The Office Review: “Livin’ The Dream” (Season 9, Episode 21)

the office livin' the dream jim and pam

Wow, The Office is actually ending. If it didn’t hit you before, then this episode will definitely do the job. Changes were made and things started to come together in Livin’ the Dream, as you can really feel that it’s all coming to an end. Greg Daniels had stated that he didn’t want to put everything into the final episode, and it’s clear with this episode what he meant.

While Season 9 has been good, it wasn’t as great as the old days. I never expected it to be and I was fine with it. But this episode felt like a very classic one that brought together all the elements that made us fall in love with the show in the first place. It had that perfect balance of humor, heart and emotion. I suspected that they were saving the really good stuff for the end and they did not disappoint. Livin’ the Dream is perhaps the best episode of the season thus far, and is definitely one of the best episodes since Steve Carell left the show. If it is any indication of what the actual finale episode will be like, then I’m confident it will be immensely satisfying.

The moment they played the full opening sequence, I knew this was going to be a great one.

We start with Jim and Pam, and they look like they are going strong ever since the events of last week’s episode, Paper Airplane. Their relationship seems back to normal and they flirt around the office as Jim makes it clear that he is taking time off from Philadelphia just for Pam. Yep, the Jim-Pam magic is back. That’s when it’s fun to watch the chemistry between them. A couple of episodes back I said that Jim doesn’t feel like he’s around all that much lately, we needed more Jim action. Thankfully, that’s what we get. Jim makes his presence felt like he used to and that really makes the episode that much better.

We also follow up on Andy’s storyline, which I felt was the weakest part of the show lately. But his story took a surprising turn of events that made me care for it much more than I did the last few weeks. Encouraged by Jim’s words to follow what really makes him happy, Andy decides to pursue showbusiness with the dreams of becoming a star by quitting his Dunder-Mifflin job. This makes David Wallace’s job easier as he was about to fire Andy anyway. During their interaction, I felt Andy displayed shades of Michael Scott’s personality. And David Wallace was as always, a welcome return.

On the side we see Angela coming in looking horrible (yet still terribly attractive), as all her cats were taken away (it was about time). Over the course of the day she also gets evicted and she’s pretty much a mess. But at least now she might actually notice her son. The scenes between her, Oscar and Kevin were great and humorous, and I really appreciated seeing how much Oscar cares for her as a friend. It’s never been explicit on the show, but Oscar and Angela have been sort of dear friends over the entire show even if it didn’t seem like it. And that’s why Oscar’s relationship with the Senator stung that much, yet their friendship still stuck through. And it’s moments like these you realize how much they mean to each other.

“Attention everyone, may I have your attention!” Enter Dwight who has achieved his black belt in martial arts as he now names all four of his limbs: Basher, Thrasher, Crasher and Fireball. He holds a black belt ceremony with his Sensei during lunch time that results in some hilarious “thrust” issues. But he earns himself that black belt and you can’t help but feel genuinely happy for the guy. Unfortunately, his new girlfriend Esther showed her face and ruined the moment…for Angela at least. Speaking of, apparently Dwight used to do lunges while carrying Angela in a baby bjorn for fat children when they were dating. Um…what?

In one of my favorite scenes of the episode, we see Jim trying to get his seat next to Pam back from Clark. As Jim reiterates, the whole reason he’s here is for Pam. But Clark quickly shoots back “Well I’m here to sell paper”, and the look on Jim’s face just made me crack up. But the best part about it was Dwight on the side casually going, “Burn.” As a result, Jim is stuck in the annex. On a side note, how great is Clark? At the beginning of the season I wasn’t too sure about the new characters. But Clark, Nellie and Pete have become such a great addition to the cast, I kind of wish they were here earlier.

This episode was chock full of great lines, from Phyllis to Creed to Kevin, it was quite hilarious. Stanley had a great one about Andy’s ambitions: “Andy’s from the generation that thinks they should all be famous. What happened to the generation that knew you shut up, did your work, and die quietly from a heart attack?” I love that Nellie and Daryl and others tried to stop Andy from making a mistake. For all the crazy things he’s done to them at one point or another, they do care about him, and eventually he listens. Fortunately we didn’t have to see a whole scene of him trying to get his job back as David Wallace appointed him as a salesman instantly and moved on.

It’s already been a huge day for Dwight, but martial arts was a side we never really saw of him. Still, it’s a very Dwight thing to do. But then something even better happened. Dwight became the new Manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin. We saw him work towards this goal for 9 seasons, and when he got the position, I could’ve cheered for him. It felt nothing but earned. Even though we have seen him in this position before, this time it was legit and it felt right. And you couldn’t be happier for him. I loved it.

It was incredibly satisfying to see Dwight scream out “Dwight Schrute is manager!” It was as if he was letting out the 9 seasons worth of hard work he put into getting there. I don’t know what’s wrong with Erin lately, she’s been acting crazier than usual, but it was nice to see her energy as she cheered for Dwight. Creed finally got something hilarious to do again when he stood up and shouted the same thing about himself, hoping that meant that he would magically become the new manager. Creed also had another great line earlier when talking about Andy being a “charisma black hole.”

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