Episode 15 - The Search
7 February 2013
Synopsis: Michael is impatient to be with Holly again and is grumpy while out on a sales call with Jim. Jim then gets an urgent call about Cece and abandons Michael at a gas station. Michael begins a meandering walk through Scranton while Dwight, Holly and Erin search for him. Back at the office Pam excitedly begins a caption contest but Gabe ruins everyone's fun when he insists on rules for the contest.
The Good: Seeing Michael and Holly reunited was a lovely moment. It was not remotely surprising as there has been no tension as to whether they would end up together. I don't think that's a bad thing as this is Michael's happy ending. Amy Ryan's portrayal of Holly made their pairing pretty magical back in Season Five and the producers seem to have wisely brought her back to round off the Michael Scott story.
The idea that only she thinks like Michael and so could follow his seemingly random wanderings was a pleasant way to structure the search for him. It gave their reunion at the top of the sky scraper a rom-com feeling to it which even Erin could be satisfied with. I liked the Chinese restaurant's solution to Michael's lack of a wallet (they put up a photograph of Michael holding a sign saying "Thief!"). That led nicely to the camera panning to Creed's picture nearby.
At the office the caption competition was a nice plausible story. Some of the lines they came up with were fun. It made sense for Gabe to want to stamp out Sabre-related jibes and I like that the writers are now committed to Oscar being a fairly insufferable know-it-all.
The Bad: The relentless abuse heaped upon Gabe does bother me a little. Mainly because it makes for confused TV. If Gabe were doing people harm the way Michael and Dwight sometimes do then the abuse might be justified. Instead though he is just doing his job. I understand that he has become like the school teacher by being the outsider with no real authority. However the glee with which the whole office watches him reading out very abusive comments made me sad. I can imagine them writing them behind his back but this felt like bullying and Gabe is not an ogre nor does he have thick skin.
Once more I return to the problem with The Office having camera crews following the characters. Michael directly interacts with the camera which brings up so many questions. Why don't they lend him their phone? Why don't they direct him to the office? They must have a car so why don't they drive him home? It didn't bother me too much though. I also wondered if Michael had business cards on him that would have the office number. Indeed why didn't he just call them collect? None of that spoilt the episode for me but too many questions can be annoying.
The episode did feel uneventful. Michael's interactions with the gas station clerk and the hot dog vendor didn't really serve much purpose. Dwight and Erin didn't add a lot to proceedings either. I kind of enjoyed the stillness and slow pace of the story but I can imagine some would find it dull.
I was intrigued by a line where Pam asked Dwight to pick her up some things and he tried to shut her down. Eventually he said in frustration "Pam I'm obviously going to get that stuff for you so just shut up." It feel quite un-Dwight to be so reasonable. In a way he was admitting that his "mission" to "rescue" Michael was all bravado and that naturally when he could he would follow her request. It made me think that if the writers had built that kind of believable behaviour into his character for the last few seasons the show would have benefitted a lot.
Comic Highlight: Michael stops in a pet shop on his route. He picks up some adorable puppies and talks to them about Holly. He talks to some parrots calling them beautiful. It's all so wonderfully sweet. Leading of course to him peering at a snake in its tank and saying "You are disgusting. You'll never find love. Yuck!"
That's what I said: This was slow and predictable. It was a fairly average piece of TV but I enjoyed it.
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