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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.