This was a somewhat breezy and inconsequential episode and kind of a pleasant one at that. It showed the staff being themselves and dealing with some typical team situation –the staff forgetting the impending problems of doom and immersing themselves into a board game- in the quirky way that this body of people reacts. They are almost like a large dysfunctional family: Andy and Dwight got really into the game while Angela and Stanley got bored to death and the rest of the crew members fell somewhere in between. Oscar, a more sensible member of the group, insisted on keeping his blackberry throughout because the reason the group was playing this game to forget that the company might be bankrupt.
The show also pitted Michael and Jim against each other in a way that created
meaningful conflict and then simmered the tension down in a realistic way. You have to wonder how the hell Jim can have any credibility telling the group to get back to work knowing he was the goofball for several years up until he realized had a kid and a mortgage to support. Still, the fact that the office calls him out on it is great.
There was also the Erin and Andy subplot and if you don’t like mushy romance, you’ll find this amusing. The plot development between them is straight out of a romantic comedy film but it seemed slightly hipper and done in a way only the Office could pull off.
I gave the show a B, however, because it seemed kind of rushed and not exactly funny.
Oh wait----Just as I concluded on giving the show a B, the show’s closing scene of Pam, Dwight, Andy, and Steve in a show-down put a smile on my face. Ehhh....still a B.
Double Date C-
This left such a bitter taste in my mouth because the Jim and Pam show isn’t that exciting anymore. I feel like Jim’s development as a character has gone in a negative direction and I don’t believe John Krasinski or the writers see the character the way I do. They still think Jim is as likable a guy as he was in the first couple seasons.
In contrast, I think he’s a goofball who suddenly feels holier than thou in relationship to Michael and his other coworkers because he’s got a baby on the way and a mortgage to support and, all of a sudden, he has to be more responsible. I can almost no longer tolerate watching Michael and Jim scenes. There were moments like when Jim says “Stop!” to Michael that I cringe and not in a good way.
In the episode, Michael joins Pam and Jim for a birthday lunch for Mrs. Beasley. The episode started picking up steam when Michael insensitively dumps Pam’s mom (did not see that coming) and Pam gets pissed off. In contrast to Jim, I can still stay on board Pam’s character even if I don’t approve of what Pam is doing. I think Pam is a rational person but she’s just sort of gone nuts and has lost it. We as the audience aren't really supposed to be condoning Pam’s actions as recognizing that Pam is in a Oepedial state of regression at seeing her mother date her boss. I believe the writers are more aware of this.
In the third act, Pam gets pissed off and Michael concedes her a single punch if it will make everything feel better. The episode also showed Toby completely ignoring his HR duties by giving Pam boxing advice. I thought that since the monumental hug, Toby and Michael were getting along better now, especially since that monumental hug. Another problem with this whole thing was that Toby seems too apathetic to want to risk getting himself in trouble over a desire to punch Michael. It's a central trait of Toby that he gets pushed around a lot and he doesn't push back because he's too timid.
The episode builds up to that one punch (or at least the promise of it) and all the hype is a little too hard to deliver. Maybe that was the point?
As usual, follow my column here