The Office: “” (Episode 7.09)

TV Reviews
The Office: “” (Episode 7.09)

Much like we can’t choose our own families, most of us don’t get to pick our coworkers. Sometimes you luck out and marry the receptionist, but that’s not what this week’s Office was about.

What if Pam didn’t love Jim back? Sure, it’d be heartbreaking (not to mention frustrating after a few seasons’ worth of flirting), but would Jim spend the rest of his life chasing her? Maybe in a fairytale, but more likely, he’d eventually meet someone else and settle down. That’s what was at the core of this week’s episode: how to cope with life’s curveballs.

Making the best of a bad situation seemed to be the name of the game this episode. When Ryan’s social networking site (in which much of the office, particularly Michael, has invested money) finds itself nine days away from bankruptcy, Michael must choose between siding with Ryan or convincing him to sell and protecting the office’s investments. Jim discovers that the company has a commission cap, meaning he has no incentive to sell for the rest of the month. Angela realizes that Dwight doesn’t love her. None of these situations are the ones that these characters were hoping to find themselves in, but what made this episode so oddly touching was the way they dealt with them.

After boredly wandering the office distracting his coworkers (and making a few fart noises with his hand), Jim discovers a new way to pass the time — pranking Gabe. Jim’s been targeting Dwight for years, so perhaps a fresh victim will make his pranks more enjoyable in the coming weeks. Who knows? All that matters for Jim is that, next to making sales and providing for his family, it’s the best use of his time.

Angela’s solution isn’t one that she arrives at herself. Instead, it plops down beside her on a hay bale. While she sulks about the fact that Dwight would rather drive kids around in a Dunder Mifflin truck filled with hay (for $3 a pop, of course) than honor her sex contract, a man and his son sit down next to her. He strikes up a conversation, they awkwardly hit it off, and the next thing we know, they’re exchanging contact information. Only time will tell if this potential love interest develops into anything, but the important thing is that Angela has finally recognized that she needs to let Dwight go.

Michael’s dilemma was probably the most telling. Lonely Michael was more than happy to keep allowing himself to be used by Ryan, while Business Michael knew something had to be done. His solution, interestingly, was to shift back into his father-figure role that was touched upon last week. While the rest of the office wants to force Ryan to sell his company, Michael wants him to reach that conclusion on his own, much like a parent might. Instead of forcing Ryan to do anything, he tells him he has faith in him before sternly saying, “You have nine days to save everyone’s money.” Ryan eventually realizes he’s not the hotshot business whiz he thought he was and makes the right choice, making the best of his own bad situation and selling his company.

Everything about this week’s episode fit nicely into the theme, and in case we didn’t pick up on it earlier, Michael wraps it up with a nice big bow for us during his final talking head, explaining that “the world sends people your way” and reminding us that while this office isn’t necessarily the group of people he would have chosen to work with (after all, Ryan started as a temp, and Andy transferred from another branch), he’s gotta play the hand he’s been dealt. “Jim’s an ace. Pam’s a seven. And yeah, Ryan’s probably a two,” he says. “But that’s OK, because sometimes twos are wild.”

It wasn’t the funniest Office episode we’ve seen this season (after all, shattered dreams aren’t exactly giggle-inducing), but it was definitely one of the most well-written. Sometimes when we get a little too much of Michael Scott’s goofball antics, it’s easy to forget that The Office is still an incredibly smart show when it wants to be, but this week served as a nice reminder that the folks at Dunder Mifflin can lay down the life lessons with the best of ‘em.

Stray observations:
-One of the episode’s few laugh-out-loud moments came courtesy of Jim: “If I can make mushed carrots seem better than a boob, I can do anything!” (Even baby CeCe is settling for second-best this week!)
-Dwight’s excellent naming skills continue with “Hay Place: A Place for Hay”
-Ryan’s marketing ideas for WUPHF: “50,000 condoms falling out of the sky!”
-Dwight, after the lights flicker in the cold open: “Everyone follow me to the shelter. We have 14 days’ worth of food. After that, we have a difficult conversation.”
-Stanley’s dream of owning a lighthouse, secretly living at the top of it, and then launching it into space made me yearn for more Stanley screen time. Don’t you dare launch yourself into space just yet, sir!

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