Maybe it’s because a story about budget surpluses feels out of place these days, or maybe it’s because I had a screener copy of a brilliant 30 Rock episode that I watched earlier on Thursday, and The Office paled a little in comparison. Whatever the reason, I came out of this week’s episode kind of underwhelmed.
Walk 156 paces from the light red mailbox, then go till you hear the spoilers.
The A-story in "The Surplus" found Michael forced to do the thing he hates: make a decision that might upset some of the people in the office. Oscar has discovered that the Scranton branch has $4,300 left over in this year’s budget, money that needs to get spent by the end of the day lest it be deducted from next year’s budget.
A cold war then breaks out between various factions of the Dunder Mifflin crew, with Oscar leading the charge for a new copier and Pam, Stanley and others arguing for new chairs. Interestingly, though, Jim breaks with Pam on the issue. ("Look at the balls on you, man," Creed admiringly observes.) And while the little mind games they play in pressing their respective cases made for some of the episode’s better scenes, the story didn’t cover a whole lot of new ground.
We’ve seen how much Michael needs affirmation countless times over the life of the show, and watching Oscar, Jim and especially Pam play into that need gave us a couple good moments of cringy comedy (cf. Pam’s comments about Michael’s can). But the resolution — even with the closing talking head about Michael’s fur coat, bought with his nonexistent bonus — felt a little rushed and sitcommy.
The other thread, with Dwight continuing to make Andy’s path to the altar with Angela ever more difficult and manure-strewn, had a few sparkling moments as well — notably Andy’s talking head about it being Schrute Farms or bust for the ceremony: "I’ve looked at 12 venues, I’ve lost eight deposits, and I’ve seen Angela naked zero times. I am not losing another deposit."
But you sort of knew, didn’t you, that the moment they walked into the (admittedly quite lovely) chapel and Dwight informed them that the minister didn’t speak English, that Dwight was up to something devious. And so he was, overplaying his hand with Angela and actually getting himself married to her — and having Andy sign the certificate as a witness.
At least Angela recognizes the deception for what it is — which is to say, really uncool. She throws his twine ring back at him and the next day proceeds to lay a big, sloppy kiss on Andy (who has a mouthful of tuna sandwich) before telling him she has a "legal issue" to deal with. After all of Angela’s callousness toward Andy recently, it was good to see her at least recognize that’s no way to do the poor sap.
Other notes from "The Surplus":
- Good to see that even though they’re engaged and in love, Jim and Pam still haven’t lost the competitive streak that’s sometimes marked their relationship. Pam’s "I think you should reconsider" moment in the break room would have made me shudder, too, had I been on the receiving end. Good to see Jim give it back to her at the end, asking her to make three — no, four — copies.
- We’ve established this season that Kevin’s not "slow," but he is occasionally slow on the uptake. His marveling at Michael’s mathematical skills — "What’s 394 times 5,912?" — was a quintessential Kevin moment.
- As we were at Schrute Farms this week, we had to have a Mose sighting. And there he was, tossing a ball around in the background with Andy.
- Angela: "My biggest concern is that there’s only one bathroom." Dwight: "We’ll dig a trench. As long as it’s downstream from the well, I don’t see a problem." Angela: "Nana Mimi cannot squat." Dwight: "We’re going to put out stumps. Come on." Uh — ick.
- And remember kids, never buy a fur coat with a credit card until you’re sure you have the money for it.
What did you think of this week’s Office? Did Michael’s obsessive need to be liked rub you the wrong way a little bit?