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The Office Recap: The Olyphant in the Room

In his two most notable television roles, Sheriff Seth Bullock on Deadwood and Justified’s Marshal Raylan Givens, Timothy Olyphant brings order, often with his fists, to wild, lawless territories. He also sends heterosexual male heartbeats racing. Seriously, this guy is man-crush material (and the ladies don’t mind him either). Which is why he is ideal as ace salesman Danny Cordray: Olyphant will make everyone go topsy-turvy, which is a good thing for this relatively drama-free season of The Office.

Last night’s opening involved Oscar showing off his Lance Armstrong–model bicycle, which prompted Kelly to comment, “I’m on Sheryl Crow’s side in this whole thing, so I feel really weird right now.” We can never get enough Kelly, and score, because this episode was written by Mindy Kaling.

Next up: the nitty-gritty of the Scranton paper-sales racket. Dwight and Jim are headed out on a call to meet with Steve Nash of Frame Select. Not the Steve Nash, Jim says. Dwight has never heard of the Phoenix Suns point guard so he takes a swipe at Jim for being “Mr. Jock Hipster,” which is actually a pretty good description of John Krasinski.

Once inside Frame Select, Jim catches sight of Danny Cordray, so Dwight attempts to intimidate him by storming into the lobby, shouting, “So she said, ‘That’s the biggest penis I’ve ever seen!’” And just when you think, “Really, a dick joke?” he continues: “And I said, ‘I know, that’s why I brought you to the Penis Museum, where tickets are one thousand dollars!’” In his mind, having cash to blow at a Penis Museum is way more impressive than the appendage itself. Huh. Is Dwight making sense for once? Nevertheless, his mind games and a late-inning save by Michael Scott can’t stop Danny from doing what he apparently does best: stealing Dunder Mifflin’s clients. Michael is shocked that his return to the sales game wasn’t enough to close the deal (“It’s like if Michael Phelps came out of retirement, jumped in a pool, belly-flopped, and drowned.”)

Danny is in everyone’s head now, especially Jim’s when he finds out that Danny and Pam went on a few dates four years ago. She says he never called her back, later on he says the opposite — we know how this will eventually end, but if Olyphant’s run on The Office can spice up their relationship, mission accomplished.

To quiet this menace, Dwight hatches a plan. He, Jim, and Michael will figure out how Danny is able to sweet-talk their clients by setting up a fake company in Dwight’s office complex, which is conveniently wired with surveillance cameras. Casting man-eater Meredith as the boss and giving her the surname “Van Helsing” (“Van Helsing was a respected professor before he was a vampire killer,” snaps Dwight), the three of them survey the action from the other side of the wall. “It’s a stinger,” insists Michael, botching a reference to the Paul Newman–Robert Redford movie.

Across the office, another power trio is blossoming. Inspired by the news that his old Here Comes Treble a cappella group rival “Broccoli” Rob has recorded a milk commercial with Phish’s Trey Anastasio, Andy decides to stop neglecting his “artsy, musical” side and forms a band with Daryl and Kevin. Andy thinks their first song, sung from the perspective of a young girl and addressed to the president, is the kind of anthem figure skaters might perform to. Ryan disagrees: “I don’t think they usually skate to such … bad songs.”

Faced with the prospect of Meredith putting the moves on Danny while Oscar pretends to clean her office (some unfortunate stereotyping in this scene that wasn’t funny enough to be excusable), Michael ends the charade. An incredulous Danny tries to leave, and when Michael prevents him from exiting the office we get a little taste of that classic Olyphant machismo: “I swear to God, I’m going to hit you.” Shockingly, Michael convinces Danny to come aboard as a traveling rep by asking him, “Do you want your life to be better, or to be worse, or to stay the same?” Danny accepts Michael’s offer, much to the consternation of the existing sales staff and the profane excitement of Kelly, who is chided by Michael for her catcalling (“This is not some sort of construction site or all of Italy, where you just go around treating people like meat”).

With a minor uprising in the sales department on his hands, Michael asks his reps the very same question he posed to Danny. They answer, in unison, “the same.” What follows is one of the few examples in the show’s history of Michael Scott actually running an office with efficiency and confidence: “I’m not going to exclude good people from our staff simply because they are threatening to you.”

So, watch out, Mr. Jock Hipster. There’s a new sheriff in town. (Sorry, we had to.)

Photo: Chris Haston/NBC