This episode of The Office, “Christening,” focused on baby CeCe’s baptism, to which Michael took it upon himself to invite the entire office. He also considered himself CeCe’s godfather (and/or “The Godfather”) until Pam made him clearly state he is not. Turned out the baptism was one of a few spiritual awakenings several of the characters experienced. As for me, I am still struggling with my faith in this show. There were moments when I felt the presence of greatness, but as a whole I seem to enjoy The Office about as much as a kid enjoys going to church (i.e. “Is it over yet? Is it time for donuts?”).
The cold opening was literally a “cold” opening—an actually somewhat useful PSA on taking care of yourself during flu season led by the newly self-appointed office administrator Pam. I wasn’t completely impressed with it until Dwight offered up his opinions on health—that they are all better off battling germs by increased exposure. Cut to everyone in the office from Jim to Erin and Andy purposely sneezing on Dwight and his food. Ask and ye shall receive—your prayers were answered Dwight!
The rest of the episode focused on the baptism and its aftermath at the church. Angela, while still showing her disdain for Jim and Pam as people and parents, is in heaven over a blessed baptism (and over the sacred scones—which she steals). Andy starts feeling his biological clock ticking (I really think he has one!) once again, and wishes that the Nard Dog could have a litter of Nard Pups sometime soon. Dwight uses the church as an opportunity to make printer and paper sales, even staring down an elderly man to speak first during the prayer offering part of the service. Creed and Daryl sleep (on each other, no less). Ryan and Kelly are distraught that for all its generosity, the church can’t bother to offer wi-fi without a password (try Jesus!). Stanley tries to make a run for it, while Toby can barely even enter the church because he has a bone to pick with God (why are you so mean to me?). And the “Halberts,” as the minister announces, apparently offered to host a reception following the ceremony. Poor Halberts—first baby CeCe messes her baptism dress and has to wear an old shirt, and then daddy Jim temporarily misplaces CeCe while Pam goes on a food run.
It is Michael who goes through a rebirth of sorts at the reception, when he sees the youth ministry group getting ready to head down to Mexico to build a school (or hospital or…whatever…build something). I enjoyed the overly zealous youth ministry leader, and it’s her impassioned speech that really inspires Michael to want to do something—anything—particularly with his friends from Dunder Mifflin whom he considers his family. He is disheartened to hear the lackluster response from his officemates (or “Mean Girls” as he calls them) so he impulsively jumps on the bus to Mexico. When Erin hilariously yells out in approval “I wish I had a job that I could just leave!” it inspires the Nard Dog to jump aboard as well. Naturally, it doesn’t take Michael and Andy long to freak out about their decision and get themselves kicked off the bus. But, we certainly saw the beginning stages of a transformation in Michael. I think we glimpsed the first inkling back in the cold sore episode when Michael has a realization about his relationships with women. Tonight seemed like the next phase—him starting to think about making active changes in his life to feel like he has a purpose. He is not ready yet—and he is definitely not yet ready to let go of his office safety net—but the odds are good that he will get there by the end of the season.
After writing all this, I am almost surprised I didn’t “like” or laugh at this episode more. This episode had many of the elements I look for in a solid episode of The Office—a strong ensemble performance, attention to little detailed reactions, and a some heartfelt emotion. Maybe it is because I have not had that strong bond with the show for a while now, so I feel like these episodes have to really go out of their way to prove themselves to me. Maybe I should have more faith in The Office? Make me a believer!