Review: ‘The Office’ – ‘Livin’ the Dream’

A review of last night’s “The Office” coming up just as soon as I stop thrusting at you…

These last couple of seasons have frequently invited comparisons between Andy and Michael, and rarely has that been more obvious than in “Livin’ the Dream.” Like Michael, Andy got an hour-long farewell episode where he had final conversations with most of the major characters. And like Michael (albeit in Michael’s next-to-last episode), Andy’s goodbye involved a big musical number in the middle of the branch office.

And yet the two goodbyes couldn’t be more different. Michael was a character that most of the staff grew to love much to their surprise, who was leaving for the best reason of all. Andy was a guy everyone mainly pitied, who left for a colossally stupid reason everyone tried to talk him out of, and who had to sing his own goodbye song rather than get serenaded on his way out the door.

I’m glad to be done with Andy in the office, even if I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up in the final two episodes, but an hour of him flip flopping on his dream was, like most Andy-centric stories this year, pretty tough to take. (Though I will admit to laughing at the utter lunacy of him actually going to the bathroom on David Wallace’s car, just in case.)

That said, the non-Andy parts of “Livin’ the Dream” were fairly interesting, even if most of them were on the dramatic side. Angela’s current financial situation doesn’t make sense (if “the Senator” won’t pay her child support, she could pretty easily ruin his career with a public shaming), but I appreciated that this episode mainly took her plight seriously, including Oscar deciding to make up for his role in the separation by inviting her and the baby to move in for a while. (Even Kevin briefly got to be non-disabled when he insisted they didn’t know anyone like the woman Angela was describing.)

Similarly, I don’t know that I would buy David Wallace ever actually giving Dwight the job – even if he wasn’t in the loop for the gunshot incident, he was there for the many actionable things Dwight did during “Stress Relief” – but if you just go with it, the payoff in the Jim and Dwight relationship was kind of perfect. If you assume at this point in the episode that Jim is just temporarily recommitting to Dunder Mifflin as part of his reconciliation efforts with Pam, then I can absolutely see him loving the idea of being there to witness the second reign of Dwight Schrute, branch manager, and I enjoyed watching Jim and Pam annoy their co-workers with their renewed flirting. There was definitely a sense that they were really trying – that this wasn’t coming naturally to them anymore, but was an effort – so it didn’t make the hug last week seem like a magical cure. And I imagine the conversation Pam overheard in the final scene will once again launch a spirited debate in the comments about whether Pam is being in any way reasonable about Jim finding a career that both makes him happy and could drastically improve his family’s future security.

What did everybody else think? How did you feel Michael Imperioli did as Dwight’s new sensei? And am I the only one who laments the missed opportunity for a web series where Stanley and Phyllis review music?