The Office – S09, E07
Air Date: 11/15/2012
CAUTION – Complete spoilers for this episodes are contained in this review.
The Office has been building to some major angles, as they countdown to the highly anticipated series finale later this year. “The Whale” not only serves as an adequate dose of comedy, but pushes the proverbial big red button, and ends with what felt like a mid-season finale. While there seems to be an argument in the community of long-time fans over the success of the Office post-Carrell, this is definitely an episode you don’t want to miss, from a storyline perspective.
In last week’s episode Andy set sail on the open seas with his brother, choosing to reject the love of his life in the process. There doesn’t seem to be a terrible amount of repercussion or hostility from Erin’s end, but Andy was also absent for the bulk of this week’s goings on. At this point in the Office’s tenure they can rely on “secondary” characters to really drive an episode without absolutely depending on the key players like Andy, Michael (in the past), or even Jim. Save for the new batch of interns introduced at the start of this season, everyone feels fully developed, and ready to carry their own weight.
It was also nice to see so many branching stories being told in one episode. This season saw the return of David Wallace, but this episode brought back another face from the show’s past: Jan Levenson, Michael’s ex-lover and former Dunder Mifflin VP of Sales. Her character is reintroduced when Pam and Dwight prepare to make a sale on a new client for the White Pages; I’ll give you three guesses who the client is… This is also tied into Pam and several of the other office females teaching Dwight how to treat women properly, only to backfire when he’s faced against a cutthroat like Jan.
The secondary story once again revolves around Oscar and Angela, as the later announces that her husband, the Senator, may be having an affair. The unlikely allies leave the workplace to spy on the Senator at a yoga studio, where Angela suspects he is spending most of his time. After seeing that he is practically ignoring a beautiful woman trying to help him, Angela’s mind is set at ease; Oscar’s not so much. An awkward conversation about the Senator’s sexuality is cut short as the two duck under a table as they see him making a phone call. Oscar’s phone rings, and the episode ends with Angela’s face in shock with realization. This angle has been a long time in the making, and the intrigue of how the often-hypocritical Angela will deal with this discovery makes the episode feel like a cliff hanger that should accompany a mid-season finale. Luckily, we only have to wait 7 days!
The third, and much smaller story that takes place during “The White Whale” has to do with Jim, who is now attempting to work his new job over the phone, from his desk at Dunder Mifflin. Constant distractions make this a near-impossible task, and the last we’re shown is a phone call between the two parties, and it’s made apparent that their arrangement isn’t working. Another big angle that plays up next week’s episode; I really do question their decision not to have this be the final show of the season. This new job is supposed to be the catalyst that forces Jim OUT of D.M., also effectively ending the show in just a few months time. As some members of the office are starting to pick up on Jim and Pam’s odd behavior, and with tension on the new company’s end, could we see Jim leave the show earlier than expected? The last time he left Scranton, it resulted in some hilarious episodes and the introduction of Andy as a brand new character.
“The White Whale” had some priceless exchanges and fun lines, but the real success is its ability to drive forward all the show’s major angles. With more Jan likely, and the situations with Jim and Oscar/Angela all but out of the bag, next week’s show has just become a must-see episode.