If the films of Darren Aronofsky have taught us anything, it’s that life is filled with ceaseless anguish and tragedy. No matter how great the opportunity — be it an upstart drug enterprise or leading role in a ballet — seems, it will inevitably conclude with some morbid and wholly unforeseen outcome, like amputation or public suicide. Today in America, we are faced with a similar fate, and it will reach its horrific climax sooner than you expect. I am speaking, of course, about Steve Carell’s departure from “The Office.”
You needn’t have been overly vigilant with your attention to know of Mr. Carell’s intention to leave his role as Michael Scott for greener pastures, as it’s been all oer every news outlet in the universe since last July. You have to read The Guardian to get any real coverage of any national news beyond the NFL lockout, but CNN is all over a fictional character resigning from his fictional job. American journalism at its finest, folks. And, of course, along with the ambitious coverage of this epic television event has been the rampant speculation about who will take over Scott’s mantle as the chief of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch. Names have been thrown out left and right, from Scott’s counterpart across the pond, Ricky Gervais as David Brent, to former prancing prestidigitator Will Arnett, to NBA Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier. (Note: I may have made one of these up.) Now, however, thanks to exhaustive research and statistical analysis that has been found to be up to 95% accurate (+/- 98% margin of error), using an algorithm patented (no actual patent applied or pending) here at Tiles in a Mosaic, I am ready to reveal who will take over the throne in Scranton.
The actor who will attempt to slide his feet into the prodigious loafers once occupied by the near-legendary Steve Carell will be…
That’s right, Vincent Chase himself shall soon be presiding over Jim, Dwight, Ryan and the rest of gang at Dunder-Mifflin, Inc. (a division of Sabre). How dis I come to know this? What magical clarivoyant powers do I possess to allow me to make such a bold prediction? Why, it’s simple. I’ll walk you through it now, and you’ll see that not only has it been staring you right in the face for almost four full seasons, but that you are truly an absolute incompetent human being for not having seen it earlier.
Grenier has been alluded to frequently over the course of the series, each time giving a subtle hint to the audience that he will grow to have a large role in the future of the company. Let’s start in Season 3…
S03E03 (“The Coup”)
The episode opens on Movie Monday, where Michael is having everyone watch Varsity Blues (“The only cure I know for the Monday blues is Varsity Blues!”). Pam tells us that initially Movie Monday started with a training video before turning into 30 minute movie sessions. The one exception to the movie theme? An episode of Entourage, which Pam alleges Michael played six times. The star of Entourage? Connect the dots, people!
In one of the irreverent cold open sequences that eventually came to characterize the series (think Dwight’s devious death trap of a fire drill or a favorite of mine, Michael preparing for his upcoming colonoscopy by interrogating Oscar), Pam explains that Michael likes to watch his Netflix orders at the office when he’s not otherwise occupied. Michael being the impressionable being that he is, he adopts the mannerisms of the movie’s characters, as demonstrated by him yelling, “coat!” while slinging his at Pam, a la Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Who plays the role of Anne Hathaway’s boyfriend in that classic tale of epic proportions? Go ahead and IMDB it. I dare you. (Side note: I love that movie, and I’m secure enough in my sexuality to admit it. The way the plucky Hathaway melts Streep’s embittered heart with her persistence and winning smile just brings a tear to my eye every time. Fuck all y’all haters.)
S05E01 (“Weight Loss”)
The season premiere teaches us all a valuable lesson about the perils of weight loss — and buying Counting Crows tickets. (No offense to the Crows or their fans, who are notoriously vehement in their support. I like the band and have actually seen them live. It’s just a joke…even if it’s not funny. Please don’t harm me.) At the end, however, we see Toby, who departed Scranton in favor of Costa Rica the previous season. We soon learn he has a broken neck, but wait– what’s that? Rewind to the beginning of the scene, which opens with a close shot of a TV screen playing a show with poor reception, dubbed in Spanish. The show being broadcast into that remote Costa Rican hospital room? Entourage, starring none other than Grenier.
S05E24 (“Casual Friday”)
This episode marks the return of Michael, Pam and Ryan from their exile at the Michael Scott Paper Company. With Michael still harboring some resentment toward his former — and now current — employees, favoritism becomes the issue of the day. There are no longer enough clients to go around after Ryan and Pam are both added to the sales team, and in order to restore order to the branch, Michael must cut one of them loose from the sales team. While confronting his dilemma, Michael compares it aloud to a similar quandary at the video store: “Do I rent The Devil Wears Prada again, or do I finally get around to seeing Sophie’s Choice? It is what you would call a classic difficult decision.” On its own, this quote is humorous enough as it already not only alludes to the cold open mentioned above, but also — inappropriately — to the main character in the latter movie having to choose between her two children. Literary depth aside, there’s something more important in play here. Again, who plays Andrea’s boyfriend in Prada? What? You still haven’t looked it up on IMDB yet? Ugh, it’s fucking Adrien Grenier, dude. As if that wasn’t obvious.
So there you have it. It couldn’t be any clearer if NBC had written an announcement into an episode of “Saturday Night Live”. OK, bad example. It’s more like they put it in a show that someone actually watches, like
“The Cape” “Outsourced” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” “30 Rock.” You will no doubt still feel some sadness when Carell leaves. You may even cycle through the stages of grief, launching into fits of berserker rage or writing letters promising your first born to NBC if only they’ll do whatever it takes to keep the only Michael Scott the world will know. Like um…some guy who’s probably dead now said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I don’t know how this applies, but the point is that people generally only fear the unknown. Now that you know the identity of the masked man who will stepping into your life, you have one less thing to fear. Take solace.
Don’t let us down, Vinnie Chase. We’re counting on you to not let us wind up weeping in the depths of senile dementia or stabbing ourselves in between acts at the ballet. Damn, that’s depressing. Now I have to watch something to cheer up; The Devil Wears Prada, anyone?