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.
– 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.