TV Review: The Office 9.19, "Stairmageddon"

The Office - Season 9

rating: 4

€œStairmageddon€ is a rare episode amidst the final season as its blend of plots actually recalls the series€™ strongest features. There was the heartfelt pathos of Jim and Pam separately discussing their impending inaugural marriage counseling session with Toby and Nellie, respectively. There was the wide-swathing blanket plot for the rest of the cast to react to the documentary€™s critical reviews, specifically Andy€™s almost manic-depressive ego fluctuation and the culmination of Angela and Oscar€™s long-gestating scandal involving The Senator. And there was the show-stealing story of Dwight and Clark€™s mission to secure a sale through a less than cooperative Stanley. Not that it€™s absolutely necessary or anything, but I€™m definitely a fan of when the cold opens actually somehow play into one of the episode€™s plots, even if the open is as weak as I felt €œStairmageddon€™s€ was. The pun itself isn€™t horrible, and it€™s actually strengthened by Oscar€™s matter of fact explanation, but I just wasn€™t sold on Stanley€™s arduous journey, even with the quick cut to him downing a five hour energy then promptly discarding it. The gag just felt strained (no pun intended), like Kevin€™s idiocy (although I did definitely laugh at how ridiculously proud he was to have successfully kept Oscar€™s secret for so long). However, though I didn€™t get much out of the initial bit, the plot it led into was nothing short of reminiscent of the series€™ best moments. While Rainn Wilson is consistently incredible in his performances, and Leslie David Baker did more with a physically inert character than most since Kristine Sutherland in €œThe Body€ (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), I contend that the strength of this story was carried most predominantly by Clark Duke. I€™ve mentioned on several occasions how talented Duke is at just nailing the odd comedic timing necessary to really reach the full potential of The Office€™s writing, and this episode is a perfect example. His reluctance in helping Dwight from the scene in the break room just before Dwight fires off the bull tranquilizers at Stanley (€œCan I just get out of here before whatever comes next?€) to trying to load the bubble-wrapped man into Dwight€™s car (€œUse the vernacular I€™m comfortable with!€) was the exact performance needed to offset the all too familiar ludicrous behavior of Dwight. We all know that the ninth season is the final one of the series, but it€™s sort of pleasantly bittersweet to know that if in another world NBC did renew the show for at least one more, it would have a suitable heir to John Krasinski€™s deadpan throne. The editing in this episode was just as crucial to its success for me as the acting or writing. Basically every quick cut to a suddenly new development in the Dwight/Stanley/Clark plot got a laugh out of me. Similarly, the cuts between Jim and Toby€™s conversation and Pam and Nellie€™s were just as effective in achieving some of those genuine moments of brutal honesty on which the series was built. I don€™t know what kind of resolution to anticipate between these characters with only so many episodes left, but I think that€™s a good sign. Also, Toby mentioning that Kelly called Jim and Pam€™s marriage falling apart by 2013, and threatening death on Clark for accidentally interrupting were really nice comedic moments to have dropped into a suitably serious scene. Even the lesser plots of watching Andy overreact (in a seemingly very Michael-esque fashion) to his internet €œstardom€ (€œ250 views! 251, 252 €“ I can€™t even keep up!€), and finally getting some resolution to Angela and Oscar€™s weird love triangle worked well. €œStairmageddon€ had a lot of strengths to it. Hopefully the rest of the season can ride a similar momentum into a dignified closing. 9x19 gif
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Fed a steady diet of cartoons, comics, tv and movies as a child, Joe now survives on nothing but endless film and television series, animated or otherwise, as well as novels of the graphic and literary varieties. He can also be seen ingesting copious amounts of sarcasm and absurdity.

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