TV RECAP: ‘The Office: Garage Sale’

TV RECAP: ‘The Office: Garage Sale’

The Office has finally stopped lollygagging around the Michael-Holly will-they/won’t-they (of course they will) question? and given us what we all expected: The Proposal, albeit coyly buried under the episode’s evasive title “Garage Sale.” But who’s complaining?

In the show’s 145-episode run, it’s deftly avoided cheap sentiment, and though Michael’s erratic behavior can be grating, especially in this last season, Steve Carell knows how to keep it sweet instead of cloying—even when you have the rest of the office bearing candles and ominously asking Holly to marry them in some weirdly druidic ritual (not that I know anything about druidic rituals [though one of the tech guys at my old job was a druid]; it’s just the best adjective to go with “ritual”).

On the one hand I can’t say the episode offers much in the way of surprises—like I wrote, Michael proposing to Holly isn’t a big shock, nor is it much of a shock that Michael’s original plan was to write out “Marry me, Holly” (or something to that effect) in gasoline in the parking lot. Or Pam steering him back on the path to sanity. However Holly turning the tables and attempting to propose to Michael was a good touch. As was Holly calling home to speak to her father, then mother, then father again (I never expected them to make an Alzheimer’s joke either). And, perhaps most surprisingly, is the simple fact that Michael’s proposal ended up being far more romantic than Jim’s. Score one for Scott.

The titular garage sale is almost an afterthought, and while it’s fun to see Dwight talk his way into trading a thumbtack and working his way up to a $150 telescope, and, eventually, Jim’s packet of magic beans, it felt like the premise could have had a lot more potential and opportunities to play with the characters (but hey, they did a great job having Dwight play on everyone else’s insecurities to trade up—even if it was stolen from the plot of a Donald Duck comic, but what isn’t?). Ryan’s homestyle pesto with Phyllis’s motherly mug on the label was exactly the kind of sleazy-douche product you’d expect him to peddle, and Oscar selling off gifted seasons of Will & Grace (not because he’s a fan but because everyone thinks he must be) hit the right note. And “Garage Sale” also gets mega-props for the Dallas board game running joke—my parents had it as well, and my sister and I spent the better part of our childhoods trying to figure out how the hell to play it (and the rest wondering what our parents’ fascination with the show was [and, thanks to it being released on DVD, we get to relive those precious moments with our parents, who are now wondering the same thing {“They always eat the same thing for breakfast—eggs and ham, eggs and ham, every morning it’s always eggs and ham. What the Hell’s wrong with these people?” Dad often says}]). On second thought, they did do a lot with the garage sale. Criticism retracted.

In the end, though, it’s Michael’s show (Steve Carell even directed it), and it’s a culmination of his lifetime spent finding someone who complements him perfectly and having the uncharacteristic willingness to get serious enough to realize and grasp it. What more really is there to say? It’s an enjoyable episode, not a great one, but it got a necessary plot point out of the way so we don’t have to keep waiting around for it to happen, and it did it with class, that is, if you don’t count the Alzheimer’s joke.