The world of The Office has never had much of a caste system, other than “Michael” and “the bewildered employees.” One supposes the receptionist is considered a step beneath everyone else — Pam was constantly being told how lowly the position was, and was ecstatic to leave its supposed soul-crushing nature — but otherwise, the sales staff and the accounting staff seemed to be on generally equal footing. (The warehouse was at a different level, but only because they actually do work.)
However, now that new owner Sabre has installed a pay structure that incentivizes the sales staff at a disproportionate level — at one point Dwight mentions he can make $100,000 in commissions alone, which will get you pretty far in Scranton — the sales staff (Andy, Dwight, Phyllis, Stanley, and Jim) thinks they are better or more important than the rest of the office. To be fair, they’ve probably always thought this (particularly Jim), but now they have monetary proof. Their boosted egos cause inevitable conflict, conflict that Michael, as usual, is ill-equipped to solve. To humble the upstarts, when he receives the Scranton version of the Glengarry leads from Sabre to pass out to his employees, he ends up making them work to get them by setting up ridiculous challenges and scavenger hunts and ultimately winds up digging through a blatantly green-screened Scranton dump, having accidentally thrown away the expensive leads.
It’s a clever idea — our superficially close-knit office workers being torn apart by monetary concerns during a tough economic time — and it leads to some inspired scenes with the accountants and other office staff hiding the leads from the salespeople. (Andy’s facial expression when he thought Erin had hid them in her shirt was yet another classic Ed Helms moment; watch it below. There are weeks that he just takes over this show.) We particularly enjoyed this exchange, when Dwight demanded to know where Kevin had put his leads.
Kevin: [Being choked by Dwight. ] “The leads are in the trash.”
Dwight: “Meredith! Take off your dress!”
Meredith: [Shrugs, begins taking off dress.]
Ultimately, everyone comes to a truce (Michael and Dwight figure theirs out in the midst of a garbage fight, while the rest of the sales staff just plies everyone with sweets), which was satisfying but felt a little too quickly wrapped up. This season has struggled for a consistent plotline, for much to be at stake for the characters (as opposed to last season’s Michael Scott Paper Company twist, in which the existence of the office itself was endangered), and this might have been fun had it not been wrapped up in 21 tidy minutes. That said: Maybe anything that involves Andy Bernard crawling over Darryl’s new desk for a pen, and ending up flipped red-pantsed-ass-over-teakettle, should be enjoyed in small, powerful doses.