"I have no shortage of company names." -MichaelI have one quasi-complaint and only one complaint about "Broke," and it has nothing to do with the episode itself, which was superb. I just wish the writers could have found a way to make the Michael Scott Paper Company arc last longer. It was as big of a creative shot in the arm to the series as the arrival of Holly -- probably moreso, in that it affected not only Michael, but the entire core cast. With Pam now a Dunder-Mifflin saleswoman and Ryan returned to the Scranton branch full-time, there should be significant changes to the office dynamic, but I wonder if the show can be quite as daring and unpredictable with Michael back in his old job.
"Michael..." -David Wallace
"That's one of them." -Michael
Still, if we knew that Dunder-Mifflin buying out the Michael Scott Paper Company was inevitable, the execution of it -- written by Charlie Grandy and directed (I believe it's his directorial debut) by Steve Carell himself -- was just about perfect.
Charles' dislike of Jim and unreasonable faith in Dwight paid off wonderfully, from the moment David Wallace arrived and said a friendly hello to Jim, through Charles' look of increasing horror at Dwight's bees suggestion, to Jim brilliantly using Charles' hatred of him to keep Dwight from taking away Michael's bargaining position. He never managed to show Charles of his own brilliance, but instead was able to save Pam and Michael (and, though it wasn't his goal, Ryan) by dragging Dwight down to his distrusted level in Charles' eyes -- and managed to set up a Mose reference while he did it. A big day for Big Tuna.
Michael's side of the story, meanwhile, was packed with wonderfully dry gags, like all the Korean women trying to get into the delivery van (can any of our Korean-speaking readers translate what the van inscription actually said?), or Ty the accountant indulging Michael's request to crunch the numbers by doing a keystroke and whispering "Crunch." But it also featured one of those wonderfully honest and dark "Office" moments where the MSPC sales team sat on the floor of their pathetic office and swapped humiliating stories (Pam couldn't get a callback from Old Navy, Target or Wal-Mart, and Ryan only went to Ft. Lauderdale instead of Thailand). Again, the characters on the show have become so rich that the show can do a scene like that that's relatively light on humor and it doesn't feel out of place.
And then... then, my God, the elevator sequence with Michael panicking over whether he could keep his mouth shut about the true state of the MSPC perfectly put me in the same head space as Pam and Ryan. I know Michael about as well as they do after the last five seasons, and I was terrified he wouldn't be able to pull it off. And instead, he kicked ass. He called out David on his precarious position with the shareholders, he got Pam and Ryan (Ryan!) regular sales jobs, and when David tried to call his bluff again, Michael used his own reputation for childish single-mindedness as a weapon, pointing out how easily he could keep hurting Dunder-Mifflin's business in the area if he set his mind to that.
He won. Michael Scott won. And he deserved to. Who would have thought when the series started and Michael was so loathsome, that he could have a moment like this that would be so thrilling?
Great, great episode.
Some other thoughts:
• So it turns out that Michael did try to take advantage of Ryan's business school training. And, just as his plans for Dunder-Mifflin Infinity were a disaster, it turns out that Ryan's command of the fundamentals of economics wasn't as strong as he thought, as he never factored in the need for variable pricing. (Stringer Bell definitely wouldn't have missed that detail.)
• The one advantage of returning to Dunder-Mifflin full-time is that it'll give the supporting cast -- who got a bit lost in the shuffle when we had to spend time in two offices -- more to do. They had a few nice moments here, like Phyllis pointing out that David could have prevented all of this by simply returning Michael's calls, and Kelly doing her impression of what the conference room sounded like through her glass.
• I liked Pam's look of quiet awe when she realized that Michael was able to be that peppy and alert at the crack of dawn despite not drinking any coffee. I myself do not drink coffee, and I wish I could be a self-starter like that.
• Jim puts Dwight saying "Idiot" as his ringtone, and is immediately rewarded by Dwight actually calling him an idiot on the phone. ("This is Dwight, by the way.") Not quite up to the level of Tim on British "Office" constantly calling Gareth a (male chicken) repeatedly on his cell phone, but still amusing.
What did everybody else think?