The Office is approaching its end. The long-running NBC comedy series is in the second half of its final season, and if you've been watching, it's introduced a pretty major new plot to the story, involving the film crew that's been recording the happenings at Dunder Mifflin for close to a decade. We still don't know why they're filming, but one of the crew members seems to have crossed the line. We saw a glimpse of that at the end of last week's episode ("Customer Loyalty"), when Pam was upset after a phone conversation with Jim. And last night's episodes brought Brian back, revealing even more of the situation between him and Pam.
The text below each episode contains spoilers, so if you haven't watched yet, read no further and just hit play!
And it is a situation. But I won't spoil it if you haven't watched the episodes. NBC posted them online today and you can watch them below. "Junior Salesman" begins and ends with a Brian moment, though the bulk of the episode ignores the plot…
Before we get to Brian, it needs to be said that this whole episode felt like an ode to Dwight, with so many returning characters, including Mose, who came back and then left with his trademark straight-armed run. Thanks Michael Schur! It was also great to see the return of Troy, one of Ryan's New York friends from the episode when Dwight and Michael went into the city. Classic. I love knowing Dwight somehow kept in touch with that guy (likely believing his potentially magic powers might come in handy).
Moving back to the Brian story, the situation is a little awkward at the beginning of the episode, as Pam apologizes to Brian for getting him into trouble when he was consoling her. Then Meredith makes a aggressively flirtatious (or sexually harassing) comment about Brian the "Boom" guy booming her. Gotta love Meredith. And then we don't see Brian again until the end of the episode. Jim's voice-over is saying:
"It does matter who ends up sitting next to Pam when I'm gone. The people around you are basically who you end up spending your life with. Because of where my desk was, I spent all those years looking at Pam. And I fell in love, so that stuff matters. It definitely does."
And as he's speaking, we see Brian smiling in reaction to the prank Dwight and Pam played on Clark.
I thought maybe there was something kind of going on with Brian when he consoled Pam when she was upset over Jim, but when Pam referenced a woman at the beginning of "Junior Salesman," I thought, ok, he's with someone, so Brian's only interested in Pam as a friend. And then we get the closer in "Junior Salesman," with Jim talking about falling in love with someone he spent years looking at, which is the case for Brian.
I was further convinced with the second episode that aired last night, "Vandalism," which focused on Pam trying to figure out who defaced her warehouse mural. Again, most of the episode ignores the Brian story, until the end…
Pam's reckless decision to seek vengeance against a man she doesn't really know (and thus, has no idea how he might react) wasn't the wisest choice, and the repercussions could have been severe, had Brian not intervened. Again, we could chalk Brian's interference up to him being a decent person. Sure, documentary crew people aren't really supposed to get involved with their subjects, but when a big guy is charging a woman, it should be ok to use a boom mic as a weapon to stop him, which is what Brian did. So that makes him a good guy. But then comes Pam's second apology.
Realizing that she's kind of the cause of Brian's termination (the other guy was fired also), Pam apologizes and Brian sort of brushes it off, assuring her that it's fine and then adding, "If you ever need me, you just call me and I'll be there." And then there's a look. A pause that I think was just long enough to say without saying, "I'm in love with you." Pam's left with an uncomfortable frown, because maybe she heard what he just said and maybe she can cap that onto the guilt she feels. He didn't just protect her because he's a nice guy, he protected her and lost his job for her.
Either that, or I'm totally misreading the situation, but I don't think I am. And to top it off, the episode ends with Jim happy to have resolved his issues with Daryl, having no idea that he's neglecting his wife and there might be another guy waiting in the wings to swoop in and be there for her while he isn't... kind of how Jim was there waiting when Pam was with Roy. Jim's certainly no Roy, but there are a couple of similarities in the situation (remember when Roy attacked Jim and Dwight came to the rescue with his pepper spray?)
I don't believe Pam would cheat on Jim, nor can I imagine this series ending with Pam and Jim separating, but there does seem to be a growing rift between the two and Brian's somewhere in the middle of that. How long before Jim realizes what's happening in his marriage? Right now he seems so caught up with his new job, which is understandable. But he also seems to be enjoying "bachelor" life a little too much when we consider the things Pam's been going through in Scranton.
In other news, I love that Kevin told the Senator off after the birthday party. It was amazing (in an awful way) to see Oscar and Angela apologizing to the Senator over the tension and awkwardness at the party, and the Senator assuring them in a patronizing way that they'd do better next time. This, after he allowed his wife to be pushed aside so that Oscar and other faces that would make him look better could be front and center. Oscar was used for his skin color and Angela was used as the image of his perceived heterosexuality and perfect family.
How Angela and Oscar got to this place, I don't know. I'm not even sure I totally saw the reality of the situation until Kevin aptly pointed it out after complimenting the food bu telling him what an awful person he is. The Senator is using both of them and they're taking it. If he doesn't come around and apologize (sincerely) to both of them, I hope this bites him in the backside eventually. In the meantime, I sort of love that Angela and Oscar's relationship with the Senator hasn't caused a major rift between Angela and Oscar. They never really got along to begin with, but they seem almost teamed up, which is bizarre and sort of ridiculous when you think about it, but I like it anyway. And I also love that Kevin stood up for his friends. The accounting team is the best.