Officers! It has been a long few months without our beloved Scrantonites, and a few things have changed: First, Ed Helms is now a superstar, thanks to The Hangover, and second, Ellie Kemper has been made a full-on cast member. Might there be a love connection in their characters’ futures? Stranger things have happened. Indeed, stranger things happen on the opening minutes of this episode. Let’s do this.

Parkour! Dwight, Michael, and Andy ran around the office shouting “parkour” and loosely imitating what Jim accurately described as “the Internet sensation of 2004.” (Recall this BBC commercial/viral hit.) As they shenaniganed around DMHQ, Dwight kicked open the door to the women’s bathroom to reveal Meredith spritzing herself with deodorant. I froze it to check that it was indeed deodorant, and it appeared to be.

Doo-doooo! Do-do-do-do-dooo, etc etc. Man, everyone looks so young in the credits.

A young woman brought Dwight some water, and two young dudes stood idly behind Pam. Turns out they’re the summer interns, the first in a while since Michael’s “Monica Lewinsky incident.” “He didn’t do anything sexual,” said Pam. “He just made far, far too many Monica Lewisnky jokes.” Cut to Meredith holding her entire body against the one with the glasses. Two Meredith moments and we’re not even three minutes in. Someone’s been reading my diary!

In the break room, chatter turns to interns Eric and Megan, who maybe have a love connection. “If they get married before I do, I’m going to kill myself,” Kelly announced, eerily convincingly. Michael felt left out of the office gossip mill, which is maybe the least surprising turn of events ever. That’s Michael’s entire M.O.

Jim and Pam told us that they haven’t told anyone about her “situation,” which Pam illustrated by pointing to her stomach and rolling her eyes. “I don’t want to walk down the aisle and have people whisper, ‘There goes the fancy whore,'” she said mock-seriously. “No, we want them to find out she’s a fancy whore when we’re good and ready,” Jim added. “Exactly.”*

Michael tried to comfort himself in his favorite way: by being better than Dwight. But it turned out Mr. Schrute had even more info about the budding intern romance — that they went on a “group date — perhaps thanks to his “low cheekbones.” Dwight then guessed that Phyllis weighs 247 pounds. You’d think someone with farm experience would be more accurate with things like that.

Michael confessionalized the…er, point I went for above: that he hates being left out. He’s terrified of being on the outside of an inside joke — we know from seasons’ past that even as a kid, he fantasized about having a family just so everyone would have to be his friend. “Being picked for a team and showing up and realizing the team doesn’t exist, or that the sport doesn’t exist. I shoulda know… poop ball?” Oh, lord. I half expected the sport to be jiggly ball.

Mori the other intern told Michael that they all ran into Stanley and his wife while on their intern-love outing. So of course, Michael seized on the shred of info and tried his hand at gossiping, only to be sternly told by Phyllis to “check [his] facts.” Not only was Stanley’s wife out of town, but “Stanley hates crowds, kids, and music.” Without meaning to, Michael had in fact stumbled on a juicy tidbit: Stanley was with someone, and they were making out. He surmised that Stanley was having an affair, and set off to tell everyone and his or her mom.

Michael tried to get Kevin to guess the gossip via the worst/best game of hangman in recent history.

Jim scolded Michael for his malicious gossip ways — “You might be ruining his life” — so Michael decided to confront Stanley by announcing that it was “time to stop being polite and start getting real.” Bwahahaha. To Michael’s — and my — enormous surprise, Stanley fessed up to philandering and begged Michael not to say anything. (The first time through, I completely and fully believed Stanley was lying right here: It seemed totally within character for him to just go along with Michael’s crazy idea, just to get the boss off his back. Ah, well. Fidelity can be a pickle.)

“How do you untell something?” Michael mused. He settled on just spreading as many fake rumors as possible. Once this scheme went into place, it was pretty clear where everything was headed — what’s that line? if there’s a secret pregnancy in act one, there’s going to be a reveal of that pregnancy in act three, and someone gets shot? I think that’s it. He tells Erin that Kelly is anorexic, Kelly that Erin is a bad employee and that Andy is gay, and Meredith that Pam is pregnant.

Kevin laughed at Andy making tea and asked if he liked it “as much as he like[d] guys’ butts,” which was especially hilarious because of Brian Baumgartner’s giggly delivery. Kevin’s a weirdly clutch player in a lot of Office goings on; he’s rarely the focus of the main narrative, but he’s frequently instructive about the trajectory of the episode. (See: Holly believing that he’s developmentally disabled, or him spilling the chili on the floor.) Andy was livid that Kevin questioned his sexuality, particularly because this is a rumor that followed Andy most of his life. In fact, it’s so persistent a rumor Andy questioned it himself and sought Oscar’s begrudging advice via a “scenario” about making out with Brad Pitt.

Off to the intern send-off party. Dwight gave a sexist and weird pep talk, and Andy congratulated Jim on the impending “baby Tuna.” The rest of the rumors surfaced: that Creed has asthma, Oscar is the voice of the Taco Bell dog, and Kevin has another person inside of him, working him with controls, which has to be the coolest rumor ever spread about him. The Dunder-Mifflinites may be slow on the uptake, but they put this one together, and confronted Michael with his bad behavior, at which point he revealed that only one of the rumors was true. One of these days, Jenna Fischer is going to get the Emmy recognition she deserves, because her sudden knowing glance here told more story than 10 minutes worth of narrative could. (Also, Pam and Jim have awesome brainphone.) Jim took the bullet for Stanley and admitted that he and Pam are going to be parents. “I knew it,” Kevin swore, “because Pam’s breasts seemed a tiny bit bigger.” They presented a sonogram for proof.

On the run-out, Michael tried to guilt trip Jim and Pam for not telling him sooner, Jim and Pam save Michael from telling Stanley’s wife about the affair, but she found out anyway, and Stanley destroyed Michael’s car.

Best lines of the night

Michael: “It’s like the end of Spartacus. I have seen that movie half a dozen times, and I still don’t know who the real Spartacus is. And that is what makes that movie a classic whodunnit.”

Erin: I’m so glad you’re eating. Kelly: Me too!

Creed: Who’s the OB/GYN?

Ryan: She’s gonna stretch.

“Gossip” had some terrific moments, but I don’t know that I’d put it on my all-time great episodes list. What did you think, PopWatchers?

Photo credit: Chris Haston/NBC

*Update So, it turns out the version that NBC aired was slightly different than the version sent out to press. I’m guessing the scenes/stray lines that made it into the screener episode will wind up on the DVDs, so I’m going to leave the recap as-is (you know, for posterity). As far as I can tell, there weren’t major differences, and I really liked that “fancy whore” line and am glad I got to share it with all of you.

Episode Recaps

Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)

The Office

The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

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