And people wonder why I love The Office so much.
Well, to be honest, I wonder how people could NOT love The Office. Tonight’s episode was a perfectly crafted example of everything I’ve come to love about the show and more. I cannot think of too many sitcoms I’ve seen that balance comedy, drama and heart into a masterpiece that is executed with perfection by some incredibly talented actors. That being said, I also cannot think of too many sitcoms I could see stretched out into an hour on a weekly basis and still know they’re going to pull it off.

I love episodes like this one where the entire cast is involved. Sure, the story focused (as always) on a few main characters, but we got a glimpse into the world of Stanley, Oscar and Glen and I like that every week we learn a little bit more about who exactly Creed Bratton is. But most of all, I love these kinds of episodes because of the undeniable chemistry that exists between each and every person on the show. If you’re a fan, you’ll admit that the potent chemistry has even pulled you in, too.

First off, I’m going to come out and say that the job opening at corporate is totally for Jan’s job. It’s gotta be. And sadly, I feel like Michael is being interviewed almost as a necessity. Though we know that Michael truly is a great salesman (“The Client,” “Traveling Salesman”), if “Cocktails” is any indication, David is far more interested with Jim and Karen than he is with Michael. More on that later.

Some of the parts that had me nearly crying with laughter were when Stanley came alive when he learned what was the deal with the Survivor games. The Sumo-ing against Jim?! His face?! Jim’s reaction?! PRICELESS. I hurt from laughter and cannot imagine that was an easy scene to film without cracking up. Stanley surprises me with a lot of the things he says and does and I constantly look forward to it.

And Creed! Bringing a boogie board to Lake Scranton!? And fishing! “I didn’t know we were having hot dogs.” LOVE IT. Creed is definitely a contender for favorite supporting character.

And how funny/borderline creepy was Dwight telling Angela to “stand next to me” if there’s a group hug!!! WHAT?!?!

But, let’s be real, if you weren’t dying over the whole Gryffindor/He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named storyline, well, I just don’t know what to do with you anymore. Even when Michael said it at the end and Dwight was dying on the inside to save him from saying it! So brilliant. I love that Jim is constantly playing with Dwight and clearly knows him better than anyone in the office (well, almost anyone). Yet he is still the first one to help him out when he’s in trouble (“The Injury”, tonight’s episode, he was the first to reach for Dwight when he was face down in the coals. Which, by the way… COME ON, MICHAEL!). And that’s what I think I love so much about this show. There’s this incredibly funny storyline riding over everything but at the heart of it all we’ve got compassionate characters with some truly brilliant dimensions.

(Millions of other funny moments… but…)

Which brings us to the pinnacle of the episode.

Of course, you know I am talking about “new” Pam’s brush with adrenaline, coals and Jim. Obviously I felt bad for Pam and her position throughout the entire episode. And you could just tell that underneath her adorable and calm exterior was something that was about to snap and it wasn’t going to be pretty. Watching the burning coals and knowing how bad Pam’s insides must burn over Jim and Karen, her job and the fact that she’s probably all different of types of lonely these days. I was proud of her when she finally ran across the coals and in turn got over her own fear of being trapped in “Old Pammy.” Er, sorry, Pam.

I like that she confronted everyone (though totally directed at Jim) about missing her art show. I like that she expressed her feeling of being unappreciated, but most of all, of course, I like that she finally came clean to Jim. And granted it was messy circumstances, but given the situation, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She was on this massive adrenaline rush from crossing the coals and crossing to another side of herself, and said what she needed to say and what he needed to hear. Truth of the matter is, I miss her and Jim being best friends, too. I miss their snickering and giggle fests and camaraderie that made my heart smile as big as it could.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Jim and Karen. I do. But I feel that when Jim is with Karen he’s trying to hard to be the boyfriend he wants to be. It’s almost forced. When it’s Jim and Pam, he’s just Jim. Not trying to be anything, he’s just Jim. And ‘just Jim’ is who Pam was talking to tonight. It’s who she missed and it’s who we all need to come back.

I also like how yet again The Office has left us with so much to take in during the last two episodes. Think back to “Conflict Resolution,” the penultimate episode of season two. Jim’s confession to Pam about complaining to Toby?! Insane! But a brilliant cliffhanger! Not nearly as brilliant as “Casino Night,” but still, brilliant.
Tonight’s episode did the same thing. This would have made a great season finale cliffhanger. But knowing that we’ve got another hour to look forward to!? Well, that just makes it all the more nail biting and exciting until then!

They’ve given us quite a load for next week’s season finale, and I’m not sure if my heart can handle a repeat of last summer, but I’ll sure as hell try.

PREDICTIONS: I think next week we will see Michael, Jim and Karen interview for the job (what I am going to predict is Jan’s job at corporate), and I do feel that Karen will be the one getting the job. You can’t break this girl’s heart by having Jim dump her (though I’d be naïve to think that she hasn’t been hurting all this time), and really, giving her the job is the easiest way to make her character have a happy ending in one aspect of her life when she might lose out on another. That being said, I am not expecting a Jim and Pam full-on love connection anytime soon. I think they want to avoid mirroring last season’s finale by making it a little bit different and more complicated (Yikes! But think about it, if Pam didn’t do her speech to Jim in front of everyone, it would have been just like “Casino Night” in reverse). I say go for it. Hit us with your best shot. Fire away. (I promise to never quote Pat Benatar in an Office post ever again.)

These truly are the best writers on television. Week after week not only do we get some of the most brilliant comedy, but the drama that breaks my heart, crushes my soul, and puts it all back together again.

I. Love. This. Show.