The Office: Stringer Bell Brings the Hammer Down

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Photo: Courtesy of NBC
Show
The Office
Episode Title
New Boss
Season
5
Episode
18

Perhaps the greatest joke this season: As Dunder Mifflin inevitably bows to this wintry economic climate and brings in an efficiency expert to oversee Michael and his branch, that expert turns out to be Stringer Bell. Idris Elba’s six-episode arc as Charles Minor has begun, and as you’d expect, he throws the whole branch into upheaval with his cold insistence on order.

David Wallace hires Minor to trim the fat at the company, but Minor spends most of his time shutting down Michael’s shenanigans — it's his fifteenth anniversary at the company — with cold stares and well-aimed dismissals. He sucks all the hot air out of Michael; unlike other authority types Michael has clashed with, Minor’s not someone who tolerates and humors him. He’s Stringer freaking Bell: all business.

This of course blows the branch to bits: Jim flails in his attempts to impress Minor, the women are throwing themselves at him (“He’s like a black George Clooney!”), and Michael is so distraught that he drives to New York to talk to corporate. As usually happens, Wallace takes pity on Michael and offers to pay for his anniversary party. But Michael knows that’s not enough: There’s not enough room in the office for him and Stringer Bell. In an economy that tolerates no fluff, Michael is all fluff. So Michael — shockingly — quits, saying, “You have no idea how high I can fly.” Whatever that means.

Now, obviously, Michael hasn’t really quit; Steve Carell is signed for a heckuva lot more than six episodes. (Though it’s surprising that this is the first time Michael has pulled the “I quit” gambit, even though it seems he meant it.) Considering that last week’s episode established just how desperate Michael was to keep his job — the cold-hearted selling-out of Dwight, in retrospect, seems like it was written just to set up this episode — he’ll probably be back this week. But he’s right: Michael Scott and Stringer Bell cannot exist in the same universe. This would seem like a fight Michael cannot win. It’ll be fascinating to see how the show pulls it off.

Related: Idris Elba on Moving From The Wire to The Office