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The Office recap: Life During Wartime

Michael and Dwight go head to head for clients and Michael reminds us all why he’s survived in the biz for so long

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The Office

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Hello again, Officers, and welcome to another recap of our beloved Scranton series. ”Heavy Competition” saw the Michael Scott Paper Company and Dunder Mifflin going head-to-head, with new alliances forming and old ones breaking. We got to see Michael at his best (mostly), Jim and Andy developing a bond of sorts — and most of all, we got to see Mr. Dwight Schrute turn against his beloved mentor. Holy smokes, I thought this episode was great: Funny, silly, but substantively grounded in what we know about these characters and our understanding that their world and our world are one and the same. Hear that? It was my satisfied sigh.

We began our noble voyage at TMSPC office, where Pam and Ryan appeared to have put aside at least some of their differences so they could collaborate on important work: throwing cheese puffs into each others’ mouths. The whole opening sequence, with increasingly elaborate puff-tossing antics, cracked me up, and I was deeply impressed with Michael’s over-the-shoulder toss into Ryan’s mouth. If that’s, like, CGI or something, I don’t want to know. It’s nice to see these three bonding, even if it isn’t strictly business-oriented; sitting in that tiny, dank office just hating each other wouldn’t be all that fun to watch.

Just when you think you’ve seen the last of the Andy-Angela’s ashes, here it came again: Andy was trying to sell Jim and Pam some of the wedding contracts he purchased when planning his ill-fated nuptials. In the first of several A+ moments from Ed Helms tonight, Andy proudly played a recording of his a capella group singing ”You Can Call Me Al,” and air-guitars (bass?) his way through his ”solo.” (Is it air guitar/bass if you’re pretending to play along to a part that’s being sung, which itself is pretending to be a guitar? Hm.) Sadly, Andy quotes Jim and Pam $9,000 for the a capella group’s performance.

Elsewhere, Dwight and Phyllis were debating the sartorial changes the Dunderheads have had to make under Charles’ rule: Dwight has abandoned his Andy Sipowitz–style short-sleeved shirts for a full-sleeve top, and boy was he not happy about it. ”It’s like a straight jacket!” he wails, flapping his arms feverishly and knocking over various items. Dwight and Phyllis don’t have a particularly established dynamic — does her beef with Angela make him like her or loathe her? — so it was refreshing to see them in this scene. It was also our first clue that tonight was all about new relationships; what happens when circumstances, and people, change?

”When Michael was in charge, this place was like the Roman Empire. And the Wild West. And war-torn Poland. And Poland. It was just a lot going on,” Dwight lamented. ”In that chaos, I soared.” Poor Dwight. (I’ll regret thinking that later in the episode, but at this moment…aw. He really does see himself as having ”soared” under Michael’s reign.)

A saddened Dwight headed out to the parking lot for a sorta clandestine meeting with Michael, where he handed his old boss some information about DM’s business. The faux-mob vibe of the scene hit even harder when we learn of Dwight’s betrayal later.

NEXT: Andy gives Jim a shoulder to lean on