'The Office': Holly Flax, finder of lost loves

amy-ryan4-the-office-320.jpgDo you get it now, Erin? This is why Michael and Holly are meant to be.

"The Office" turned Michael loose on the streets of Scranton for much of Thursday's (Feb. 3) episode, and the only one who could track him down was Holly, who in spite of her trying to keep him at arm's length knew pretty much exactly where he would be. Simply put, she gets him, and by the time she finally found him on a rooftop, seeing if he could see Dunder Mifflin and figure out his way home, she had to admit it to herself.

The moment was probably inevitable -- you don't bring Amy Ryan back to the show for this long for Holly and Michael to have a bitter falling out -- but the way the show got there was unexpected and very sweet. Holly, Dwight and Erin's search-and-rescue mission, plus the Gabe-bashing captions to Pam's cartoons, made "The Search" one of the most enjoyable "Office" episodes of the season.

It's a hopeful sign for the show, which has had an up-and-down season so far, that the past two episodes have been pretty strong. The countdown to Steve Carell's departure feels like it's really on now, and it would be great to watch "The Office" send him out on a run of good shows. (It might also be kind of necessary; the show's going to need to re-sell itself to viewers a little after Carell does leave, and working on a high creative level is a good way to do that.)

Beyond the Michael-and-Holly mind meld in "The Search," it was most fun watching Erin slowly come to realize that Holly is not, in fact, the evil stepmother Erin assumed she was. Erin has latched on to Michael as a father figure, and she has viewed Holly as the interloping new mom who's getting in between them. Step by step, though, as Holly retraced Michael's movements (and Dwight was increasingly hapless) it dawned on Erin that Holly and Michael really do have a connection. Well played, "Office."

Back at the branch, Jim's* posting of one of Pam's cartoons on the break-room fridge led to a solid B-story of everyone making up captions for said drawings -- and ripping on Gabe and his Sticky Quips(TM) after he tried once again to assert some semblance of authority. The clear winner for us: Angela, of all people ("Once I knew I wanted the dog to piss on Gabe, it was easy").

(*Speaking of Jim, where has John Krasinski been these last couple episodes? In both "The Seminar" and "The Search," he puts in brief appearances early on and then disappears. Maybe he had reshoots on a movie or something?)

Romantic without being too over the top, with good laughs in the B-story, "The Search" was "The Office" working at a pretty high level. Keep it up, guys.

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Photo/Video credit: NBC
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