I will be honest, after the slough of guest stars on last year’s office finale, I was initially disappointed when James Spader was chosen as the new boss. As the new season has progressed however, I have not only come to accept Spader’s character Robert California, but I believe that he is a perfect addition to the Office.
Robert made it obvious from his first appearance in Scranton that he is a strong, opinionated person. When Robert appears, Office fans are not only mourning the loss of Michael Scott but they also know the Officer personalities very well. We know Kevin to be amusingly moronic and Jim to be the charming prankster that can get away with anything. Robert California comes in and seems to turn a number of the character’s stereotypes upside-down. In one episode, California believes Kevin’s rambling to be brilliantly metaphoric and he manages to give Andy a rather unconventional (given Andy’s character) pep-talk the helped him to become the great branch manager he is. The most amusing ability Robert has is to effortlessly see through Jim’s charm. Without even knowing he’s doing it, Robert ruins many of Jim’s jokes, pranks and ploys. Robert is a sophisticated, philosophical genius of a man who fits in very well as a superior in the Office.
The writers of the show have added an interesting plot twist to Robert’s life in the form of a divorce. Slowly, the suave, sophisticated, confident man unravels, changing from business suits to sweat suits and from drinking wine to slamming shots at the office Christmas Party. Robert continues to fall into dismay, appearing at the Scranton office more and more and eventually swimming naked in front of the entire office. Though he seems to be slipping into a mid-life crisis, Robert is not shirking any of his responsibilities. He continues to work at his job in Florida while traveling to Pennsylvania to occasionally and awkwardly check up on the Scranton Branch.
I am trying to figure out what is happening with Robert California but I can’t quite figure out where the show is taking him. At one point, it seemed like they were putting him and Erin together (which would have been weird) but that idea was squashed in the last episode. I don’t know if they are trying to write Robert out or make him a more active character but the more I think about it the more I realize that I don’t want Robert California to leave quite yet. Hopefully, he can keep it together as he slips into his mid-life crisis and give us at least one more season of his quirky humor.