TV RECAP: 'The Office: The Christening'

TV RECAP: ‘The Office: The Christening’

The Christening introduces an interesting element in the characters of The Office that, given the number of times the gang has visited a church, has curiously not been explored much before: religion.

The plot revolves around Cice’s titular christening, and Jim and Pam (I refuse to refer to the couple as “Jam”) invite the office to the celebration. The context had me dreading that Michael was going to make a scene and embarrass himself in front of everyone else, but, like Niagra, the writers wisely choose to keep him under some restraint—save for a few misplaced Godfather impersonations.

But, as I wrote, the focus is on how each Sabre employee treats religion, which is handled with a lot of humor and, oddly, some profoundness. Angela, the most overtly “religious” character, uses the church, both literally and figuratively, as a free pass to criticize and admonish everyone around her while maintaining an unearned feeling of superiority.

Here she takes aim at Jim and Pam for whatever reason while cooing over Cice (to such an extent that when Cice goes missing,  Jim immediately accuses Angela of baby-napping, and his admission of that mistake is both blunt and very funny). Jim and Pam themselves don’t seem especially pious and treat the christening more as something that is simply done than anything holy.

Ryan takes the hipster prick position, casually mumbling something about “the opiate of the masses” with about as much commitment as anyone who’s only skimmed the primer on Marx and raising a toast to “drinking the Kool-Aid.” And poor, poor Toby can’t even bring himself to enter the church at first, and when he finally does, it’s for a vicious rail against the heavens: “What does everyone hate me?!”

And yet, surprisingly, the only one who embodies any of the wholesomeness of religion is Michael, who regards the importance of family with doe-eyed reverence, which is why he’s at first saddened to discover that he is not, indeed, godfather to Pam and Jim’s child, but, instead of making a scene, he signs up for a mission trip to help build a whatchmacallit (it’s a schoolhouse I believe, but he and Andy, who joins him to impress Erin, keep forgetting). Naturally the two abandon the plan less than an hour into the trip and call Erin to come pick them up.

Back at the church, far more people are attending the reception, thanks to a misspoken word by the priest. The food runs out fast, and Jim and Pam have to make up the difference, leaving Cice to be looked after by Pam’s Grandma Mamma, who promptly loses her, leading Jim to suspect that…well, we’ve been over that part.

I was really impressed by the depth of this episode, which is a surprise twist for The Office and furthers the running theme of Michael viewing his employees as his family. It’s nothing unexpected when he appears hurt that he’s not the godfather, but I didn’t expect him to try finding a surrogate family in the teen missioneers. But ultimately his loyalty is to his office, so there’s something touching to his plot—it’s always nice to see the more human side of Michael.

Not the funniest episode, but certainly a refreshing one.

  • Nat Almirall
    November 5, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    And, for the record, it’s CeCe, not Cice (damn trendy names kids these days have), and Toby’s rail was “Why you gotta be so mean to me?” which, even saddlier, still upholds my point.