Stairmageddon 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 documentarys critical reviews, specifically Andys almost manic-depressive ego fluctuation and the culmination of Angela and Oscars long-gestating scandal involving The Senator. And there was the show-stealing story of Dwight and Clarks mission to secure a sale through a less than cooperative Stanley. Not that its absolutely necessary or anything, but Im definitely a fan of when the cold opens actually somehow play into one of the episodes plots, even if the open is as weak as I felt Stairmageddons was. The pun itself isnt horrible, and its actually strengthened by Oscars matter of fact explanation, but I just wasnt sold on Stanleys 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 Kevins idiocy (although I did definitely laugh at how ridiculously proud he was to have successfully kept Oscars secret for so long). However, though I didnt 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 The Body (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), I contend that the strength of this story was carried most predominantly by Clark Duke. Ive mentioned on several occasions how talented Duke is at just nailing the odd comedic timing necessary to really reach the full potential of The Offices 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 (Can I just get out of here before whatever comes next?) to trying to load the bubble-wrapped man into Dwights car (Use the vernacular Im 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 its 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 Krasinskis 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 Tobys conversation and Pam and Nellies were just as effective in achieving some of those genuine moments of brutal honesty on which the series was built. I dont know what kind of resolution to anticipate between these characters with only so many episodes left, but I think thats a good sign. Also, Toby mentioning that Kelly called Jim and Pams 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 stardom (250 views! 251, 252 I cant even keep up!), and finally getting some resolution to Angela and Oscars weird love triangle worked well. Stairmageddon had a lot of strengths to it. Hopefully the rest of the season can ride a similar momentum into a dignified closing.
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.