The Office season 4 episode 7 review

The Office gives more space to back characters, and sends Michael Scott on a wilderness retreat. It works, too.

If you were going to have a wilderness retreat, which Dunder Mifflin branch manager wouldn’t you invite?  Of course, if you’re Ryan Howard, you don’t invite your old boss, Michael Scott.  The excuse is that they knew everything they knew about him.  Toby, however, got to go along, and Michael is very displeased by this.  He hates Toby even more than usual, which is saying something!  

I like this connection we see between Jim and Michael.  Michael, as we saw when he got a second job, has a great deal of Jim in him deep down, and as we find out later in this episode, Jim has a whole lot of Michael inside him.  Take that for what you will, but I doubt Jim likes it too much.  I also doubt that Michael knew, in his younger days, that he’d end up being like he is now.  

Michael needs an escape from the office.  Out of the cliques, the politics, the asbestos, the fluorescent lights… inspired by the show “Survivorman,” Michael’s idea of wilderness camping is more like wilderness survival, inspired solely by television.  Dwight, being more than helpful, offers to share with Michael some of the many weapons he has strategically hidden around the office.  Sais in the water cooler, a katana in the ceiling, a knife in the file folders, a blowgun in the toilet tank, all easy enough to get to and all very lethal.  As Dwight reminds us, he saved Jim’s life with a can of pepper spray once.  

Jim assumes the mantle of leadership on Michael’s absence.  Dwight doubts Michael’s ability to survive in the woods, so, of course, he’s going to trail Michael the entire time.  

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Michael and Dwight are out into the wilderness.  Michael explains the concept of Survivorman, being that someone with just the stuff they have with them has to survive a fake accident.  Michael’s fake accident is best explained by him.  

Michael:  This disaster is a serial killer.  A creepy guy [gestures at Dwight] who has abducted me and is taking me out into the wilderness to leave me for dead.

Dwight:  No, I would never leave you for dead.  I would never let you escape.  

Michael:  Well, yes I would, and I would survive.  

Dwight:  I would make sure that you were dead, believe me.  Then I would remove your teeth and cut off your fingertips so you could not be identified.  And they would call me the Overkill Killer

Michael:  You are as creepy as a real serial killer.  For real.  

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Michael covers his eyes, so he won’t have any familiarity with his surroundings.  To heighten the experience, Dwight then tries to knock out Michael by hitting him with a shoe.  Michael begs for one decent cathartic experience.

Angela comes to new boss Jim, informing him that it’s Creed’s birthday.  In fact, it’s Birthday Month:  Kelly, Creed, Oscar, and Meredith.  Jim has an idea:  one big shared birthday party, presumably to avoid the multiple birthdays.  We find out about Michael’s birthday customs:  toasts that are inappropriate in nature, gag gifts that are also usually inappropriate in nature (like a blow up doll for Kevin), and a love of leaping out of corners and scaring the pants off people with surprise birthday greetings.  Angela doesn’t like the idea.  Jim does.  Pam, well… more discord.  Making a universal party is as hard as it sounds, given everyone wants different things.

Meanwhile, Michael is in the woods with a tripod and a camera, charting his Survivorman adventure.  Dwight swears fealty to Michael, promising to let him get hurt or die, but never lose his dignity.  Michael, meanwhile, loses his dignity by using his knife to cut his suit pants into, err, suit shorts.  He looks like a mailman.  Dwight, on the other hand, is having absolutely no problems surviving in the woods, unlike his boss.  

Jim’s multiple birthday plan is a bad one.  Andy wants an ice cream cake and mushroom caps.  Creed wants peach cobbler.  Meredith wants Devil’s Food Cake.  Everyone hates Jim’s idea.  Phyllis accidentally called Jim Michael.  Uh oh.  

After nearly killing himself by eating poisonous mushrooms, Michael is back at the office.  I guess Dwight made him come back, or Michael realized how much he missed the office crew and civilisation.  Who doesn’t love multiple cakes at a party?  

Michael and Jim share a moment, and Jim has the harsh realisation that, well… he’s going to end up just like Michael in 10 years.  I see it, too.  

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Line of the Night:  Dwight:  People say, ‘Oh, it’s dangerous to keep weapons in the home or the workplace.’  Well I say it’s better to be hurt by someone you know accidentally than by a stranger on purpose.  

Who Earned 10 Schrutebucks:  Creed finally gets his just desserts, literally.  Creed gets his cobbler, and Creed’s instigating an office rebellion against Jim and his crazy face as he skips around the room during his birthday party seal the deal and get my favorite Office character his due.  Finally!Who Has Been Deducted 50 Schrutebucks:  NBC, I know you have to pretend you care about the environment, but preachy PSAs and a green corporate logo in the corner of the screen don’t really do anything to make the world a nicer place.  If I wanted to conserve energy, I wouldn’t be watching TV now would I?

Ron Hogan doesn’t go on wilderness retreats, because he knows that soon enough we will be living in a Mad Max dystopian pos- nuclear wasteland. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and the Flektor Development Blog.