The Office Recap: ‘The Search’

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“I’m Gabe and I’m a weirdo.”

In “The Search,” Dwight, Erin, and Holly go out to track down Michael after he was left stranded, hungry, and without a cell phone at a gas station. Heartbroken from a flat-out rejection from Holly, Michael aimlessly wanders around Scranton trying to steal hot dogs and Chinese food instead of finding a way back to the office. Holly searches for Michael by following her instincts, using what Dwight calls her and Michael’s “common mind” to lead them all, like a twin or psychic guide, to Michael’s location. This episode not only gave us the moment Michael and Holly finally share a kiss on the top of the tallest building in Scranton, but it also followed a new excitement in Pam as she realizes her talent is worth something.

This episode was the first time when Pam’s interest in art was not slightly looked down upon or made to be too endearing. Pam’s not a nervous little girl behind the reception desk anymore — she’s a wife and a mother and a lot more confident now than when she failed art school. And who cares if she failed art school? Who cares if she wasn’t a good salesman? Who cares if her role as Office Administrator leaves something to be desired? Pam’s efforts are always belittled, but she always, always bounces back. So maybe I was wrong in my earlier thoughts — Pam hasn’t been bitchy. She’s just been impatiently waiting for her turn.

Pam’s past failures are what made her have the confidence to take over this episode. (Yes, I know this was a big episode for Michael and Holly, but Pam’s caption contest won me over, I can’t help it!) Jim posts one of her drawings on the office fridge, and after a few people write captions on it, instead of being offended Pam gets excited. She takes ten minutes and draws up another one of her “doodles” then holds a caption contest for the whole office. And even though Gabe is a party pooper and will let no man disgrace the Sabre, Pam still finds a way to bring out the best of her coworkers, in turn creating a great ensemble-mode moment for the show. I mean, if Angela is participating, then who really cares if they’re not getting any work done?

Oh right, Gabe does. Gabe’s a great intrusion. He’s lovable in the way that I lovingly feel bad for robots because they can’t feel human emotion. He can’t seem to develop anything that resembles a real relationship due to his strange need to hold onto his outsider status. And with Erin — why? He’s just not getting it. Erin’s watching Michael and Holly give in to each other and kiss on a rooftop while Gabe’s in the office enforcing dumb caption contest rules. He’s the butt of all the jokes (“Is that a palm tree or did Gabe get skinnier? Either way, let’s pee on it.”). He deserves it.

Overall this was another great episode. It was fast, funny, and rewarding, and with the exception of Gabe everyone seemed happy — even Angela (Angela’s back!). What happens now that Michael and Holly have redeclared their love for each other? What has Erin learned about her own relationship from searching for Michael with Holly? What will the caption contest inspire Pam to do next? And how soon until we see Will Ferrell? I admit that even I am a little guilty of doubting The Office in the past, but 2011 has been so generous in shaking things up and allowing the characters to change that I believe in the show’s confidence. It’s also nice to see Michael rewarded instead of punished for wearing his heart on his sleeve. He deserves it!

Megh Wright is a writer, TV addict, and Harrisburg native. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and is a Gawker TV contributor.