“Dwight doesn’t trust robots to give us our messages.”
Sandwiched between a struggling post-Michael Scott episode and a star-packed season finale lies “Dwight K. Schrute, (Acting) Manager,” a place where the Dunder Mifflin Sabre employees finally get some time to play without all the buzz of Steve Carell and Will Ferrell. They deserve a break in the form of a collective blackmail against Dwight. And even though we’ve seen Dwight as a manager back in the third season finale (“The Job”) and even though last week’s previews gave away this week’s storyline, this episode was surprisingly awesome.
In this episode, Jim gets a call from Jo at Sabre asking if he’d like to be the acting manager, but he turns her down. His regrets it immediately when Dwight’s phone rings seconds later with the same offer, and in no time everyone is subjected to staggered lunch breaks, oversized business cards, controlled internet access, and empty vending machines under Dwight’s brutal management style.
The Gabe/Erin/Andy love triangle drama continued this week starting with Gabe freaking out on Andy in the conference room and demanding he promise he’ll never date Erin. Andy tells Gabe they’re just friends and he won’t date her, and Gabe later uses that statement against him in front of Erin. This whole situation has been dragged too far too quickly, and Andy has the right idea for steering clear of the budding drama. Erin insists she’s not pursuing a relationship with anyone right now and that’s probably best considering her admitting to the camera that even touching Gabe was a challenge for her when they were together.
And then there’s Jordan, who got about six seconds of airtime this week after the few more she had last week. Why aren’t they giving her character any real opportunities? Why did they introduce her only to give her a scene where Dwight tells her she’s a joke and everybody thinks she was hired for her good looks? I mean sure, there are many episodes where certain characters are absent, but never right after they are introduced. Why? My confusion over this Jordan issue continues.
Dwight’s love for power culminates when he decides to wear a loaded gun in his new holster around the office, which leads to the inevitable accidental shot scene and resulting temporary deafness of Andy. Jo’s arrival at the office becomes a game of revolt and blackmail against Dwight, and he immediately caves to everyone’s demands under the condition they don’t tell Jo what he did. Dwight ends up telling her what he did anyway in an attempt to impress her, but she demotes him and tells him his Beaumont-Adams is a girl’s gun. Jo then asks Jim, Gabe, and Tobey who they think should get the acting manager position. Going by seniority, they choose Creed, and really, isn’t that the best?
Instead of holding back before the season finale, the cast did a lot of work this episode. What a great time to show how each character would blackmail Dwight (Angela says “I want Pet Day back — no dogs”). What a great time to remind us that Jim needs to start thinking why he turned down a decent management opportunity. What a great time to start The Fist, the ultimate social club always ready to initiate Operation Overthrow. After the A-list stars and longtime-but-leaving cast members fade away, if you ever needed an example to show how dependable this ensemble is and how well they work together, it’s this episode. They’re always consistent, whether they’ve got a good leader, a bad leader, or no leader at all.
Megh Wright misses Harrisburg, lives in Brooklyn, and answers phones in Manhattan.