For the first time all season, we got a little Darryl last night. We were only granted one brief scene with the burly warehouse leader, but we were reminded again why we think a spin-off sitcom with him as the lead would be the driest, most deadpan brilliant show on television. You wouldn’t even need a plot. You could just have a selection of random idiots just walk up to Darryl and watch him react. It would be like Curb Your Enthusiasm, if the part of Larry David were played by the entire world.
Last night’s idiot was Michael — of course — who seemed to think not only that Darryl had been in a gang, but also that this wisdom would help him deal with an insubordinate Stanley, who had insulted him in front of the whole office. The episode once again tiptoed that line between Michael being too incompetent to run a Dairy Queen and Michael having the brief moment when you understand how he could have possibly become a boss in the first place. Those are always the more effective moments; as we’ve mentioned, Michael is always more believable when he’s not acting like Homer Simpson.
But without question, the highlight of the episode was Dwight’s Office Work Chart, which details the hierarchy of Dunder Mifflin while allotting for the apocalyptic “Dwight has absolute power” emergency scenario. NBC.com’s helpful PDF features some great sly jokes, including Stanley with a Black Power icon, Oscar with two male symbols and poor, doomed Toby with a star of David with a question mark. It also has Dwight as the “original associate regional manager,” above Jim, who is the actual associate regional manager. (But perhaps not for long, now that coked-up Ryan has him in his sights.) It even comes with a chart for menstrual cycles!
We still haven’t had our big Jim-Pam moment, which will likely end up defining the end of this truncated season, but seeds were planted. Could their relationship survive a Jim firing? A bold prediction: Jim will be canned in the last episode, if just to curse Toby, who will be leaving right when his path to Pam was finally cleared. He really should just pay closer attention to the chart. —Will Leitch