I've been published at overthinkingit.com recently as well as helium
ONTO THE REVIEW:
I’ve recently discovered the website TVTropes.com and have been finding a new vocabulary for my observations lately and in this case something that I learned about two days ago, I now have a new example of: This episode is an example of Third Line Some Waiting in which snippets of an unresolved C-plot are intermingled with an A and B plot and they're not developed or concluded over the course of an episode.
Ryan's WUPHF.com website has been hinted at before in a couple places as a pretty funny gag and fortunately it got its own episode. I really like Ryan a lot so I'm glad to see a Ryan-centric episode.
I know I'm in the minority, but I find Ryan the most interesting character on the show and the most relatable from the audience's perspective. His first day at the office was the pilot episode so he has no back history with his officemates further than what the audience has. He's also more unattached to the Office than Jim who was originally supposed to be the guy too cool to care about work (This was because Jim's UK counterpart Tim was the most apathetic on his show). Additionally, Ryan's malleable and dynamic. His fortunes have gone massively up and down and he has changed his attitude and persona accordingly with each step. He's more fitting for a zeitgeist of economic uncertainty where people can be gainfully employed one day and laid off or (in the case of CEO's) indicted the next.
Back to the episode at hand: The plot centered around Ryan winning over some of Dunder-Mufflin as investors to his new start-up but some of the guys who've already invested in him are having their regrets. Considering they voluntarily gave him the money in the first place, what caused them to change their minds and suddenly realize he was unreliable isn't particularly well-explained. Ryan has a buyer for his company but he wants to build up the site and invest more while his Dunder-Mifflin cohorts want out and are trying to convince Michael (who owns a majority of the shares) into voting to sell his shares.
The episode has a couple good twists and a good twist can really make an episode, as far as I'm concerned. Here, it's that Washington University doesn't want to buy the company for its content but becuase it's the WU Public Health Fund and they just want the URL name.
Pam has been growing a lot in confidence and her dynamic with Michael has gotten better in a way that's still within the realms of realism as far as I'm concerned (her husband on the other hand, I don't and I'll be getting to that shortly). That being said, Pam was pretty out of line in this episode. Who is she to judge the nature of his relationship with Ryan? We're assuming she sees less of their interactions than the viewer at home sees since she's not privy to any one-on-one conversations between the two. The episode was also inconsistent with Michael’s character. Michael had a huge crush on Ryan the first couple seasons but he was practically Ryan's worst enemy during the season Ryan got promoted to New York.
Let's tackle the big issue and I've tackled it at least once before on this blog:
Jim is a big jerk to Gabe. Are we supposed to be rooting for him? It was a good prank but realistically, it should lead to Jim getting in trouble. It also completely redefines Jim for the worse when he pranks someone other than Dwight. Unlike Dwight, Gabe doesn’t have a hint of arrogance in him and he’s a well-meaning guy.
It was already a big enough hole that Jim, Pam and Gabe are on good enough terms that he invited them to his party when Jim and Pam unethically skipped a day of work on a technicality and humiliated Gabe last season when he was just starting out.
It’s true that the sales cap policy is bad but Jim has a mean streak in him when he doesn’t get what he wants that it seems like the show’s writers and Krasinski don’t seem to acknowledge the character’s flaws. The show is acting as though Jim is still the show’s likable spunky everyman character when he’s clearly not and that’s less forgivable because this show ordinarily has such realistic portrayals of character relations.
The B-plot involving Dwight establishing a hay theme park establishes the question, “How many lost hours is Sabre suffering this week and why hasn’t Gabe or Toby done anything about it?” Ryan is off establishing his own business, Michael is helping Ryan with it and Dwight was seemingly spending the entire work week building his own hay theme park.
The Angela-Dwight dynamic had some nice movement this week. The meeting of Angela and the new guy was nicely played out and I liked how her attraction to him basically came out of the fact that he was mocking her ex-boyfriend. The sex contract had run its course and it was unrealistic to expect that they hadn’t used up all five mandatory trysts at this point.