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article imageOp-Ed: Recap of The Office, Season 8, episode 5 - Halloween fears

By David Silverberg     Oct 27, 2011 in Entertainment
Thursday's episode of The Office on NBC was masterful for an unexpected reason: the final monologue by Robert California, played by James Spader. He dissected everyone's fears, from Creed's snake scares to Kelly's self-esteem issues.
The Office life without Steve Carrell is moving along at a faster clip than I expected, with the new boss Andy (Ed Helms) making his geeky presence known. But the fifth episode of season eight stands out for its wickedly smart writing for Robert California, Andy's intimidating boss.
James Spader playing California was a fantastic move for The Office honchos. Here's this creepy but cool actor who can say more with a well-placed silence than Jim could with an eyebrow raise. Spader owns California. In this episode, he gets to shine, but other characters also get serious stage time in this Halloween episode.
The whole Scranton gang is dressing - Pam rocks a kangaroo and pouch outfit, Andy goes construction worker, Erin is deadly cute as fast-food mascot Wendy, and Darryl, Kevin and Jim wear the jerseys of Miami Heat's Big 3 (but Jim is disappointed he has to be Chris Bosh).
Costume of the episode goes to Dwight, donning a sci-fi classic - thorn-blade-friendly Kerrigan from Stargate. Dwight was a hit with California's son visiting the office, of course.
The Pam-Jim storyline focuses on Pam's belief in ghosts, frustrating Jim until he starts to wonder how they'll raise their child when he hears a boogeyman in the closet. "Are you going to see what the ghost wants?" Jim asks.
The best laugh-aloud moment follows soon after when Kevin admits a fear of mummies, saying he's happy they don't exist. His colleagues remind him mummies are real and rest in museums across the world. The expression on Kevin's face when he learns this horrifying act is comedy gold distilled.
The humourous moments break up the serious plot of this episode - Erin is worried about her relationship with Andy after their non-relationship fizzled out. A tense awkwardness hovers between them. Erin is almost too clueless in her actions to become believable, but something about her naivete works well off Andy's own head-in-the-clouds personality. If these two don't hook up within two episodes, I'd be surprised.
What's truly fantastic about this episode is the final monologue by California, delivered in Spader's careful over-emphasized tone. California has been working on everyone's fears ever so slightly, digging around to tell a scary story pointing out the irrational worries plaguing each staffer. He even addresses Kevin's mummy phobia.
The final scenes end us with Erin and Andy making nice, and California's son tricking Toby into thinking he's fired. Dwight is behind the kid's scheme, so maybe the jaded jokester might have a soft spot for young'uns after all? Will Dwight start to enlist the boy as his Mini Me?
The Office airs Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET on NBC
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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