The Office Recap: Rivals

Friday, April 17 by

Charles Miner delegates more responsbility to Dwight, causing his loyalties with Michael to be called into question, and Andy decides to help Jim out because he’s obviously not doing well with Pam at all. (Clearly.) It’s another fantastic Office this week, and it’s right after the jump.

Episode 22: Heavy Competition
Full Episode Online: TV Dome

Cheesy poofs
Pam informs the camera that things are a little slow during the day, and though you can only make so many phone calls, there are no limits to how many cheese puffs you can throw at each other’s faces. They’ve gotten pretty good at it, too – as demonstrated by a montage of Michael, Pam, and Ryan throwing cheese balls at each other from various positions around the office, catching them expertly.

Denied
Jim and Pam inform the camera that because Andy lost a bunch of deposit money on all his plans for his wedding with Angela, ,they’re going “bargain-g=hunting in the haunted graveyard of their love.” Andy’s offering to hire out of his a cappella group to them, ,for the price of $9000, and he’s playing them a mix tape to show his stuff; unfortunately the song they’re singing is, “You can call me Al,” but Jim messes with Andy anyways and claims he’s very interested, and asks him how much it’s going to cost. they balk at the price, he’s shocked. “Did you even hear the music I just played for you?” “Mm-hm,” Pam says softly.

Informant
They’ve really been harping on how much Jim has failed to impress the new boss, so it’s about time that Dwight had some problems with Charles Miner too.  Dwight is all dressed up in a tight white shirt that apparently squeezes his wrists too much, because his old shirt wasn’t strictly dress code. He keeps on knocking things over, complaining that it’s cutting off the circulation to his wrists, but Phyllis thinks he looks good.  He misses the old days of Michael, and how they were like the Roman Empire, Wild West, War-torn Poland, and Poland.  “It was just…a lot going on.  So what you wore to work was the least of everyone’s worries.”  Later, outside, he meets Michael to give him some contact info for one of Dunder-Mifflin’s clients, Ed’s Tires.  Michael tries to give Dwight some cash for his trouble, but Dwight hands it back.  ‘”I don’t need six dollars to help a friend.”  Michael eventually accepts it back, and Dwight reminds him of the ten dollars he owes him. “That was four years ago, when are you gonna let it go?” Michael says exasperatedly.

A friend in need
Andy asks Jim why Pam was pushy and negative about hiring out his group for their wedding, and it scares him to see Jim going down a road that he went down. “Am I going down a road?”  Jim asks, feigning surprise.  He finally admits to Andy that yes, indeed, there are problems going on, serious ones, and he’s going to trust Andy’s judgment on it because he knows nothing of the situation.  Andy informs the camera that he knows horrible, terrible, awful things about love.  Smiling at the camera as well, Jim’s talking head tells us he was going to purge his inbox, but something much more pressing has come up. 

Morning Cheer
Back at the Michael Scott Paper Company,  he informs his two employees how to deal with Ed’s Tires – take them to Indian food and tell them you distrust women. He tells Pam to do it, but she refuses, and Michael admits that she made a good point because it wouldn’t make sense.  He then gives the assignment to Ryan, who accepts, and Michael, looking at a card, tells him not to forget about the divorce. “All right, morning cheer!” Michael says, standing up.  He and Pam and Ryan gather in the center of the room, and, jerking their fists around, they sing, “U…G….L….Y…you ain’t got not alibi, you ugly, you ugly, goooooo Michael Scott Paper Company!”

Cool New Guy vs. Personal Hero
Miner calls Dwight into his office, ordering him to sit down because standing up because you’re worried about blood clots is too weird.  He informs him that he’s been very impressed with how focused Dwight is.  “Like a wolf, thank you,” Dwight says, nodding.   He offers to go out for a drink with Dwight this coming weekend, as he gives him more responsibility.  Later, he’s on the phone with Michael, who’s trying to get Dwight to tell him how much they’re selling to Ed’s Tires for, so that he can sell them for less.  Dwight says that something has come up, and he gives Michael an example so he can better understand.  Imagine someone has a personal hero they really wanna help, but then there’s this new, very cool Will Smith-esque guy who wouldn’t like it if they did.  Michael says it’s crystal clear what Dwight’s talking about, and asks if it’s for a movie he’s writing.  Meanwhile, Pam writes on a notepad across the room, “He’s talking about YOU!  He and Pam tap insistently on the pad, while Michael practically ignores them, finally cluing in and whispering into the phone, “Dwight, are you talking about us?”  Dwight agrees, and Michael says that the old boss has always been good to Dwight,  and he has dibs, and Dwight respects dibs, right? “I’m not a barbarian,” Dwight scoffs.  Michael tells him to meet him at the spot in twenty minutes, and then asks if Charles is the cool new guy.  “I’ve said too much,” Dwight responds, hanging up.

Master and apprentice
Michael comes out to see Dwight at the spot, and asks him why he’s wearing the white shirt. He doesn’t explain, and then Charles Minor comes out and Michael screams at Dwight to run, but apparently Dwight brought Charles here, as Minor tells him that he needs to stop pestering his salesman and leave Dunder-Mifflin alone. When he asks Michael if he understands, Michael says, slowly, “I…understand…nothing.” He comes back into the office and informs Pam and Ryan that it was a set-up; it’s like when a girlfriend says she’ll make out with you and her boyfriend is waiting around the corner with a pee-filled balloon.  Pam tells him she doesn’t understand at all, but Michael just continues to use the metaphor repeatedly.  “Is that clear enough for you?”  he says, emotional.  Later, Michael calls Dwight at his desk, greeting him with “Hello, traitor.”  He says he’s going to come at him, and come at him hard.  He’s going to steal all of his clients, and kill them in front of him.  He says, he brought him into this world, and he can take him out. Bill Cosby.  He calls one of Dwight’s clients, Mr. Scofield at Harper-Collins publishers, to tell him he has tickets to the Wilkes-Barre Penguins hockey game this weekend.  “Look at that old dude and his rolodex go,” Ryan marvels.  Back at the office, Dwight finally gets through to Scofield, saying he wanted to discuss his contract with them, but Scofield’s considering Michael Scott.  As Dwight talks to the camera, he says that it’s master and apprentice, pitted against each other, for the fate of the greater Scranton area paper.  “Not exactly like Highlander, but still.”  He calls Michael to tell him that he wants a truce.   Michael agrees to meet him, but only as long as it’s 100 feet from the spot they met before, 100 feet toward the sun, at noon.  They meet outside, and Michael says he hopes Dwight’s not recording this conversation.  Dwight lifts up his shirt and drops his trousers to show he’s not hiding any electronics, and Michael nods, satisfied.  They agree on a truce, and Dwight offers to take them out for lunch at Alfredo’s.  They head out to lunch, and Dwight calls later to inform Michael that he hit a bear and he’s going to be late.  As he’s on the phone with him, he ransacks the Michael Scott Paper Company’s office, stealing a whole bunch of stuff from the desk and putting a raw fish in the vents in the ceiling.  When they get back later, Dwight calls them to confess his guilt.  He says he broke the truce, because it’s a war, and he will not stop or rest.  “You have no idea what kind of enemy you created,” he says. 

“Your body’s a ten!”
Jim tells Andy he doesn’t think he can do it, go on like this, but Andy disagrees with him, giving himself as an example of a man who was happy after he broke up with Angela.  Jim says that Pam gets him through the day; he’s pretty emotionally needy.  “I am here for you,” Andy says.  “Let me be your traveling pants.”  Jim takes his leave of Andy and approaches him in the kitchen later, slamming down in his sandwich on the table and morosely informing Andy that he blew a sales call.  Andy is sympathetic, but Jim says that with him it’s different. “I suck..I suck…I suck!”  Jim says.  Andy tells Tuna to be nice to his friend Jim. “Why?  When I look in the mirror I don’t like the face that looks back!”  “Your body’s a ten!” Andy blubbers.  Jim stands up, throws his lunch bag on the ground, and stomps on it a couple of times, storming out the door. Andy gives the camera a bit of a shocked look.  Later, when Jim’s out of the room, Andy stands up in front of the whole office to inform them that Jim is very depressed and very sad.  Phyllis says that she thinks Jim’s just messing with him, but Andy obviously doesn’t think so.  The camera pans to Jim, in the kitchen, smiling at the whole thing as they’re talking.  He goes over to Jim to talk to him, and Jim says that there’s two things he needs Andy to understand.  Pam and him are very happy together.  And two, “That stuff with Angela is a bummer, and I know you don’t think you’re ever gonna find anyone, but you will.   I promise you, you will.”  This is easily the best Andy vignette we’ve had in awhile.  He’s a character who’s been way too one-dimensional in the past, and even as the writers have been exploring every other characters’ side, he seemed to have been left by the wayside.  But here, we’re finally getting to see what Angela really did to him, and how much it screwed him up, and it’s extremely well handled here.

Client theft
On the phone, with Michael’s rolodex in front of him, Dwight leaves messages for a couple of customers, using the notations of the back of the cards to remind him what to say to who.  He gets a call from Michael, who tells him that if they keep coming after them, his company can’t succeed.  “One more thing, I’m going to have you listen while I steal your biggest client,” Michael says.  He’s at Scofield’s office, and he walks in, sticking the phone in his coat pocket and silencing his end so that Dwight can listen to everything while Scofield and Michael hear nothing.  Dwight rushes out of the office and keeps his phone on the dash in the car on the way so that he can listen to his old boss steal his best client.  Michael informs Scofield that he’s the president, the owner, and the founder, of his own company, and can guarantee everything he says, whereas Dwight cannot.  “What is that thing that Dwight always says?  Paper is the soil in which the seeds of business grow?”  At the phone, Dwight screams that paper is the manure, the manure!  He arrives at Harper-Collins and dashes in, changing into his yellow shirt as he hurries up the stairs and down the hallway, crying out “Spin move!” and spinning as he passes the secretary and bursts into the office.  Despite Michael’s and Mr. Scofield’s  protests, Dwight shouts at Scofield that he barges because he cares.  He reminds Scofield of an order that was filled within an hour when he called Dunder-Mifflin.   Michael says that two of Dunder-Mifflin’s branches have closed in the last year, whereas the Michael Scott Paper Company has opened a new branch this year.  Scofield has a better idea; they just e-mail him each of their best offers, and they’ll go from there.  Michael shakes his hand goodbye and reminds him of the hockey game, and Dwight shakes his hand too, looking at one of Michael’s index cards to remind him of Scofield’s personal info.  “How is your gay son?” he asks nonchalantly.  “Excuse me?”  Scofield says, shocked.  In a talking head, Michael tells the camera that he color-coded his information – green means go, to go ahead and shut up about it.  Orange means “Orange you glad you didn’t bring it up.  Most colors mean don’t say it.”  This is the perfect punchline to this joke. When it first showed all the notes on the back of the cards, it seemed like it was knocking down the part of Michael’s character that was so good at the personal touch, attributing it to just having good note cards.  However, we see that Michael only writes down the things he shouldn’t say, which makes much more sense for his character, and much more hilarity with Dwight.  “How is Tom, the homosexual sophomore?”  Dwight says meanwhile, back in Scofield’s office.  “I wanted to start a company, not a war,” Michael says to the camera.  “Because in a war, you always fight those you are closest to.  And the great tragedy of the Civil War is that brother fought against brother.  For what?  What purpose did that serve?  Apart from abolishing slavery.  In that case, war was the right choice.  This didn’t feel as important, though. “

Review
As we go further along in this storyline, several things become apparent, among them that we wonder how long this can last. A small paper company like Michael’s couldn’t really survive against such a huge competitor like Dunder-Mifflin, so things are bound to go back to normal eventually, but in the meantime the creators are having some serious fun shaking things up all over the office, and it feel epic to watch these characters we care so much about go through so much.  We’ve known them for almost five years now, so seeing them experience such large changes and work through their struggles and difficulties is very rewarding. One of the best aspects of this episode comes in something Dwight said.  "Master and apprentice." We’ve seen Michael and Dwight at each other’s throats before, but this situation put a whole new twist on it, where two not-so-smart people are trying to outfox each other and it only gets more hilarious the harder they try.  The impressive part, though, is how their underhanded tactics fit each of their character’s perfectly.  When Michael said that he was going to steal all of Dwight’s clients and kill them in front of him, I about lost it. When Dwight did that spin move and asked about Scofield’s gay son, it was hilarious. Dwight can be devious and cunning, but he can also be incredibly stupid and awkward, and this show demonstrated that better than any episode I’ve seen in a long while.  Michael, on the other hand, knows how to be underhanded, and him forcing Dwight to listen to him steal his client was classic, but his underhandedness never comes off as too clever or too cunning; just the right amount of dumb to make it believable. Just like the best of the The Office.

-Thomas Anderson
aka MovieBuzzReviewDude. Check out his movie/media/pop culture blog here.

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