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The Office recap: Two Weeks


If you’d told me after Michael quit that he’d come crawling back I’d have believed it, but that’s not how I would have thought it’d play out.

And those few zany moments with Michael on his belly marked the only unnecessary padding in an otherwise cohesive episode. I’m not sure if cohesive is the right word for “Two Weeks,” but it flowed for me from the plot-relevant cold open all the way through. I wanted to keep watching to see how things played out, and the payoff was satisfying.

So was it a great episode? I’m going to have to mull that a while. I think what it was was another chapter in an ongoing story we’re being told. That’s no minor feat considering this whole season has had a meandering feel about it, where episodes stood well on their own but offered no continuity.

So yeah, I liked that.

Charles Miner is not long for the world of Scranton, I predict. The man who ran off Michael and put Jim in his place has put Kevin on the phones and made Stanley his productivity czar. Never mind that sales are about to plummet. People are going to chafe under his steel grip. This is not a career for these people; it’s a job.

And he just took away the sideshow and replaced it with toxic tension.

Like Toby said, when that in-flight movie ends you’re left wondering how much longer you’re going to be on that plane. And you can only live vicariously through someone else’s quitting story for so long before you realize only you can take charge of your future. No, those folks are going to rebel. Two episodes down and four to go for the man from Saticoy Steel, and his exit is already taking shape.

Who saw Pam going, though? OK, all of us who read the spoilers that said, more or less, “Pam quits with Michael.” Is there a word for a surprise you saw coming? Because it still had a surprise feel to me.

You could see it coming from the look on her face when Michael asked for a show of foot stomps and when she bragged about the hours she’d spent mastering the new printer. It seemed sad, but you figure that’s the kind of victory office life offers. Then again, it brought to mind Jim’s talking head interview from Season 2’s “Conflict Resolution,” where he realized he spent his days pranking Dwight.

Two episodes later he was in Stamford.

I still want to know where she and Michael were walking? Didn’t they drive to work? Anyway…

So Jim’s left back at Dunder-Mifflin without his fiance or the easy-to-please boss. He’s got jackasses numbers two and three around him and a boss who avoided the Christmas rush and started hating him early. What’s more, his fiance made a drastic career decision without consulting with him at all.

Would Pam really rather take her chances with No Plan Paper Co. than work alongside her soul mate? Is sales going to make her happy in a way reception didn’t? It was an unlikely and unsubstantiated move for an art school drop-out. But I took it as a sign of loyalty to Michael and personal desperation.

Things have turned south for old Jim-bag, and I don’t get why. Why was he such a marble mouth last week and this week with Charles? Why didn’t he protest Pam leaving more? Why is he letting the new boss walk all over him like that? What’s his purpose on the show anymore?

He used to be the voice of reason, the everyman, the one we rooted for. Jim was us, and he kicked ass. Maybe not always but always eventually. Now what? He’s committed to a life in paper, and he’s checked his guts at the door. I don’t want to be Jim. I’d rather be Dwight right now. At least Dwight stands up for himself.

Jim’s one of the show’s tentpoles, and he’s looking shaky.

All that said, this was a very funny episode when you pick it apart. Along the way, the funny got interrupted by tension and the laughs got cut short. But the funny was definitely there.

Dwight confusing headhunters with headhunters? Nice. And yes, it is monster.com, singular. The sound effects made that joke.

And why shouldn’t Michael go into a declining business? He practically invented decline.

The Prince Family Paper voicemail was a heartbreaking callback. Michael burned his own bridge there, leaving him only “other companies” as an alternative.

But he’s had this dream since lunch. He can’t just give it up (not that anyone would know), not even for an adorable Pam giggle at the words “pillow talk.”

Even Andy won’t hop on board a sinking ship, though he did seem to be networking with Michael with the parting gift. Too bad Michael already has wine. Dwight wasn’t even asked. It was hilarious that he was as fearful that he would be as Michael was of having to ask him.

I was sure Michael was buzzed on Scotch and Splenda early on, the way he slurred that talking head. Nice “Cocktails” callback.

Michael’s pitch to Stanley was chuckleworthy, as was the quick follow-up talking head:

Michael: Stanley.
Stanley: Can’t you see I’m urinating.
Michael:Listen, listen Stanley, you don’t have to answer me now.
Stanley: No.
Michael: I want you to think about it. I am starting my own company. OK, you’re not letting me finish, and you just lost out on a million dollars.
Stanley: No I didn’t.

Michael: You know what? I had a great time at prom, and no one said yes to that either.

The Angela-Mindy competition to embarrass themselves in front of Charles the most was a heated contest.

Charles: I am aware of the effect I have on women.

You pompous jerk. But it is Angela and Mindy, so my sympathy is muted.

I liked that Dwight’s German is preindustrial and mostly religious, and that Meredith called Pam “Little Miss Thing.” I also liked that Pam wasn’t going to let the printer get the best of her the way the wireless router did.

I thought it was wrong of Charles to make a move on Michael like he did. That was his first moment of losing his cool, even if he’s been uncool all along.

The previews make it clear Michael and Pam give the business a go and that Ryan’s back with blond hair and a bowling alley gig. Here’s my speculation, heavily influenced by other people’s ideas:

So Charles basically proves he’s not up to the job. The Kevin and Stanley appointments make that clear, as will the plummeting sales I predicted with Michael gone. Wallace, who was looking to Michael as a sales savant a month ago, is going to notice and call Charles on the carpet. Plus Wallace loves Jim, so the Jim-hate is going to backfire.

Meanwhile, Michael will do something unlikely and prove he’s got a shot on his own, or at least give Wallace that impression. He’ll be recruited back the way Dwight was from Staples in “The Return”, only he’ll insist on bringing Ryan and Pam along with him. That’ll lead to Ryan at reception and Pam in an elevated role of some sort.

None of that leaves room for any kind of finale-worthy conflict, but that’s what I’ve got. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to rewatching this episode, probably the first time I’ve done that since “Lecture Circuit, Part 1.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 10:41 pm by Brian Howard. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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