“You’ve been an outdoor cat, and now you gotta be an indoor cat, and you can’t be peeing all over the walls.”
This week The Office gave us something we never asked for — an entire episode revolving around Todd Packer. Why spend so much time on a drunk, cheap boob joke-telling jerk who turns every room into a sexual harassment case? Because Michael still admires him, and in order for Michael to leave Dunder Mifflin with dignity, he needs to shed the part of him that still laughs at the kind of jokes that hurt people. This episode was also about making smart decisions, so if it needed a terrible decision-maker to show contrast, Packer was the perfect man for the job.
When Packer returns to take back his long-gone position as permanent salesman, everyone is in complete disbelief except for Michael, who thinks it’s the best day ever (and Kevin, Packer’s second biggest fan). Michael not only offers Packer his old job and old desk, but he gives a glowing recommendation to Holly, who hires him on the spot — it doesn’t hurt that Packer puts on the flirty gentleman act for Holly (“I thought we were meeting Holly today, not Jennifer Aniston!”), but Holly quickly backtracks as she gets to know Packer’s sense of humor. I loved the humor scale she illustrated to Michael: “Okay…Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, Charlie Bit My Finger, Michael Scott, then all the way down here…Todd Packer.” Almost everyone in the office confronts Holly about why she hired him, and she says that to fire him they need “concrete complaints.” Packer’s a guy who likes to dry-hump people and talk about hookers at work, so that’s pretty easy.
Pam also makes a good decision as Office Administrator that ends up turning into a double self-esteem boost, but it doesn’t come without conflict. She finds room in the budget to buy a swanky new computer for Erin at reception and pats herself on the back for it, knowing from experience how crappy Erin’s computer is. Once Andy discovers the new computer he asks for a new one too, and though Pam initially fights him a little too publicly, she learns how to solve the problem without everyone demanding a piece of the pie. The show seems to be really striving to give Pam the likeability she deserves — the likeability she used to have. It works, and now that Pam is experimenting with her small amount of authority, her confidence comes off as admirable instead of bitchy.
Holly now has the embarrassment of trying to fire the guy she hired solely because Michael vouched for him, and Michael would’ve fought for Packer until the very end had it not been for Packer telling him to get over Holly and calling her uptight. Despite his friendship with Packer, Michael confronts him about the complaints, makes him apologize for making fat jokes about Kevin, and eventually lets him leave the office without telling him he’s been tricked into going to Florida by Dwight and Jim, whose shared hatred of Packer serves as the perfect opportunity for the two to finally team up in the ultimate coworker prank. Somehow, the end of this episode left me feeling like I was right back at the beginning, but to see the majority of Dunder Mifflin band together to kick out their finest douchebag was worth the trip.
Megh Wright is a writer, TV addict, and Harrisburg native. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and is a Gawker TV contributor.