***SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT***
After watching last night’s “Andy’s Ancestry” I had heaved a huge sigh of relief and thought, “Ah, that’s more like it…” This week’s episode was a bright reminder of how great The Office could be.
Starting with the fantastic opener – Dwight sits down to work and sees Jim…Except it’s not Jim, but an Asian man who says he’s Jim. Dwight is increasingly creeped out as Asian Jim seems to know everything about white Jim – he was able to recap a sale Jim landed the day before, and he was able to access Jim’s messages from his inbox. Pam walks by and kisses him, and Dwight grabs a family portrait and sees Asian Jim smiling with Pam and the Halpert kids…
The funny plot has a bit going on…
So we meet Darryl reading Getting Things Done – one of those self-help books that teach you how to do things more efficiently. Darryl’s story is pretty poignant – he’s too good for his job, but isn’t sure what to do with his life – reminiscent of Jim’s predicament. He’s getting into the spirit of Getting Things Done, by having all the pithy soundbites done before hand: “”Whoa, that person has gotten him/herself into quite a predicament.”
Erin, on the other hand, is learning French to impress Andy’s fancy-pants family. Dwight who is dismissive of everything that he doesn’t like, sniffs that French is only good for a “chain-smoking acrobat.” Having Erin learn French is pretty inspired – and Ellie Kemper is a treasure – her inept grasp and exaggerated French accent is hilarious. While Rainn Wilson is the breakout star of The Office, Kemper’s quickly becoming the show’s MVP.
So Dwight finds French silly, and insists that Andy’s hoity toity family will appreciate Erin’s learning Dothraki – the fake language used in HBO’s Game of Thrones – and I had to Google how to correctly spell Dothraki. The language is sounds like every other sci-fi/fake language – lots of weird noises, grunts and guttural sounds – which probably explains why Dwight loves it so much. Also, it’s great when Dwight explains how he loves the show, but fastforwards through the nudity to see the violence and beheading.
Meanwhile, Pam and Nellie get to bond. Nellie’s in need of driving practice, and she’s not terribly subtle when leaning on Pam, who agrees to let her drive them during lunch. During the drive, the two bond, and share a laugh because earlier she turned in a report saying that Andy’s a distant relative of Michelle Obama. Of course, he puffs up considerably at this news – excited that he’s related to the first lady. He even apes some of her personal interests, like insisting that the vending machines should have healthy food.
Of course, Oscar brings in the sour by pointing out that if Andy’s related to Obama, that means that chances are, Andy’s ancestors owned slaves. Andy is horrified at this prospect and calls Nellie and orders her to find other unsavory family trees among the office mates at Dunder-Mifflin. Nellie and Pam start making up stuff – Kevin’s a descendant of John Wayne Bobbit and John Wayne Gacey, Meredith’s a descendant of Lizzie Borden, and funniest of all, Jim’s related to Richard Nixon. This causes Jim to self-consciously examine his looks and compare them to the late former president (they share the same schnozz)
Speaking of Jim – I’m starting to hate him. He’s replaced Dwight as the shit of the office. Jim’s still working on the sly trying to launch his sports marketing idea with his college buddy. When he sees Darryl frustrated, he chases after him to console him. Darryl’s upset that Andy shows little regard for his work ethic. Jim and Darryl both find themselves frustrated at hitting the ceiling at Dunder-Mifflin. Jim, still feeling guilty about lying to Pam, tries to justify his behavior by talking about the sports marketing he’s hiding from Pam.
So, Jim’s enthusiasm is infectious, and Darryl is convinced that he has a future with Jim’s little plan – he’s so self-involved, he doesn’t catch that his friend is getting excited about the whole thing. When Darryl finds out that Pam’s not aware of all this, he immediately scolds Jim, saying, “It’s not real, until your wife’s on board”
While all this is happening, Andy’s back in the office feeling very angsty about being a possible relative of Obama. Erin’s great because as intimidating as his mom and dad are, she’s positively terrified at the idea of making small talk with the first lady – I love the imaginary questions Obama would ask of Erin: “What is your stance on politics?” “What is the best war to do?”
So back to Pam and Nellie – the dynamic duo who are tearing through the streets of Scranton. Nellie’s a terrible driver, but she’s great at stirring shit. Pam is sharing her concerns over Jim’s behavior and Nellie insists that Jim’s having an affair. Pam of course doesn’t believe it, but there’s always doubt clouding her eyes.
The two make their way to the warehouse. Nellie – who has moments of kindness – wants to encourage Pam’s nascent artistic talent. As a special projects manager, Nellie has decided to Pam’s delight that she’ll paint a wall in the warehouse. While Nellie’s definitely an anti-heroine, she has her moments – especially with Pam. This reminds me of the moment when Nellie, as manager, is touched by one of Pam’s sincere generous overtures, and marvels at the idea of having made a friend.
Nellie, Pam, Jim and Darryl meet in the warehouse. Pam and Jim go off into an office to talk – and through the window, we see (but don’t hear) Jim and Pam hug. When it’s time for the confessionals, Jim’s thrilled, elated and relieved that he told Pam. Pam, on the other hand, is hurt and says “I can’t believe he didn’t tell me.” She’s supportive only because she doesn’t want to dampen Jim’s spirits, but she’s clearly stunned at his betrayal. And so are we.
This was a great episode – clearly on par with some of The Office at its best. I’m thrilled that the show’s back on the rails – hopefully this isn’t a fluke.