Spoilers for "The Office" coming up just as soon as I enjoy a Bloomin' Onion...
There are episodes of "The Office" that are made by funny malapropisms, or silly physical comedy, or just the right inflections ("So now I have two toasters..."). "Business Ethics" was all about the reaction shots. I'm not sure I can remember an episode that was so filled with so many perfect, hilarious shots of people showing their displeasure at what's happening around them.
One of those was the shot pictured above, of Dwight straining mightily not to correct all of Jim's "Battlestar Galactica" errors, lest Jim clock him for "time theft." (The entire stopwatch bit was one of the best-ever Jim/Dwight gags in the way that Jim exploited Dwight's self-righteousness, his obsession with rules and his love of both facts and "Battlestar Galactica" all at once.) But there were so many other perfect looks, whether it was Holly seeming crestfallen when Michael shot down one of her jokes, Holly's disgust as Michael kept talking and talking and talking about chastity belts, or, my favorite from the episode (and already one of my favorite "Office" moments ever), Michael silently backing out of the break room holding the coffee pot while Holly held out her mug. As brilliant as Steve Carell's face was during Ricky Gervais' stream of insults at the Emmys, he was even better here at showing just how offended Michael was by Holly's assertion that Dunder-Mifflin isn't a family, but a workplace.
I'm going to miss Amy Ryan so much whenever she inevitably goes back to her movie career. As I've been saying, Holly's presence forces Michael to be more human, but she's also very funny in her own right, whether it's her joining in on Michael's awful Olivia Newton-John dance number or the talking head where she admitted that the ethics meeting was not, in fact, going to be "Insaaaaaane!!!!"
Continuing the idea that Holly is a slightly more functional female version of Michael, the resolution of the Meredith story -- in which the corporate head of HR explained that all he wanted was for Holly to get signatures so that D-M would be covered legally -- was very much along the lines of all the times that Michael has gotten in trouble with corporate for taking assignments too literally.
Back-to-back classic episodes to start the season. Very nice.
Some other thoughts on "Business Ethics":
• After getting left on the cutting room floor practically every week for the last two seasons (including the explanation of what was wrong with her face last week), Meredith becomes the center of attention in a story that deals with her slutty side rather than her alcoholic side. While Meredith's explanation about the Outback Steakhouse coupons ("I just felt good about myself") was hilariously creepy, doesn't the entire subplot, which says Meredith has been sleeping with the Hammermill guy for six years, contradict what we were told in season three's "The Convention" about Hammermill at the time being exclusive with Staples?
• Other than her voice in the opening scene, Pam was absent from an episode for the first time ever. It fits the storyline, and gives the writers some time to figure out what they're going to do with Pam once she finishes the design class, but I missed Jenna Fischer. At least we got her perfect "Wow" on the speaker phone in reaction to Dwight informing Jim that she wasn't a virgin.
• Also, the staff's completely disinterested reaction to the engagement news felt both in-character and like a funny counterpoint to how psyched the audience got last week when it happened.
• I love how Kevin is constantly morphing Ryan's nickname: "Fire Guy" --> "Fired Guy" --> "Hired Guy."
• So Ryan hooked up with a woman who looked just like JoAnna from "Survivor" season six, eh? Good for him.
• Is it physically possible to sneeze with your eyes open? I must know.
What did everybody else think?