Friday, April 24, 2009

The Office, "Broke": Our balls are in your court

Spoilers for last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I call my apiarist...
"I have no shortage of company names." -Michael
"Michael..." -David Wallace
"That's one of them." -Michael
I 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.

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?

86 comments:

Joe said...

Best episode of the season.





Word verification "roidng" ~ hoarding steroids.

Anonymous said...

I loved it, I just wish Ryan wasn't coming back. BJ Novak is by far the worst thing about the show.

hido said...

I have never understood the Ryan hating. I have always thought his character was hilarious. If anything, he was a part of one of my top-five scenes in show history (when he dumped Kelly after getting the corporate job).

Mike said...

"Ahhhhh, how the turntables......."

SCS said...

I know Steve Carrell has directed a couple other episodes, including the Casino Night finale of Season 2. That was another great episode; I guess he handles the redemption episodes well.

Adam said...

Our balls are in your court.Yeah, that was all brilliant. I know they can't do it all the time, but I love it when Michael shows off his smarts and skills -- the speech to David about the upcoming shareholders' meeting was a jaw-dropper.

Adam said...

Steve Carell wrote Casino Night and Survivorman; IMDB says it's his directorial debut.

Jeannie K said...

Great episode. Loved Michael's awesome negotiation skillz.

Oh, and the van did indeed say, "Scranton Hallelujah Church" in Korean.

Bryan said...

Terrific - I know what you mean Alan about the creative jolt but I think they took it just about as far as they realistically could.

I didn't realize how much I missed this Jim - and Jim and Dwight dynamic.

"Could we have the conference room?"

stacy said...

BJ Novack actually wrote a few awesome episodes, do you not like those either, or just the character

kathy said...

Loved the scene with David and Jim in their blue shirts on one side of the table and Charles and Dwight on the other side in their white shirts. Best episode of the season.

belinda said...

Easily the best thing on TV last night.

I just feel so happy and proud of Michael. Who's a fictional character. Hm.

Danny said...

Alan,

I thought Pams reaction was more to the fact that Micheal was drinking milk and sugar.

TC said...

With the tone and direction, I picked up a heavy "Breakfast Club" homage vibe when the MSPC employees were sitting on the floor confessing their shame to each other. Maybe that's just me though.

Ostiose Vagrant said...

Lemme join the love fest. It was very feel good.

Is David Wallace a horrible negotiator or was part of the reason for his concession the fact that he regrets his mishandling of the Michael situation from the first? I cannot tell.

Steven said...

I agree with Alan that they rushed to quickly in concluding the story of the MSPC. In the end, did Michael Scott really gain anything? He is back at his old job, but David Wallace refused to do anything about the reason he left, namely reassign Stringer Bell from being his supervisor.

According to the description of the episode, the B-story was supposed to be about Angela and her draconian cost cutting. What happened to that? Great line though: "Been there and done that."
It seems they must have changed direction at the last minute and inserted the swan song of MSPC instead.

BTW, the problem with the MSPC business model was the lack of consideration for increasing variable costs as sales volume grows, not variable pricing.

LoopyChew said...

If you'll excuse the TVTropes.org reference, Michael sitting down at the conference table and saying, "I don't have to outlast Dunder-Mifflin, I only have to outlast you," was possibly one of the greater Crowning Moments of Awesome I've witnessed recently. Also, how he very blatantly said, "My company is nothing," and somehow managed to use that as an advantage.

My favorite bit? Jim's Talking Raspberry. The "Idiot." ringtone comes close, though.

CAPTCHA: "ranted." Can't make this thing up.

Mike said...

"With the tone and direction, I picked up a heavy "Breakfast Club" homage vibe when the MSPC employees were sitting on the floor confessing their shame to each other. Maybe that's just me though."

------------------------

i thought the same thing as i was watching it.

Anonymous said...

Pam is an inspiration to all receptionists!

srpad said...

To the poster above: actually the new guy is gone. Wallace agreed to *all* of Michael's terms. I assume that includes that one.

Michael really earned his little victory pose at the end.

Jerry said...

Fantastic payoff and great episode. I loved that Michael got to shoo out Charles the same way Charles shooed him out of the office, and Jim catching on to what a suck-up Charles was. Agreed that the buyout negotiation was superb.

J.J. said...

I understand why they went the way they did, but I'd have liked to see Jim at least waffle a little bit over what to do with the information he had.

They spent all that time establishing how firmly entrenched he was in the new boss' doghouse, and he didn't even consider making the play Dwight eventually made? It simply never occurred to Jim that he'd score huge points and make up all the ground he'd lost by stepping up and revealing what he knew about Michael ready to go out of business?

Brian said...

I agree that I am sad to see this arc go away. It was so funny and last night killed.

Are we sure Ryan will be a salesman? I could see him ending up in the warehouse or something else.

Anonymous said...

I also got a kick out of Michael honking the horn at 4am and shouting things at Pam and Jim -- undoubtedly waking everyone up in the nearby houses. Totally ignorant and disrespectful lol, and as long as it wasn't me he was waking up, I was able to laugh at that.

Also, the scene where Michael is tricking Ryan into thinking the van is stopped so he can get it...the giddy laugh that Carell uses in that scene -- and many others like it over the course of the show -- cracks me up every time.

I don't know how the actors get thru it without busting out laughing. His laugh is so infectious in those moments lol.

Brian J said...

I wish we could have seen more of the MSPC actually existing and succeeding on some grander level, but I'd rather have it cut short and still be good than drag out too long.

A few thoughts, in no particular order:

1. How many new clients did the company get? That'd have to be a pretty big point with both sides. The show has acknowledged that the economy is pretty crappy, so any sort of increase in business aside from the smallest of blips in sales, particularly from new customers with the potential to grow, isn't something to brush aside. I'd like them to make some mention of this in the future.

2. Along the same lines, maybe I am misremembering what David Wallace said, but how is bringing along Ryan and Pam as salesman really making the buyout worth many millions of dollars? It'd certainly be an increase in cost, but as long as they justified in what they bring in, wouldn't it make sense? There must be some accounting principle that I am not aware of, because it seems like David Wallace was figuring the costs over a few years onto a single year.

3. I really liked the fact that Michael was able to show that he had the company by the balls. He did this in his own particular way, but it was still highly effective.

4. I'm curious if they will conclude the season with more business-related stories, or if they will focus on other stuff. Either way, if what they've brought to the table recently is any indication, we have nothing to be concerned about.

Tobey said...

Michael would be the guy who pulls away as you're trying to get in the car. And he would do it every time.

floretbroccoli said...

It simply never occurred to Jim that he'd score huge points and make up all the ground he'd lost by stepping up and revealing what he knew about Michael ready to go out of business?Would he be in a better place with Charles still In Charge, but thinking better of him than he would be with Michael in charge? Also, Pam would be out of work.

Lydia said...

My favorite episode so far this season! I am always impressed when Michael pulls something like this off. Steve Carrell amazingly makes me believe that Michael is capable of brilliance even after moments of idiocy and insanity. I love this show!

Test Pinecone said...

Am I the only one who has watched the last month of The Office and pretended that Mr. Minor is actually Stringer Bell, off-camera in the Wire S3?

When McNulty quits trailing him to business classes, he actually gets that degree and Dunder Mifflin is one of the businesses he uses to hide Bawl'more drug money.

No? OK, fine. But I'm having more fun.

Ryan said...

Great episode, but I agree that they probably could have kept it up for a few more weeks. I'm even still a tad disappointed they didn't do more with Idris Elba.

Nicole said...

It's too bad Charles is gone, because they were finally giving Idris Elba something to do. I think it took the writers a bit of time to figure out what to do with his character.

Despite that, this was a great episode and I did love Michael's idiotic malapropsims while kicking ass at the negotiating table.

Anonymous said...

The best thing about this episode was that it centered around the primary characters and hinged entirely on the interactions between Michael, Jim, Dwight and Pam (and to a limited extent Ryan). John Krasinski especially nailed every scene he had because he understands Dwight and Michael so well, and it was perfect justice for Charles to end up ruined by thinking Dwight was NOT an idiot and David to end up forced into a settlement by thinking Michael IS one.
Another brilliant touch was that Michael actually couldn't keep himself from telling the truth about the MSPC (when he said it was "worth nothing") but he did it in such a I'm-in-command here and in such a strong context of simply taking on D-M indefinitely that he came out looking like a lion fighting a mouse.
And the results from the MSPC/Charles arc are going to keep on paying off, with Pam as saleswoman, Ryan doing something or other, and Jim firmly established as a powerhouse while Dwight has to face how badly he screwed things up with Michael.
10/10 for this episode.

mj said...

@steven - I agree that the issue is more about variable costing than it was about variable pricing. The variable costs are increasing in total but on a per unit basis (on which the pricing is set) it is reasonable to assume that the variable costs per unit will remain relatively fixed. So, as long as the price per unit is set above the variable cost per unit (mostly the paper costs per unit) then the resulting margin per unit multiplied the volume of sales will contribute towards recovery of the fixed costs. Because MSPC's fixed costs should be vastly lower than Dunder Mifflin's fixed costs (who have fixed corporate overheads to recover in addition to the branch fixed costs), it seems plausible that MSPC's business model of undercutting Dunder Mifflin has a shot at working. Bottom line:I think the real problem was they set prices below their variable costs per unit or if they were in fact making any contribution margin per unit (i.e., setting the prices above the variable cost per unit), the price wasn't high enough or the sales volumes weren't large enough to recover their fixed costs (which were much lower than Dunder Mifflin's) in a timely way (i.e., before bankruptcy needed to be declared).
@Brian J. – I thought Wallace was interpreting his hiring of the three people was a commitment to an annuity payment of wages and related overheads over the careers of those people. Versus the one-time payment of $60,000.
For someone who was fired, I thought Charles seemed remarkably calm.

J.J. said...

floretbroccoli,

Well, yeah, Jim's probably better off with Michael back (and Pam back). But Michael/Pam coming back were never supposed to be part of the bargain.

In the earlygoing, it was supposed to be a relatively small buyout amount. 12,000, or something like that, if I recall correctly. Split that 3 ways (assuming Michael doesn't take a bigger cut as the boss), and I don't see why Jim didn't ever consider that redeeming himself would be more valuable than the 4 thousand dollars Pam was supposed to bring home from the buyout.

I just found it weird that Jim was floundering so badly with the new boss, and he didn't even consider making a play to score some much-needed points. I didn't expect them to make him blow the deal, but it would be nice if he at least had to think about it.

Bryan said...

For someone who was fired, I thought Charles seemed remarkably calm.Maybe I missed something but Charles was not fired -David said absolutely not and Michael dropped that demand.

Grunt said...

I actually think the character if Charles has been facinating. I did not watch the Wire and have no previous opinions regarding Stringer Bell but he was a perfect character for the part and Idris Elba played the character masterfully. This is a guy who exudes confidence and competence but, in his own way, is actually less capable than Michael Scott. He has no ability to read people (i.e. Kevin the receptionist, Stanley the efficiency expert, Dwight the go-to guy, Jim the idiot) and seems completely unable to get his staff to do what he wants. It looked to me as if David Wallace was seriously rethinking his hiring choice.

As for Jim, he has no desire to see The Michael Scott Paper Company fail and, at this point, was so far in the hole with Charles that there was no way to dig himself out. The only thing that would have happened had he told anyone is that he would have lost Michael's friendship (something which is important to him) and his fiancee would have been pissed (something which he would avoid at all costs).

Anonymous said...

I had the same view as srpad upthread - Wallace agreed to all the terms including getting rid of Charles, which is why Michael was able to ask him to leave the branch. So does anyone know - has Charles been fired or has he been redeployed at Dunder-Mifflin?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

When this story arc started, Michael told Pam he does his best work when no one believes in him. And tonight, no one -- including Michael himself -- believed he could make it through the meeting with David and Charles without blowing it. And instead he went into that meeting and had a sustained series of crowning moments of awesome. For some reason, it got very, very dusty in my living room during that scene.

Anonymous said...

When I re-watched the episode, David Wallace said no to firing Charles, and then Michael replied "Okay, then" which means he negotiated new terms and had to accept Charles as not being fired. I don't understand how Michael was able to shoo away Charles, though. We saw the entire negotiation- even if The Writers want to act as if Charles has responsibility for Michael removed.

So, it is hard to evaluate how Michael won. Pam got a promotion, which doesn't affect Michael. Ryan is back and owes Michael, which means Michael can Lord it over him and possibly get Ryan to return his cell phone calls. But if Charles is still supervisor, Michael's actual reason for quitting in the first place has not been corrected, and thus he lost. I hope this is clarified.

Grunt said...

Michael's actual reason for quitting in the first place has not been correctedI disagree. Michael didn't quit because of Charles, Michael quit because he realized he was getting no respect. Say what you will, he has DM by the balls and they will fear him leaving from now on. He most definately has job security until DM Scranton actually goes under.

Anonymous said...

Charles was NOT fired. What show were you guys watching?

Brian said...

Remember that Charles is actually in Jan/Ryan's old job so if Michael got his old job back, Charles would be leaving any way. He was just there trying find Michael's replacement, not stay in Scranton long-term.

So either Charles has to deal with Michael's idiocy as the regional manager or he gets shifted somewhere else in D-M.

renton said...

I got the impression that while we didn't see Charles Minor get fired, he's done working at the Scranton branch.

There were so many great moments in "Broke," it was probably my favorite episode of the season, too.

"Been there, done that."

JamesG said...

I didn't get the impression that Charles was fired either. There was really no basis for it. Michael left the company because David Wallace snubbed him, and Charles had done nothing to do with that or the loss of clients. Not to mention, David's adamant rejection of that term seems to me that his job was safe. Michael was acting rather cocky at the end (rightfully so), so Charles went along with it. However, for all we saw on screen, he should still be the DM Vice President. His firing would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

One thing I found odd about the buyout was the idea that Michael wouldn't always have become a DM employee again after the acquisition. All they're really buying are his client relationships, so he should be an integral part of the deal for at least a while. If he just leaves after receiving the payment, DM runs the risk of all the clients moving to Staples or some other competitor. I can see the hesitance at taking on Pam and Ryan, but certainly not Michael, especially since they still need to fill the Regional Manager role anyway.

Stephanie said...

Terrific episode. I laughed out loud at the Titans of industry, tight-ends and quarterbacks, bit. I love it when Michael misunderstands things.

I have to say I'm shocked that Charles would ever believe that Dwight was the go-to guy. Dwight's out there personality can never stay quiet for long, and I would've thought that such nonsense as the apiary would have come out much sooner. It's not enough to lessen my enjoyment of this episode, but it seemed odd to me.

I agree that Charles wasn't fired, but I got the impression that David discussed the situation with him while Michael "had the room", so Charles just let it go. I assumed he didn't care about Michael's behavior since his job was safe and he was moving into another position.

andythesaint said...

It simply never occurred to Jim that he'd score huge points and make up all the ground he'd lost by stepping up and revealing what he knew about Michael ready to go out of business?You're surprised that he didn't use information his fiancee confided to him as part of his role as her partner for his own personal gain? Could it be because Jim's not a monster?

Kelly said...

This episode was pure brilliance. I loved everything about it; like you Alan I was on the edge of my seat, certain that Michael would screw it up. When he told David he didn't have to outlast DM, just outlast him, I cheered loudly.

And let me add to the Jim love. His performance in this episode was fantastic, everything about it was classic Jim and I loved every moment of it.

Andrew said...

Regarding those surprised Jim didn't suck up to Charles - Jim really doesn't suck up to anyone. It's not an attitude thing, but it appears that he knows who his character is, and what he/she would do. Remember, he practically had to be dragged to get a haircut to look presentable for his interview for Jan's job, which is as close to sucking up as he's been able to pull-off. His attempts to cow-tow to Charles were met with more discomfort and Charles riding him harder.

I believe Jim's character is one more of the wise prankster - and we saw it in effect last night. Play the little games with Dwight, causing Dwight's reputation to fall, raising Jim's rep in the bargain. David Wallace at least had a read on Jim, and we learned that Charles couldn't read anyone.

Plus, that buyout will likely pay for PB&J's wedding now.

Tiana said...

Am I the only one who has watched the last month of The Office and pretended that Mr. Minor is actually Stringer Bell, off-camera in the Wire S3?

When McNulty quits trailing him to business classes, he actually gets that degree and Dunder Mifflin is one of the businesses he uses to hide Bawl'more drug money.
I did last night!! There were a few moments where he had the same tone as Stringer! Or maybe I just miss The Wire that much!

A2A Addict said...

Hey Guys!

Just in case you weren't aware,
the MSPC website was updated last night after the episode.

http://www.michaelscottpapercompany.com/news/

Jordan said...

To echo someone above, what show are you guys watching? There are three running themes in this comment thread that don't make a whole lot of sense: (1) Michael got nothing out of this, (2) Jim should have sold them out, (3) Charles got fired.

People have well covered (3), so I want to touch on the first two. As Phyllis pointed out, this was all about respect. Going back to the deposition we've had the issue of Michael needing respect and whether the company gives it to him. Now they do. As for the second point, Jim would do anything for Pam. If he even thought of killing her career instead of saving it for the chance of a little more credit from a boss he can't stand in a job he wouldn't fight to save, it would be so out of character it would be distracting.

Something great about this show, and this episode in particular, is how it breaks from sitcom standards. In the elevator, we knew the hacky sitcom thing to do was to have him immediately say he was broke, so of course he did the opposite (or at least spun it to a point of his power). And as for everything going back to normal, well not really, Pam has a new job and Michael has a lot of character development.

timburns said...

I just found it weird that Jim was floundering so badly with the new boss, and he didn't even consider making a play to score some much-needed points. I didn't expect them to make him blow the deal, but it would be nice if he at least had to think about it.No offense, JJ, 'cause this is about a fictional world, but I'm sorta glad i don't work with you or date you. In TVland, you're a bit too ruthless for my tastes .

Anonymous said...

"It simply never occurred to Jim that he'd score huge points and make up all the ground he'd lost by stepping up and revealing what he knew about Michael ready to go out of business?"But Jim did use the knowledge to his advantage by scoring points with Wallace, who's opinion of him matters much more than Charles' opinion.

After Dwight's Bee suggestions made both he and Charles look stupid, Wallace sent Jim to MSPC to 'convince' them to enter negotiations with D-M, which he did. Only Jim knew that MSPC was broke, and that there wouldn't be much convincing. So, Jim came out looking good to Wallace, while Charles and Dwight looked stupid.

EOTW said...

This show is lame mostly in how predictable it has become. Only two things caught my eye last night:

1)That great shot of Pan sitting in the car in the short skirt with those great legs. She needs to wear shorter skirts with bare legs more often.

2) The great shot of Pam's well-rounded, firm and supple backside as she sat down net to the guys on the floor.

Sorry, but that was all I could think about. Call me a sleaze. So be it.

seeker65 said...

My "Man in Korea" said the van said "Scranton Hallelujah" written phonetically followed by "GO" and "Now".

Brilliant episode. Great plotting and and character payoff. I knew that Michael was going to blow it but still somehow come out on top. Instead he completely owned "The Room". I had a big smile on my face because I was so proud of him. How this character has grown in 5 years!

So Cal said...

I am late to the party on "The Office". I have only been watching since the Super Bowl episode (first i've ever seen), and i have been very impressed. This was my favorite episode so far, by far.

I too, was very nervous that Mcihael would breakdown in the meeting, but it was great to see him kick Dunder's ass in negotiations, and to see Jim play Charles hatred of him against Dwight.

And of course, teh most satisfying part...Michael kicking Charles out of the office without letting him say goodbye...Michael was so happy!

Great show, can't wait to catch up this summer on the previous seasons.

So Cal said...

I am late to the party on "The Office". I have only been watching since the Super Bowl episode (first i've ever seen), and i have been very impressed. This was my favorite episode so far, by far.

I too, was very nervous that Mcihael would breakdown in the meeting, but it was great to see him kick Dunder's ass in negotiations, and to see Jim play Charles hatred of him against Dwight.

And of course, teh most satisfying part...Michael kicking Charles out of the office without letting him say goodbye...Michael was so happy!

Great show, can't wait to catch up this summer on the previous seasons.

Commodore said...

What, nobody else showing the love for Pam's wry rant about the child and the car? Personally, that was my loudest chuckle right there.

Bryan Murray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryan Murray said...

Loved the Pam-child talking head. The best thing to come out of all this is that Pam has finally been given more to do and she has a new job.

What was the dialogue for the "case of the missing beets?" It had something to do with Mose in socks which may have been the funniest thing said the entire episode - which was awesome.

Non-sequitor: I'm sorry but a really good episode of The Office is just better than any episode of 30 Rock. 30 Rock is set in another world most of the time and it's hard for me to connect. Would love to hear more opinions on that though.

Felipe said...

The episode was good but I didn't like what they did with Dwight (and the bees stuff), he doesn't get to justify it, and after he was told it was a bad idea it looked forced that he keep on talking about it (specially in front of David, where he's usually very quiet and respectful). Bottom line, it seemed the writers dumbed him down on purpose, I'm sure there could have been other ways to show him as a fool.

I wonder how the relation between Michael & Dwight evolve. It would be nice to see more confrontation there.

Anonymous said...

Charles' current position has him as the overseer for a whole bunch of different branches. My read on the result of the negotiations is that Charles continues in his present job, except that Scranton is no longer within his purview. This means that Michael would report to David, which is what Michael originally requested.

EOTW said...

30 Rock > The Office

Sam said...

Great recap Alan, I absolutely loved this episode!

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Michael asking for Charles to be fired was part of his negotiations. He asked for something outrageous that he did not really want in order to make something else outrageous (hiring not just himself but two others, one of whom had cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars) seem less outrageous than it was. And by saving it until the end of the bargaining, when everything else was in place, he made it much harder for Wallace to say no.

Crowning. Moment. Of. Awesome.

AJ said...

"No Jim, I use a bad apiarist."

Sonia said...

I loved loved LOVED Pam's face when Michael was kicking ass in the negotiations...OMG, I honestly felt the same way!! You just weren't sure if he was going to blow it or not, and he couldn't have been better!!

I don't think Charles was fired, but Scranton is no longer his responsibility -- and Michael will report directly to Dave, who is the only superior at DM that gets him, so that's good.

Faves from last night are "how the turn tables..." and Jim's talking head (rather kissing head) when dave showed up to talk to Charles. Hilarious!!!

Brian J said...

"I didn't get the impression that Charles was fired either. There was really no basis for it. Michael left the company because David Wallace snubbed him, and Charles had done nothing to do with that or the loss of clients. Not to mention, David's adamant rejection of that term seems to me that his job was safe. Michael was acting rather cocky at the end (rightfully so), so Charles went along with it. However, for all we saw on screen, he should still be the DM Vice President. His firing would be a lawsuit waiting to happen."

Maybe, but New York is at at will firing state, as I recently learned (not because I was fired, mind you), so perhaps if they wanted him gone, they could do it through that. But like others have said, Charles is gone from Scranton, not from Dunder Mifflin.

Kensington said...

"Charles was NOT fired. What show were you guys watching?"Well, I was watching the show that ended with Michael throwing Charles out of the Scranton branch without letting him say goodbye.

Maybe that isn't "fired," but he's gone from Scranton, which I assumed was all Michael really wanted.

Kensington said...

Whoops! Didn't mean to repeat previous comments. The later ones weren't there when I last called up the page.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite Office episodes ever...

Best small moment for me was Kevin giving the delayed "Hello" when David started speaking and showing a total lack of group social awareness

Anonymous said...

My one gripe about this story arc -- imagine if Ryan hadn't been in the first few episodes this season? They find him at the bowling alley, and then bring him on board. That would have been tremendous. It was still a really great few weeks of television.

I just can't believe that they could write a "human chessboard" type of episode and also have it be hilarious. Just absolutely superb writing and directing.

I loved the random Korean woman showing up in the van.

Also, Jim's face during Michael's final returning hero scene was great. A look of total relief and satisfaction that he managed to pull this all off.

Dan Jardine said...

Now I know that they have a new receptionist at the branch, but how much fun would it be to see Ryan back in the receptionist chair and Pam in his old desk as a salesperson?

That would be awesome.

David said...

The Case Of The Missing Beets.

Mose In Socks!

I had to rewind I was laughing so hard.

Number Five said...

Agreed about the awesome-ness. Within the context of knowing things would generally work out, they did a great job of handling everything.

Thanks to the commenters above who clarified about the pricing models - but the show was very good at explaining what MSPC's problem was. As their variable costs increased, they couldn't match them with increasing their prices, because the super low prices were the only thing allowing them to siphon off business from Dunder Mifflin. The problems were linked. Which is one reason why it's so hard to start a business and why most new business need some kind of funding to get them through their initial inability to turn a profit. Of course, that's even assuming MSPC could have continued to increase sales, since they had probably poached all the DM clients they could get and new customers would be rare in the depressed economy. In reality, shareholder meetings aside, DM still had more leverage over Michael than vice versa...but that's a tiny complaint.

It was great seeing Michael make the MSPC a temporary success, but now that's he back, it is an interesting question to see if he'll develop further, be more ambitious about either business or his outside life. I can see it going either way. Ryan, I love as a complete sleazeball, so no problem if he doesn't learn anything. I'm looking forward to see Pam finally take a big step forward, though...that should be great. Especially after she couldn't even get a retail job - I thought Michael would sympathize after his stint at the telemarketer.

I also loved the shirt/tie pairings. And the episode was another illustration that Dwight is like Michael, a good salesman but a terrible manager, due to his complete lack of social awareness.

And were they suggesting Ryan went to rehab? That doesn't really make sense since he's been more of an asshole, but between him saying he went to Fort Lauderdale, refusing a drink, etc...were we supposed to pick up on that?

I love both The Office and 30 Rock, and I'm glad they air in that order - after the hilarious but usually extremely awkward Office, we get the unrelenting straight-up zaniness of 30 Rock. Good times all around.

jimmo said...

"And were they suggesting Ryan went to rehab?"

Ryan himself said it, (paraphrasing)- "Since I've been clean, the fresh morning air makes me sick."

Not specifically rehab I guess, but close. I assumed Fort Lauderdale = rehab.

Kevin Hines said...

Alan,

you mention you had two complaints (one quasi).
What was the other one?

I though Carrell, directed the Casino episode. Appears I was wrong. He is certainly attaching himself to some great episodes.

How many left this season?

Dan Barrett said...

I'd just like to mention the total dick move on behalf of whomever runs the @theofficenbc Twitter feed for spoiling the MSPC buyout plot development just hours after the show initially aired.

Looks like I'll be ignoring any official NBC Twitter feeds in the future.

SAT analogies said...

30 Rock:Seinfeld as Office:Cheers

Ron said...

What has been so great about this arc has been that Stringer Bell-like bosses are a constant in the world, it is a hard cruel fact of life! To see him get his come-uppance from Michael, who is such a moron, but now and then shows such clear-headed brilliance, was so satisfying. If only this kind of fantasy could play itself out in our real lives!

Dave said...

I've dutifully read/skimmed each post and am suprised nobody really touched on this:

We've had 4 or 5 eps in a row with each one moving into progressively more awkward, uncomfortable, cringe-inducing territory.... All leading up to this. The denouement of this arc (which began with Charles' arrival) had my wife and I high-fiving each other and cheering for Michael - whom we both regard as a clown/loser - and realizing that he's come a long way since the beginning of the series. He started off as a monster, and has actually become quite a sympathetic character as we've learned more about him. Who thought we'd be rooting for THIS guy?

Thrilled for Jim, as well, whom I regard as a stand-in for all us working stiffs stuck in jobs we hate but can't afford to leave at the moment.

The victories in this episode were hard-fought, well-earned and a breath of fresh air. The last time I felt this good off of a TV show was last year on LOST, when Desmond and Penny found each other out in the middle of the ocean. How often does a show - even one you really enjoy - give you that "Yeah, we won one!" feeling?

Anonymous said...

to DAN BARRET - you have only yourself to blame. That's like Tivo'ong the Super Bowl and getting mad when you go on espn.com and they have a recap of the game. Do you also check out AmericanIdol.com on wednesday nights hoping to find out who the guest singers were but not who was eliminated?

bombaygirl said...

I loved this episode! I've only watched it once, but I thought it was the same Korean woman who got into the van. Which made it even funnier, for me. Michael was brilliant. And Ryan is growing on me...though I still can't forgive him for what he did to Kelly ;)

dez said...

Michael asking for Charles to be fired was part of his negotiations. He asked for something outrageous that he did not really want in order to make something else outrageous (hiring not just himself but two others, one of whom had cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars) seem less outrageous than it was. And by saving it until the end of the bargaining, when everything else was in place, he made it much harder for Wallace to say no.That's where his child-like behavior suits him well. You want a dog? Beg your parents for a pony. Pretty soon, a dog will seem like a *great* compromise :-D

@Dan Jardine, that's what I'm thinking will actually happen. Okay, and hoping for, too :-)

I know a few offices that could use some angry bees....

killerlu said...

Dave, I thought the same thing! This was one of the most squirm-inducing and dare i say, suspenseful episodes of "The Office i have ever seen. Perhaps it helped add to the pure enjoyment of the episode at home by watching several episodes in a row. (Thank you, DVR. I know you're a machine, but you are my friend.) By the end, i haven't rooted any stronger for Michael that I did here. The stakes were high and the show was as strong as it's been since (i agree with you, Alan!) the "Holly episodes".

One thing I am looking forward to is how the Michael-Dwight dynamic will play out now.

Henry said...

The van says exactly what Pam thinks it says, "Scranton Hallelujah Church". LOL I cracked up when I saw that.