Spoilers for "The Office" coming up just as soon as I find out if Pumpkin's in or out...
I'm gonna be quick, because there's a lot of TV on tonight and "Job Fair" isn't worth spending much time on. It's the first real dud of the post-strike batch: flat, not particularly funny, and depicting Michael at his most abrasive, clueless and unappealing levels.
The ideas were fine. Jim being frightened into applying himself for the first time has potential -- though, of course, you have to ignore the fact that he was once doing well enough within the company that he was named Josh's number two in Stamford, and would have been promoted right along with Josh in the restructuring that was going to close Scranton -- but the storyline was mainly an excuse for cheap physical comedy with Ed Helms (though I'll admit to chuckling at the golf cart crash) and to attempt to mine more comedy from Kevin's gambling problem. (I'd say the law of diminishing returns has hit that particular running gag.) If Jim had come up with a particularly creative way to land the client, I might have forgiven the story's lack of big laughs, but instead Jim resorted to the Michael/Dwight school of simply refusing to take no for an answer in the bluntest way possible. I suppose there's some thematic point to that -- Jim has to become more like the people he hates to survive, just as Michael makes himself feel better about his life by noting that cool guy Jim wants to have that same life -- but it didn't really come across.
Michael at the job fair, meanwhile, was one long cringe-fest. They've played the note before of Michael desperately trying to assert the relevance of both himself and his profession (see "Business School," for instance). It's an intrinsic enough part of the character that they could have gone to that well again, but Michael spent most of the episode being cruel rather than clumsy. His treatment of Justin -- who I'm sure closely resembles the high school age Michael Scott -- was ugly, and his treatment of Pam even uglier. I could see David Brent behaving this way (though he'd have much snappier dialogue while being such an ass), but this didn't fit Michael's particular brand of oblivious boorishness. I get that they're trying to push us in a direction where Jim finally starts to commit to Dunder-Mifflin at the exact moment where Pam is being driven away (hence the scene at the end about graphic design), but regular-strength Michael Scott would be more than enough to do the trick, and it would no doubt be funnier to watch.
What did everybody else think? And is everyone else as psyched as I am to see Amy Ryan in the finale next week?