"I am thrilled that the new boss has taken such an active interest in all the responsibilities that I'm supposed to have. Thrilled." -Michael"New Boss" didn't make me laugh a whole lot (other than Jim's tux-clad antics), but it was extremely satisfying anyway, and not just because I'm a drooling fanboy for "The Wire" who was psyched to see Idris Elba (aka Stringer Bell) on another of my favorite shows.
Every now and then the series deals with the question of how Michael stays employed. Half the time that's been because his immediate superior (first Jan, then Ryan) was such a flake that they let Michael run roughshod over them, the other half because he's such a great earner. As he tells David Wallace, "I thrive under a lack of accountability." But what happens when you place Michael under a boss who isn't crazy, whose buttons aren't easily pushed, who has no patience for Michael's eccentricities, and who just wants people to follow the rules and work hard? How does Michael deal with someone who can bluntly tell him that "This is a workplace. It isn't designed for your vanity."?
Not surprisingly, Michael dealt with it by retreating back to his inner eight-year-old. And then, in a pleasantly surprising way, he dealt with it by giving David a very mature argument about his long and productive service to the company. And when David recognized that, and thought he could placate Michael by giving him back his anniversary party -- giving the baby his bottle and hoping the tantrum would stop -- Michael had a rare moment of wisdom and saw David's move for the empty, placating gesture that it was...
Now this will be very interesting, won't it? Obviously, Steve Carell isn't leaving the show, so eventually we're going to reach a point where Michael returns to Dunder-Mifflin -- possibly once David crunches the numbers and realizes how much business they're going to lose without the company's top salesman -- but I look forward to seeing things play out until that point. Will we see Charles have to take a hands-on approach to running Scranton? Might Dwight finally get the promotion he's always desired? (Because Jim sure isn't, based on that first impression.) And in this economy, even with his sales skills, what kind of jobs are going to be out there for Michael?
Some other thoughts:
• If I have one complaint about the episode, it was the scene where Charles refers to Jim's position as Michaels number two as "made up." It's not imaginary or ceremonial like Dwight's old title; it's an actual position that was created by Jan back in season 3's "Branch Closing" to keep the company from losing both Josh and Jim in the same day. Obviously, Jim was so thrown by having the worst day of his career in front of the guy to argue back, but I'm hoping the writers don't try to retcon away the idea that Jim does, in fact, have a place on the D-M corporate ladder that's higher than anyone else in Scranton.
• Lots of great talking heads in this one, from Pam making fun of Jim wearing the tux on the worst day possible, to Pam explaining how she reads Michael's moods based on the maturity of his jokes, to a soaking wet, mascara-smeared Angela making plain her desire to seduce Mr. Charles Minor.
• And speaking of the attractiveness of Mr. Minor, I loved Kelly literally running over the camera man to chase him down in the parking lot.
• Phyllis is still being sensitive about being kicked off the Party Planning Committee, isn't she?
• If you somehow haven't seen "The Wire" -- only the best drama in TV history -- then head over to YouTube to enjoy two of Idris Elba's finest managerial moments, as he discusses the merits of a 40-degree day and tries to introduce Robert's Rules of Order to a pack of drug dealers. (Warning: language is seriously NSFW.) Then go rent the DVDs. Quickly.
What did everybody else think?