'The Office' recap: Our funny friends, the Caucasians

Office-Body-LanguageImage Credit: Chris Haston/NBCWell, this was an exciting week in the Officeverse, eh? I’m not talking about last night’s episode, which was a straightforward and funny outing; I mean the news that Steve Carell is maybe kind of sort of thinking about leaving the Scranton branch after next season. The knowledge of that notionally earth-shaking departure (which, admittedly, would be over a year away) added a hidden layer of depth to an otherwise easygoing episode. Did anyone else get a bit of a brain-tingle when Darryl said, “Maybe one day I’ll be sitting in Michael’s chair?”

Could this show last beyond Michael Scott? At least last night, viewers, my answer is yes. Because although I find myself less and less interested in Michael’s utterly awkward romantic travails, there were so many brilliant throwaway lines in the episode that they didn’t even feel like throwaway lines, after awhile. Like the exchange between Michael and Oscar:

Michael: Sometimes it makes financial sense to lose money, right? For tax purposes?
Oscar: I ran the numbers on this, and in this situation it makes more financial sense to gain money.

Or the bit with Ryan and Kelly tormenting a girl over the internet: “Tell her everyone in homeroom thinks she’s fat.” Or Andy commiserating with Michael about misread signals: “I was seeing this really hot urologist about it. Now I think she was just doing a lot of stuff to bill my HMO.” Or Creed, coming out of nowhere with a definite contender for Top 10 Creed Lines Ever: “You ever noticed you can only ooze two things: sexuality and pus?”

Weirdly, the only flimsy part of the episode was the central plot that supposedly connected all the little bits together. Bar Manager Donna, whom we met in the “Date Mike” (ugh) episode, was coming in to the office to buy some printers. Michael was working overtime to impress her, first and foremost by setting up Jim and Pam as an adorable married pair of salesmen. (Michael described them as “The Wonder Twins.”)

So far, so funny. But then Michael started upping his flirtation game in the freakiest way possible, first by offering her a Victoria’s Secret, then by showing her a slideshow of pictures of himself mixed in with pictures of Tom Selleck (and an occasional subliminal blip of the word “sex,” Room 23-style), and then he went in for a kiss IN THE MEETING ROOM WITH THE BLINDS OPEN. (In. Appro.)

Everyone else in the office saw this terrifying display (“Maybe you shouldn’t try to kiss people at work.”) The rest of the episode mainly focused on Michael receiving advice from every single coworker. At one point, everyone was watching him flirt through the window. I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, I liked how this seemed to mark a return to legitimately painful awkwardness (as opposed to adorably protracted awkwardness). On the other hand, yeesh, do any of these people work anymore? To me, The Office always feels precariously stagey when the hilarious supporting cast apparently has nothing better to do than hang out and talk about Michael Scott’s relationship problems.

Give me the B-plotline! Dwight was disturbed by the fact that Darryl was considering taking part in Sabre’s “Print in All Colors” minority executive training program. After he discovered that “Glasses-wearers” and “Cholera-survivors” don’t count as minorities, he decided to find his OWN minority employee to control: Kelly.

I always love when Dwight tries to subtly influence people: It’s just so obvious that he’s planned out every syllable to sound as casual as possible, and he ends up getting angry at the other person when they aren’t instantly on his wavelength. After overhearing Kelly hanging up on an angry phone call, he slid around the corner and said, totally knowingly, “White people, right?” That led into his sales pitch: “How many Indian CEOs can you think of?” “I can’t think of any CEOs.”

Since all of Dwight’s plans end up backfiring, Kelly spurned him for her mad lover Ryan. (I know that the Kelly-Ryan romance is kind of meant to just be a freakish sideshow, but am I the only person who wants to see a bit more of these two?) That meant that Dwight had to try to enlist one of the OTHER minority employees. His pitch to Stanley and Oscar was hilarious (he described “Print in All Colors” as “A ticket on a bullet train straight to middle management.”) Even funnier was his final decision to bring in our beloved Dr. Hide, who started to tell Gabe the story of how he came to America.

Meanwhile, Michael was rounding the bend of freakish awkwardness to stalker behavior with his bar manager, but in a weird twist, it turned out that she actually really liked him, I guess? Listen, I understand the need to shake up character’s relationships in a TV show, but considering all the foundations that were laid for Michael’s earlier romances, the climax of this episode felt a bit… half-finished.

I want to stress: I think that Steve Carell is hilarious, and I think his complete investment in Michael Scott makes a character who could be utterly cartoonish feel vividly real. But to me, this was another episode where the shining stars on the supporting cast felt weirdly anchored down by the supposed center of the show. Even Gabe is starting to grow on me. His “almost too black” line was one for the ages.

What did you think of the episode, PopWatchers? I haven’t even listed all the lines that made me laugh out loud (Pam: “Most printer sales are done over the phone, Miss Boobshirt!”) Does The Office even really need a central overarching plotline anymore? I feel like if there’s any show that could sustain a “22 Short Films About Springfield”-style structure every week, it’s The Office.

Comments (118 total) Add your comment
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  • Matt

    The Office has been downhill since season 2. I don’t even watch anymore.

    • Drew

      Yet you’re the first to comment on a season 6 recap?

    • Isembard

      Good grief, then why are you wasting time reading a recap and commenting?

    • Kevin

      Why don’t you SHUTUP!

    • tomm

      Another “I only like early seasons” and quits a show when it gets “too popular”.

      It’s like what was so great about early seasons? Same quality to me.

      • John

        It’s nowhere near as good as it was early on. There’s no need to bash seasons 4-6 b/c they’re still better than a lot of what is on TV, but the Office set us up with GREAT television the first 3 seasons, now it’s just good. Like I said, no reason to b-and moan, but don’t pretend like anything they’ve done the last few years is on par w/ season 2.

    • Alan

      And you’re telling us because……?

  • Randelle

    What has happened to Pam? The way Jenna Fischer plays her now is soooo obnoxious. Yuck.

    • LisaP

      i agree randelle. actually, last night was the first time in a while that she was 1/2-way nice. she has gotten so SMUG.

    • Emilee

      I agree. Pam gets on my nerves this season.

    • haleysname

      I actually like Pam now! I think she’s a cute funny girl who doesn’t despise her job anymore. She’s enjoying herself.

    • jack

      pam was so cute before, then this season she got to be so smug. I think in the last two episodes she’s been a lot better though, like trying to support Michael and her little talk with Erin last week

    • Bob Loblaw

      Are you kidding? Pam was hilarious last night. The way she was trying to come up with quirky one-liners to use in their sales pitch. Being under Michael’s tutelage has started to rub off on her … i don’t think she’s realized it yet. lol

    • April

      She was just a quiet shy girl before, and now she’s more outgoing and open. It’s because of Jim; she’s happy, Jim appreciates her (Roy never did), she’s a new mom, etc… The happier people are, the more confident they are, IMO. I love Pam! :)

    • shdrew

      ITA!!!! I so wish they would get her character off the show.

    • Alan

      So she’s supposed to be meek, little mouse Pam wearing dull knit sweaters sitting in the corner for what, HER ENTIRE LIFE? People can’t grow and become more confident? She’s found love, she’s a mom, why would Pam be sitting silently poor little meek little lamb Pam in the corner after all these years? You’re not making sense.

    • Sarah D

      So when Pam was spineless and let Michael use her like his personal vallet; you liked her. Now that she has a life and knows what she wants and doesn’t take sh!t; you don’t like her? She no less sweet now, she’s just less used. LOVE NEW PAM.

  • Ceballos

    I agree that Carell has been absolutely brilliant as Michael Scott all these years, but if the writers are going to insist on making him so off-puttingly buffoonish and pushy, then the less Michael Scott we see, the better. (Like in last week’s episode, where he was still present, but a bit more on the fringes.) It also doesn’t help that the writers seem to be rewarding Michael for his stalkerish, borderline creepy behavior…at least with Holly, he actually had to woo her.

    That being said, I liked everything else about the episode. I thought Pam was sweet (the only one who actually had Michael’s delusional back) and hilarious (Miss Boobshirt), the Gabe “almost too black” thing was great (he’s been a great addition so far), and the cold open with the Spanish made me laugh out loud.

    I also REALLY liked the Dwight/Kelly storyline (the Indian Julia Roberts?!) despite the fact that it means Kelly might be gone from the show for good since I believe Mindy Kaling has a deal with NBC for her own show. If this was one of her last episodes onscreen, then it was a great little send-off.

    • Ambient Lite

      Totally agree with you about Michael, and once again his behavior (kissing/licking/? Donna’s hand) was completely over the top.
      I’m melancholy about Mindy Kaling possibly leaving the show – not only do I LOVE Kelly, but Mindy has written many of my favorite episodes (The DUNDIES, for one)…of course, this also means her new show will amazing.
      I think this next season of the Office won’t just be Steve Carrell’s last. I think they’ll wrap it up completely.

      • Ceballos

        “I think this next season of the Office won’t just be Steve Carrell’s last. I think they’ll wrap it up completely.”

        I love this show (still!), but I’m more than ok with that. Seven years is a great run for any show. (Especially one that almost got canceled after its first season.)

      • nat

        Agreed. I’ve really enjoyed this show, and its had a good run, but 7 years is good. Besides, after this many years, comedies struggle to stay fresh….which I find The Office often struggles with now. Still good, but as great as it used to be.

    • Amanda

      Where can I find more info about Mindy Kaling’s new show and about her leaving The Office?

    • ypc


  • Lola

    I agree. I could totally take a few weeks of more Oscar, Kevin, Creed, Kelly and Ryan and just little bit of Michael, Jim and Pam. A sort of passing of the torch, if you will.

    • Sara

      Always less Pam. More Angela, Kelly and Andy (not having a storyline involving romance!!)

  • Jill

    I thought Gabe was pretty funny too. He fits in with that crowd without trying too hard. Dwight getting exasperated with Erin in the kitchen was good. Guten Tag, Herr Michael.

  • Brent

    Then I guess it’s even more embarassing for you Matt that you are reading this recap and posting about it 4 seasons later huh… This episode was realy good and had some great lines by the other characters, I love it when peole like Kelly and Ryan, Creed and Angela get jokes in.

  • Sarah

    How about the cold open with Michael’s “universal symbols of male and female”? LOL.

    • llevinso

      I liked how he put the boob post-it on Angela’s forehead.

    • RK

      Yeah, the Spanish was great…

      • Dave

        “That’s what he says?”

      • Alan

        I know. And he even called Angela “Angelo”!

  • tellusataletunes

    Dwight’s trying to get minority status as a “non-organic farmer” was the best line of the night.

  • Xtine

    The show has run its course. This season should be its last.

    • Wiley

      Ugh these types of posts are getting so annoying!! We get it!! A lot of people are tired of the show! Just stop posting it on every recap because some people still actually enjoy it.

      • kim in kentucky

        here here !!

    • Alan

      Thanks for letting us all know. We’ve been waiting all day to hear whether or not “Xtine” wants the show to continue or not. I can breathe easy now.

  • Cee

    I, too, love Gabe. He is adorably awkward, and the face he made after “almost too black” killed me. He and Erin are my two favorite new characters. I loved her “No, happy for HIM!” line in the breakroom. Luckily she’s out of her hair. I mean, her room…

    • haleysname

      I know! i love how Gabe skeeved himself out by saying, “almost too black”

  • Al

    My favourite was when Donna said she sensed that Jim and Pam were distantly related and Angela yelled out; “You should see their baby!”

  • Susie

    I liked the look on Jim’s face when Phyllis described how the men at her husband’s work liked to flirt with her.

    • Jack

      He made the face because she said she usually doesn’t let it get too far. Lol.

  • Heather

    Ugh… last night’s episode sucked. The awful flirtation between Michael and the boob lady was awkward to watch. I would have liked to see more Kelly/Ryan (now that is a funny couple!) and more of some of the other characters, like Angela or Creed or Andy. Even some more Jim and Pam (although since the baby they have kinda gone downhill). Hopefully The Office can end the season on a high note.

    • Sarah D

      Kelly and Ryan are disfunctional and horrible to watch together. I love Kelly, hate Ryan’s character.

  • Isembard

    How can you recap and not mention Kelly’s hilarious interview with Gabe? From her sari to her assertion that belly dancing and yoga are her fave pasttimes.

    • kwik-e

      yup and the bed of nails!

  • Helen

    I fell asleep during last night’s episode for the first time. I believe that is a bad sign.

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