The Office took a big step forward during last night's episode, with the reveal of a (potentially) new character and a hint that we may be getting more information on the biggest unanswered question of the series, which is, what is this "documentary" about? For years, the employees at Dunder Mifflin have been participating in interviews and having their professional (and oftentimes personal) lives recorded. By why? Last night's episode didn't answer that question, but it did give us an indication that we'll be learning the answer to that question soon enough.
Before that, the episode began with a fantastic cold-open, reminiscent (in more ways than one) to the old-days of this series. Remember when Jim had time to concoct elaborate pranks on Dwight? Well, at least one of them never played out, and Dwight stumbled upon the clues in last night's cold open. Watch it below!
The whole time they were finding clues, I kept thinking, "I can't believe no one's come across any of these clues and disrupted the trail between when Jim set it all up and now." Somehow, the trail of riddles remained intact over the years… But it was the Holy Grail that was found by one of the warehouse guys, who now uses it as a coffee cup. Genius.
And for those who haven't seen the rest of the episode, here's "Customer Loyalty."
By The Office's current standards, it's a better than average episode, especially by comparison to last week's. The issue with Toby and Nellie is heating up to be incredibly awkward (and I'm still convinced Toby is the Scranton Strangler). But the bigger issue is the tension between Jim and Pam, which erupted last night when he took his stress and disappointment over his new job out on Pam. And she never even got to tell him that she got the mural.
But the big "twist" came at the end when Pam hung up the phone and cried. In that moment, she seemed so alone. And for a second, it seemed like she really was alone. Because everyone else had gone home and even though we know they're all being filmed, it's easy to forget that, even when a character is alone, they might actually be surrounded by cameras and a producer. Which is what Pam was. And "Brian" broke the fourth wall by stepping in to console Pam, telling his guy to turn the camera off. We've seen glimpses of the camera people before and we've seen the characters occasionally address them directly, but this is the most notable acknowledgement to date, I think.
Should we expect more interference like this going forward? Is that how we're going to learn what this documentary crew has been doing at Dunder Mifflin all these years? And is Brian a key player in all of this? Will we get to know him better? It was a great little throw-in to cap onto Jim and Pam's struggles, and it makes me really excited to see how and if it's addressed further as we approach the series' conclusion.