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THE OFFICE “Andy’s Ancestry” Review–Oh, Andy…

Last week I said that The Office is in mid-season form, and that it’s not necessarily a good thing. Thursday’s episode, “Andy’s Ancestry” did the best it could to prove that it is better to hit the ground running. Despite still neglecting it’s supporting cast, Andy, Jim, Pam, and even Nellie carried the episode enough to (this time) make the participation of the remaining office members seem just right.

If it looked like Jim was finished pranking Dwight, and he was on to bigger and better things–not quite. But he’s still on to bigger and better things. Asian Jim has an uncanny impersonation of real Jim’s mannerisms, and they have all of the bases covered. And Pam comes in: is she going to kiss him? Yes! As awesome as the whole segment was, the effort of the show’s writers to separate Jim from the office is still pretty clear…he was never actually in the scene. Even  The Office‘s Facebook page asks if it’s a “prank to rule them all?” Well, it is an ingenious concept–having Jim prank Dwight without being there. But I think Jim has to be there to truly have a prank that “rules them all.” One last true Jim/Dwight showdown, please?

Saying that “even Nellie” can be responsible for the success (or failure) of an episode comes with the same surprise as when Pam realizes that Nellie is actually quite fun. Last season, Nellie was not much more than a recurring character to make some trouble for Andy and throw a curveball to the ensemble that many were complaining was getting stale. But someone behind the camera took a liking to here, and here she stays. Pam having a good time with Nellie is clearly an attempt to get us on her side, and it’s–at best–only sort of working. She’s still very much only a propellant for the characters whose side we’ve been on for a long time.

Clark and Plop continue to entertain. They’ve found out early that Andy likes approval. It took them just as long as it took the rest of us. So they applaud everything. Anything. For no reason. It’s just what the sub-plots need to keep them as funny as they are important.

The budding friendship between Jim and Darryl is very refreshing to see come to life. Actually, their conversation about Jim’s sports marketing plan and Darryl’s love for Philadelphia should make you wonder why they haven’t been closer friends this whole time. The chemistry between them has been, especially during this scene, as good as it can get. But when Darryl asks if Pam approves, he knows better. He tells Jim, “It’s not for real until your wife’s on board.” Heeding to some of the best advice he’s probably ever heard, Jim finally tells Pam what he’s been keeping from her. And her reaction may not be what the last couple episodes would make you expect, but it is exactly the way it should have gone. Without hearing a word, Jim and Pam have one of the most personal and heartwarming moments ever shared between them.

Oh, Andy. Are we supposed to start disliking him? Nellie fools Andy into believing that he is related to Michelle Obama, and he’s off. By the way, someone tell Erin that she won’t actually have to spend the holidays with her. Andy is about 25 times more excited about this information than we should expect any rational person to be. He is literally going around to everyone in the office proudly sharing his new found esteem, and as anyone who works in an office with someone they can’t stand will probably tell you, only somebody who you can’t stand would ever do that. So perhaps Andy can get away with it because we have enough of our love invested in him where he gets a pass, but he just might not end the show on a note as high as he’d like.

Andy’s behavior is perplexing to say the least, but in a way that’s becoming less productive for character “development.” He’s not really developing; he’s un-developing. His unsettling nature was first truly revealed last season when he embarrassed himself at the dinner event for Robert California. And at the time, the hopeful nature in us resulted in a shoulder shrug and a “he’ll come around” outlook.” That’s becoming much less likely. So you have to decide, do you like The Office going in this direction? It’s not really a question of right or wrong in terms of the characters or story, but simply what a TV audience prefers. Personally, I’m staying optimistic that (because it’s a sitcom, and not Breaking Bad) The Office won’t throw any of their characters to the dogs.

Best moments:

Darryl: “I brushed my teeth in the shower. Saved 90 seconds. Which I just spent explaining this to you.”

“Whoa, that person has really got him or herself into quite a predicament.”

Andy: “Nellie get your wrinkly old balls in here.”

Dwight: “People laughed at Klingon at first and now you can major in it.”

Plop stopping Clark’s applause when Andy finds out his ancestors transported slaves.

Creed’s “not today” head-shake, answering if anyone has any fermented mare’s milk.

Bottom line: With a seemingly strong push for Nellie, and an attempt to slight Andy, The Office is undoubtedly moving to shake things up. But by consistently making Andy more and more confusing, it’s difficult to care about him at all.

I will be recapping each new episode of The Office, as well as Parks and Recreation this fall. Please follow@MattBenincasa and @ScreenInvasion on Twitter!

 

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Matt Benincasa

Matt Benincasa

Matt is an actor and writer from NYC, attending Fordham University with a Major in Communications and Minor in Theatre.