TV RECAP: ‘The Office: Secretary’s Day’

Erin’s adorableness and innocent naivete has been a bright spot all this season, but, long-standing crush aside, I didn’t think it’d be enough to carry the bulk of an episode. Fortunately, I was wrong, because “Secretary’s Day” looks behind Erin’s cheerfully upbeat child to reveal her increasingly disturbing and traumatic past—and finds comedy gold!

The episode opens with the gang huddled around Oscar’s computer to watch a Sesame Street clip of Cookie Monster redubbed with Kevin’s voice (a comparison long overdue).  Like a cruel preschool nickname, it takes off, and pretty soon the entire office is united in torturing Kevin with their best and worst Cookie Monster impersonations. (And it’s a credit to the show that the funniest part for regular viewers is not the actual clip itself but the fact that Angela loves it.)

Kevin files a complaint with the weasely new guy Gabe, who sees it as an opportunity for him to assert whatever authority he has by cracking down on the harassment (what is his position anyway? I thought he was the tech guy, too). His stern(?) warning (??) goes ignored, so Gabe tries to lower the boom (???) by suspending Jim, Pam, and Dwight without pay…which he later finds is beyond his authority(!).

But the standout segment is the actual Secretary’s Day celebration. Andy’s overboard courting of secretary Erin makes Secretary’s Day the perfect opportunity to fling woo, which includes borderline-bullying the office into joining in the celebration and setting up a creepy lunch date with the boss (creepy in that Erin and Andy seem to regard it as a mutual fantasy). At lunch, Michael lets it slip about Andy’s previous engagement to Angela, which sends Erin into what could euphemistically be described as “an episode,” and prompts her to lash out like a rabid dog to the rest of the office and Andy in delicious particular.

Summary does not give the performance credit—it has to be seen to be rightfully enjoyed—so I won’t go on. But it’s a superb character turn that leaves you hoping for a future full-on Shelly-Winters Freakout.

In all, an excellent episode that, like the best of episodes, delves into the show’s ever-richer growing characters. It also has the most memorable quotes of the season.

(And sorry for the generic image—let’s just say when you do a Google search for “the office secretary’s day” and leave the filter off, Ellie Kemper’s not among the lovely young ladies who turn up—and if that’s too subtle, just don’t try it at work.)

Highlights:

“Is that the program where all those puppets live in the barrio?”—Dwight on the Muppets

“I sent an e-mail blast, a text blast, good, old-fashioned talk blast, a snail-mail blast a week ago, and I send a stern reminder via fax at 7:00 this morning.”

“This is violent and offensive.”

“It’s a novelization of the movie Precious, Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire.”

This is like the Cadillac of breast pumps.

“It’s a little derivative.”

“Parodies are always derivative.”

“It’s not organic.”

I don’t think Angela’s ever pooped in her life.

…and, of course, Toby’s cameo.

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