Steve Carell is long-gone (but still without an Emmy!), James Spader is the new CEO of Sabre, which means there's just one tiny question for The Office to answer when the NBC comedy returns for Season 8. For those who missed the job listing, the branch manager position at Dunder Mifflin is open once again after Robert California (Spader) won the gig and managed to work his way up from branch manager to CEO in just a few months time. But who will it be? We weigh the pros and cons for the most likely in-house candidates:
Jim Halpert (John Krasinski)
Why He'll Get the Job: Jim is a great salesman, he's been the No. 2 in Scranton for several years and, lest we forget, he's one of the only sane people employed at Dunder Mifflin. Viewers have rooted for Jim since the beginning so why not put him in the hot seat and see what happens?
Why He Won't: First off, doesn't Jim's presence on the search committee automatically exclude him from consideration? More seriously, execute producer Paul Lieberstein told HitFix.com that Jim wasn't in the running to succeed Michael after his prior stint as co-manager title with Michael back in Season 6. Just admit that it wasn't really that much fun to see Jim in charge now was it? Especially since this time he'd have way more responsibility and less time to smirk at the camera.
Andy Bernard (Ed Helms)
Why He'll Get the Job: Big Tuna (aka Jim) may be the most obvious choice, but the Nard Dog may be the best. First off, he has the most impressive resume thanks to his strong sales record and having graduated from a little school called Cornell (ever heard of it?). Second, Andy's charm lies largely with his naivety and lack of self-awareness (paging Michael Scott), which would make him a great foil for the manipulative Robert, who spent half of his interview arguing that "everything is sex." Third, making Andy Erin's boss would be the perfect way to play up the duo's great chemistry while also dragging out their will-they-or-won't-they tension. Fourth, he really, really wants the job.
Why He Won't: Thanks to crazy jealous Gabe, Andy's interview didn't go that well (even though the he did remember how far away the sun is and its diameter. Props!) If producers actually decide they want Andy and Erin to get together, there's little chance of that happening as long as he's in charge. Finally, we can't ignore Andy's anger management problem, which made him punch a hole in the wall in Season 3. Will the stress of the job bring out his violent side again?
Darryl Philbin (Craig Robinson)
Why He'll Get the Job: After spending years stealing scenes as the de facto leader of the warehouse crew, Darryl has proven to be the addition to the office we didn't know we needed (sorry, Erin!) Darryl isn't afraid to go after what he wants, can stand his ground (good to go up against Robert?) and knows exactly where his appeal lies (aka he knows how to work the fact that he's a minority and a single dad). Also, his surprising cluelessness in his interview proved that Darryl can do as over his head and out of his league (almost) as well as Michael Scott did.
Why He Won't: His slightly disastrous interview — need we say more? Yes, he may have the diversity card working to his advantage, but he didn't really seem to know what the branch manager does (thanks in no small part to the world's best boss) and he didn't even know how to write a resume, let alone turn one in. Clippy isn't always going to be around when you need him.
Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson)
Why He'll Get the Job: Yes, he fired a gun in the office during his blink-and-you-missed-it term as branch manager. But, as Kelly Kapoor's grandfather used to say, "Sometimes the hand that jumps out of the grave and grabs you around the throat — that is the hand that you want on the wheel."
Why He Won't: He fired a gun. IN THE OFFICE.
The new season of The Office premieres on Thursday at 9/8c on NBC.
Who do you want to become the new Dunder Mifflin branch manager?