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The Office Recap: Let’s Not Talk About Sex

That this show managed to make it to a seventh season without lampooning the ridiculous tradition of the office birthday card is nothing short of amazing. “Live it up, D!” is exactly the kind of generic sentiment that ends up committed to the page by people who barely know you. Because, if they did, they would know it wasn’t poor Darryl’s birthday. His grandmother passed away, and that tearful glance toward the camera? That had to be The Office acknowledging that Darryl is the most beloved character at this point. A little pooling around his eyes was all it took to elicit more than a few at-home “Aw”s.

But everything that followed was entirely uplifting. Valentine’s Day is an inessential holiday but, this week, it made for some entertaining television. First of all, Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski (hey, John Krasinski is on this show again!) did a bang-up job of playing drunk, which probably comes after playing mentally handicapped in the hierarchy of things actors fail to believably do onscreen. Unless they actually are drunk, which might have been the case, because Jim and Pam certainly fumbled and giggled like two people who had just neared the bottom of the bottomless Champagne. (Fact: One glass of alcohol during work hours is the equivalent of two and a half at any other time.) (That obviously wasn’t a fact, we just made it up, but it does seem true.)

Elsewhere, V-Day plans were being discussed as Andy announced that he’d be taking a date whom he met at Darryl’s cousin’s party (they were the only two white people there) to Blue Wasabi. At first, we assumed this was a joke restaurant because it sounded like something that was meant to mimic the trendy opaqueness of New York City titles but, no, it actually exists and, according to Yelp, is pretty good. Anyway, whoever this new girl is she obviously can’t replace Erin, whom he spends the entire episode helping as she followed a trail of clues left by Gabe on his romantic treasure hunt. Gabe: “I dominate Valentine’s Day. I practically make romance into a science.” Indeed. In fact, you could sense his frustration with Erin and her less-than-scientific approach. But great clues, Gabe. The one in Darryl’s office even included an original “soundscape,” though that scene made us root for Andy and Erin even more.

Holly and Michael’s public displays of affection were the primary preoccupation. The lovebirds were indulging their honeymoon status and Michael couldn’t believe his good luck. “It goes to show that everything you want in life you get. And you can’t work for it. It just comes to you.” That’s the spirit. But the staff wasn’t having their schmoopiness, a fact that comes to light in the lunch room with just the right amount of phony caveats. Unwilling to come across as romantic grinches, Angela, Oscar, and Darryl rushed to couch their criticisms with preemptive statements of the “No one is more thrilled for them than me” variety. Except for Kevin: “I enjoy watching them” — no, please, don’t, yet he asked, “Can I finish?” with such earnestness — “because it makes me horny.”

So Gabe called a meeting, at which Michael sat on Holly’s lap while she reached around to caress his man boobs. Ryan heckled Gabe about Erin and Andy’s absence, Jim piped up with a drunken, “Ohh, face!” and Zach Woods kind of owned this scene (“I get it, Andy’s slamming my girlfriend”), at least until Creed found out that masturbation would be allowed in the hookup zone if such a zone were to be established. Then the look on his face and the little thank-you gesture he made with his hands were priceless. Creed never hits a false note. Kevin wanted to know exactly what behavior was considered objectionable — boob honkings, butt honkings? “Yup, all the honkings,” said Gabe. Not that it mattered since it turned out Kevin was among the only people in the office who hadn’t also had sex there.

When Gabe pulled the couple aside, the reality of the situation hit home for Michael. But first, Gabe: “No one is a bigger fan of sexual touching than me.” Ugh, and yet so sterile coming from him that it’s almost doubly awkward, like a parental birds-and-bees speech. Gabe had a couple of theories as to why Holly and Michael were being so performative, and since they’re not on Ecstasy, the only reasonable explanation was that they were cramming in a lot of canoodling before Toby returns and Holly has to leave Scranton.

The rest of the episode unfolded merrily, with Michael confessing his “love-love” for Holly and deciding to move in with her, thereby laying the groundwork for his ride into the sunset/Nashua/beyond. (Amy Ryan’s bed-creaking noises? Not quite as good as Neil Patrick Harris’s.) Jim and Pam searched for a place to finally consummate their relationship on Dunder Mifflin property, and their untucked shirttails suggested they met with success. All in all, an episode that didn’t overdose on saccharin but managed to be really sweet anyway.

Photo: Danny Feld/NBC