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The Office Recap: Like a Boss

Remember last week’s heartwarming conclusion, in which Andy Bernard got his nickname tattooed on his tuchus? Well, for this week’s Thursday-night promo, NBC digitally replaced said tat with an inky simulacrum of Whitney Cumming’s face. Barf. Unfortunately, tonight’s episode is only slightly more palatable than its ad. Even the cold open tanks and cold opens are The Office’s thing. The gang finds a dog locked in a junky sedan, windows rolled up, and everyone reacts like Neanderthals. Let’s just say the best plan to free the dog is had by Kevin, who locks himself in another van and passes out.

The episode begins in earnest when the warehouse guys win a $900K lottery and quit. Andy doesn’t know what to do, so he consults the entire office. We learn Jim would spend the money living in the country, but Pam wants a townhouse in Soho. Are the seeds of a marital spat being sown?

Beyond that juicy detour, we’ve seen this scene before. Problem arrives, Andy asks employees for guidance, everyone cracks unhelpful jokes, and the story slows down like an old dog in a hot car. Enough with the aimless group scenes already.

Eventually Erin, Jim, Dwight, and Kevin (who someone must have saved from dying of heat exhaustion in his van — astonishing, considering they couldn’t help the pup) volunteer for warehouse duty.

Meanwhile, Andy asks the downtrodden Darryl to hire his old friends’ replacements. Darryl doesn’t, as he’s too busy dwelling on the big what-if. You know, what if he hadn’t left the warehouse, what if he were rich right now, what if he were with his friends investing in energy drinks and opening a strip club on a boat. Instead, he’s stuck in a mid-level job getting fatter by the day. Help me here: Was he wearing a fat suit or is Craig Robinson just putting on the winter weight?

The remainder of the episode is spent waiting for Andy and Daryl to get at it, but as a boss, Andy is too nonconfrontational. It’s boring. Andy does everything for Darryl, recruiting, interviewing, and hiring candidates. Only at the very end, after Darryl gives Andy a douchey ultimatum — fire him or give him Andy’s job as manager — does the new boss muster some self-respect and stand up for himself.

What a relief, right? Well, not really. The moment is too little, too late, and too sharp. Andy dismantles Darryl’s confidence; enumerating the reasons Darryl didn’t get/doesn’t deserve the manager job. Not funny reasons, but real reasons like his lack of education. There’s obviously supposed to be a connection between winning the lottery and Darryl’s sense of entitlement despite not being a very hard worker, but the parallel isn’t earned.

This cannot be the future of The Office, Andy not acting for the first two acts, then making some bold move in the last one. It’s enervating, more so when, like in this episode, both the cold open and the B-story never get traction.

Right, the B-story. Back in the warehouse, the gang of four tries and fails to move boxes, until they cover the floor in grease and slide the paper, effectively ruining it. Another Kevin idea. I don’t know why Jim and Dwight are becoming besties during these short scenes, but okay, Erin and Kevin’s George and Lennie relationship, it is super cute.

Even though the episode is redundant, there were a few nice bits like this. For example Andy is further differentiating himself from Michael Scott. Where Michael always thought he knew best, Andy seems to think he knows least. He tries to get on the level of the employees, and when he does, they eat him alive. Butting heads with Darryl was the first time Andy stood up not for the gang, but himself.

By the end of the episode, Andy's a real boss. He's told off his would-be rival and when he finds Jim screwing around, he doesn't laugh. He reacts sternly. Which is good. I mean, come on, these people are being absurd. They may or may not have let a dog die! I like to think things ended back on track. We finally have Andy the Boss with a capital B. He is prepared, we hope, to take action. We have Darryl back on track. We also have Jim and Pam’s relationship ready to be tested. And we might have some new characters in the form of recently hired warehouse workers. What we don't have is much story or believable characters or Robert California. Where in the world is Robert California? Hit it Rockapella!

Photo: NBC