While last night’s episode of The Office offered a reminder that the show is still capable of surprise when it is forced to be, one “surprise” viewers likely can go ahead and forget about is a return from Steve Carell. Producer Greg Daniels already started dampening any potential enthusiasm for that during the TCAs, and recently Carell himself explained to Access Hollywood why he sees no reason for Michael Scott to reappear just because the show that made Carell’s career is ending. “I just didn’t think it was right for the character, because that character had had an arc within the story and kind of grew and sort of evolved past the idea of the documentary,” Carell said, clearly believing that the “Goodbye Michael” episode marked a true ending, thus echoing the sentiments of many fans. Anyway, it’s a reasonable explanation, and only slightly possibly all just a smokescreen for an inevitable cameo to come later.
Another, equally reasonable explanation: Carell is simply too busy preparing to film our Dan In Real Life: Back 2 The Life script, which has built on the previous chapters here, here, here, and here to reach this pivotal turning point.
INT. REPTILIAN PRISON CELL
Dan sits slumped against the wall of his makeshift sewer jail, the sleeve of his duster tied into a makeshift tourniquet around his now-missing arm, completely dissolved by the acid vomit of Marie’s guards. Delirious, he half-sings, half-screams Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open The Door”—laughing at the irony. He falls into a self-indulgent solipsistic reverie that is slightly darker than his usual self-indulgent, solipsistic reveries.
DAN (mumbling to himself)
I was born. I went to school, and I had a Bonanza lunch pail. When I was 10, I wanted to be a magician. I tried to make a neighborhood girl levitate. And she didn’t. When I was older, I picked up a woman in a bookstore. I tried to make her my wife. And she turned out to be a giant alien bent on the wholesale destruction of humanity, who slaughtered my entire family, took my eye and my arm, and threw me in a prison while her army prepared to annihilate the Earth…
He looks at his arm and again lets out a hoarse, bitter laugh.
And now I don’t even know if I can bowl.
Suddenly he hears a loud banging on the door. With three clanging heaves it finally gives way, as a petite figure steps out of the shadows, a battering ram nearly twice her size clattering to the floor.
It’s just Ruth now, remember?
I don’t want to go with the Pigface.
Ruthie sighs and hauls him upward.
Remember when I said that I don’t have problems? But that I knew that if I did one day, your words would bring me comfort?
Dan squints into her face, uncomprehending. He mouths the word “Pigface?” Ruthie gives him a hard, bracing slap.
Well, right now we’ve got one big lizard bitch of a problem, and words ain’t gonna cut it no more.
Ruthie shoves a shotgun into Dan’s remaining hand, as Inaya Day’s “Nasty Girl” begins playing on the soundtrack. This is funny because they are white, upper middle-class people.