A return visit to Scranton from Todd Packer -- and Michael takes another halting step toward maturity
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Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)
S7 E18
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Who has two thumbs and hates Todd Packer? Tonight’s episode of The Office revealed that the answer to that question just might be “everyone.”

Let’s rewind. Packer, the insufferable D-bag who is somehow Michael Scott’s best friend, has decided that he’s finally ready to come home to Dunder Mifflin Scranton after years as a traveling salesman. Michael sings Packer’s praises to Holly, who promptly hires the boor for a desk job. This doesn’t sit well with the rest of the office — well, except for Kevin, who finds Packer’s crude humor hilarious. And Kevin’s a discerning guy: “I have very little patience with stupidity,” he explains in a confessional.

Holly doesn’t understand everyone’s objections, since Packer’s been nothing but nice to her. (Says Meredith: “That’s how he gets you to take off your panties.” Pam nods in agreement.) That changes when Packer approaches Holly, Dwight, and Kevin in the kitchen and, in short succession, dubs them “the three muskequeers,” complains that his daughter is turning into a bitch just like her mom, and mocks Kevin’s literacy: “Yeah, you know how to read…a menu!”

Michael remains fiercely loyal to his oldest pal despite mounting evidence that Packer doesn’t deserve the slightest bit of loyalty. He’s shocked to discover Jim and Dwight calling Packer, pretending to be Sabre bigwigs and telling their target that they’re reassigning him to Tallahassee, Fla. But before he can reveal their prank to Packer, Packer makes a fatal mistake: He tells Michael that Holly is uptight, and vulgarly suggests that in a month or so, he’d be happy to introduce his friend to Florida’s “local talent.” With that, Michael realizes the truth about Packer at last: He’s a disgusting jerk. A jerk who’s going to make it all the way to Tallahassee before he realizes he’s been fooled. Did this development give anyone else the urge to reach into their TV sets and give Michael a hug and a high-five?

Meanwhile, in a sub-storyline that barely intersected with the Packer plot, Andy schemes to get a new computer from office manager Pam after noticing the shiny Mac — the same computer Gwen Stefani has! — that Pam had purchased for Erin. This portion of the episode was pretty slight, but it did lead to a few great gags. My favorites: the sign-up sheet for the conference room (in case you missed it: Ryan schedules three jam sessions, Angela calls it for a conference call, Phyllis plans to hold a five-minute knitting circle, and Kevin wants to get in there for a nap) and Andy gleefully mucking up his hard drive with a Somalian music site and a carefully placed piece of baloney. I think Pam and Andy could stand to have more story lines together — they play off each other well. Pam also seems to be at her best lately when she’s scheming.

NEXT: “I got a couple love bumps on my ding-dong, so…game over.”“Todd Packer” was amusing altogether but short on belly laughs, mostly because Packer himself works better in small doses than as the focal point of an episode. Still, I’m glad we got to see Michael take another halting step toward maturity; if you compare tonight’s episode with “Sexual Harrassment,” which marked Packer’s first appearance, you can really see how much Steve Carell’s character has matured since The Office began. I wonder what other figures from Michael’s past we’ll see as the show works up to his departure: David Wallace? Charles Miner? Ex-girlfriend Carol? Vikram, his onetime coworker from the telemarketing company? The ghost of Ed Truck?

Other episode highlights:

++ The lukewarm cold open was made by the visual of Dwight pouring out that huge jug of mayo. I thought maybe his attempts to poison Packer would be connected to his stockpile of cans; I was wrong.

++ Why is Packer done with womanizing? “I got a couple love bumps on my ding-dong, so…game over.”

++ “I would like to introduce you to a man who needs no introduction, probably because most of you have DONE IT WITH HIM. Just kidding. He wouldn’t be interested in any of you.”

++ “We have been thinking about where Packer should sit, and we can’t just sit around waiting for Creed to die.”

++ Holly says they can’t fire someone just because people don’t like him. Ryan replies, “Yeah, this isn’t the U.S. government.” Kelly fires back, “What are you referencing?” Ryan pauses, then answers, “Everything. Everything.”

++ Andy, arguing why he needs a new desktop: “If you donated my computer to Africa, it would become famous as the slowest computer in Africa.”

++ “So something good happening to Stanley is crazy now.”

++ Andy’s screen saver is really priceless.

++ Jim suggests a scheme to get rid of Packer involving a radio station and fake Justin Bieber tickets. Dwight: “Who is Justice Beaver?”

++ Uh, among the magazines for sale behind Hank the security guard, did you guys also spot a porny-looking one called Bottoms Up?

++ “Ryan does this to me all the time! Like it’s some kind of offense to have feelings!” Can we please get a Kelly-centered episode, like, yesterday?

++ Michael, trying to get his employees to see that they share common ground with Packer: “Angela loves pussycats, Packer loves — I was going to say dogs!”

++ Andy spins a fake history for his new computer so that nobody will be suspicious: it belonged to “an elegant old lady, and she just kept it around in case her grandkids came to visit, but they died, and they never came — I’m going to make myself cry.”

++ Michael and Holly do a wicked impression of SNL’s Sully and Denise.

++ Pam, adorably, after letting Darryl blackmail her into giving him three extra sick days: “I’m full-on corrupt!”

++ David Koechner guesting reminds me that Will Ferrell will be showing up on The Office soon, which in turn makes me wonder if there’s any way Paul Rudd and Christina Applegate might make cameo appearances too so that we can get a mini Anchorman reunion.

How did you guys like the WLHUNG “Todd Packer”?

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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