Tonight’s Office was a lot darker than the past couple of weeks. For awhile, I was supremely annoyed, feeling as though this episode was built on Michael getting into the absurdest possible situation within the setup, and then getting out of it with typical Office logic. After all, petulantly repeating every word your boss says is pretty childish, unprofessional, and stupid, especially when you’re arguing over figs. Then Michael showed up in David Wallace’s office, and you realize that what Michael’s really upset about is the complete lack of respect the new Vice President was showing him, and Wallace was in turn reinforcing. It’s not that we don’t understand why these interlopers into the strange Dunder Mifflin universe want to fix it, but the show has well established that while Michael may be a selfish idiot at times, he also somehow (magically?) gets the job done. He has, as he repeatedly pointed out, worked there for fifteen years, and in this past year, has lost a girlfriend to the job. On top of that, he’s apparently so good at his job that they had him road trip to all the other offices to talk them into shape. In other words, when Michael tells David Wallace that he deserves better than this, he’s more than just petulant: he may be right.
That moment, and the fact that everything didn’t return to sitcommy normalcy at the end of the episode, redeemed what had been a cringe-inducing and annoying A-story up until that point. The episode didn’t so much have a B-story as a couple of C-stories. Jim is forced to deal with how far he’s fallen down the rabbit hole of Dunder Mifflin when he confronts the ridiculousness of his pranks within a real world setting and when the new VP forces him to admit that the powerless title of Assistant Regional Manager now seems to mean as much to him as it once did to Dwight. It’s fun to see the Office‘s resident pantheon of cool (here literally embodied in his “classy” James Bond/magician’s tux) realize how ridiculous he acts. On top of that, Kelly and Angela fighting over the sexy new VP provided some giggles, although it was mostly a throwaway. Still, I can never really get enough of Kelly’s ridiculous blatherings.
All in all, this was not a particularly rewatchable episode, but it did exemplify how many different things the writers are still finding to do with their setup and characters.