Michael does a Dilbert, fake-firing Stanley, and Ryan does one, too, really putting Jim on probation
Credit: Justin Lubin
Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)
S4 E12
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First off, I’m gonna thank y’all for the flogging you gave me two weeks ago over my comments about Jim and the ring. You’ll be happy to know that the new one you ripped me is working just fine, and after all the therapy and tequila shots in my eyes, I think I may get over it. Perhaps I deserved it — especially considering that after reading The Office blog I wrote, my boyfriend surreptitiously hopped the train to Zales in New Jersey to return the engagement diamond he’d spent one month’s salary on. Just kidding. No, seriously, I type this now through a mask of tears.

But I digress. Let us make some peace, okay? What if I promise to never, ever, mention Ricky Gervais again (or to mention not mentioning Ricky Gervais), to keep the actual recapping to a minimum, and to be so f—ing funny that Rodney Dangerfield retires in my honor. (Wait…that last bit doesn’t really work.) I just want you to know that I do love the show, a lot— but not unconditionally. That’s something I’m saving for my unborn children, my not-yet-adopted kittens, my grandma, and my fish. I will have an (albeit poorly formed) opinion once in a while. And as the saying goes, opinions are like arseholes, everybody’s got one (except for me, I now have two) and they all — say it with me now — stink. So on to last night’s show as I shake in trepidation. You guys are a tough crowd (kinda like Stanley).

If I had only a few words to describe it, I’d say this particular episode was about lashing out: Stanley at Michael, Dwight at Andy, Ryan and Toby at Jim. First off, Ryan’s Philadelphia Eagles joke? Not very funny. Isn’t there some rule about mocking another man’s losing team? Especially in the off-season? (Speaking of, did anyone notice Dwight’s Yankees mug? Maybe it’s made a previous appearance and I just picked up on it — our new HDTV is opening up all-new worlds of detail. My little bro tells me this has something to do with the Yankees Triple-A team playing near Scranton and that it goes along with Dwight’s Mike Lieberthal bobblehead. This is notsomething I would have figured out myself.)

Anyway, back to the point: We can assume Jim didn’t deserve a poor performance review from Ryan. Sure, he spends a lot of time bugging on Dwight and chatting up Pam, but he seems to be a good paper salesman (in real life, everybody knows that one person who never seems to be doing work but always seems to be getting it done). If Jim stunk at his job, he wouldn’t have been considered for the corporate position at the end of last year. So, Ryan is clearly picking on him. Is it because Jim criticized Dunder Mifflin Infinity to their superior, or is it because Ryan wanted Pam for himself? Or is it because Ryan is becoming so egomaniacal and mentally unhinged that he’s unfairly targeting Jim, someone who is much more well-adjusted, laid-back, better-suited for his job?

NEXT: Beets me

I see all this Ryan weirdness (the failure of DMI, the drug habit, the cruelty) as the writers’ way of getting him demoted back to the Scranton branch and showing up in more episodes. And who of us doesn’t want that? B.J. Novak, I have to say, has been at the top of his game this whole season: His writing is ace (his epis are my favorite) and his acting hilarious. Plus, he’s actually quite foxy in person (not that he isn’t on the show, but you’d be surprised). Then again, I like ’em short.

Since Toby (aka Mr. Human Resources) is on Ryan’s side (for obvious reasons), this could also bode poorly for Jim and Jim’s job security. Which also makes me think: Is this the flash point in the Jim-Pam relationship that we are leading up to? What if they have to consider a move? I know this would be great for both of them, but I always get this sneaking suspicion that she’s a little afraid of the great beyond, careerwise (and of really giving graphic design a go) and that she uses Dunder Mifflin as a crutch. Jim (unlike Roy) is so supportive and wonderful that he might not let her continue to do that, which may spell trouble if she doesn’t appreciate it!

Next, there’s Dwight and Andy. Okay, dead cat aside, I ached for Dwight as he watched Andy and Angela giddily play Mad Libs. What I can’t figure out is if their coupledom is supposed to be genuine (i.e., they do really enjoy each other’s company) or forced (they don’t belong together at all). If anything, Andy does indulge sides of Angela that Dwight never did (her cats, her overuse of the word ”nice”). But they just don’t have that spark. Angela needs to be someone’s Lady Macbeth (like in ”The Coup” episode), and Andy is basically useless on that front. Does that mean Dwight, with his ”superior” intellect, should have scammed Andy out of his Xterra and then flogged it on eBay? Perhaps not, but come on, you don’t go up against the owner of a beet farm and not expect to pay big.

Which leaves us with Stanley. Grumpy, bored Stanley with his love of crosswords, Miracle Whip, red wine, and Pretzel Day — and his very thinly disguised hatred for Michael. Did anyone see his harangue last night as out of character? (Though he did give Ryan the what’s-what for talking to his daughter,twice.) His outburst came out of nowhere, but then it melded so well into the rest of the episode that you knew it was percolating (to use Michael’s word) the entire season: Michael really is ”out of [his] little pea-sized mind.” Who fake-fires someone? This is at least the second time Michael has done that — he pretended to ax Pam in season 1. That said, Mike’s embarrassment, and his unwillingness at first to admit he is disliked, was very very well played on Carell’s part. His final speech — when he told Stanley that he can tolerate his hate, but that he will not be talked down to in the office — was an Emmy moment, methinks. ”Respect eeeeeeesssss nice.”

NEXT: Topless this

Lastly, I loved Michael’s Rodney Dangerfield impression (though I wished he would have said the Caddyshack line ”when you buy a hat like this, I bet you get a free bowl of soup,” which always makes me laugh). Yet, I cannot even come near to picking a favorite quote or best gag for this episode. These are my nominees:

1. Michael sticking his face in the cement. I like how Dwight covered his skin in Vaseline like you do in grade school before making a papier-mâché mask.

2. Pam wearing her backup glasses and Kevin basically asking her to talk like a dirty librarian. (”Could you just say, ‘These are due back Thursday’?”)

3. Jim faking out Pam with another ”almost” proposal: ”I’m proposing…that you get me a cup of coffee.” (I actually think it would have been sweet if he had asked her to marry him in the middle of a ”Michael meeting.” They’ve had some of their best times during those.)

4. Dwight including the color pink on his organizational chart of the office for ”menstrual cycles.”

5. Darryl telling Michael that, oh yeah, he’s been in a gaggle of gangs: the Crips, the Bloods, the Latin Kings, the Warriors, the Newsies. (He did forget the Wolverines, though.)

6. And most importantly, we had more Creed. First, I almost choked when I saw the DustBuster mounted on the wall behind his desk. Huh? Then he broke the Creed-Creep-O-Meter with ”a lot of jazz cats are blind…I’d like to put the piano in front of Pam without her glasses and see what happens. I’d also like to see her topless.”

Did I miss any? If so, list ’em here. Plus, are you ready for our last two episodes? (Spoiler alert: Someone is leaving.) Psyched for finale guest star Amy Ryan? Have any theories for next season? Ever play in cement?

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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