. If anything, looking for a job in Philly should prove she's not being selfish, and not working for Michael Scott 2.0 proves she's not afraid of change. The problem seems only to be communication of needs on both Jim & Pam's parts.

  • Mantis82 Feb 17, 2013

    She's wasn't looking for the job. Jim was trying to get her the job and trying to move the family to philly and this situation has been a few months, not years. And adding the bills part is unnecessary, i doubt Jim is not paying the bills and the mother is living with pam, she's not completely alone. I get it, you are a Pam fan, I am too, which is why the way she is acting is so odd. She was always supportive and Jim was the same way. My main point was it seems like the writers have gone out of their way to change these characters' core traits which would have easily resolved this situation before it became so serious, its like they are trying to make them complicated but its coming off crude to me.

  • JT_Kirk Feb 17, 2013

    She was willing to take the job, hence: looking. Jim's Dunder Mifflin paycheck had shriveled since he's only paid for time he's there which is not much, and he's not taking anything in from his company yet, so they're living on Pam's check and savings, and Pam seems to be responsible for the actual chore of paying said bills. I'm a Pam and a Jim fan, I usually like them both quite a lot and equally, I'm trying to be objective about the situation. To me, this seems like a naturally-stressful situation that could test any relationship.

  • Dude2099 Feb 16, 2013

    I still think Toby is the Scranton Strangler, he knows George Howard Scub is innocent because it is himself. Toby would've gone into the Jail to tell George he knew he wasn't the one and that it was him, George would've got angry wanting to be the one known as the Scranton Strangler. It has been lead on too much to be shrugged off that easily.

  • Mantis82 Feb 16, 2013

    Doesn't just have to be George wants to be known as Scranton strangler, could also be george is pissed he's rotting in jail because of toby.

  • Dude2099 Feb 17, 2013

    Ah yes very true, I really do hope they wrap this up. Maybe he kills Nellie! :-P

  • MarkkuJuntunen Feb 16, 2013

    This. ^

  • brianreilly Feb 16, 2013

    Has Jim left the office? I cant remember the last time i saw him working there. The philly thing never really worked. Jims best moments were his interaction with dwight and they replaced that with what ?

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