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Am I missing something, or is this is the first time the show has made reference to Jim and Pam being Christians? This week’s episode was framed around the christening of their daughter Cece, and due to Michael’s obnoxious tendency to thrust himself way too far into his employees’ lives, he invites the whole office and for some reason they all show up. I don’t object to the Halperts being Christians, they just never seemed very religious to me, and it just seems weird that this is the first we see of that part of their lives. Also, it further calls into question the purpose of the cameras. They’re supposed to be documentarians filming the goings-on in a typical American workplace, right? So why are they brought along to weddings and baptisms and stuff like that?
That’s overly critical of a goofy comedy though, and the important thing is whether it was funny. And, well, it was better than last week. Mostly because the awkwardness never stopped the show like Michael’s confrontation with Darryl did, even if was pretty thick. I haven’t really been a fan of any of the comedy beats that show Jim and Pam screwing up at being parents, but any situation where the whole office is together and bouncing off each other is usually pretty good. There were some really funny small character moments like Darryl and Creed sleeping against each other during the ceremony and Kevin discovering “thousands” of scones in Angela’s bag.
They’ve obviously been experimenting with putting various characters in the boss chair this season in preparation for Steve Carell’s departure, but they don’t really do that here, as the focus is mostly just on how pathetically Michael and Andy want to be loved. Andy wants Erin back, and Michael just wants everyone to think he’s a good guy. So after Michael hears about a church youth group getting on a bus to build a school in Mexico after the unexpectedly large post-church reception, he impulsively decides to jump on board and head off with them. His employees try to talk him out of it, but after Erin commends his willingness to help out, Andy jumps on too and away they go without even a bag of supplies.
Of course, they start to rethink their decision by the time they’re barely out of the county. They talk about how they don’t even know what they’re building or how to do it, and realize they’ve made a big mistake. They try to get the driver to stop somewhere close so they can leave discretely, but when he’s firm in pressing on until at least Tennessee, they have a hilariously pathetic breakdown, screaming about getting off the bus until it finally stops. Part of the reason Michael wanted to go is he was upset that the office didn’t get together more often to do nice things, maybe not building schools, but just doing something good for people. Really though, he just wants to be friends with them, and after Erin picks them up and reveals they all went to a movie together, he realizes how silly he was.
There are a couple other things sprinkled around the episode of not much note. Toby struggles with entering the church at all before delivering a startlingly funny question to Jesus on the cross – “Why are you so mean to me?” Dwight uses the ceremony and reception as a way to find more paper customers, to mild comedic effect. The subplot of Pam not properly planning for the whole church to come to the reception and Jim momentarily losing their daughter was pretty weak, and I think part of the show’s decline has been the marginalizing of them as a source of good humor. This was a fairly funny episode, but I know these writers can, or at least used to be able to do better.