I notice everyone in this episode has a coprophagic grimace stained across their cheeks in the interviews, like each actor is trying desperately not to laugh. And that’s totally appropriate for this episode, which is intimidating to write about because it’s not your typical Office but has more great moments than any other installment I can think of. The number of plotlines alone is worthy of the Venture Bros. and there’s so much going on and so many directions the episode takes that it’s just staggering.
Right when you think you know what’s going to happen next, some other bizarre new story will be thrust in. The cold opening where Toby begins a presentation on Radon Kits and then gradually evolves from a mean-spirited comment from Michael into the rest of the office upbraiding Michael and ends with Dwight showing how to kill three people shifts so often, I was wondering if I had missed the actual cold open and gone straight into the episode.
Following last week’s reveal that Michael was dating a married woman, the office is on lock-down mode following the breakup (apparently there’s an entire office-wide procedure for when this happens, and clearly this has happened before…many, many, many times). But when Michael arrives, he’s oddly cheerful, and Pam loses it, asking her boss directly if he’s still dating a married woman, which he confirms, and through a series of ill decisions, decides to team up with Andy to spy on Donna’s husband.
Usually that sort of escapade would involve Dwight, but he’s busy trying to settle his and Angela’s disputed contract to produce a child—for which they’ve now brought in a mediator (and this seems to be the biggest step over the line of bringing your personal life into work, as the actual mediation is held in the conference room). Angela still wants to go through with it, and threatens to take Dwight’s farm if he doesn’t go through with it. And she has him by the unmentionables because the mediator ultimately declares the contract to be valid, but due to the nature of their arrangement, it skirts “dangerously close to prostitution,” so the two are at somewhat of an impasse.
Next, Jim and Pam have been caught sleeping on the job by Gabe, who gives a long and narcosis-inducing lecture that ends with them nearly nodding off. Fortunately, they discover that Darryl operates an underground sleeping den in the warehouse.
Michael and Andy run recon at the local ballfield, where Donna’s husband works as a high-school baseball coach. After meeting his cuckold, Michael returns to the office feeling somewhat like James Bond. However the rest of the office sternly disapproves with his take-what-he-wants attitude…save for Ryan, who gets his own little moment that’s so abrupt and yet so perfect, it was my favorite moment of the entire fine episode.
Back to Dwight and Angela (yeah, we’re still not done…but close). Eventually they reach a decision to waive the $30,000 damage fee Dwight will have to pay so long as he agrees to five sexual encounters “seen through to completion” with Angela—which in turn leads to him trying to lower his sperm count by doing horrible things to his unmentionables…all over the office. And props to Rainn Wilson’s willingness to do anything that’s required for the character.
Finally, the episode ends with the development of another plot introduced with the flaming printers in last week’s episode (and did anyone else think it was going to follow up on the looming presence of the Scranton strangler?).
In all, an amazing episode that took so many directions and chances and paid off fantastically. The only lull is Michael and Andy’s trip to the ballfield, but who cares? This episode had balls (which seemed to be the dominant theme)—the writing was especially edgy in veering off on so many tangents and finishing with a very satisfying Sienfeldian tie-in.
I especially like when The Office explores the back-room supporting characters’ and the subculture that exists there—Darryl’s underground sleep den is a wonderful reminder of The Office’s rich characters. The Chump has something for everyone and ranks among the series’ best.
“Toby’s been placing Radon Kits around here like he owns the place.”
Andy’s fist-pump at getting to be bin Laden.
“Nice tie or something.”
“Your bed has lumps” “Those lumps are cats.”
“We’re gay for baseball.”
Darryl operates an underground sleeping den!
Pam’s emphasis on “dough” reminds you of how exquisite an actress Jenna Fischer is.