I held off on this one as long as I could. I knew, with the holidays approaching, that I’d need the boost once all the shows I watch stopped being new and started cycling through reruns. I almost made it a month before I fired up the last episode of The Office until the strike ends. For someone with no willpower, that’s pretty damn good.
Speaking of people with no willpower (do you like that segue? I knew you would), Jan, the girlfriend and former boss of Michael Scott, is suing Dunder Mifflin for wrongful termination. This is basically a Michael-driven episode, and that’s not a bad thing after the goofiness that was ‘Survivor Man’. This is a more serious, believable Michael Scott, and a more serious episode overall.
Michael and Jan are on their way to New York to deal with Dunder Mifflin. On the way, Jan is giving Michael his lines. Of course, Ryan is going to try to use his one-sided friendship with Michael to keep Scott from saying anything bad about the company. If you can see conflict, you’re not the only one.
As usual, I feel bad for Michael. In one direction, he finds out just how poorly Jan thinks of him as a branch manager. On the other side, he finds out just how poorly everyone at Dunder Mifflin’s corporate offices sees him. Even worse, one of Jan’s big entries into the deposition is Michael’s diary, which is copied and distributed to Ryan, Dunder Mifflin’s lawyers, and even arch-nemesis Toby. The poor guy is humiliated at every turn this episode, and I really felt bad for him.
The B plot concerns a ping-pong table in the warehouse. Darrell, as it turns out, is an amazing ping pong player who routinely clobbers Jim. This, of course, leads Kelly to talk smack, not trash, to Pam. Talking smack takes place in real time about what is currently happening, talking trash is about hypothetical situations. Kelly explains this all to us. Apparently she’s more streetwise than her Valley girl accent might suggest.
It’s amusing, the B-plot, but it’s a throw-away device. It’s designed merely to make us aware that when the Michael is away the Scranton office will play, and to provide a counterpoint to the actual, legitimately tense legalese-filled scenes in the Dunder Mifflin corporate offices.
Obviously, the A plot is worlds better this week, both in terms of content and in terms of laughs provided. It’s heavy on Michael and Jan, and as such it’s really good. I feel bad for Michael, of course, but I think at this point we’re supposed to feel sorry for Michael more often than not. He’s so misguided; he’s a nice guy, but he’s thoughtless and blunt and awful at his job, and that really shows through this week.
Line of the Night: Kelly – Your boyfriend is so weak, he needs steroids just to watch baseball.
Who Earned 10 Schrutebucks: Andy Buckley, the actor playing corporate higher-up David Wallace, played his character perfectly in regards to his attitude towards Michael. The look he gives Michael when they read David’s negative review of Michael’s performance is just heartbreaking.
Who Has Been Deducted 50 Schrutebucks: The entire B-plot was cute, at best. At worst, it was unnecessary.