Well, that one felt like vintage season two "Office," didn't it? I mean, the Michael plot is the sort of thing they can and have done this year (see his behavior throughout "The Convict"), but what really elevated the episode was the betting subplot, which evoked vintage Jim subplots like the Office Olympics and his fire drill games.
I know there's been some unhappiness with this season's lack of Jim and Pam interaction, but I think the larger issue has been Jim's minimal interaction with everybody. He has his one on one stuff with Dwight and Karen and Andy, but his promotion and his discomfort with being sent back to this place after his escape to the paradise of Stamford has isolated him from the office staff at large. He now views this as an actual career and not just a place where he's marking time, so he's backed away from his role as office cruise director. And I didn't realize how much I missed that stuff until he did it again.
It helped that so many of the bets were hysterical, particularly Kelly explaining Netflix to Ryan and all the proposition bets attached to that ("she named six romantic comedies"), and Creed (both actor and character) taking a big bite out of what looked like a real potato. Also helping: an apparent thaw in the Jim/Karen/Pam triangle, to the point where Pam could be a full-fledged participant and also compliment Karen on her plus-one strategy on the jellybean bet. (Kevin then splashed some cold water on the moment with his references to how much time Jim used to spend at that desk, but not too much.) I know that in real life, John Krasinski and Brian Baumgartner (who plays Kevin) have a hardcore video football rivalry going; I wonder if this whole subplot spun out of that?
Felt odd to have two Michael vs. Darryl episodes in a row, but it's a great dynamic, especially since the writers have decided that Darryl will openly disrespect Michael whenever possible. (Plus, hearing Craig Robinson say "shenanigans" made my night.) Michael's defense of his own tough existence was deluded brilliance ("I worked at a warehouse. Men's Wearhouse. I was a greeter"), as was his insistence on running through the suicide script ("Dwight, you ignorant slut!") a second time once the warehouse guys showed up. (Jim: "Well, you know, the first performance was a little off, but I felt they really hit their stride with the second show.")
A very, very strong episode. Some other random thoughts:
- Was Creed pissing in the bushes, or in the mooncastle?
- Unshun/Reshun shouldn't have been funny for as long as it was, but it was.
- Did you catch "Drew" referring to Jim by his name (instead of "Big Tuna") for maybe the first time ever?
- Brilliant setup/payoff: Michael fearing that, if the watermelon hit Stanley's car, it was a hate crime, followed by the two-second button before the credits where Stanley finds the watermelon.
- I was waiting for someone to remind Michael about Jan. Boy, the shine came off that relationship pretty quickly, didn't it?
- And the great thing about Daryl's final reason for not jumping is that it was a compliment, an insult and absolutely true at the same time. ("It takes courage just to be you, to get out of bed every single day, knowing full well you gotta be you... I couldn't do it. I ain't that strong, and I ain't that brave.")