It seems to me that some people who submit reviews on here do it simply because they enjoy being critical and overly analytical when it comes to their "favorite" shows. I will resist the former but indulge in the latter. Personally I watch a TV program or movie to escape, and perhaps even think of what fun it would be to be part of it if it were real life. I've been a fan of The Office since season 2 and when it comes to TV shows continuity and realism are important to me. The nine seasons of The Office have been like a marriage - good days and bad days, good years and not-so-good years, but to me this final season is above average despite the criticism from some other fans. This final Christmas episode certainly won't go down in fandom as the best in the series, maybe even slightly below average in time, but it will always have a certain warm place in the heart because it's the last one and because we get to see another of the many times Dwight expresses his affection for Jim albeit in his own deeply repressed way. The writers from the beginning of the series have established that Dwight has only ever had Mose - his "rtarded cousin" - as his best friend and brotherly companion. Jim has been a constant rival to Dwight, but it has almost always been as "frenemies" (yes the word is overused, but applies here). Taking a point from real life you do not waste any physical or emotional energy on those that you do not care about in some way. The writers have always shown in subtext that Dwight obviously cares about the things Jim does - the pranks, his leadership skills, and sometimes Dwight has interpreted Jim's prank-inspired sarcastic support of his warped plans and ideas as real admiration. So, deep down, Dwight sees Jim as a real friend. I do not think it was at all far fetched for the writers to have Dwight hug Jim because they've hugged in previous episodes. In the 3rd season episode "Traveling Salesman" when Dwight quits rather than telling Michael why he secretly went to the corporate office (to save Angela from getting fired) he gives Jim an affectionate hug in the parking lot as he leaves the office. In this episode however shortly before he hugs Jim we see him whipping Jim with the sticks. It's much like how a little boy punches a little girl that he likes because he doesn't really know how to express his feelings. In past episodes we've seen them high-five, have fun, and enjoy interaction many, many times. We can even go back to the first season when Dwight proposes an alliance with Jim when we see that Dwight actually cares if Jim supports him as if it somehow gives Dwight's ideas legitimacy. There are however two factors of this episode that strike me as forced and/or rushed: the Pete/Erin and Toby/Nellie relationships, and Darryl's intoxication and wanting to fight Jim. The Pete/Erin and Toby/Nelliw thing is the WRONG course to follow. The characters of Andy and Erin are both wacky enough that they would make a good fit. Putting Pete into the fray only complicates matters unnecessarily and makes it seem as though the writers are trying to force another Pam/Jim "will they won't they" romantic plot line. It doesn't work here. Toby and Nellie is completely forced simply because it's the last season and we've never seen Toby in a romantic situation. It may also be an attempt by the writers to make fans like Nellie because none have so far. The character of Darryl has been on a downward spiral of depression since season 6, where they have him dissatisfied with his life, his job, his relationships with women and his daughter. Therefore it might seem to the writers as though Darryl getting angry over being apparently ignored by Jim is logical, but it isn't. It's a huge hole and disrupts continuity and realism. The Office has slowly morphed from its initial real life pseudo-documentary feel into a full fledged sitcom. This is unfortunate and forces the writers to establish story lines that make no sense. The classic long pauses and realistic banter of past episodes are gone now. But all told this was a good episode and one that I will enjoy watching again over the years when I put those DVDs and Blu-Rays into my player.
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