[I am not going to recap the episode. If you haven't watched it, go watch it.]
I miss the days when The Office was out and out the funniest show on television. Being on television for over 125 episodes, obviously crafting new storylines for these characters that we know so well must be a challenge. Last night's episode, "Garage Sale," was not perfect, and did not tread new ground (something the series has become known for, but has been lacking in the last few season), but was, nevertheless, quite excellent.
Everyone has known that Steve Carrell is leaving The Office for some time now. This season has been all about Michael's growth as a human being. Throughout the series, Michael has acted inconsiderately, selfishly, and childishly. He has shown growth at times, but never so much as when he had a reason to be better. Holly Flax is Michael's reason to be better. When Holly returned to the office, Michael did something very "Michael." He dumped a gift from Holly's boyfriend into the trash and poured coffee all over it. But, the longer Holly stayed, and the more involved they became, the more Michael matured for her. He was able to respect the office's PDA policy, he made the difficult decision to breakup with Holly rather than drag it out like in "Employee Transfer" when he vowed to, "make this way harder than it needs to be." Michael was also able to let his "BFF" Todd Packer go because he realized Packer wasn't really his friend when he insulted Holly. And, in perhaps the biggest sign of Michael growing up, he was able to laugh at himself and his so-bad-its-good movie "Threat Level Midnight." Of course, he threw a hissy fit when Holly was honest with him about it, but he was quickly able to see things more realistically.
Michael Scott begins the episode by trying to figure out the best way to propose to Holly. This path has been tread before by many a sitcom, but with Michael involved, the ideas being brainstormed include gasoline, dead bodies, and heads falling off. Like anyone, even usually calm and collected Jim Halpert, Michael was nervous about his proposal. In fact I thought it was cute how Michael was not impressed by Jim and Pam's proposal story. Michael had always idolized Jim and Pam, but here, they weren't good enough. Here, he wanted to create the big moment that would be objectively memorable and a good story to tell. He probably would have gone with one of his ideas, had it not been for the voluntarily involved employees of Dunder Mifflin [Sabre]. Everyone in the office has always resisted Michael's friends with them and being involved in their personal lives. Today, however, a few of them get involved without him even asking, and everyone in the office helps Michael with the proposal.
The most beautiful thing about the proposal is that everyone Michael cares about most was there to support him. And they weren't there because it was "a car wreck that you want to look away but you have to stare at it because your boss is making you," but because they genuinely care. The employees of Dunder Mifflin, like us, have grown to love Michael. This highlights the most telling act of Michael acting like a grown up. For almost 7 years we have heard Michael talk about his employees as if they were family, in fact calling them family on many occasions. He loves them, Dunder Mifflin, and Scranton. When Holly told him he had to go to Colorado, he never for a second considered staying in Scranton without her. Michael Scott is ready to move on.