7
Oct
2011
The Office: Season 8, Episode 3
Lotto
Michael Richardson
I've spent the last two wrap-ups of The Office mostly complaining, and that's the wrong attitude. There are things the show does extremely well, and this episode might have captured them all: Dwight and Jim riffing, check. Anything involving Craig Robinson, check. Slapstick humor involving Kevin, a check I don't respect myself for. Joy for me, an episode of the Office I actually enjoyed. It's a dream come true.

Speaking of dreams, that's our unifying theme in tonight's episode (I'm not proud of that segue, for the record). Our friends in the warehouse just hit the lottery, and after a run through the office replete with war-whoops, mooning and carrying off Meredith like Viking raiders for the upstairs suckers who they leave behind. And for a business that sells real, physical objects, people who move physical objects are apparently needed to get one thing to another place (as an Internet writer, I have transcended my physical needs and absorbed myself in the ether). And for Phyllis' big client to get their timely delivery, they need to be replaced. Enter Darryl, whose normal competence is obstructed by the fact that his old warehouse friends have left him behind now that he is an upstairs manger.

Darryl and Andy have always had good on-screen chemistry, and this relationship might be the reason this episode is so compelling. Andy's growing self-assurance and Darryl's sudden loss of confidence make for a funny story, but the actors are willing to take the joke as far as it will. Darryl's joke about his weight gain could be self-pitying, but Craig Robinson is able to infuse these lines with an absurd seriousness. The saddest part of his little rant: a late developing soy allergy. "Who gets a soy allergy at 35?" he asks the camera. "And why is soy in everything." And by the end, he's begging to be fired. Andy's incomprehension of the entire episode remains endearing, and Ed Helms can convey comedy with his face extremely well when he commits. Hopefully the show will give him a bit more range as the season goes on, to really show what he can do beyond a one-dimensional character. But tonight's episode at least raises the stakes on their relationship, and hints at the underlying conflict below the shake-up at the office.

Darryl's inaction forces people from the upstairs to work downstairs - namely Jim, Dwight, Kevin and Erin. I won't say that this was the most compelling of stories, but when Dwight and Jim work together on a project the story tends to go way further than when they're just bickering. They are the Mario and Bowser of television: sometimes you have to put aside your differences and just go go-karting. Or, in this case, grease up the floor and ride on some boxes. I almost forgot that this whole plot revolved around people not wanting to carry a box from one place to another. Not exactly thrilling as a concept, but executed nicely.

The best moments in tonight's episodes were the little things: the grad student interviewing to work in the warehouse for his work on "the decline of the American blue-collar workforce," the applicant who technically doesn't really have a hearing problem, Oscar explaining who had the best body in all of Scranton. And because of these little things, well, my faith in the show has been restored a little bit. There's a bit of life still in this old bird. It feels like winning the lottery.


Grade:B+

Miscellaneous:

What did y'all think of the cold open? I typically love when Oscar get's too haughty for his own good, and the shot of him "repairing" the window instead of fostering what turns out to be a vicious dog was a fun twist. But what I don't get is if the sunroof was open for Dwight to pour water in, then what was the fucking problem to begin with. Seriously, they couldn't even get the cold open to work cohesively, and it's a three-minute bit.

"Hey hey hey, Vick did his time."

Meredith chanting "Get a divorce! Get a divorce!" got me for some reason.

Andy, doing a Mr. T impression: "I feel sympathy for the jerks forced to listen to this all day."



Tags: The Office
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