I love The Office, and while I didn’t dislike tonight’s episode, I found myself wanting to laugh a lot more than I did. Beyond that though, tonight we learned that James Spader can make even the most tepid of Office episodes seem strangely enthralling by embracing the monologue in a way that only someone as poised and well spoken as a man like Spader can.
The story arcs in tonight’s episode felt a bit to familiar to be all that funny. Pam admitted to believing in ghosts after a spooky encounter at a bar, prompting Jim to challenge her beliefs. Sides were taken but the story didn’t really go anywhere other than that we learned Jim thinks if he joins in in not washing his Eagles jersey, it might inspire the team to play better. While I’m not a sports fan, I can appreciate the superstition. But, as a non-sports fan, whatever joke there might have been in Jim wearing a Chris Bosh jersey was lost on me.
Other costumes included Erin as Wendy (as in, the “Baconator” Wendy), Pam as a pregnant kangaroo, Dwight as a de-winged Kerrigan from Starcraft, and Toby and Kelly went as glowing skeletons. Gabe tagged along with that theme without bothering to ask, which was just weird (and typical for Gabe). I’m pretty sure Robert California was supposed to be Jack Nicholson and Ryan was Jesse from Breaking Bad (nice!).
Erin was tasked to get the Halloween party going, but she ended up going the classic kid-party route until Robert (and his son) commented on it. After Phyllis and Angela, the veteran party planners of the office, bullied Erin out of the conference room, she went to Gabe to help make things scarier. Gabe’s idea of scary is on a completely different level than what most people would consider fitting for a Halloween party. Given his love for horror movies, Erin should have known as much.
Gabe’s home-made video was a series of random, unsettling images, like a bloody cake, and a view from the backseat of Stanley’s car. Oscar’s grandmother also played a cameo. I’m fairly certain that, after viewing that movie, everyone who saw it will now die within the week.
The video was a bust, as was Erin’s other approach for adult-party fun (Pecker Poker). This isn’t the first time miscommunication has caused Erin to do weird things. If anyone’s to blame for this tonight, it’s Andy. He should know better than to tell an employee that he wants to meet with them at a quarter to five. Erin spent the day worrying that she was going to be fired. Between her struggle to get the party right and Andy’s mixed signals in how he delegates her work, she had every reason to think something was wrong, and she was right.
As it turns out, Andy’s big talk with Erin involved revealing to her that he’s been seeing someone. The fact that this was a big enough deal to Andy to keep it a secret from Erin, even going as far as to keep the mystery girl from calling him at work, suggests that Andy still cares about Erin. They haven’t dated in ages. Erin’s been with Gabe since things fell apart with her and Andy. They should be long past the post-break-up tension, but they clearly aren’t. And Erin’s pretend-happy attitude, followed by the sad hug they shared later, which went on a bit too long, shows the connection between the two characters.
Robert California stole the show in the best of the moments between Andy and Erin when he acknowledged that the issues they were having were actually unrelated to work, and then sat down to watch their conversation. He only offered to leave afterward.
Another laughable moment happened during the cold open when we learned that Meredith went to England to heckle Princess Diana’s memory during the royal wedding, missing her own sister's funeral in the process. Ironically enough, Kelly, who, like Meredith, also wanted to go as Kate for Halloween, once said Princess Diana's funeral was the saddest funeral ever, and then casually excluded her sister's funeral, almost as an afterthought.
Dwight, who formed a bond with Robert’s son throughout the day, got the kid to fire Toby and left Toby believing he might actually be fired. Finally, Robert California, having spent the day collecting the fears of the staff, told a scary story that incorporated all of them, and ended with, “I’m fine, bitch. I’m fine.” Only his son was amused by it. Everyone else was left speechless.
Over all, not the most amazing episode of The Office by a longshot, but it had its moments and the costumes were good.