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The Office recap: The Proposal

In an emotional episode, the Dunder Mifflin gang holds a junk sale, and Michael and Holly take a big step forward

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The Office

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Warning: I’m going to do my best to get through this recap without using too many exclamation points, but I may be fighting an uphill battle. That’s because the last third of tonight’s episode of The Office made me want to jump up and down and squeal like a little girl. Sure, the half hour as a whole wasn’t perfect — the bit about the magic beans was a total nonstarter, and the Dallas board game plot finished strong but took awhile to heat up — but that hardly matters, because: The proposal. The proposal!!! Oops… so much for using restrained punctuation!

Let’s rewind. “Garage Sale” is set, fittingly, in the warehouse, where Dunder Mifflin’s finest have gathered to pawn their junk. Everyone’s tables reflect their personalities: Kelly’s trying to sell a rack full of bright clothes and the collected works of Helen Fielding and Jennifer Weiner. Ryan, in another attempt to launch a new business, has bottled Mrs. Howard’s pesto and salsa and adorned the jars with pictures of motherly Phyllis and Mexican Oscar, respectively; the sombrero Photoshopped onto Oscar’s — sorry, Señor Chico’s head — was a nice touch. Andy’s got a Cornell pennant (wait, he wants to get rid of that? Probably because he has four more just like it.) and a model of a sailboat. We didn’t get a good look at Creed’s table, but I’ll bet it was covered in mung bean sprouts and bound volumes of his blog.

As the junk sale went on, it became clear that Michael was carrying a truly precious object: a massive engagement ring for Holly. He called Holly’s dad to get his approval — okay, so he ended up leaving a message, but it’s the thought that counts — and planned to pop the question by spelling it out in gasoline in the parking lot… and then setting it on fire. That idea, thankfully, was nixed by Pam, who subsequently took Michael into the conference room so he could get proposal advice from Jim, Ryan, Oscar, and her. (Oscar: “If you are in a costume, you’ve done something wrong.”)

The joy inspired by this story line was tempered by Holly’s realization that her parents may be getting too senile to take care of themselves. It’s been awhile since The Office has taken on such serious subject matter, but I think this plot thread was handled really nicely and subtly. After his pre-proposal conference was over, Michael met Holly by the vending machines, and she explained to him that she needed to go back to Colorado to take care of her mom and dad. She also told him that she wanted him to come too — but not just as her boyfriend. Before Holly could formally ask Michael to become Mr. Holly Flax, though, Michael walked away, saying, “Oh God, nope, nope, nope!”

At this point, I worried that the show was going to take a left turn into Contrivance Village and have Holly break up with Michael because she thought he didn’t want to marry her. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. When H and M met up again in the warehouse, Michael told his woman that he wanted to take a walk with her and “show [her] some stuff.”

He proceeded to take her on a guided tour of places in the office park that had special romantic significance — the stairwell where they first kissed (and later, first made love… guess the documentary crew wasn’t there for that); the spot where Toby announced he was going to Costa Rica; Michael’s office, where he confessed to Holly that he still loved her (and that he had herpes). He led her into the hallway that leads to the annex, where every one of The Office’s employees had gathered, holding candles. Each man (and Angela) asked Holly, smiling, if she would marry them, and she said no to every one. Even Ryan. And then Michael opened the door to the annex, and there were candles everywhere, and then he knelt down, and then, and then…

The sprinklers came on.

NEXT: “ Your wife becoming me will I!”