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The Office: Mob Scene

With Jim and Pam away on their honeymoon — in Puerto Rico, unseen, where they apparently have no money thanks to Kevin accidentally canceling Jim’s credit card — Dunder Mifflin is naturally more prone to madness. (As Oscar put it, without Pam and Jim, “the coalition of the sane and others has been weakened.”) Which is how Michael, Dwight, and Andy end up telling off an insurance agent for trying to use mob tactics to make Michael buy insurance, even though the agent wasn’t in the mob … although they thought he was. Except when they didn’t.

Basically, a somewhat pushy Italian-American gentleman (Queens-born actor Mike Starr, who has played his fair share of mobsters) comes into the office and says enough ominously dual-meaning things (“you never know, there might be a fire in the warehouse”) that Dwight and Andy assume he’s mobbed up. They get in Michael’s head, convince him the man’s shaking the company down, and ultimately accompany him to a lunch to help him “stand his ground.” Andy advises that, “when someone threatens you, you give in, right away.” Michael does give in, eventually, even overpaying for lousy insurance, until Andy and Dwight lie to him and convince him the agent’s not in the mob — though they still think he is — and Tough Guy Michael cancels the insurance. The episode ends with Michael parroting Mob Talk, like a suburban dad who watched a few too many episodes of The Sopranos.

This is a thin clothesline on which to hang an episode, and not much is made of it. (Does the insurance agent know they think he’s in the mob? Is he doing it on purpose? Is everyone just crazy? The show never tells.) There are some solid sight gags, and Ed Helms kills it every second he’s on screen (his attempts to impersonate a mechanic — “You have, uh, a leaky spark tube! It was a long day for me at the mechanic store!” — are uproarious) but mostly, Michael, Dwight, and Andy once again demonstrate their cluelessness (and vague bigotry), and the usual chaos results. If this is what The Office devolves into with Pam and Jim gone, then get them back already.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC