The Office recap: Heavy Competition
There can be only one. One Highlander, that is. There can be a bunch of greater Scranton-area paper salesmen. But still, the showdown between two of the best was a sight to behold.
You knew Michael was going to smack down his padawan learner. But that’s only because he knew not to say the color-coded things listed in his Rolodex. And orange you glad he did? Maybe Dwight was wearing those tight white sleeves for too long and couldn’t help but blurt out that bit about Mr. Schofield’s son.
Jim, meanwhile, got out from under Charles’s thumb for once and used his free time to play to Andy’s weaknesses, convincing his a capella pal that he’s needy and pathetic — just like Andy! It was kind of mean and kind of funny, but in the end it was a pretty cool gesture to show the Nard Dog that things could be worse. A lot worse. He could have married Angela.
I liked this episode a lot. It wasn’t epic or even momentous, but it had a great tone and simple aims. It was mostly funny — loved the cheese puff tossing and Dwight’s proof he wasn’t wearing a wire — with serious moments that had impact — Jim leveling with Andy about his relationship and Andy’s lack of one. Some moments offered both: Jim embracing Andy was a great sight gag and a nice moment.
As for how they’re treating the Michael Scott Paper Company story, I love it and I didn’t think I would. No, it shouldn’t succeed. Sales skills aren’t enough. You need capital, record-keeping, a business plan and a hundred other things. But we’re seeing that struggle, and we’re seeing some obstacles roughly overcome, like finding office space in a cramped utility closet.
And they’re pinning the new company’s success on Michael’s ability to build a customer base (and I assume matters like OSHA inspections, tax accounting and liability insurance will come later). The best way to land customers? Steal them.
I thought Dwight was an unlikely ally for Michael. Their relationship has withered greatly in the last few years, and I didn’t buy that Dwight would even throw his old boss a bone like a small tire company. I did buy that he’d reject a $6 gratuity while still keeping tabs on a $10 loan, though.
Dwight was stellar in this episode, especially his antsy pawing at his shirt sleeves. White looks good on him. That Charles would get all Roman Empire/Wild West/War-torn Poland/Poland on him about it isn’t surprising. But Dwight tellingly admits he misses the chaos he once soared in.
He can’t even make a valid excuse for standing, like blood clots. I loved how Charles slapped him down, and I’m pretty sure Idris Elba was breaking at the time: “No, that’s weird. You’re going to sit.”
He’s noting Dwight’s focused work ethic, offering him more responsibility and even asking him to meet over drinks. If Michael ever did any of those things he’d have died happy.
As a result he’s hedging on helping Michael anymore. (At least he roped off the well for Mose.) That’s not fair, though. Michael had dibs on Dwight. And Dwight respects dibs; he’s not a barbarian. Or maybe he is, the way he showed up in the alley with Charles in tow. That was at least Charles’s second missed chance to beat up Michael, wasn’t it?
And thus we get another troubling glimpse into Michael’s childhood. That a girl would promise to make out with him, only to have her boyfriend pelt him with a pee-filled balloon raises an important question: how do you get the pee in there? A funnel? Well, Michael’s not taking it this time. He’s going to come at Dwight hard, (TWSS?) and he’s going to take all his clients and kill them in front of him. Wait, no. He’s just going to get all Bill Cosby on him.
And Michael can do it, too. He’s an artist with that Rolodex, unlike with his Blackberry, which Pam spent a month updating only for him to use it as a night light. In his sights: Dwight’s biggest client. And he might not have landed Mr. Schofield after Dwight deployed the old fish-in-the-rafters, hit-a-bear-and-got-stuck-in-traffic, their-meatball-sandwich-is-the-worst routine to steal the Rolodex.
If only he could use it. As much as the entry for him — Tall, Beets — hurt him, he didn’t know enough to go, go ahead and don’t mention about the son.
Dwight made it a war, but he didn’t remember that a war on paper is not as important as a war on slavery. How much was I hoping for a reference to Lincoln attacking with the north?
As for Jim and Andy, well we got a glimpse of the Jim-Pam wedding planning as they went bargain hunting in the haunted basement of their love by plumbing Andy’s unused ideas and nonrefundable deposits. First off, you don’t walk down the aisle to You Can Call Me Al. You boogie down that aisle.
It was clear Jim was up to something right away, but not what he was up to. “It’s so scary how right the things you’re saying are,” he says. “And you’re coming at it with almost no knowledge, so of course I trust your opinion.”
But clearly Andy is projecting his bad experience on to Jim and Pam. And so Jim runs with it, telling him he doesn’t like the face he sees in the mirror, to which I ask, “The one that’s smirking?” But when he started kicking his lunch around the breakroom and later went in for that hug, I didn’t know what was going on.
In the end, it was a clever, if not hilarious, prank. And he said what Andy needed to hear, that his life’s not over and that getting dumped isn’t the end of the world.
I have to give a nod to the cold open and the related tag. Cheese puff tossing? Very cool. Pam with a cheese puff in her hair? Cute as a button. Kevin would rock that contest, though. He has a background in M&M’s.
And I love the morning cheer, particularly the resulting talking head admission from Pam: “I’m here. I’m part of this now.”