By: Joe Finch
Growing up, there were always adults throwing around clichés that I never quite comprehended, and to be honest, still don’t to this day. What rule does one’s thumb carry? If I can have cake, why can’t I eat it too? And I would never pick a bone with anyone, because it seems a bit intrusive and kind of gross. While these phrases continue to mystify me, the latest episode of The Office finally made sense of one of these adages—addition by subtraction.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying third time’s a charm, but it took Season 8 three episodes to retreat back to its roots of good old fashioned comedy. The show opens with Oscar bashing in someone’s car window (an assumed snowboarder pothead, based on the vehicle’s bumper sticker) for leaving their dog unattended.
Following the intro, the show hits the snooze button and does its usual lag, before providing more laughs. We learn that all of the warehouse workers resign after hitting the lottery collectively (playing Darryl’s birthday, who wasn’t included on the winnings), leaving Andy with shipment orders and no shippers.
Andy and Darryl team up to recruit new workers, which is a painfully boring scene that is finally rescued by humor when Darryl reveals that he has developed a soy allergy at 35, and Stanley realizes his lunch has been eaten by one of the interviewees.
As the botched search for new employees continues on, Jim, Kevin, Dwight and Erin team up to carry the workload in the warehouse to fill the void, only to find out that their moving methods can’t quite handle the task (Kevin oiling up his body and being slid across the floor with packages on him went into the good idea category). Darryl and Andy resolve the warehouse crisis, but only after they address their personal conflicts. Darryl lets Andy know that he deserved the promotion over him, only to be surprisingly and refreshingly combated with a strong response by Andy that satisfied even Darryl.
This episode should satisfy Office loyalists for eliminating a good portion of what is wrong at Dunder Mifflin Sabre. Robert California isn’t in this episode, which allows us to watch the original cast interact without the nonsense that he contributes to the show. Also, the writers finally let Andy Bernard be Andy the Manager and not Michael Scott Jr. (with the exception of a random Mr. T impression, which was familiar to Michael’s random outbursts). His uninspired and awkward leadership is still hard to digest, but it felt natural watching him attempt to manage.
The approach of simplifying the format of the show is both effective and rewarding. Clearly, the producers felt the need to make a splash once Steve Carell announced his departure, so they pulled out all the stops (another idiom that’s origin is still unclear to me) and brought in a heavy artillery of celebrities. Now that the transition is fully in place, hopefully the Hollywood noise will subside, and the focus can once again be on the people who put Scranton, Pennsylvania on the map in the first place. I can only hope that future episodes are as consistently funny as this one was, but I won’t count my chickens before they hatch.
Kelly – “You want to just let him die, you scumbag?”
Meredith – “We’re looking at one suicide and one weird sex thing.”
Dwight – @Jim “I know what you’d do with the money. “Hey Pam, let’s buy expensive bathrobes and hug.”
Jim – “I’m a barista in your fantasy?”
Meredith – “Get. A. Divorce.”
Darryl – “Hide is investing in an energy drink for Asian homosexuals.”
Darryl – “Who gets a soy allergy at 35? And why is soy in everything?”
Andy – “Does anyone get distracted easily by bubble wrap?”
Darryl – “My future is not going to be determined by seven little white lotto balls. It’s going to be determined by two big black balls. I control my destiny. I do.”
Jim – “Senor Loadenstein.”
Toby – “I would spend a lot of time launching my true crime podcast, The Flenderson Files.”