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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Office celebrates a "Dwight Christmas"

NBC's The Office continues the emotional journey of its final season. In "Dwight Christmas," Pam (Jenna Fischer) manipulates her co-workers into throwing Dwight's (Rainn Wilson) dream holiday celebration as a gift for Jim (John Krasinski). It works, and Jim is giddily amused. But when he cuts out early to head to Philadelphia for his new job, Dwight feels slighted, and calls off the celebration.

"Dwight Christmas" makes obvious what many of us have long suspected, and what The Office has allowed small glimpses of from time to time: Dwight and Jim have a brother-style relationship, at least in Dwight's eyes. He claims to hate Jim, but how hurt he is when Jim leaves tells a different tale. This proves not only a deep affection for the other man, but also how much Dwight is going to miss Jim when if he quits Dundler-Mifflin completely and moves away.

The Office may portray a dysfunctional family, but make no mistake about it, the co-workers do comprise a family. Every clan has their tiffs and disagreements, but in the end, they care about each other. Whether it's Oscar (Oscar Nunez) trying desperately to heal things with Angela (Angela Kinsey) after sleeping with her husband, or it's Phyllis (Phyllis Smith) and Stanley (Leslie David Baker) promising to help Jim out after giving him a ribbing, as they did last week, these people mean something to one another.

What better way to mark a final season than to demonstrate this? There is definitely starting to be a sense of an end in sight, with several characters considering paths that will take them away from the group. It's a shame, but it's also life, and viewers should be grateful for these people while we've had them. We've gotten to witness such a long stretch of their lives, and what they mean. It's very relatable, and as much as the employees may shed a tear in the end, so, too, should the fans at home, who have become invested, and may even feel like part of the family themselves.

During the party, Darryl (Craig Robinson) gets drunker and drunker, angry at Jim for seemingly forgetting about him in his new venture. It's a classic case of misunderstanding, as Jim hasn't forgotten to include him, but has not remembered to tell Darryl exactly what Jim has done for him. Yet, even while playing out such a familiar, unoriginal trope, "Dwight Christmas" still manages to be good because Robinson, along with his fellow actors, know how to sell the heart that beats at the center of the series.

Speaking of heart, a couple of relationship developments happen in "Dwight Christmas," too. Toby (Paul Lieberstein) senses some interest from Nellie (Catherine Tate), who may return the feelings. It's interesting that former boss, Michael's (Steve Carell), nemesis would get with new boss, Andy's (Ed Helms), foe, but there's also a bit of poetry in that. Plus, neither one has any other prospects in (or outside of) the office, and it's cool if they end up finding something in each other. Even if their co-workers might judge it the grossest pairing in the company.

Unfortunately, at the same time, a couple many are rooting for is falling apart. Andy is still MIA, not only continuing his run of being a bad, absentee manager, but also threatening things between himself and Erin (Ellie Kemper) by neglecting her. A lonely Erin falls sway, somewhat, to the charms of new guy Pete (Jake Lacy). It's hard not to think that Erin might be better off with Pete, who definitely cares about her, and at the same time, it's difficult to give up on Andy after everything we've seen from him over the years. It's a complicated, messy situation that will likely not resolve itself until the very end.

The Office, in its final season, is embracing the things that have made it so good in the past. This is a relief, considering the wandering, less-than-stellar past year. The show is taking its victory lap, and in doing so, has found itself again.

Watch The Office Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Article first published on TheTVKing

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