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Who the hell makes the schedules for NBC? This is an extremely pivotal time for The Office, when the lead actor for the last seven years is finally getting ready to leave and we need to see if the show can exist without him, now that an eighth season has been confirmed. It should be an important event within the show, and it would help to have some momentum going. But this is the first episode in four weeks, and there won't be another for three more. It makes no sense.
That didn't keep this from being a solid episode, though. It had two parts, the first of which titular garage sale, which is mostly just a showcase for the different characters' unique personalities via the things they're willing to part with to raise a little money in the warehouse. I'm not sure we even ever saw anybody looking for stuff to buy, and this whole plot seemed to exist only to provide a few laughs in support of the episode's second part, which did all of the heavy lifting - Michael's marriage proposal to Holly. I knew it was probably coming, and would be a way to provide both an end to the emotional arc of the show's main character and a way to write him out of the show, and though it accomplished both those things, it still felt fairly abrupt. The timing just doesn't quite add up the way you'd hope it would.
Holly is clearly the right girl for Michael, but they spent too much time having Michael pine for her without the relationship actually existing. The two met in the season four finale, and then dated for a few episodes in season five before she was transferred away. She was then essentially gone from the show for two whole years, popping up only to show that she had another serious boyfriend during that time, before returning midway through this season. After she broke up with her boyfriend, she and Michael went from rekindling a brief romance to falling totally in love, getting engaged, and agreeing to move to Colorado to take care of her parents in only four episodes. And now there's only one more episode before the two part event when Michael finally leaves. It just seems like the entire storyline could have used some work.
Still, the relationship as it is on camera is a nice one, and it's good to see the character be happy. For the most part, his proposal makes for a pretty entertaining story as well. At first he considers writing her name in the parking lot with flaming gasoline or faking his own falling death using an actual corpse, but Pam decides to help him before he can do anything too dangerous. He's not a big fan of the story of her engagement to Jim, and wants his proposal to be remembered for all time. Michael always wants to get the whole office involved in his personal life, so of course he wants his marriage to Holly to be the biggest thing Dunder Mifflin has ever seen. He gets Holly a ridiculously beautiful ring (thinking the rule was three years' salary rather than three months'), and racks his brain before finally coming up with an idea.
He leads Holly on a tour to all the important locations from their past (which of course are all in the office building) before taking her to the hallway leading to the annex, where everyone is gathered with candles. The scene where various employees ask her to marry her and she politely says no was a bit odd and felt like a reference I wasn't getting, and the reveal of the entire annex being filled with candles was honestly a bit over the top. When did they have time to set this all up during the garage sale? The sprinklers cutting off Michael's speech and soaking them before he produces the ring did a good job of easing the eye rolling though, and all in all it was a sweet scene even if it tried too hard. Then the reaction from the rest of the office when Michael announces the move to Colorado. I wouldn't have guessed this stuff would all actually come before the departure, but it became clear very early where the episode was going so it worked fine.
The garage sale stuff, as mentioned, was entertaining if not too sophisticated. I've never seen Dallas but I know enough about it to get some fun from the joke of Andy and Darryl making up the rules as they went along, and Kevin winning the day when he sneaks off with the pot was a nice moment of triumph for a character who's been put upon lately. I loved seeing a classic Jim prank after what seemed like a long hiatus, and the fact that it totally undercuts Dwight's scheme to trade up from a thumb tack to the best item in the sale (which was actually working) made it even better. The final gag in the end credits was a nice escalation, too. There wasn't much else there, although it's always fun to see more evidence of Ryan being a dirtbag.
I'm of two minds with this episode, because as I mentioned the build up to these life-changing events could have been stronger with more time to develop, and it was one of the few times when the show seemed to be trying just a bit too hard to make the audience sappy. On the other hand, it was mostly a fun episode to watch, and maybe I'm overestimating how much extra time on the Michael/Holly relationship would have actually helped the occasion itself. It's obvious that the two are perfect for each other, and when I'm willing to let the writers stretch reality a bit for a couple laughs, why shouldn't I do the same for a little heartfelt sentiment? The end result would have basically been the same. In any case, I'm happy with the direction they've taken saying goodbye to one of the last decade's best leading men of comedy.