The tragi-comedy that is The Office loves to put its characters in awful, awkward situations. Witness tonight’s episode, which was a return to older Office episodes, taking small issues and spending an entire half-hour to ruminate on the consequences. It wasn’t all small issues, and one major plot-line is an ingenious set-up for what could be a climactic episode that takes place at Schrute Farms. The more time we get to spend at Schrute Farms, the better, as far as I’m concerned. In a surprising development, Michael Scott and his separation from Holly is not even alluded to. Tonight, it was about Jim, Pam, Dwight and Andy.
Kelly hands Michael the annual customer surveys, in which customers grade the sales people. Michael is surprised that both Jim and Dwight received low scores across the board. This is a swipe at Dwight’s pride, and at Jim’s check book (Jim is secretly planning on buying his parents’ home for he and Pam). Pam, meanwhile, has purchased miniature Japanese Bluetooths for her and Jim so they can talk to each other all day long, Literally. This has some unintended consequences by the end of the episode. In addition, it turns out the customer surveys were doctored, for the silliest of reasons imaginable.
This episode had a cool little structure to it. It begins with bad office news for Dwight and Jim, and each story line ends up turning personal, just as the office issues disappear. It spoke to how little both of those men care about their jobs, compared to the women in their lives. Andy continues to be wonderfully oblivious to what is going on around him. Finding the east coast’s best tent-ist might be the death blow to his relationship with Angela. How Angela manipulated him into moving the wedding to Schrute Farms was a perfect character moment. And, then, there were the two impassioned speeches. For Pam, the New York realization is going to be a major issue. That both her and Jim were speechless is a telling sign – both likely realize that a move back to Scranton for Pam will be a negative one, and they also know (thanks to the Bluetooth desperation) that the long-distance thing is unsustainable.
Minor issues become major, and seemingly fun relationship moments become crushing. The Office, as I’ve stated on numerous occasions, is as close to a drama any comedy is going to get. The fact that it remains humorous is a testament to both the incredible writing and the acting. John Krasinski still doesn’t get enough credit for his work as Jim. Playing the straight man in an office full of crazy people is no easy task. He has to play the emotional moments in a much more subtle manner than Steve Carell or Rainn Wilson. He’s managed to infuse Jim with a constant melancholy that he can only combat by torturing Dwight.
Speaking of torturing Dwight, was the fake phone call with Bill Buttlicker the funniest scene of the season? I say yes.
Six Best Quotes of the Episode
“Sort of a Kapur’s List – Schindler’s List parody.”
“What color mustard is his shirt – yellow or dijon?”
“I found the best tent-ist on the east coast. He personally tented Giuliani’s first and third weddings.”
“I am Bill Buttlicker.” “Really, that’s your real name?” “How dare you?”
“I don’t want to get married in a tent, like a hobo.” “Hobos live in trains.”
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of NBC)