The Office is at its best when it has one foot planted in reality and the other drifting off into the absurd. With six-plus seasons of Michael Scott shenanigans resting in audiences’ memories, sometimes it’s nice to get a reminder as to why everyone’s favorite hapless regional manager is actually qualified to lead the branch, and tonight’s episode did so while managing to simultaneously serve up some of the painfully awkward scenes that the series does so well.
After losing a big client to sales whiz Danny (Timothy Olyphant), Michael, Jim and Dwight set up a sting to discover their rival’s tricks. Things go hilariously haywire, however, when Meredith (posing as an executive named Mrs. Van Helsing) attempts to seduce Danny and the whole thing unravels.
As Danny angrily storms out (at one point he gets so heated, he threatens to hit Michael), Michael convinces him to take a job as Dunder Mifflin’s new traveling salesman. It’s a nice little reminder that Mr. Scott actually does have some serious sales chops (not to mention a keen business mind), as he successfully sells his biggest competitor on the idea of joining forces. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, set up a sting, subject ‘em to the sexual advances of your employees, and offer ‘em a job! That’s how the phrase goes, right?
The episode’s subplot revolved around Andy and Darryl’s burgeoning friendship. After learning that a college buddy of his has enjoyed some modest success in the music biz, a jealous Andy pays Darryl to start a band with him. After a few jam sessions, Darryl stops accepting payment, prompting Andy to ask incredulously, “So we’re just jamming as friends?”
The heartfelt moment works well to balance the silliness of Michael’s sting operation, and it makes sense as a continuation of last week’s storyline, when Darryl comforted Andy after the latter’s embarrassing office sex-ed presentation. As a whole, this episode managed to deliver a lot of plot without sacrificing the laughs.
-Nice to see the full cast being utilized again. Meredith, Stanley and Oscar all got some much-deserved screentime.
-Michael, on losing the sale to Danny: “It’s like if Michael Phelps came out of retirement, jumped in the pool, bellyflopped and drowned.”
-The fact that Danny briefly dated Pam is a nice touch that could make for some interesting Jim/Pam tension this season.
-Andy, on his song: “I feel like I could see someone ice skating to it.”
-Dwight, on transportation: “A horse is a bike that pedals itself.”
-Pam, after Michael says he only got out of sales to be reluctantly drawn back in: “You don’t look reluctant, Michael, you look really eager.”
-Dwight referring to Jim as “Mr. Jock Hipster”
-Best line of Andy, Darryl and Kevin’s frog novelty song: “I find you absolutely RIBBITING!”