My trip down The Office memory lane continues this week with five of my favorite episodes from the show’s third season.
1. The Merger
The first few episodes of season three are rough if you’re a fan of Jim and Pam. Placing Jim in the Stamford office to kick off the season provided a great tension in the show but his absence was definitely felt in Scranton with far too little in the way of Jim/Pam or Jim/Dwight moments for the first seven episodes. But episode eight saw the Stamford office and a returning Jim unite with Scranton. It was a pretty safe bet that the characters not played by Ed Helms and Rashida Jones weren’t long for the show but how would Michael drive them away. Well, by being Michael, of course. The Merger brings a dirth of new blood into the office allowing for interesting new pairings for the Scranton ensemble like new foils for Dwight and Pam, in the form of Andy and Karen.
2. A Benihana Christmas
The Office always has strong Christmas episodes and A Benihana Christmas is one of their finest. Michael reveals himself at some of his cringeworthiest moments here, having photoshopped himself into Carol’s family photos for his Christmas cards, leading to their breakup and his need to find somebody new to take on his Christmas vacation to Sandals in Jamaica. While the men of the office take him to Benihana to get his mind off Carol, the rest of the office has to decide between the traditional party planned by Angela and Phyllis and a new party planned by Pam and Karen.
3. Safety Training
After Michael becomes jealous about how much more exciting the Warehouse’s safety training is, he tries to add some flair to a lesson about depression, with the absurd belief that he could jump off the roof of the building onto a bounce house. Fortunately, the duo of Pam and Jim realize what he’s about to do and - with Daryll’s help - manage to talk him down off the ledge.
4. Beach Games
Of course Michael Scott would try to turn the idea of choosing his successor into a competition-filled day of hot dog eating contests, sumo wrestling, and hot coal walks. The supporting cast all get wonderful little moments to shine here. Angela “mishearing” Andy’s cries for help as he slowly drifts down the river, Ryan getting fed up with Dwight’s overbearing competitive spirit and throwing his egg to the ground, and Stanley going all out on those hot dogs when he realizes Michael really is dumb enough to use these challenges to choose a successor. Pam’s decision to run across the coals and confess her feelings for Jim served as a nice reversal of season two’s final moments and furthered a great arc of her being more assertive.
5. The Job
Another season finale highlight like season two’s Casino Night. The Job has so many great character moments. After three seasons, we get to see exactly how Dwight would attempt to run the office when Michael names him his successor before heading to corporate for the interview. Michael falls victim to his base needs and gets back together with Jan after she gets a boob job.But of course the standout moment is the last shot of Pam in her interview talking to the cameraperson about how she hopes Jim gets the job, as he surprises her by interrupting and asking her out to dinner. The tears of joy Jenna Fischer displays when she turns back to the camera are one of her best moments in the entire series.