'The Office' recap: Kiss me, stupid

Office-Happy-HourImage Credit: Chris Haston/NBCI realized something watching last night’s episode of The Office: Everyone has become Jim and Pam. By which I mean, even the minor characters are getting romantic. There’s Erin and Andy, along with Oscar and Warehouse Matt. There’s the never-ending slow-mo train wreck that is Ryan and Kelly (if you mash up their last names, you get “KapHow,” which sounds a bit like a bomb going off.)

Don’t forget, this season started with Stanley’s affair. And now, we’re even venturing back into love-triangle territory with Dwight, Isabel, and Angela. (The only characters who haven’t had a romantic plotline are Meredith and Creed. Hmmmm. Meredith and Creed. I like the sound of that.)

None of these relationships have quite the same funny-sad emotional intensity as vintage PB & J, but taken all together, they form an ecosystem of relentless amusement. Last night’s episode, which had a few million great throwaway moments with the supporting cast, was a real treat.

The fun started with the pre-credits sequence. Michael challenged everyone in the office to beat his record of “25 and one girl push-up.” The winner would get to go home. (I read somewhere that Google does something like this. Stupid hippies.) Personally, I was betting on Oscar for the win, but Stanley managed to find the inner strength to succeed. (“He’s got all this weight that’s helping him go down,” Michael complained.)

The main plot of the episode was adorably simple: Oscar was trying to find a roundabout way to get to know Warehouse Matt better. “We talked this morning. And we talked at Christmas. So, a little momentum there.” In The Office, you always fall for someone very close to you, but somehow that proximity makes it harder, not easier, to connect. Awkward romance used to be a plot point; now, it feels like the show’s unifying theory of existence.

So Oscar walked into Darryl’s snazzy new office and suggested that Upstairs and the Warehouse go out for a drink, just like they used to do never. Darryl could see right through Oscar: “Be straight with me. You can be gay with Matt, just be straight with me.” That’s a lame joke, but Craig Robinson made it sound hilarious. Did you catch Craig Robinson when he appeared on Doug Benson’s “I Love Movies” podcast? The guy’s hilarious, even when he has no clue where he is.

Everybody in the office was excited about a night out. Phyllis: “I tend to wear something low-cut, get men to flirt with me, and Bob beats them up.” Jim tried to squirm out by dropping the newborn card: “This baby is amazing. She gets me out of everything.” But he didn’t count on the fact that Pam would want to see other adults. Any other adults, at all. When Pam saw Kevin again, she screeched happiness. Kevin screeched, too, but then the screeching became something… different. Sort of like crying. Or meowing. The punchline: Kevin was trying to make baby sounds to spur Pam’s lactation. Ick Factor Seven!

Pam had brought her friend Julie to meet Michael, reasoning that Julie laughs at everything. It was a big night for Pam’s single friends. Isabel showed up, too. She engaged Dwight in some witty back-and-forth dialogue. “I like repartee,” Dwight said, “Usually means there’s a battle scene coming.” I have to say, Isabel didn’t make much of an impression on me in her earlier appearances, but I thought this twosome had some real zip last night. She makes Rainn Wilson seem eerily charismatic in his matter-of-fact absurdity. (“How did you get so good?” “Whacking moles.”)

Michael figured out that he was on a date, which led to a Bruce Banner transformation into… DATE MIKE! (Is it me, or does that phrase, repeated several times last night, rhyme way too much with Steve Carell’s new movie?) This led to the instant implosion of his Julie flirtation, but it also led to an unexpected little moment: Michael, going full blowhard complete with a hat that just screamed drunk fratboy pretending to be drunker, somehow successfully flirted with the bar’s manager.

After she threatened to kick Date Mike out for various shenanigans, Michael stormed over angrily. “You embarrassed my friends in front of me,” he insisted. That segued into a discussion of their respective managerial tactics. Michael, my friends, is writing a book (it’s actually finished, in his head.) It’s called Somehow I Manage, with a picture of the author shrugging on the cover.

The bar manager (played by the great Amy Pietz from Aliens in America) somehow found this all attractive, and they bonded over Lee Iacocca’s book. Yup, Lee Iacocca. There was even a Chrysler joke. For a magical moment, last night’s The Office turned into an early-’90s Doonesbury strip.

Meanwhile,  Andy and Erin were trying to keep things secret around the office, lest they suffer myriad embarrassments. They saw Kelly and Ryan playing Dance Dance Revolution, and boy, is that an office-romance cautionary tale. (I like how Kelly and Ryan seem like more of an old married couple now than Pam and Jim. “Stop telling me how to spend my tickets!”) Andy decided they should pretend-flirt with other characters, to throw people off the trail. Erin rubbed another man’s lap, which set Andy off. She said she learned to flirt from watching movies, which set Andy up for the line of the night: “What movie? Black Snake Moan?”

I liked Andy’s microphone confession. Yes, it was over-the-top, but it was also simple: “We’ve been on two dates. There will probably be more.” And I just like seeing this couple together. To me, Andy has always seemed like about half of a real character (I’ve always preferred Passive-Aggressive Wall-Punching Andy, personally), and Erin seems like a character from a more farcical universe than Scranton. But there’s something really pleasant about seeing them sitting next to each other in the dual confessional. It feels like bringing them together has forced the writers to really fill in the blanks in their respective personalities. They literally complete each other.

Oscar got to spend time with Warehouse Matt, despite Darryl’s warning: “Matt’s an okay dude. But he’s a dummy.” Maybe, but he’s sooooo cuuuuuute. Angela attacked-served Dwight with a summons for breaking his baby contract. I figured Isabel would stalk off in sitcom fury. Jango! Instead, viewers, she whacked Angela on the head. Like a whac-a-mole. High. Larious. Dwight: “You are an impressive specimen.” Isabel: “Thank you.”

Did you like “Happy Hour,” viewers? It’s usually a bad sign when sitcoms hit the point where everybody falls in love with everyone else, but to me, every romance on The Office feels realistic and weird in its own specific way. Who’s your favorite Office couple? Do you like Michael’s potential new squeeze, or is she just another time-filler before the inevitable series-finale Amy Ryan denouement?

By the way, Creed is incredible at DDR. (As if you couldn’t guess.) Also: “The Scranton strangler is a professional strangler.”

Comments (159 total) Add your comment
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  • kim in kentucky

    OMG – I bet Meredith and Creed have actually been doing each other for years – they just don’t talkk about it!!

    • mike in va

      they actually have, theres one episode when creed asks meredith, “hey, how come we never…?” and meredith replies “we have”.

    • Chad

      Yes Mike…I remember that as well. Its funny, I loved this episode, but the parts that made me laugh the hardest have not been mentioned. I just about fell over both times Angela “scared” Dwight, especially the 2nd time when he put up the ‘strangler’s defence” that was so dang funny. I also cracked up when Kevin knocked on the window during Andy & Erin’s talking head and started doing sexual gestures…great stuff.

      • Willie Fisterbahtum

        Yes, Kevin’s gestures were hilarious! Probably not ready for prime time, but funny as hell none the less.

    • pop

      i was just about to come write everything you all mentioned above. they are just so bad ass that we don’t know about it. they are probably still doing it everyday.

  • Jill

    For me, Michael Scott has become so annoying and clueless to the point where I’m beginning to dislike Steve Carell and his dumb facial expressions. Irrational maybe but I can’t help it.

    • Maserda

      I’ve disliked Michael Scott for years now, partially as a result of that, but mainly due to his arrogance that just shows off his stupidity. Sorry, but the other characters are so much better than MS.

      • Dwight K Schrute

        Then you are an idiot.

      • Beet Farmer

        During the very first season of The Office, I actually loved the show DESPITE the Michael Scott character. Unlike the David Brent character, he was really mean and unlikable (whereas DB was just desperate to be loved). I think the writers did a pretty good job of correcting that, but in the past season or two, the mean side of Michael Scott has reemerged a bit. However, his character still nets out to be more funny and awkward and clueless and defensive of his people than mean, so I don’t mind the occasional mean streak now that we are in season… 6? 7? Where are we? I really liked Happy Hour a lot. Great recap, Darren.

      • HannahFace

        Michael is supposed to be an awkward and irritating character, so if you hate him then Steve Carell is right on target. I hate Michael too, and that’s why I love his character. If that makes any sense.

    • M

      Michael Scott is ruining this show for me… He’s gone from goofy nincompoop to completely out of control idiot. They should reduce him to supporting or dial back his moronity.

      • fojoy

        I love this show, but I also have to agree. they should do a Leslie Knope-style makeover on the MS character…

      • Maggie25

        I partly agree, in that I still think in some episodes they manage to tone him down, but sometimes it’s like the writers are on a slippery slope and they can’t stop making him more and more out-of-control stupid. I really like this show, but I’m kind of hoping they end it soon.

      • Alex

        YES. It’s totally true. Carrell is a big ham sandwich. That said, I thought this was the best ep in a long time, maybe because they took the focus off that doof for a bit.

      • Alison

        In the original Office, David Brent was a complete jerk, esp. by the end – Ricky Gervais did a great job not making that character likable – I loved it!

    • Don

      Jill.. you could not be more right. He’s become so annoying, so over the top, that I hardly enjoy the show. Please more Nard Dog and Creed.

    • B

      Pretty good episode, but what I didn’t get was why Pam would want to set anyone who is a friend of hers up with Micheal, especiall after the whole dating her mother ordeal, so that part was lost on me.

      • Jen

        I know, right?! It made no sense. Unless we were supposed to assume it was due to her post-partum induced craziness. I hate what they’ve done with Pam’s character.

    • mads

      I thought I was the only that hated Michael! I really can’t stand him and wouldn’t be sad to see him go.

    • Georgie

      Date Mike was stupid-too over the top

  • C

    One of the best of the season. I love when they have all the characters involved. Bringing Jim and Pam together is forcing the writers to look elsewhere for support, and it is working out great for the show.

    • steve

      agreed, but this might have been one of the best of the show’s history. i could not stop laughing. amazing episode in an already great season.

      • TR

        Best season ever? Hellll no. But I agree it was the best episode of the season, by a long shot.

      • Eve

        TR, learn to read. nobody said “best season ever”

      • Carla

        This episode was amazing and enjoyable. Regarding Mike? I’m thinking in the real world, Kathy Bates would have fired his behind last week!

  • jrs

    Another great episode….this show just feels so “comfy”. I love it!

  • Alegna

    Great episode. I too love the Andy and Erin relationship, it’s nice to see Andy happy after the whole Angela/Dwightgate. And I almost spit water out of my mouth when Isabel whacked Angela in the head. Classic! In the words of Kevin, “Waaaahhhh!”

    • T

      I laughed so hard at the whack! It was genius!

    • Lala

      I loved the whack! So unexpected! I loved the whole interaction from that trio – especially the “Whacking moles!” comment (hilarious!) and Angela scaring Dwight (I could not stop laughing.)
      Great episode overall. Michael got annoying in the middle of it (“Date Mike” DOES sound like “Date Night”, uugghhhh) but he redeemed himself in the end! I’m glad Darryl is around more, and Kelly and Ryan are always funny. And I think Andy and Erin are very cute.

  • jay

    Dwiht and Isabel are hysterical…plus it will allow Dwight to annoy Jim and Pam on a whole new level

  • Sara (other one)

    The Asian guy’s story was pretty good. I also like Darryl standing beside him while he told it, doing mini-reactions.

    • Mark

      Yeah, even the slightest Daryl facial expression breaks me up too. I also liked the one he made after he warned Oscar that Matt was dumb, only to have him run up and greet Matt when he walked in, as if to say “Did you not listen to a wored I just said?”

    • Ambient Lite

      That was *THE* best part of the episode, loved it!!!

    • Maggie25

      I really think The Office should be above funny accent jokes. I’m probably going to get a bunch of responses that I need to lighten up because it’s comedy, but that part really rubbed me the wrong way. In the past they’ve dealt with things like race in a funny and critical way, but last night the joke was really that he was hard to understand.

      • Ambient Lite

        No, the joke wasn’t his accent – it was his story. He killed someone (on purpose) on the operating table, and Darryl saved his life by giving him a job at the warehouse when he came to America.

      • Ambient Lite

        The only part about people not understanding him that was funny was that they completely missed out on that amazing story.

      • Maggie25

        I agree that that was supposed to be part of what was funny… but first we got a scene where he is talking to Oscar with his thick accent and that’s all that happens and it is clearly supposed to be funny. Then we get to hear Oscar say “I couldn’t understand a word he said” Also supposed to be funny and clearly laughing at the accent. And then at the end there is the payoff of his ridiculous story, which even then part of the joke was that you couldn’t understand him.

    • QLEVER BOY

      Sara (the other one), you’re a mind reader. I felt the exact same way about the Asian guy’s story. Absolutely loved the touch of Darryl standing next to him while he “testified”. “Number 1 surgeon. THE BEST!”. Hmmm… New romance in the works: Sara and Qlev…

  • Billiam

    The “Date Mike” stuff was too over-the-top awkward for me, and I really had trouble getting through that. But the rest of the ep was good.
    I’m not sure I buy that Isabel would still be into Dwight after he was so horrible to her in the wedding episode (and also, I can’t really root for him). But I did love their scenes together in this ep, especially her “whacking” Angela.

    • beth

      I buy it. I think the writers are going for a “you always want what you can’t have” kind of thing for her. She’s trying to prove that he made a mistake at the wedding and she’s really worth it.

    • Alan

      What’s “too over-the-top awkward”? The Office is supposed to be awkward, and in fact the US version isn’t really Awkward-vision anymore like the UK version. I loved the Oscar-Matt storyline, I thought it was really sweet.

  • Ceballos

    Yikes, “Date Mike” was even more off-putting than “Prison Mike.” I actually felt really happy for Michael when I saw how happy he was to be invited to a social gathering (that wasn’t a birthday or a goodbye party)…so I knew he was destined to blow it.

    I also like that the Dwight/Isabel relationship (surprisingly hot) will bring Angela back into the mix. Finally, Andy’s “Black Snake Moan” line was hilarious. (As was Erin dorkily saying something like “Those two should get a bedroom.”)

    • sunny

      hehe, he was ready to immediately shut down the office at the mention of happy hour

  • kingworks

    I cannot, CANNOT stand how Michael and Dwight are constantly hooking up despite having any sort of redeeming physical or social qualities whatsoever.

    • Kim

      Jealous much, kingworks…

    • Diggity

      Steve Carrell isn’t unattractive at all.And usually Dwight isn’t getting hotties. Isabel is the exception.

      • Carrie

        It’s called sex. Sometimes people have it even when they’re unattractive idiots. Amazing, right?

      • Carrie

        Oops – wrong Reply button. This should be under kingworks, not Diggity.

    • Dwight Beets Off

      I hear what you’re saying, kingworks. While I don’t think that Carrell is unattractive most of the women he has dated were way out of his league and the show even acknowledges this. For me it is more the way he acts that would totally turn women off and there is no way a guy could act like that and score hot chicks unless he looked like Brad Pitt. Michael hooking up with the hot manager is case in point. Never woulda happened!

      • LG

        She will be crazy-they all are.

      • kingworks

        I guess if I really looked around, I’d find that those of us who require their significant others not have some sort of debilitating anti-social or psychological condition are in the minority.

    • isembard

      Kingworks, oh, hon, life must be shocking for you if that surprises you. I know way too many people you’d think couldn’t attract anything but flies, but somehow they always find some seemingly normal people to hook-up with. Weird and unbelievable? Yeah, but sadly true.

    • BLM

      Why? Michael is cute, wears nice clothing (even if they are sometimes women’s suits), has a steady upper-level job, his own house, and a Crysler. Sounds like a catch to me! And Dwight… well, he has an over-abundance of confidence, which, to some women, can be very s-e-x-y!

  • Davey

    Only someone who isn’t Asian could find the Asian character’s storyline funny. Sorry, not funny at all. Haven’t we seen enough Asian characters who can’t be understood because of the way they speak? I mean, Asians built the railroads in this country decades ago.

    • Sara (other one)

      I don’t think he was supposed to be funny. Darryl said the story was amazing, and it was a good story. It would’ve been a good story whether his native language was Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Hindi, Farsi, Spanish, or French. The small amount of humour in the scene came from Darryl’s facial expressions as it was being told.

      • TR

        Please. Of course he was supposed to be funny…it’s a cheap shot/joke on a show that should know better.

    • Watcher

      Today, the role of Nshi is being played by Davey.

      • JLI

        LOL!

    • Maggie25

      I’m right with you Davey. And Sara, if it was just supposed to be a good story then they probably wouldn’t have made his accent so thick that they had to subtitle his english.

      • sunny

        omg everyone! the accent was part of it!! oscar had been sat there all night not being able to understand him, so he didn’t realize he was missing this awesome story! come on, you can’t tell me you regularly watch and enjoy the office with all of michael’s inppropriate comments towards race (stanley) and sexuality (oscar) but THIS has crossed some line?

      • Ambient Lite

        This is annoying. The accent was SO not the joke, other than to obscure his crazy murderous story from everyone but Darryl.
        Why in the world WOULD he, just being in the U.S. for a short time, be able to speak English succinctly?
        Puh-lease. It’s not racist, or whatever you’re trying to imply. You just don’t get it.

      • Maggie25

        It’s fine that he has a strong accent, but in this case it is obviously part of the joke. And I think a lot of the past jokes having to do with race have really been at the expense of the person being racist (i.e. we laugh at how stupid michael is, not because we think racist jokes are really funny). I know that as soon as somebody mentions the word racist regarding a show or movie, people freak out and accuse everyone of being oversensitive or not getting it, but I just think this is a case where the writers didn’t get it right and I felt uncomfortable with it. I’m not stupid. Not agreeing with you doesn’t mean I don’t get it.

      • Ambient Lite

        I don’t think you’re stupid, and I’m sorry this aspect of the show made you feel uncomfortable.
        I just think you’re making a big deal out of something isn’t.

      • Maggie25

        Let me just add that I’m not saying the writers are a bunch of racist jerks, or that you’re racist if you like the show (obviously I like the show). I think it’s important to participate in pop culture critically and I’m just saying what I thought. It’s not the first time I have thought a joke on the Office was offensive, but I still think it’s a hilarious show. My point is, I’m not trying to attack anyone, I’m just saying what I think. And I’m obviously not the only one.

      • Sara (other one)

        I suppose I just don’t think the accent was fake. It seemed too… real.

    • LizL

      My husband is Asian and thought it was hilarious.

      • Jewel

        I am Asian as well…best part of the ep for me. And btw, I didn’t think it was racist at all. There are Asians in the US that have a thick accent (my parents) and Asians who don’t (me, I was born and raised here). Lighten up! This isn’t even the worst thing the Office has ever done.

      • Ambient Lite

        Whew! Thank you both. You’re really the only perspective that matters.

    • haleysname

      what the hell does building hterailroads have to do with anything? also, umm… it’s not like they had a choice…

    • isembard

      Davey, good grief, the joke was that they didn’t understand the incredible story this man was telling. The joke was on them, not on the Japanese man. As for accents, I have friends who came to this country from Japan and Korea who have slips and difficulties which they, being self-confident, intelligent beings, find funny as well, as I’m sure someone in those countries would laugh at our accents. Finding humor in someone’s accent is not mocking the person. I’m Southern living in a Northern town, and I’ve faced this often enough. I get kidded about the way I pronounce a word or two, but I somehow manage not to freak out explain how my people (white, black, and Cherokee) built this country, etc.

  • Dave

    Julie: I am an ESL teacher.
    Michael: Really? See I didn’t think you could teach that; I thought it was something you were born with. What am I thinking right now?
    Julie: Are you thinking that I said ESP?

    • Ceballos

      See, to me that proves that she has ESP!

  • Mikey

    And of course, what Kevin tried to do and failed miserably all night? Kelly succeeded without even trying.

  • twitchytail

    “Ick factor” was way more than 7.

    • Ambient Lite

      I totally agree – first time for me that Kevin’s idiocy and doofyness was creepy, and I didn’t like it one bit. Keep Kevin dumb and sweet!

    • Via

      Thank you!!! I have always found Kevin to be super creepy. Idk how he gets away w/ the things he does. I think he is one character that can go. All he thinks about is sex. And its always in a very creepy way.

    • Via

      Sorry, but also, how did Jim not punch Kevin in the face last night!?!?!? Seriously, my husband would’ve punched his lights out. He was screaming into her boobs for what I felt like at least 30 seconds. That’s WAY too long.

    • Dwight Beets Off

      You guys need to get a sense of humor and it was totally consistent with Kevin’s character. Among the funnier things of the episode.

  • Chris

    Thought Kevin was just annoying and stupid, loved Dwights line about wanting a ‘big family’, with large people.

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