'The Office' recap: Silent, but deadly

the-officeImage Credit: Justin Lubin/NBCI know that some people have been irritated by Pam lately, but for my money, this has been a standout season for Jenna Fischer. In fact, I think you can trace Pam’s six-season character arc as a kind of rise to power – the slow-motion emergence of a shy person’s extroverted soul. Remember when Pam was engaged to a doofus, just a quiet receptionist with a crazy boss and a dead-end future? (After her season 3 coal-walking speech, Oscar admitted that he’d barely ever heard her speak. Clearly, the Finer Things Club hadn’t been invented yet.) Compare that to the woman she is now: outgoing, goofy, maybe a little too willing to stick her nose in other people’s business, but only because she genuinely cares about those other people.

I guess you could equally argue that Pam Beesley is a more farcical version of Pam Beesley, and that time inevitably broadens sitcom characters into ever-more-loudmouth caricatures of themselves. Well, maybe. But it seems to me that there’s a very organic through line from season 1 Pam to the Pam who tried to choreograph the whole office into a post-breakup support group for Michael. Pam claimed this was as much practical as personal: “When Michael has a broken heart, the whole place comes to a halt.”

But Michael was curiously unresponsive. He liked the ice cream, of course, but he didn’t like it enough to drown his sorrows in it. Nor did he respond when Jim and Pam invited him over for dinner and Rock Band: Billy Joel, which let’s hope never actually exists ever. Pam: “Are you still seeing Donna?” Michael: “Since when is this an office when we delve into each other’s personal lives?”

Seriously, when? I’m worried that I sometimes sound like a broken record here, and it’s not as if I don’t want any relationship drama on The Office. (I realize that they’re both played by writers who probably don’t have as much filming time as the rest of the cast, but I would be extraordinarily happy with a Kelly/Ryan episode.) But part of the fun of The Office used to be its secrecy: You could see that all these characters were weird, but that weirdness was always peeking out under the cover of everyday work attire.

Now, everything’s a freaking colloquium. Everyone was various shades of shocked by Michael’s choice to continue his contemptuous cuckoldry. Meredith: “I’ve never been cheated on, cheated on, or been used to cheat with.” Michael argued that Scranton was the Paris of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which shows that he’s never been to Carbondale. Anyways, Donna’s husband is a high school baseball coach, and all sportsmen are terrible people, as he learned on Real Sports with Bryant Gumball.

Andy took a personal interest in all the cheating drama, having been a cuckold himself. As Andy explained to Michael, “You’re Ali Larter, I’m Beyoncé.” Andy wanted to put a human face on Michael’s sin, so they went to watch the coach’s team play. Viewers, I can laugh at Andy’s particular über-dweeb way of yelling “Base-BALL!” but this whole baseball misadventure was kind of a time-fill. That being said, it was almost worth it when the coach-cuckold mistook Andy and Michael for husbands, and Andy explained, “No. But we’re gay for baseball.” Between that and “Beer me that CD,” Andy Bernard is doing his part to deconstruct the English language, and I love it!

Now, here’s where things took a turn. I figured that Michael would realize the error of his ways. But no: He wanted to be bad. He shook the hand of his girlfriend’s husband, and felt like James Bond. He stole some after-game treats for the office: “That’s not the first time I stole something away from Coach Shane.” Zing! “From now on, when I’m hungry, I’ll eat,” he proclaimed. He ate Meredith’s cake. He doesn’t care! Anarchy supreme!

Michael’s new evil confidence briefly inspired Ryan, which in turn inspired the night’s funniest exchange:

Ryan: (to Erin) “I think you’re attractive. And I wanna sleep with you.”
Erin
: “What about Kelly?”
Ryan
: “You read my mind.”
Erin
: “Is this a joke?”
Ryan
: “Yes!”

Meanwhile, Dwight and Angela had an extended lawyer-mediated breakup session. Angela threatened Dwight, “I’m going to own your farm by the time this is over.” The lawyer claimed that Dwight would have to claim $30,000, which was a problem, because Dwight’s money is all buried: “I don’t want to dig past a certain someone to get it.” Creepy forever, Schrute! Dwight settled on five intercourse sessions, and darned if Dwight and Angela didn’t both look turned on by the prospect of punitive coupling. (Although Dwight tried some old remedies for sperm destruction: “Schrute sperm are strong. But not as strong as a fully-grown Schrute.”) They returned to their old sexing grounds…and were overheard by Jim and Pam, who were catching some Z’s in the warehouse quiet area.

Ultimately, Michael couldn’t go through with it. He bragged about his badassery – “The stuff we’re into isn’t condo-appropriate.” But some essential goodness in his character won out. “I had a choice. Either living with myself, or being happy.” Coming at the end of a mostly light episode, that was a heavy line. Nice payoff, Office.

Oh, and what a sneaky extra payoff: while the credits ran, some news people from the local NBC affiliate attack-reported Michael. He adorably confessed to his crime: “I want to publicly apologize to the coach and the players.” But no, they were there about the exploding Sabre printers. Is it weird that the reason I’m most excited for the season finale is because I want to see how Sabre’s stock price weathers this bad publicity?

Other fun stuff:

  • It’s always great when an idea gets thrown around the conference room. Today, the idea was: how best to execute Toby, Bin Laden, and Hitler? Angela thought this was a good opportunity to use an icicle (no evidence!). Creed noted that they should probably curve the bullet, just like James McAvoy in Wanted, which is Creed’s favorite James McAvoy film. Oscar pointed out that curving the bullet wouldn’t help. Dwight won the day, naturally: one bullet through all three throats.
  • There were a couple of two-person confessionals in this episode: Pam and Erin, and Dwight and Angela. They didn’t used to do so many two-persons, right? Or am I crazy?
  • On the scale of totally wrong things Michael has ever said to Stanley, this is the wrongest, but also maybe the funniest: “Okay, Morgan Freeman narrating everything.”

What did you think of the episode, viewers? Definitely kind of a quiet outing, but did it get you excited about the season finale?


Comments (80 total) Add your comment
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  • LOL

    Jim and Pam trying to sleep in the warehouse while Dwight and Angela were rockin’ it? Priceless!

    • Shasta

      I’m SO glad their baby hasn’t turned into some lame subplot. Their exhaustion at work is just enough to keep things real without managing to parade a baby around. Seriously, I thought once the baby was born, they’d find a way for them to bring her to the office with them.

      • GHR

        Perhaps, but I HATE the ci-ci, or however you spell it, nickname. Ugh.

      • Billy Joel

        Sorry I took so long to write, Darren. I’ve been busy. ROLLING AROUND IN A POOL OF ROYALTY CHECKS!!!

    • AIan

      I loved that part. But I also loved them falling asleep WHILE Gabe was chiding them for falling asleep.

  • Chuck Bartowski

    I enjoyed it a lot. It feels like The Office is getting back to form in terms of very witty, laugh-out-loud-hilarious writing. I LOVED that cold open. That’s two weeks in a row with amazingly hilarious, instant classic cold opens.

    I am intrigued by the Sabre storyline definitely… should get intense! And Michael’s line: “If I had a gun with only 2 bullets, and was in a room with Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, & Toby – I would shoot Toby twice.” earned itself as my Facebook status. Thumbs up tonight, Office!

    :)

    • AIan

      I totally agree. This week and last week were miles better than earlier in the season. The Office is clearly getting its mojo back!!

      • marymary

        Loved this episode. The cold open, so laugh out loud funny, we had to rewind it three times. Love NBC’s Thursday night lineup, I hope they don’t mess with it.

  • yemi

    New Pam really bothered me at the beginning of the season, but after watching some of the old reruns, I think I like her better confident than shy. Maybe the writers just got better as this season went by at making her stronger without being totally off-putting.

    • Ceballos

      Yeah, it’s one thing to make the character more confident, but it’s another to make her (and Jim) come off like they’re SO MUCH better than everyone else in the office, which is what was happening earlier this season.

      Some of my favorite moments in this show’s history have been when Jim and Pam have actually picked Michael up and vice-versa (like Jim and Michael at the end of “Booze Cruise” or Michael being the only member of the office to come to Pam’s art show.)

      • LisaP

        i agree with both of you. p&j have been so smugly annoying lately. last night was a relief. even their baby name (cece, really?) annoys me.

      • spaceaudiobooks

        Jim has always come off like he think he’s better than everyone else at times.

      • yes!

        Yes! I couldnt put my finger on why I dont like them anymore. They reallllly are acting quite smug and above everyone else. And I laughed out loud when I head LisaP say that even the baby name annoyed her. ME TOO! Wow! I wish they could go back.

      • Hannah

        He is better than everyone else

      • Ceballos

        Hannah-

        That may very well be the case…(I wouldn’t be too sure though – it’s not like Mr. Halpert is above time-wasting shennanigans himself…also the dude fell asleep at work, which isn’t exactly better than whatever Michael does in his office all day.)

        However, even if he IS better than everyone else, it’s annoying to actually see him act that way. (As opposed to the way Pam has been trying to help Michael these past few episodes.)

      • MlL

        I’ve also never cared for the way Jim always looks for the camera to give his reaction to. As though he knows the camera will always cut to him for a reaction shot, and he’s right there ready to meet it. Gives me that “it’s all about me” vibe. Still love him, but dude, get over yourself.

      • Isembard

        Sorry, but I don’t understand how anyone could interpret them as smug – excusing some of Jim’s actions as manager. They remain the most sane people in the office. I think it would take a great degree of personal insecurity to interpret that as being “better” than anyone else.

      • AIan

        When Jim became co-manager it was great because he couldn’t take control over the office, nobody respected his authority, and it showed that he’s really just the same as everyone else. His looks to the camera are his trademark, it’s his “thing”, don’t see how that’s smugness. Jim has always been The Office’s “Every Day Guy”, going back to the British version’s character (Tim). It’s good to have one normal people to compare all the crazies to.

      • Ceballos

        Don’t get me wrong…I love Pam and Jim, just like I love pretty much all the characters on this show. On top of that (like this recap noted) I’m VERY happy that the show has allowed both of those characters to grow and grow up. (Having them be the exact same way they were in seasons 1 and 2 would be no good.)

        However, as a result of that growth, there have been a few moments (mostly in this season) when they have come off as a bit condescending to those around them. (Granted, most of this happened during Jim’s time as co-manager, and I was delighted to see Jim find out that Michael’s job isn’t as easy as it looks.) I get it…they’re growing up, but no one else around them seems to be. They’re the straight men reacting to the insanity around them.

        All I’m saying is that condescension isn’t nearly as appealing on these characters as when they try to empathize with and help their friends and co-workers.

        (P.S. For my money, Oscar’s the most sane person in the office.)

      • Rach

        I don’t think Jim’s looks to the camera come off as smug…at first, I think they were meant to imply a rapport with the camera crew, Now — as Alan mentioned — they’ve become his trademark.

    • AIan

      I agree. Earlier this season people on this site were criticizing her for being annoying and bossy. But I love Pam’s progression. She’s not the quiet little office punching bag anymore. I love how being a mother has made her a bit pushy, nosy and like the office relationship “caretaker”.

      • Brian

        The only time I ever thought Pam was over the top was the episode she spent yelling at Michael about dating her mother. But other than that, I haven’t minded her maturation.

  • Ali

    “i can’t legally watch this unfold, it’s getting a little dangerously close to prostitution.”

    and then Dwight’s expression when Angels tell him that she’s not some kind of farm animal. such a great episode.

  • Liz

    “if i had a gun with two bullets and i was in a room with bin laden, hitler and toby i would shoot toby twice.”

    • bringbackrocky

      OMG – maybe the best Office line ever.

    • Ceballos

      Bin Laden, then Toby?

    • Diggity

      And Toby’s face at the end of the scene was perfect.

      • Ceballos

        I also loved his reaction when he walked into the office and was immediately shooed away by Pam because she knew it would ruin her elaborate plans to cheer him up.

  • Chappel

    I still can’t get the image out of my head of Dwight slyly smiling at the camera after Angela says she’s not a farm animal. He seems to know way too much about the mating habits of farm animals. “No eye contact!”

  • kim in kentucky

    Loved that Michael kept eating Meredith’s cake even after he found out that it was lemon, “yuck” – to quote Creed – He does whatever the “F” he wants to!!

    • billyD

      This was my favorite line of the night. Creed’s indignation was hilarious!

      • moliterni

        lmao creed was brilliant here

  • Jenn

    Don’t forget, Angela demanded intercourse to COMPLETION, that’s very important.

    I also thought it was cute how Pam and Erin joined forces to help the office deal with Micheal’s break up, since they know his weird little quirks the best. I died when Erin told Pam, “You probably shouldn’t keep a baby up that late.” Huh?

    • Brian

      hahaha! I love Erin…so cute, yet so, so dumb…

  • sunny

    i loved jim and pam falling asleep when gabe (gosh, is that his name?) started asking them their opinion on something boring

  • marco

    love the Ali Larter and Beyonce comment

    • Lemon

      “I’m always Beyonce.” – Michael Scott.

    • Ceballos

      Even better because the guy they were fighting over in “Obsessed” was Charles (Idris Elba).

      • sunny

        that’s funny! i didn’t see Obsessed so I didn’t make that connection

  • DTF

    I agree that relationships have become too much of a focal point in the show. Part of the reason the Kelly/Ryan relationship is so great is that we see so little of it and it leaves us wanting more. It took a whole season of small clips to flesh out the whole Dwight & Angela thing and yet the Andy/Erin arc lasted only a few episodes before they were in a full-blown romance.

    I’d hate to think they ran out of ideas for office-related story lines but it certainly seems like they are trading ‘office’ problems for relationship problems.

    I suppose as a show gets older and viewers gets more vested in the characters they want to see more of the character’s personal life. But I think that some of the best office moments are when you find a little quirk about a character in one line instead of throughout the course of an entire episode – i.e. Creed has seen enough James McEvoy movies to have a favorite.

    • AIana

      I LOVE how Ryan and Kelly have become like a old married couple. Ryan doesn’t fight it anymore, he seems to have totally accepted adn given in to his role as Kelly’s boyfriend. It’s very cute.

      • Scrantastic

        I miss Ryan/Michel, they’ve vanished and it’s not fair, those moments made the show.

  • Ceballos

    I was kinda relieved to see that Toby still works in “The Office” (he seems to have mostly vanished with Gabe’s arrival) and I loved the cold open. (Although, I would’ve guessed “Atonement” was the preferred James McAvoy movie for a cultured man like Creed.)

    I definitely agree that the baseball scene was pretty much a waste of time. (Andy was too grating in the way Michael tends to get too grating.)

    However, I LOVED that Michael’s attitude change scared even the eternally douche-y Ryan (“You’ve really gotta not care what people think about you.) I mean, even Creed thought it was messed up!

  • Emilee

    I loved it when Jim scolded Stanley for interrupting the conference room meeting. “Stanley, this is serious!”

    • Brian

      Me too. I had a flashback to Pam being Dwight’s “secret assistant to the regional manager.”

  • Sarah

    Angela revealing her beet stained teeth was hilarious.

    • Mark

      Yah, weren’t those disgusting?!

  • Dave

    During the Shrute contract negotiations, I loved the moment when Angela insisted on eye contact, because she didn’t want it to be like a pair of farm animals. Then Dwight has this look on his face like he’s turned on by the thought!

    • Doremifah Solatido

      More like a look of knowing experience….

    • Flyer

      Oh, I interpreted it as a “that’s what you think!” look.

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