In Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, two men occupy themselves while waiting in vain for someone named Godot to arrive. They discuss, argue, sing, joke, play endlessly—not quite knowing who exactly they are expecting to arrive or when this event will happen. I get why this was considered an extremely influential play in the 20th century and all, but when I had to read it in high school I hated it. Tonight’s season finale of The Office, “Search Committee,” kind of resembled that play. The office crew seemed to be distracting themselves endlessly while searching for a new permanent branch manager and waiting for someone—anyone—remotely qualified to arrive for an interview. They argued, they plotted, they played, they pranked and they discussed whether anyone could possibly enter their world who could replace Michael Scott. Well, it is not a spoiler alert to say that Godot never arrived in Sam Beckett’s play nor in Dunder Mifflin’s office. And, honestly, I wasn’t really amused by “Search Committee” either.
I have to say that the highlight of the entire episode, for me, was the cold opening that showcased life at Sabre Scranton under Creed’s temporary rule. From him tossing his new sports car keys to a nonexistent valet to holding meetings with no attendees to simply making up acronyms, I honestly think this show should consider making Creed the manager for a few episodes because at least it was entertaining. Plus, I enjoyed Pam having to keep Creed occupied with pointless tasks. For the remainder of the hour, we got an endless string of highly publicized big-name guest stars: Will Arnett, Ricky Gervais, Catherine Tate, James Spader, Ray Romano, Warren Buffett, and Jim Carrey for a few seconds at the end as the “Finger Lakes” guy. All of them were equally odd or off, just in different ways. Ray Romano probably played closest to his usual character type—neurotic and obsessive. But overall I have to say that I more preferred the interviews with Andy and Daryl, with the former treating the situation like a run for student body president and the later having to turn to Microsoft’s Clippy for help creating a resume. Of course there was Dwight in the mix too, being Dwight and interviewing himself.
The Search Committee and the selection process really got whipped into shape when Jo turned up—with her dogs of course—and attempted to get the committee back on track. And we even got a staff shake-up: Jo saw evidence of Gabe’s creepy and inappropriate behavior and he got demoted back to Florida. Farewell, Gabe—don’t forget your seahorse powder. Jo also appointed Kelly to take over Gabe’s position.
There were some other story developments as well, the most important of which being that the [state] senator proposed to Angela…sure it was a staged PR event, and sure his aide cried…but Angela is oblivious to these things and to the fact that he is gay. Oscar, Pam and the gang contemplate telling Angela, but they decide that she seems really happy, so why spoil it. Oscar also gave us the best line of the night courtesy of this engagement news: “As a gay man, I’m horrified. As a friend of Angela’s? Horrified. As a lover of elegant weddings, I’m a little excited. But overall? Horrified.” I guess we will see how far her wedding plans go next season? And speaking of weddings—there was a slight shout out to the Royal Wedding when Dwight awkwardly tried to make small talk with Jim to win him over and referred to Jim’s daughter as Pippee? Pippa.
It seems that in Michael’s absence, Phyllis has taken it upon herself to serve as the parent-figure in young Erin’s life. This was really creepy—especially with the two thinking they could actually be mother-daughter because Phyllis gave up a baby as a young woman and Erin was adopted. It definitely is not as inspired a pairing as Michael-Erin, who always played so well off of each other’s innocence, but it is kind of nice that Erin still has someone she can go to for advice, as strange as it may be.
The end of the episode arrived…but a new manager did not. Honestly, it is almost symbolic of where this show stands right now: unsure of itself after losing Steve Carell. What does it want to do from here? What direction should it take? Should it hire from within or commit to a new personality in the mix. I think Ryan said it best, ironically, when he said he wanted a leader who wouldn’t boss him around but just lead him, sometimes when he wanted to be led. Follow that? Ridiculous yet oddly wise at the same time. This show needs a great leader—for the sake of the characters and the audience watching. But—will you be watching next season?