Last night’s episode definitely wanted for more Scranton Strangler. First introduced in the headline of the paper Andy bought to commemorate the day of Pam’s giving birth, the local criminal was finally apprehended, which had the office glued to the television. “Some events are so historic that you have to stop everything to watch,” explained Jim. “Balloon boy. Michael Jackson’s funeral. Things that if you didn’t see them live you wouldn’t really care that you didn’t see them at all.” Right, because who could forget Balloon Boy? Probably everyone. But, at the time, that news story seemed to spring fully formed from the dreams of people stuck in jobs that didn’t demand 100 percent of their time and attention. So we wish the strangler plotline wasn’t abandoned after this solid opening. It certainly had potential.
But there was a Glee party to plan. Erin and Gabe are hosting and thus the drama was established fairly early on: How would Dunder Mifflin’s biggest boobs (Michael and Andy) behave? Michael was immediately threatened when Kevin referred to Gabe as the boss, setting in motion — for what feels like the millionth time — a subplot involving Michael’s inability to deal with authority. Once at Gabe’s bachelor pad, he sets himself the task of running the show, tossing pizza dough and hogging the remote before sabotaging the night by messing with the cable box. The tantrum only ended when he realized his greater influence over Erin: She looks at him as a father figure. You know, she’s become enough of a simp that we believe she’d find Michael’s inept brand of paternalism charming — but we didn’t. His square-offs are only interesting when they involve Toby.
Gabe’s apartment felt just right, though. He’s totally the kind of guy who would have decorated his “man cave” with a bunch of random souvenirs from a year spent abroad. Darryl: “Wow, so much Asian stuff. I wonder if there’s a guy in China right now looking at a bunch of our stuff.” Classic Darryl. That’s as close to profundity as anyone here will ever get. Also, take this nugget meant to console a lovesick Andy: “If I was a girl and I had to choose between a tall dude who loved Asia and a you-looking dude who loved sweaters and wearing sweaters, I’d choose you.” Of course, Andy wasn’t having it. He downed a bottle of powdered seahorse for its rumored powers of virility, which resulted in him upchucking onto Gabe’s bed and hiding it under a pillow. Gross. That’s something a cat would do, which is why we do not have a cat. And, for the record, vomit scenes never need to happen. The image of poor Gabe finding that mess left us totally rethinking our annual holiday party.
But that’s not our biggest beef with the episode. If anything was truly unforgivable it was the fact that the party was for a rival network’s show when it would have been a perfect opportunity for NBC to give some love to its best underrated program: Friday Night Lights. Okay, it’s not a natural fit for the out-of-touch Scrantonians, but it’s hardly implausible to believe that Kelly would be all over it, if only for Riggins. And obviously Oscar watches it! Glee, meanwhile — well, it’s like Dwight says: “Of all the feelings to base a show around … ” One thing the writers got right is the friction that results from watching TV in a group: Someone is bound to ask too many questions about the characters (Phyllis) while another pauses the show too often to talk (Oscar), much to the aggravation of the super-fan who demands total silence (Kelly).
Elsewhere, Baby CeCe fussed and Dwight was the only one able to calm her, which made Jim his bitch. As Jim fed him beer and pepperoni so he could cradle CeCe, Pam went down to the car where a horny Angela (typing those two words actually gives us the shivers) waited and attempted to negotiate the terms of her intercourse contract with Dwight. That running joke lost momentum after the quip about the punch cards a couple of weeks back. Overall, the second off-site episode in a row proves the point that, sometimes, this gang is best left to their natural environment.