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The Office – Spooked

The Office has fairly strong
history of Halloween episodes, especially when the holiday isn’t
relegated to just the opening scene. “Spooked” might not have
been the best in that long line, but it was one of the better
episodes we’ve received so far this season, and certainly didn’t mar
the show’s reputation when it comes to celebrating All Hallows’ Eve.
A long overdue resolution to Andy and Erin’s relationship provided
the main storyline, but it was outshone by the episode’s subplots.

One of the most surprising things about
this episode was how much entertainment Pam and Jim were providing
with their storyline. The pair have been long past their prime as
the charmingly cute couple, and the humor they’ve provided has often
been just as sour. However, in “Spooked” the Halperts were
bringing their A-game, with a storyline that was earning laughs as
soon as it began. Oscar’s exacerbated reply to Pam fishing for
someone to ask her about the “man in black” was such a perfect
little inter-office moment. He really sells that he has been through
this dozens of times before with Pam. It was just a quick line and
look-to-camera, but it completely captured that feeling of
long-suffering coworkers, and was actually one of the episode’s
funniest moments.

Jim’s worry over Pam’s belief in the
supernatural is of course driven by how it will look for him if his
wife is going around spouting ghost stories. But he is also a little
concerned about what Pam might say to Cece, and understandably so
considering Pam’s stance; ”I’m not gonna scare her…but I’m not
gonna lie to her either.”
The
most comedic moment by far though was Jim’s attempt to give Pam grief
by suggesting they go see Ghost Busters. Pammy giving as good as she
gets with a rendered middle finger was another moment that felt like
the more believable office interactions that came with the show’s
best years.

Robert California dropping into the
party didn’t seem like it would amount to much at first, even if he
did bring his son Bert along. Watching him weasel out everyone’s
worst fears just seemed like more of his creepy, intrusive behavior,
and was as unfunny as it has been since the season started. The
payoff though gave James Spader his first genuinely great moment
since his character was originally introduced last season. His scary
story was not only funny, but really brought out the personality and
charisma the show has been implying his character possesses but has
been unable to produce. The simple act of continuously using the
word “Baby” as a name was simultaneously the creepiest and
funniest part of his entire monologue, and making use of all the side
characters, even if only briefly, was something the show hasn’t done
in quite some time. Besides a moment or two in the last episode this
was the first time Spader showed he could really add something to the
series. Hopefully his appearances will continue to do so, as he
definitely has the talent, he just needs to be given the material.

Though Robert’s son wasn’t very
impressed with the party, he did find some enjoyment at the office.
Bert ended up spending most of his time with Dwight, that is, when he
wasn’t shooing Jim off from his own computer. The storyline was
shaping up to be a repeat of Dwight’s last standoff with someone of
his own maturity level(“Take Your Daughter to Work Day”), but
thankfully it wasn’t just another spin on Dwight versus a child.
After butting heads on which was worse, hurricanes or the flu, the
two found a mutual love in deadly marine life and Starcraft. Which
is a how a zombie Bert and Kerrigan: Queen of Blades(minus the
blades) ended up playing video games all day.

Considering how Erin-centric this
episode was, with the doe-eyed secretary taking the lion’s share of
screen time, it’s no surprise that it was actually written by Ellie
Kemper’s sister, Carrie(who last took the writing reins for season
seven’s “Ultimatum”). It felt more than a little odd for Andy
and Erin’s relationship to suddenly be taking center stage, but I
guess any resolution is a good resolution; even if it does come out
of nowhere. As one would expect, Carrie Kemper’s storyline for her
sister’s character didn’t try for that much humor, but she did manage
to find a few moment’s for Erin to get laughs in the midst of getting
her heart broken. Whoever this new squeeze of Andy’s may be, there
is no way she has anything on the sweetest receptionist to ever grace
the halls of Dunder Mifflin(sorry, Pam). Erin’s high volume welcome
to Robert’s son(“Bertie Boy!”) was only topped in charm by
her reaction to Pam giving her a two on a scale of one to
three(“That’s like the second-to-last thing I wanted to hear.”).
I’m just not seeing how Andy could do any better, even if his new
girlfriend is from the forest.

“Spooked” was a very solid episode
in a season that has had its ups and downs. While it would have been
best to end The Office when we were able see Steve Carrell in
costume for the Halloween episodes, the show does still possess some
appeal. With the coming reveal of Andy’s lady, Spader finally
getting some material he can work with, and most of the characters
being funnier than they have been in recent memory, there is some
honest to goodness anticipation for these next few episodes.
Hopefully they won’t disappoint.

Rating
8.5

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