The Office, “Sex Ed”

Thus far this season, The Office has only briefly hinted at any departure for Michael (the spanking, the counseling) and chances are the only reason I think those moments are hinting at said departure is because we know he’s leaving. If we didn’t, those would probably seem like normal Michael behaviors.

But I think it’s fairly obvious that this week’s episode, “Sex Ed,” is the official kick-off to the Michael Gary Scott farewell tour and if this is any indication of how things are going to go throughout all of season seven, I’m not too impressed.

The conceit of having Michael trace back through his love life is an interesting one and really the story could have gone a dozen different directions. Unfortunately, Michael getting a cold sore, letting the office convince him it is herpes and then driving all around town with Dwight looking for answers isn’t particularly high on my list of how this could have played out.

Thankfully, the phone call with Holly derails what could have been a generally awful episode when she accuses him of romanticizing everything, especially his relationships with women. It’s a great point for her to make and one that sends Michael off into a tizzy, more so than his hunt for the woman who possibly gave him a sexually transmitted disease.

If Michael is going to leave Dunder Mifflin and Scranton, this is one of the biggest issues he has to work out, because he does romanticize everything. Part of that comes from the fact that he’s often blinded by stupidity so that he can’t see the reality of the situation in front of him, but he’s also just an old-fashioned romantic in a lot of ways. In the end, his returning call to Holly about how he didn’t actually romanticize their relationship because it was so great is one of the best Michael moments in a long time. So maybe he just needs to find that woman who can romanticize things with him?

It’s good that the episode ended on such a high note, because it started awful (the teaser sequence makes Dwight look like a terrible human being, more so than ever) and continued to meander throughout the journey back through Michael’s love life. Jan’s still an entertaining, albeit annoying presence and I always like Carol, but I didn’t care to see Pam’s mom again because it just reminded me of how awful that story was in the first place.

And after last week put Andy front and center outside of DM, this week he got another run at the starring role by filling the Michael void inside the office. I actually kind of liked Andy kicking back in to RA mode as a way to get Erin to admit whether or not she’d had sex with Gabe, but the episode’s attempts to prove to us that Andy could be a little different from Michael but still fill the same void fell sort of flat. I wouldn’t mind having the Nard Dawg as the new boss, but if that’s going to be the case, let him be his goofy, sensitive self instead of the rage-filled twit he shows here. I don’t think we’ve seen angry Andy for a very, very long time and there is good reason for that.

Despite a few good moments, this is a disappointing dip in quality, particularly after last week’s great effort. Here’s hoping the other legs of the Michael Scott Farewell Tour go better, both for him and us.

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