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The Office recap: Conspiracy Theory

Dwight and Jim can’t accept their poor customer survey reports and go looking for the truth, while Jim realizes he’s got another threat to his happiness out there

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The Office

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Good evening, my little binder clips, and welcome back to your ongoing Office recap wonderland, where tonight’s episode came rushing in with more than enough energy to fill the void of quality left by last week’s naptime. This was vintage Office scriptwriting — lots of intricate, canny wordplay and intra-character dynamic layered thick as syrup on a Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity special at IHOP. So much to love (and rewatch!): the genius “microgement” sales-call three-way with Michael, Jim (a.k.a. “William M. Buttlicker,”) and Dwight; Pam and Jim in Bluetooth conversations that spilled over into the outside world; the slow build of Kelly’s coffee-mug-foreshadowed betrayal. Everything clicked tonight, and I ended the half-hour deeply satisfied.

Aside from missing Amy Ryan, that is, whose tragic departure was made all the more intense when I thought for a brief second that Michael and Holly really had gotten engaged, and she’d be forced to reappear at some point. Sadly, Michael was just lying to save face, though, oh my gosh, did it make his staff happy while it lasted. “Nothing can hurt you now!” Dwight crowed after socking his boss in the sternum. “You’re a man in love!” (Oh, Dwight. You of all people should know better. Hopefully, when Darryl digs into his pocket to cover Michael’s therapy co-pay, he can save a little change for you to at least buy some self-help paperbacks.) Despite the potential for a double wedding, Kelly’s purchase of a (white) bridesmaid’s dress, and a heartbreaking glimpse of Michael’s mommy issues (“I’m getting married.” “No you’re not.” “Whenever I’m getting married, you don’t believe me”), Michael’s subterfuge ended before the opening credits, leaving plenty of time for this evening’s main course: the annual customer service reviews.

Long story short, it’s Kelly’s dusky, exotic job each year to compile satisfaction surveys on each staff member, which Michael then uses to determine their Christmas bonuses. (“Kelly’s list” is not at all to be compared to Schindler’s List, insert inappropriate Hanukkah bonus joke here.) Jim especially needs that bonus at the moment, and not just because Pam has dropped mad coin on the world’s smallest Bluetooth earpieces so they can secretly stay on the phone all day. He’s also trying to buy his parents’ house, presumably so he and Pam can move in. (“If history tells us anything,” Jim topically pointed out, “it’s you can’t go wrong buying a house you can’t afford.”) In a shocking turn of events, however, the most normal dude at Dunder Mifflin got poopy scores, deemed “smug” (possibly “smudge”) and “arrogant” in his file. It was a negative review matched only by the “abrasive and distasteful” assessment of Dwight, which the man in the spicy brown mustard shirt initially assumed was a joke — but no one was laughing. Given that the one thing we know about Dwight (besides his fondness for law enforcement) is that he’s a weirdly excellent salesman, I had to join him in assuming there was some sort of sabotage afoot.

NEXT: Tenting