On ''The Office,'' when Andy becomes too much to bear, Michael seeks out his favorite sycophant at Staples; meanwhile, the gang welcomes back Oscar

By Abby West
January 19, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
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”The Office”: Dwight is vindicated

I know I watch a lot of TV and that I really get into my shows. But last night I had such a moment of pure satisfaction watching Michael call Andy out on his BS that I sort of scared myself. Tell me you had it too!

Haven’t you all worked with someone you knew was an idiot (maybe not quite as bad as Andy) — a person who somehow kept succeeding while you went batty trying to understand why? And haven’t you just prayed for the day they’d stop being rewarded for their idiocy? Well, thanks to his extremely annoying behavior and rage issues, Andy’s day finally came. And oh, how sweet it was.

We knew that losing Dwight would upset the delicate ecosystem of the Scranton office, but little did we know how much. The best line of the night came early on from Jim, as Andy went into overdrive with the ringtone antics (yikes!): ”I miss Dwight. Congratulations, Universe. You win.” Better the devil you know, right, Jim? And once again, the writers emphasized the fact that as hard to believe as it is, Dwight is a master salesman (”Give me something hard to sell,” he told his new boss at Staples), as his absence left his former coworkers picking up a lot of his load.

Andy’s sucking up to Michael (following him to the bathroom, hanging out in his office while playing with his toys) completely backfired — he annoyed the bejesus out of him instead. This mostly serious and subdued Michael, who has been in residence for the last two episodes, is a little scary. The disgusted, and maybe a little fearful, looks that he gave Andy clued us in that Andy’s obvious brown-nosing wasn’t cutting it. I guffawed as Michael hid behind his office door from Andy, who was scouring the office for him trying to get some ”face time with the boss.” How fitting that Michael, king of obliviousness, mused, ”I don’t understand how someone could have so little self-awareness.” (BTW: Can you believe he referenced Marv Albert’s troubled past? Just when Marv thought we’d all forgotten…)

Now I’m not copping to liking Angela or anything, but as always actress Angela Kinsey brought wonderful contradictions to her prickly office priss as she tearfully apologized to the returning Oscar (sort of), winningly confessed to Michael that Dwight went to New York to help her turn papers in on time, and then venomously turned on Andy. She was bereft without Dwight in the office, wallowing in her sorrow alongside Michael in the break room. And her pleasure later at having Dwight back in the office was almost endearing, with a nice hint of creepiness.

Plus, I gotta love her this week because it was her confession that led Michael to go to his true love, Dwight. For one hot second when Michael walked into the Staples and stalked the aisles in search of Dwight, I totally had an Officer and a Gentleman flashback. (I wouldn’t have put it past the writers to somehow finagle having Michael carry Dwight out. No, scratch that. Dwight carrying Michael out.) The blocking of their reunion scene, with the pallet of paper between them, was noticeably fitting. As crazy as it sounds, Michael’s epiphany truly summed up the big difference between Idiot Andy and Idiot Dwight: ”I don’t want somebody sucking up to me because they think I’m going to help their career,” said Michael. ”I want them sucking up to me because they genuinely love me.” Dwight completes him. But he may still have to do Michael’s laundry.

Pam and Jim acted as a well-oiled machine as they pulled off the prank that finally pushed Andy over the edge. Who knew something as simple as throwing Andy’s cell phone, with its annoying ”Rockin’ Robin” ringtone, up into the ceiling would be enough to trigger that kind of ”overreaction”? (Although I guess we did see shades of that in Stamford, when Jim pulled the stapler-in-Jell-O prank and Andy started raging…)

I’d never have imagined that the Pam/Jim/Karen triangle would be so skillfully kept as the subplot it should be. It is as much due to the light touches of the three actors as to the writers. Karen’s furtive looks at Pam and Jim as they interacted during the prank spoke volumes. And the short, quiet moment she shared with Jim as he confessed with a simple ”Yes” that he still had feelings for Pam might as well have been blared on loudspeakers. It’s refreshing that Jim and Karen have mostly been so mature and honest, but that’s a sure sign that the relationship will devolve, because the setup for the success for most long-term TV romances requires miscommunication and no confrontation.

It was really nice to have Oscar back in the office from his ”gaycation” (good one, Kevin), with Michael once again ready to offend any and all of his sensibilities. It was vintage Michael to make Oscar’s return party all about his ”Mexicanity,” complete with piñata but without the burros. And it was vintage Oscar to just accept the fact that the returning Dwight would get to break Oscar’s piñata.

Again, no Creed.

I remember some of your frustration after the Staples shredder episode. So how did you guys feel about the Staples presence in this one? Did it seem like a more natural fit to you? How much more annoying do you think Ryan will get? And who else thought that Andy would have been fired by the end of the episode?

Jim, Pam, Michael, Dwight and the rest of the Dunder-Mifflin employees hold down the Scranton branch
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