I get wary when The Office tends to fall back on material that’s been endlessly mined before—guest stars, Michael being an idiot, the threat of a new manager coming to make sweeping changes, romances that ultimately go nowhere—on the one hand, a lot of that stuff made The Office great (and granted you can’t go for six seasons without repeating some things), on the other, most of the rehashes this season fell splatastically flat.
But not tonight.
Call me a pessimist, but I never expected a lackluster season like this to deliver an episode so consistently laugh-out-loud funny as “Manager and Salesman”—it’s among the series’ best and may be in the running for highest number of laughs.
The CEO from Sabre (Kathy Bates in the show’s best cameo since David Koechner [and whatever happened to him?]) drops by to check in on the Dunder-Mifflin branch but mainly to make some changes, namely consolidating Michael and Jim’s jobs into one and setting the two in competition for the manager position…until they discover there’s no cap on sales commissions, leading to a similar power struggle over the salesman position.
That in itself is pretty funny, but Bates’ Jo Bennett, an aggressive Southern business woman (who, despite her divorce, still refers to herself as “Mrs. Bennett” simply to aggravate her ex’s girlfriend) hits the ground with the kind of character depth it takes several seasons worth to craft—and she fits in beautifully, passing out copies of her autobiography with the new employees’ handbook and bringing her two hulking Great Dane/Dalmatians (Great Dals? Danematians?) into work with her.
It should without saying, too, that they take an immediate interest in Andy’s crotch, something Bennett cheerfully notes as “flattering.”
Meanwhile Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and Andy plans to make his final run to win the heart of Erin with a romantic, pheromone-enriched card. But not to make his come-on too obvious, he gives Valentines to the entire staff, including Kellie, who becomes convinced that Andy’s in love with her.
And rounding out the episode is another glimpse of Dwight and Ryan’s unholy alliance to bring Jim down. Their nefarious plan involved little more than shaking down the tech guy for Jim’s password. (And I do like how their schemes typically hurt everyone but Jim.)
Nice Olympi-centric cold open.
“Truman Capote and I slept with three of the same men”
“Aw! A bird and a dog!”
“Yeah, that’s Snoopy and Woodstock…”
“You named them?”
“What are you reading?”
“Oh, that’s my favorite ocean!”
Ryan’s scarf hits a new high in sartorial priss-icity.
Dwight and Ryan’s “not” threats.