Valentines Day means heartache for most of the Scranton branch, but it's nothing that a party won't fix, right?

By Jeff Labrecque
March 06, 2009 at 10:04 PM EST
Paul Drinkwater/NBC
S5 E16
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As Michael Scott repeatedly reminded anyone who’d listen, it had been four months since he and Holly broke up. For me, it felt equally as long since the last new <a href="“>episode, and I was as excited as Kelly was when she opened her first Valentine. That’s not to say that last night’s episode ultimately felt like a trip to the dentist. On the contrary, it was unusually sweet, but….


See how I did that? You’re totally distracted from what might have been mild criticism. Moving on.

Didn’t you just love how Jim simply knew that Michael was incapable of sidestepping his Fonzie greeting? He had not eaten in three days, but Michael would’ve given the same reaction on a full stomach. Even if he had ruined Jim and Pam’s rouse, the new hi-tech phone system was DOA. You think Michael wants calls coming directly to his desk? Kudos for Pam, though, for marking her technology-threatened territory (says the magazine writer).

To be honest, I was initially skeptical that Valentines Day carried such a burden for the single men at Dunder Mifflin. (St. Patty’s Day, yes. But St. Valentine’s Day?) Only Dwight seemed to be unfazed by recent heartbreak. But then Michael reminded us of his ”great capacity of emotion,” and I realized that Cupid’s sparrows might yet drop something special on his shoulder. For he — and Kevin, whose heartache is less only because his ex isn’t as hot as Holly — Valentine’s Day was about new beginnings.

Michael aside, I’m still not over Amy Ryan, but Blood-Bank Girl was a promising replacement. She giggled at Michael’s jokes — ”Type O-cean Spray” — and responded with equally nonsensical banter. Even before their blood bags accidentally touched, Michael was smitten. When he regained consciousness, the only trace of her was a single pink glove. Either she’s his Cinderella, or a really, really unskilled jewel thief.

Meanwhile, Jim and Pam, whose office PDA launched a Dunder Mifflin singles’ crusade, accepted an invitation for a couples’ lunch with Phyllis and Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration. ”Anything to get out of the office,” Pam said, and that’s kind of how I felt about this whole plot detour, even before they sat down to eat. Bob wasn’t exactly a polished conversationalist, so the quartet swapped bowling stories that at least allowed Pam to poke fun of Jim’s girlish hands. I kept waiting for the gag, much as Jim and Pam were later left waiting, but when they located Phyllis and Bob enjoying their appetizer in the handicap bathroom, I didn’t lose my appetite, as Jim did. I was still hungry. This chapter felt slightly undercooked, and no amount of blank camera stares….


On the other hand, Michael’s singles-only Lonely Hearts confession — ”Deal with it, Pam!” — was a classic example of Michael’s misguided intentions. He reminded Kelly that Ryan was probably having random sex in Thailand and totally misdiagnosed Oscar’s heartbreak. When the soul baring finally bottomed out, Prince Charming selfishly suggested a mixer in the hope that his Cinderella — or Pink Panther thief — would appear to claim her missing glove. The rest of the sad — sacks rallied around his chance romantic encounter to redeem their own depressing holiday. Only Dwight objected. He seemed to have a moral objection against lonely-people mixers, citing Darwinist concerns. ”You’re not letting natural selection do its work,” he warned Michael. ”You’re like the guy who invented the seatbelt.”

NEXT: The prince picks up the slipper

One defining characteristic about Steve Carell’s Michael Scott is that he asks the audience to like him, to root for his character no matter how horribly he behaves. Even the entire Scranton branch seemed to oblige him last night. Michael was typical Michael at the mixer, obnoxiously announcing Meredith’s hysterectomy to one guest, awkwardly passing off one ”babe” to a stone-faced Kevin, and coldly dismissing another pretty woman simply because she wasn’t the Blood-Bank Girl. This ball was all about him, and everyone else knew it. No matter. Everyone sincerely wanted to see if Michael’s true-glove would show up. Didn’t you?

At least Kevin salvaged his initial encounter with Lynne, the ”babe,” by discussing his sweaty palms. Odd, yes, but at least he steered clear of the Philadelphia Eagles talk that doomed his last relationship. He eventually closed the deal with the classic ”Are you on e-mail?” last heard in 1997.

Dwight actually had a fighting chance with another pretty guest. That all changed when she mentioned her company’s paper supply situation. You could practically hear Dwight’s penis re-emerging from itself as he smelled a sale, and he quickly shifted into business mode. He wanted a commitment from this poor woman, a signed contract with Dunder Mifflin paper. Is it any wonder the branch has been performing so well. Say what you want about Dwight and his retracting blood vessels, the man is always closing.

In the end, the Blood-Bank Girl didn’t show, but Michael didn’t leave alone. The entire staff, even Stanley, accompanied him out into the parking lot. I didn’t even hear Stanley’s stress monitor as they amiably walked side by side towards their cars. For Michael, and for us, the evening was about closure. Holly is not coming back, and that’s finally okay.

Or will she? Can you imagine Amy Ryan returning at this point? Would you want her to? And do you expect Blood-Bank Girl to resurface next week, or has she already served her purpose? Am I wrong to think Kevin and Michael took Valentine’s Day a bit too seriously, or should I be concerned that my own personal indifference for Cupid most resembles Dwight’s?

And who, besides Phyllis and Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration, had the best Valentine’s Day? I’ve got to go with the Nard Dog, who I picture soaring over Napa Valley in a hot-air balloon — wearing a Cornell sweater, of course.

Episode Recaps

The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
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