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The Office Recap: Michael’s Search for Love Is Now on a Deadline

Steve Carell's comment earlier this week that he plans on leaving The Office when his contract is up after next season led to questions and debates as to whether the show should end once he hangs up his middle-manager uniform. We’re not so sure that would be entirely necessary — there’s plenty of talent here to keep the show going, and the writers might benefit from a different star to play around with — but it got us to thinking: What woman is Michael going to end up with before he leaves Dunder Mifflin?

Let’s run through all of Michael’s paramours: Carol, his real-estate agent (short-lived, played by Carell’s real-life wife Nancy Walls); the infamous and endlessly cruel Jan (with whom he needed a safe word); Pam’s mother (an ill-fated and ill-conceived pairing from the get-go), and of course his true love Holly Flax, so wonderfully played by Amy Ryan that one can argue the show still hasn’t quite recovered from her absence. In last night’s episode, he met up again with Donna, the bartender from a few episodes ago, now heading into Dunder Mifflin to buy some printers, or at least to pretend to. They’re so mismatched that they’re destined to make out at some point, and Michael’s awkwardness around her through the whole episode essentially telegraphs their coupling. Amy Pietz, the actress playing Donna, is charming, sure, but she doesn’t do enough to convince us that their pairing is anything more than, “Wait, we haven’t had Michael dating anyone in a while. Okay … how about her?” Let’s just say we don’t sense that immediate perfection we felt when Holly first came on the scene. The writers seem to recognize this: Head writer Paul Lieberstein (who of course plays Toby) acknowledged as much in an interview, saying they’re “hoping” to get Amy Ryan back next year.

Which makes us think that maybe Michael’s going to get his happy ending after all. If Michael and Holly duck-walk into the sunset together, all of these failed relationships will have been worth it, for Michael and for us. But we can't get everything we've been hoping for: We learned this episode that Darryl is not going to take over for Michael someday. (He doesn’t want to miss his softball league.) But if Michael's successor has to be someone, we’re okay with it being Kelly. Even if, as Dwight keeps insisting, she is Caucasian.

Other Recaps:
The AV Club's Nathan Rabin praises the show's continuing use of entirely unnecessary F-words.
Zap2It's Rick Porter notices that Pam was nice to Michael this episode.
TV Squad's Joel Keller liked when Kevin tried to push his manboobs together.

Photo: Chris Haston/NBC