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'The Office' recap: Do not test my politeness

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“Double Date” brought an end to the Michael/Helene love story, which was obviously not going to last but I thought would be around for at least a few more episodes, but we saw another relationship bloom and grow: Dwight and Andy’s. Oh, those two. Punching, naked photos, and a taco lunch ahead, Officers!

It’s another beautiful (?) day in Scranton, and Dwight brought bagels — and a pumpernickel one just for Stanley — so the Dunder-Mifflinites would all “owe” him one in his quest to depose Jim. He also got off one of the best lines of the season: “Fish sticks are not an aphrodisiac. You’re thinking of deer penis.” Truer words, etc etc.

Michael continued to brag about his relationship with Helene, particularly because it was her birthday, and they were having lunch with Pam and Jim. “There’s no way out,” sighed Pam, even as she tried to sneak out of it with a hokey fake phone call. And who could blame her? This lunch was obviously going to be a level of fresh hell both for them and for us. Sure, there was the predictable level of awkwardness, but things got especially tense and strange when Michael found out that Helene is a cool 58 years old. “The only time you should care about a woman’s age is if she’s too young for you,” he confessionalized, trying to convince himself. “I’m not robbing the cradle,” he said. “If anything I’m robbing the grave.” Yeowch. The Helene-is-old train made its next stop at the “grandma vs. nana” nomenclature discussion, and Michael wigged out even more.

Back at DMHQ, Dwight and Andy “helped” each other and did “favors” for one another: Dwight brought breakfast, so Andy bought everyone a taco lunch. (Bagels and tacos in one day? Best day ever!) Dwight cleaned the office freezer, so Andy shined Dwight’s briefcase. They tidied each other up, offered each other comical advice, and so on. These two are so obsessed with protocol that they can’t resist the siren song of etiquette. “Do not test my politeness,” Andy reminded us. Oh, we won’t.

As always with The Office, the more Michael boasts, the harder he falls. This week, it was the childish scrapbook he made for Helene for her birthday, complete with lines from a Shel Silverstein poem. The whole lunch was awkward, but the pages of this scrapbook almost turned my stomach: Michael is so, so pathetic. Also, paging Dr. Mommy Issues.

Michael decided that Helene wasn’t right for him after all and the time to tell her was right then, as they were finishing birthday cake. He tried to pin it on Pam, but she dodged, and so he had to launch into the full-on dumping spiel. Helene needs someone who gets her references, he said. “Who is Kafka-esque? I don’t know him,” he bumbled. He wants kids, a life that includes bungee jumping and going to Italy — and Helene’s sort of past that phase in her life. Oof. The best part of this whole scene is Jim and Pam’s reactions, going from confusion to disbelief to oh-no-what-now.

Back at the office, Michael offered Pam a raise — bribe — and jokingly offers to let her hit him, which she way too readily accepts. “After work. In the parking lot. In front of everyone,” she said, slowly smiling. “As hard as I can.”

It’s the threat heard round the office: Ryan and Kelly rushed in to see if Michael was scared (“never”), Toby tried to make sure it would happen off company property and offered some punching advice, and Kelly made popcorn. It seemed for a moment that Pam wouldn’t go through with it, but after Michael says that Helene came on to him, Pam whips around and slaps him as hard as she can. “Holy crap,” said Phyllis, for all of us.

Michael later told the camera that right before the hit, his whole life flashed before his eyes, and he liked what he saw: “I have four kids, I have a hover car and a hover house, and my wife is a runner, and it shows. and Pam and Jim are my best friends, and our kids play together, and I’m happy, and rich, and I never die.”

“Double Date” had some awesome lines, but I wished the A story and B story had overlapped or at least reflected each other a little more, plus the Great Slap of Oh Nine could have been an episode unto itself instead of tacked on at the end of this one. I love Dwight and Andy, though I was surprised that Angela didn’t come up at all in their one-upsmanship, but again, where did their little routine go?

Other highlights:

++ Dwight: “Oh right, you’re a woman and need to refuse food the first time.”

++ Ryan has a naked photo of Kelly

++ “What if Dwight dies and I still owe him something? That is a recipe for a ghost!” Andy is the best.

++ Jim grabbing the phone and hanging it up was hilarious. “Hello? Well that’s great.”

++ Jim: “Feel better?” Pam: “No, you were right.” Aaaargh, that killed me.

PopWatchers, it’s time to start the Bring Back Holly campaign in earnest. What’d you think of “Double Date”?