The Office can be serious. It has to be, sometimes, because its comedy is all borne from these characters. They have to change, and for this change to occur, reality has to kick them in the shins from time to time. The episode tonight was a peculiar one, not particularly in a bad way, but in terms of the story structure. Stanley the Manley is finally given a meaty arc and, let’s be honest here, more Stanley is always good. Also, the insubordination of Stanley was a necessary plot point to cover – without it, too much Stanley being Stanley becomes unbelievable. His character is obviously always upset with Michael in some way – it’s difficult to fathom that someone as outspoken as Stanle wouldn’t loudly mouth off from time to time.
The Office can expand a simple incident into an entire episode, which it did tonight. At a random brainstorming meeting Stanley doesn’t want to talk or be a part of the discussion, and when prodded, eventually yells at Michael: “Did I Stutter?” Michael is taken aback, and looks for ways to reprimand him for the remainder of the episode (but, really, all Michael wants is for Stanley to like him, which is all Michael wants from anybody). Stanley eventually voices his true feelings with Michael in private, Michael comes to terms with these feelings, and they try to construct a healthy working relationship. That’s it.
The B stories involved people with ulterior motives. Dwight, still distraught over Andy and Angela’s relationship, tricks Andy into selling him his car and then flips it for a much higher price. Jim is brought into a meeting with Ryan and Toby and is told that he’s being given an Official Performance Warning. We get the feeling that this has more to do with Toby’s jealousy regarding Pam than anything else.
However, are we really to believe that Jim does a good job? I’ve always assumed that he’s adequate, puts in minimal effort, and gets by on his likability more than anything else. Maybe this will make him step up his game, maybe he’ll start looking for other gigs. The big suspension of disbelief of The Office, in a macro sense, is the fact that Michael Scott is a capable Regional Manager. Just below that is the idea that Jim Halpert hasn’t risen up from salesman or found a new job. Now that he’s dating Pam, the audience can assume he’s got a reason to stick around, I suppose. But, I’d actually think he’d be more inclined to leave now that he and Pam are together. He doesn’t have to compete for her affections anymore – he’s got her.
But, The Office is a comedy. There was a lot of really funny stuff tonight, my favorite being the scene between Darryl and Michael. Craig Robinson kills every scene he gets to play, and his tale of ticklish gang life was incredible.
Top 5 Quotes from the Episode:
“Your daddy left that face-hole.”
“It’s just noise coming out of an ugly scientist.”
“Stanley is a beautiful, sassy powerful black man.”
“Could you just say, ‘These are due back Thursday?’”
“In the gang world, we use something called Fluffy Fingers.”
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of NBC)