Michael gets smart, Pam gets sad, and Dwight gets really, really stingy
Credit: Dean Hendler/NBC
Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)
S7 E10
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Could The Office be The Office in a different office? That was just one of the questions posed in “China,” which also wondered what would happen if Michael suddenly out-smarted Oscar, whether Koreans or whites ran better salons and dry cleaners, and how Dwight would cope with suddenly growing half a heart. Questions, you guys! Questions.

We opened with Dwight attempting to monkeygrab a pencil — that’s a term I have to credit to My Name Is Earl — which is basically my nightmare. Contact with other people’s feet bothers me the way contact with someone else’s vomit might bother other people: I just…can’t take it. So this scene caused me great distress (my notes here: “nononononononooooooo”), but even through my anguish I can admit that Dwight trying to toe-drink the coffee was a hilarious gag. Speaking of gagging, the foot-high five traumatized me and I don’t know if I’ll ever recover.

Later, Michael read an old Newsweek about China — the article appears to be from five years ago, but I couldn’t find the cover he was holding up, despite searching for way too long. Suddenly, he knew more about China than Oscar, which impressed everyone at DMHQ, because Oscar’s office nickname was “Actually.” Heh.

Elsewhere, Andy and Darryl were squabbling over how much texting is too much; for Andy, every thought was worth expressing to his new BFF. For Darryl…well, he preferred texting his ladypals to BTB.

Dwight’s quest to cut costs at the building resulted in goofy motion sensors that shut the lights off (true story: we have this here at Entertainment Weekly! Sometimes, if you sit too still/intently in your office, your lights will go off. Shout out?). He had his lackey Nate separate the plies of toilet paper to make two rolls from one. He even sold the building as advertising space, until it was draped in an ad with a gigantic cockroach on it. As office coordinator, Pam tried to intervene, even making up a fake space that Dunder-Mifflin could move to when their lease was up, and she finally confessed to Jim she was “afraid to fail” at yet another endeavor. Dwight, insisting that he wasn’t “motivated by compassion,” acquiesced to Pam’s demands after overhearing her conversation with Jim. Aw?

++ “I’m sorry, is that not good enough for your anus?” — Dwight

++ Erin worrying that everyone is trying to kill her

++ Andy mumbling “oh my God, she’s so cute, she looks like both of you” when Pam offered to show him pictures

++ Creed being able to understand, but not speak, pirate code

++ That ply-separating contraption was a masterpiece. Whoever designed and fabricated that thing needs a gold star, right now. Amazing!

“China” just felt a little lost, like it couldn’t quite decide what it was about. I hope the Michael-gets-smart-except-not storyline — which ends in a rousing speech about America and friendship — was some kind of elaborate political commentary, but I don’t actually think it was. And if Creed, Ryan, Kelly, Phyllis, Angela, and Gabe are only going to get one line each, why even bother putting them in the episode?

What did you think, Officers? Will you be separating the plies of your toilet paper now? Or are you motivated by compassion?

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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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