The Office: “Threat Level Midnight” (Episode 7.16)

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The Office: “Threat Level Midnight” (Episode 7.16)

Michael Scott’s days at Dunder Mifflin are numbered. We don’t yet know how or why he’ll leave, but every week, he’s taken strides toward becoming a mature adult, giving us the sense that we’re edging nearer to the end of his journey. This week was an opportunity for us to take a look back and see exactly how far he’s come.

After 11 years of toiling away on it, Michael finally screens his movie, Threat Level Midnight, for the office. Most of the episode’s action focused on the goofy flick. The only major storyline involved Michael and Holly getting into a brief argument over how much she enjoyed the movie. As Pam reminds us, Michael is sensitive, prone to throwing tantrums and sulking when people laugh at his work. Old Michael would surely have been crushed by the fact that his girlfriend wasn’t wild about his masterpiece, but Fancy New Michael takes it in stride, laughing at himself and even pointing out holes in the plot he slaved over for years.

Threat Level Midnight itself was, as Pam pointed out, a bit like a Dunder Mifflin home movie, with appearances by old foes like Jan, Helene, Karen and Todd Packer. As a wise man once reminded us (okay, as Don Draper once reminded us in season one of Mad Men), in Greek, nostalgia literally means the pain from an old wound. Nostalgia seemed to be the name of the game this week. While the office family got a chance to look back at themselves, it was also a chance for viewers to reminisce about the earlier days of The Office. What better way to pay homage to our favorite awkward boss than to dedicate an entire episode to some of his old emotional wounds?

The thing is, Michael Scott’s wounds seem to have healed up pretty nicely. He’s learned to laugh at himself, meaning the painful, uncomfortable days of him being the butt of the joke are over — or at least kept to a minimum. Above all, he’s got a girlfriend who loves him for who he is, cheesy movies and all. Seeing Jan and Helene onscreen just reminded us how wrong for him they were. Overall, there wasn’t a ton of action this week, but it was just enough to keep Michael’s personal growth on our radar as we continue to brace ourselves for his grand finale.

Stray observations
-Agent Michael Scarn’s marriage to Catherine Zeta Jones was a hilarious touch. Can you do better than a headline that reads, “Catherine Zeta Scarn murdered”?
-The cast did a stellar job of playing amateur actors for Threat Level Midnight. Look closely and you’ll see Oscar blink after Michael has killed him.
-”Each year the National Hockey League accepts one civilian amateur to play in the All-Star Game.”
-Even Michael’s hatred of Toby got worked into the plot. After Jim shoots his head off, Michael Scarn replies, “That man was a wanted animal rapist.”
-Stanley’s narration was delightful.
-Michael’s cinematic influences: “I am a huge Woody Allen fan, although I have only seen Antz.”