For good or bad, you can never judge the quality of an Office episode by the cold open alone, since it tends to have little or nothing to do with the rest of the episode. Still, the image of Stanley struggling to do 26 pushups so he can go home early is funny, but the quiet voice in the crowd that says, “Alright, Papa Bear,” elevates it to the ranks of greatness—and I’m pleased to say that it does indeed set the tone for the rest of the show.
Like the best episodes, Happy Hour contains multiple plotlines as well as a few peeks into the lives of the supporting characters. This time it’s Oscar’s ongoing pursuit of warehouse-worker Matt. Unfortunately, Oscar’s been out of the game a little too long, and his idea of pitching woo is showing up to work early to exchange some quick words and sheepishly asking Darryl to invite his co-workers to an office-wide happy hour.
Oscar in turn invites the office out for an evening of fun and drinks to what appears to be a Chuck E. Cheese’s with booze. Jim tries to weasel out using his daughter as an excuse, but Pam, desperate for a night away from the baby, immediately takes Jim up on his half-hearted offer and invites a friend along as a possible hook up with Michael.
Meanwhile, Erin and Andy struggle with keeping their relationship a secret to avoid the drama that comes with office romances. Fearing their co-workers are on to them, they decide to avoid each other and eventually end up flirting with some of the other patrons, until Erin’s groping of a complete stranger’s leg (her concept of flirting is derived solely from television, isn’t that adorable?) gets Andy jealous.
Dwight, though still under contract to conceive a child with Angela, sees his former hookup Isabel and ultimately decides that her genes are better suited for the large (physically) family he plans to father.
And Michael’s Michael—going completely overboard when he realizes that he’s being set up. But in a nice twist, the scene he inevitably causes ends with him hitting it off with the bar’s manager. (“Have you read Lee Iacocca’s book? It’s a classic!” “Read it? I own it. But no, I haven’t read it.”)
The four main plots keep the episode moving and, save Jim and Pam’s, each one takes the story in some unexpected and very funny directions. Not to give too much away, but the writers’ ability to plausibly show Dwight as a ladies’ man who can pick up chicks through a round of Whack-A-Mole is nothing short of miraculous. Creed dominating the Dance Dance Revolution booth is another nice touch, and the ongoing self-destructing/reviving relationship continues to tickle.
However the standout performance is Brian Baumgartner’s Kevin, whose sexual naïveté has all the hilarity of an awkward 14-year-old boy in the looming body of a 30-something accountant. (And he, oddly, seems to be a perfect match for the equally naïve Erin, coming off as the innocent pretty girl just waiting to be taken advantage of—I can’t wait to see more of the complications that will arise from her pairing with Andy.)
Craig Robinson’s Darryl also shines dispensing unwanted-but-valuable advice to an overeager Oscar. And the stinger is just perfect.
You can be gay with Matt, just be straight with me.
“How’d you get so good at Whack-A-Mole?” “By whacking moles.”
Kevin “Waahing” into Pam’s chest.