Tonight’s episode of The Office may have been called “Christening” in honor of Jim and Pam’s baby, but its main thrust was not about Jim or Pam or their baby. It was, as you might expect, about Michael. It wasn’t about his more negative traits either. Not his pettiness nor his selfishness nor his petulance. It was about his kindness, but also about how in his ignorance his attempted acts of kindness often go awry.
However, before we get to that point there is more story to get to. Things did begin with Cece’s christening, an event the entire office ended up showing up to, even though that was not Jim or Pam’s intention. Michael just wanted everybody there to share in the moment and to bask in everybody’s joy, including his own. There was a moment where Michael does a poor Marlon Brando impression from The Godfather, which makes Pam worry that Michael thinks he is going to be the baby’s godfather. This morphs into a Robert Deniro from Taxi Driver impression, but then eventually Pam gets Michael to say that he did indeed know he wasn’t the godfather.
I’m very glad the show did not go the other way. Not just because we’ve already had Michael try and turn himself into the center of attention at Phyllis’ wedding either. It would have been the easy way for the show to go, but they didn’t take that root. They didn’t let Michael be that stupid. While he surely would have loved to be the godfather of Jim and Pam’s baby, he fully understands he’s not going to get the chance.
Meanwhile, the other members of the gang bring their own things to the table. Ryan is clearly not a fan of religion, and is more concerned about trying to get on the church’s password protected wireless. Kelly wisely suggests “Jesus” as the answer, Dwight goes for “Opus Dei.” Dwight was the funniest part of the whole church service to me. From handing out business cards to people entering the church to standing up during the middle of the service to offer up discounts on paper and printers, but only if they bought a printer at full price as well, it was the kind of Dwight I like to go with the kind of Michael I like.
It is then announced that the “Halberts” will be hosting a soiree after the service is over, which was supposed to just be a small thing until the minister went and told everybody about it. Now, they don’t have enough food and everything is a big mess. More important to the plot of the episode, however, is Michael taking to the friendliness of the congregation. He’s used to dealing with people who tolerate him at best, so having people shaking his hand and exchanging greetings with him is a wonderful experience.
Later at the after party, there is a brief speech regarding a group of younger folks, I think they may have been missionaries or something, who were headed to Mexico to build a school. Michael also really appreciates this, while some of the rest of the gang are busy joking around. This starts to annoy Michael, who wonders aloud why they don’t all do volunteer work and stuff like that together. The fact Oscar does it by himself does not suffice to Michael. He wants to be a part of something more significant, and he eventually has it with his co-workers and heads off by himself.
In doing so, he finds himself outside just as the people headed to Mexico are getting on their bus. Michael rushes over to wish them well, and then is so swept up by the moment he gets on the bus also. He’s even greeted with open arms, though his co-workers realize what he’s doing is irrational, considering that he has a job to do and stuff like that. It also leads to a funny moment where Michael tells Phyllis to tell her clients that he died and became an angel, and that he will be watching over them. Unless they are a bigger client, of course. Then, she’s to tell them he’s in a meeting.
Only Erin supports what Michael is doing, which naturally gets Andy to hop aboard with less noble intentions. Of course, even Andy and Michael eventually realize the error of their ways. They don’t have any supplies, they don’t want to be on a two plus day bus trip to Mexico, and they don’t know how to build a church. Now, they have to get off before it’s too late. They try and coerce the bus driver to stop, but he won’t. Eventually, they make a big enough hullaballoo that they do get let off. Michael still appreciates what they are all doing. He just knows he can’t be a part of it. He has too many responsibilities at this point of his life. Also, one of the young folks get off with them, so in a way Michael and Andy are heroes. Later, Erin picks them up and it appears they may all head to a movie. But first, they are going to listen to Garrison Keillor, which both Erin and Andy seem to enjoy.
In what is sort of, kind of the “B” story, Jim and Pam deal with their party gone awry. For example, there isn’t enough cider or scones. When Pam heads out to get more food, Jim leaves the baby with Pam’s grandma. Later, we found out that not only does Pam’s grandma not know where the baby is, but she lost Suzanne’s purse too! Pam’s mom has her, but when Jim hears that a short, blonde woman has the baby Jim makes the rash assumption that Angela is trying to steal their baby. Of course, she wasn’t, but she did have a lot of scones in her purse. Alas, they never solved the mystery of Suzanne’s missing purse.
While Jim’s admission to Angela that he thought she was trying to steal, or rather kidnap I suppose, was delivered in a funny fashion, as was his admission to Pam he lost the baby, I found this all to be a bit of a stretch. He does know that Pam’s mom is a short, blonde woman right? You think maybe that’d be his first assumption? You know, instead of accusing a co-worker of kidnapping? I guess with Michael and Dwight acting more down to Earth this week they decided to transplant their ridiculousness to Jim.
In the cold open, Pam, in her new job, is talking about the importance of practicing good hygiene to prevent illness. Dwight, however, has a different take on the situation. Namely, he feels you should expose your body to as many germs as possible to keep your immune system strong. This is, of course, nonsense, which everybody else sees. Jim takes it to the point of asking Dwight if he would mind if Jim sneezed on him. Dwight, not wanting to back down, says no, which of course prompts Jim to do just that. Later, Erin does the same thing, and the coup de grace is Andy sneezing on Dwight’s toast, which he begrudgingly, and grossly, eats.
It was a good cold open, though not so much for the Dwight run but more for the vampire sneeze discussion. After Pam explains that you should try and “vampire sneeze” to prevent spreading germs i.e. sneezing into your arm, Dwight declares this preposterous. A Translvanian would never sneeze into his cloak because wool is too expensive due to the Euro. This was probably my favorite joke in the episode.
I enjoyed the “A” story of this episode, mostly because it was able to should another facet of Michael’s personality on the Steve Carell going away tour. Plus, it managed to tie Andy into Michael yet again as it seems more and more likely that Andy becomes the new Michael. It was a plausible, humorous story with some good jokes that played out well. Not much terribly funny happened at the christening, but Dwight did get in a couple good moments as did Ryan. The party stuff was also decent, though as previously stated Jim’s accusation of Angela was too ridiculous.
All in all, this was another good, solid episode from The Office. The show has yet to blow me away this season, but I’ve enjoyed every episode thus far. Hopefully, eventually they’ll pull off something dynamic and hilarious, but enjoyable, funny episodes more than suffice.