, worthwhile. So job well done, Mr. Carell — and really well done for writing a very moving scene to close the episode as well.

(Spoilers coming, and sorry, I don’t have any cobbler.)

It probably helps that Carell — who’s out walking pickets with his fellow writers — penned this episode himself. But he also pulled off his man-in-the-wild stuff really well. You would think that Michael Scott needs an audience to be funny, but all it really takes is a video camera.

Michael takes his wilderness trip in response to being left off the guest list for a retreat Ryan held for a few other branch managers. Worse still, Ryan invited Toby along, a fact that the rest of the office takes no small delight in discussing in Michael’s presence. So, of course, Michael has to take a trip of his own, Survivorman style, carrying nothing but a knife, a roll of duct tape and that camera into the "vast Pennsylvania wilderness."

As he explains, he’s simulating a disaster — namely, that Dwight is a serial killer who’s taking him in the woods and leaving him for dead. "No," Dwight protests, "I’d never leave you for dead, you’d never escape. … I’d make sure you were dead, then I’d remove your teeth and cut off your fingertips so you couldn’t be identified, and they’d call me the Overkill Killer." Somehow, Rainn Wilson makes that funny.

If Michael does have any moments of self-examination out there, he keeps them to himself (I don’t think shouting "Jan has plastic boobs!" and "I … have … hemorrhoids!" really counts). Instead he keeps up some rather nonsensical patter about his various survival tactics, from cutting his pant legs off when it’s warm to taping them back on later to (tee hee) pitching his pants tent when he needs shelter.

Back at the office, meanwhile, Jim is in charge, and he proceeds to make a royal mess of the office birthday celebration. I really liked how Jim was completely oblivious to the festering resentment of his plan to consolidate the parties, and how Pam let him hang himself, knowing full well she didn’t need to take any collateral damage.

Apparently not just any idiot can be a Dunder Mifflin regional manager; no, it would seem that Michael is a special kind of idiot, who knows what it takes to keep people happy (occasionally, anyway) — and it’s not just three different kinds of cake and some mushroom caps.

For all that (and we’ll do the usual bullet points of funny stuff in a moment), what really made the episode was Jim and Michael’s talk after Dwight saved Michael from the poison mushrooms and brought him back to the office.

Michael shakes his head over Jim’s "rookie mistake" of trying to combine the birthday parties. "Don’t worry," he tells Jim, "in 10 years, you’ll figure it out."

"I don’t know if I’ll be here in 10 years," Jim replies.

"That’s what I said." The look that passes over Jim’s face is priceless — sad and frightened and bemused all at once. And, of course, Michael follows with "That’s what she said." The whole sequence was great, maybe the best and most touching scene on The Office this season.

Other little presents from tonight’s episode:

  • The conclusion of that little talk. Jim: "That’s what who said?" Michael: "I never know, I just say it. … I say stuff like that to lighten the tension, when things sort of get hard." Jim: "That’s what she said." Michael: "Nice!"
  • Dwight, explaining why he hides weapons around the office: "It’s better to be hurt by someone you know, accidentally, than by a stranger, on purpose."
  • Oscar: "Why don’t you just have an apple?" Stanley: "Why don’t you mind your business?"
  • "Tell her it’s for Creed. She’ll know what that means." Also, the shot of Creed tearing into his cobbler, straight from the pan, at episode’s end.
  • More scary Dwight: "Nothing to worry about — I’m just using the scope" on his rifle to watch Michael. "The safety is [pause, look down, click] on."
  • If you can think of better reasons to become civilized than "warmth, and clothing, and television, and hamburgers, and to walk upright, and have a soft futon at the end of the day," I’d sure like to hear them.

What did you think of this Carell-penned Office? Is Jim doomed to become Michael, or can he escape?

Posted by:Rick Porter