Dwight's error reporting machine will ruin Dunder Mifflin as we know it

By Erin Strecker
Updated November 04, 2011 at 04:07 AM EDT
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Dwight may be the best Enforcer/Assistant (to the) Regional Manager he’s ever seen, but last night, we saw his frustration at being perpetually Number Two boil over. For a guy who dreamed to live in a world where two was the most powerful number, Dwight’s vision for the future did not include standing by while Dunder Mifflin continued to mess up and face Robert’s displeasure. Enter the Accountability Booster. In terms of Dwight’s all time great horrible ideas, a machine that recorded errors hits the all-time Top Ten list, right up there with Dwight bringing a gun to work, or setting the office on fire to teach everyone a lesson.

New boss Andy, of course, was still Mr. Good Times, which last night involved singing everyone off with “Closing Time” at 5:00 each day, a song that, like Pam, I definitely don’t know all the words to. Andy may be a collegiate a cappella man, but that would get annoying super-fast — and it did, for everyone but Stanley. I love Stanley, and I think he’s been put to really good use this season. His bright smiles never fail to make me chuckle and his dry explanation that, “When I first heard it I did not care for it. But that song means it’s time to go home. Now it’s my favorite song,” was perfectly in character. Speaking of winning Stanley moments, a giant Well Played! to the writers for tabling the “…and shove it up your BUTT!” joke for a few episodes, and then bringing it back tonight when the Dunder Mifflin tension was the highest.

Last night’s problems kicked off when Robert California dropped by the office for a weekly talk. While the Nard Dog preferred to chat cute about nicknames, Robert was more concerned about the shocking number of errors that are committed on a daily basis. He’s clearly new around there. Dwight had a solution that he was able to easily sell Andy on: a machine that would send out a horrible disclosure to Robert if the Dunder Mifflin crew hit five mistakes in one day. “Without a safety net, people will improve,” Dwight assured Andy.

Obviously, everyone freaked out, especially after Dwight read off some emails that would be going out if the group failed. But Dwight wasn’t selling out his co-workers with the Accountability Booster Doomsday Device Bad Idea, he just didn’t think the branch deserved to be around if they weren’t meeting at least basic competency levels. With just a few small changes in circumstance, Dwight could be a very powerful dictator of a small country. Error reporting was, obviously, a horrible idea, because in the understatement of the entire series, Andy proclaimed, “The thing about this office is, we make a lot of mistakes.”

They tried their best, but the gang couldn’t make it through a day without errors — loved the masking tape red Xs that appeared at reception — so they all begged Dwight to turn the machine off. He refused (“You can’t change the rules just because you don’t like the outcome”) and peaced out to Schrute Farms. Those horse graves weren’t going to dig themselves.

NEXT: A field trip to Schrute Farms and Gabe’s new crush!

Andy, Kevin and Pam’s giant rack all went to the unfortunately Mose-free house to reason with the beet farmer. Dwight was at first quite resistant, but then Pam and Dwight’s weird relationship saved the day. I think Dwight is incredibly misunderstood, (and also, a total nut) and I’m always happily surprised whenever the show has those two help each other. Whether it was Pam holding his hand through Angela drama, or one of the handful of moments when Dwight was kind to her (listening to her Roy drama, letting her “win” about the building standards, helping with CeCe, etc.) those two together are some of my favorite “heartwarming” scenes on the show. It made perfect sense, therefore, that by treating him as a friend, with their silly “Pobudys Nurfect…sive drafely” exchange, that Dwight didn’t go through with screwing everybody over. That, and it was a pretty great hat they got him. Totally worth digging through a horse grave.

In the world’s greatest subplot, Gabe decided he was crazy in love with Val, one of the warehouse women. After some cute “flirting” at the water station chatting about Mondays, Gabe had fallen hard. So hard, in fact, that he preemptively went to meet with Toby about disclosing his new relationship status. Too much too soon? Some might say that — Michael wouldn’t! — but Gabe simply didn’t want a lot of bureaucratic red tape wrapped around his junk. This man is a planner.

Gabe has been an interesting character on the show. I know a lot of people really don’t like him, and were hopeful that the end of Jo (Kathy Bates) would be the end of him as well. I myself wasn’t too crazy about Gabe the first couple seasons he was on the program. His storyline with Erin seemed tedious, and while the actor has done a fine job with the part, his fun-sucking character sucked the fun right out of too many plots. But this season, without Jo and without Michael, he’s growing on me. Tonight his dweeby intensity made me chuckle, and his eagerness with Val looks like it could amusingly continue for a while.

Speaking of Val, what’s the deal with her and Darryl? At first I thought Darryl was just giving the obviously crushing Gabe a hard time when he took Val with him to get the coffee. But after Gabe confessed his feelings, (cemetery date!) and Val told him she doesn’t date co-workers, Darryl said to the camera, “Good policy. Sensible. Smart.” Was he just talking, or was he implying something else? Does Darryl have feelings for Val? Did they date in the past? Am I reading too much into this, or do you think this is definitely going to be explored later?

In lieu of a Robert California Dark Truth tonight, we have emails about Robert California, courtesy of Dwight:

Jim: Robert’s favorite song: “Creep” by TLC, “Creep” by Radiohead.

Oscar: There’s no way he hasn’t strangled at least one stripper.

Kelly: He eats his yogurt like he is punishing it for disappointing him. P.S. We should kill him.

NEXT: Top lines from the episode!

Top Lines:

++ “When the stakes are this high, there’s only one computer that I trust. And it’s powered by Thai food and Spanish reds.” (gestures to his head) –Oscar

++ “You can’t have a favorite Iron Chef. It depends entirely on the secret ingredient. Sometimes I feel you don’t know food at all.” –Robert to Andy

++ “You’re the deuce I never want to drop.” –Andy to Dwight

++ “They’re trying to make me out to be a Bond villain. I like to think of myself as a brilliant scientist, who’ll stop at nothing to remake the world.… Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, not them…Dr….” –Dwight

++ “I get the sense that Val enjoys a good put down. Since that is the only thing I know about her, I will be milking that hard.” –Gabe

++ “I’ll tell you her last name tomorrow, because she’ll be screaming it tonight.” “She’ll be screaming her own last name?” –Gabe and Toby

++ “I’ll make sure to write you a glowing reference…glowingly negative!” –Dwight, burn style

++ “Oh, now you can do math? Where were you two hours ago, Beautiful Mind?” –Angela

++ Not a quote, but it needs to be documented: Jim looked great at that squash game (or was it a match?)

What did you all think of last night’s Dwight-centric episode? Was Dunder Mifflin’s favorite number two number one in your heart?

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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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