Today, we look at the classic first Halloween episode of The Office.
This is “All the Best Things,” a spotlight on the best TV episodes, movies, albums, etc.
A familiar refrain that I’m sure you’re all used to at this point is that I struggle with picking which episode to first feature on the list when it comes time to spotlighting a great TV series, like The Office. I want to go in general chronological order, but at the same time, I want to make to at least spotlight a great episode that was a “typical” episode of the series, and not an episode that is notable for being DIFFERENT from the other episodes.
That mostly knocks out Season 1 of the series, which was different from the standard episodes (“Diversity Day” is a brilliant episode, but it is very different from the rest of the series), and I think it also knocks out the first two standout episodes of Season 2, “The Dundies” and “Office Olympics,” as I think a typical The Office episode should be A. set in the office of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company’s Scranton branch, B. Involve Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) being a fairly incompetent boss and C. involve the slow burn romance between Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) and Pam Beasley (Jenna Fischer) (it would be nice to also have Rainn Wilson’s Dwight Schrute get a good subplot, but that’s much less necessary).
And I think “Halloween” is the first episode of the series to really achieve all of those goals. The concept is a simple one, the office is having its annual Halloween party, but Michael had been told weeks ago that he had to fire somebody at the branch by the end of the month, and because he is such a coward, he has put off the decision until the last possible moment, and so now he has to fire someone during the Halloween party, while he is dressed in a costume with a Papier-mâché second head on his body. It’s such a perfect encapsulation of what a buffoon Michael is, but at the same time, it also shows how generally he is a nice guy and is DEVASTATED that he has to fire somebody.
Meanwhile, Jim and Pam have a plot where they make up a job application for Dwight to a Maryland paper company, with Jim pretending to be Michael when the company calls Dunder Mifflin for a job reference (Pam is the company’s receptionist, so she was able to forward the call to Jim). However, while laughing at Dwight’s handling of the “job offer,” things get serious when Pam realizes that the job really IS a good one, and she tells Jim that he should apply for it. Pam is engaged at the time, but her fiance obviously is a bit of a jerk, and she and Jim flirt a lot at the office. Jim, then, is taken aback when Pam tells him that he should move to another state.
In the end, she explains that she just wanted what was best for him, and that she would “blow her brains out” if he ever ACTUALLY left, which Jim is pleased to hear.
When the dust settles, Michael has fired two different employees, but the first one, Creed (Creed Bratton) convinced Michael to fire Devon (Devon Abner) instead of him, and Michael (being a weak-minded buffoon) capitulated, but realized that he couldn’t reverse his decision again, so finally fires Devon, who makes Michael feel as bad as he could.
The end of the episode, though, sees Michael joyfully handing out candy to kids, showing that he ultimately IS a nice guy, just in a tough situation.
It’s a warm-hearted episode with a lot of laughs, and boy, early Jim and Pam sure were packed with chemistry, right?
Okay, if I’m going to have 339 more of these, I could use suggestions, so feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!