"You respect dibs, don't you?" -MichaelThis was just an awful lot of fun. I tend to find Michael and Dwight episodes too uncomfortable at times, because putting the show's two broadest major characters together tends to make them each more cartoonish than usual. But by putting Michael and Dwight at odds, it forced both characters to be just human enough for the story and the jokes to breathe.
"I'm not a barbarian." -Dwight
It also made the occasional broader moments (Dwight stripping down to show he wasn't wearing a wire, Dwight screaming, incredulous, "ARE YOU SAYING YOU INVENTED PAPER?!?!?!?!?" into his cell phone) work better, because they came in contrast to the quieter jokes (like the long pause before Michael accepted that Dwight was talking about him, or the miserable look on Michael's face as he bit into the terrible meatball parm sandwich Dwight set him up to eat), and in an episode where both characters were mostly at the top of their game as salesmen and competitors. I was glad to hear Dwight make a good counter-argument to Mr. Schofield when he barged in, and even gladder to hear Michael quickly turn that around on him, and even gladder to hear Michael's explanation of his hilarious color-coding scheme, which mostly meant that he should shut up about the personal details.
I've been enjoying this season in pretty much all of its phases (Holly, post-Holly), but the Michael Scott Paper Company arc has really kicked things up a notch. The only way it could get any better would be if Michael found a way to hire Holly as his HR rep.
Some other thoughts:
• Aside from the nice moment at the end when Jim assured Andy he'd find someone else eventually, I wasn't crazy about that subplot. I know I complained last week that I was tiring of seeing Jim's unceasing humiliations during the reign of Stringer Bell, but at the same time I spent most of this one wondering what the heck Jim was doing waging an elaborate prank on Andy in the middle of his big professional crisis, and I kept waiting for Charles to step out of his office at exactly the wrong moment.
• Speaking of which, would Charles really -- especially in an episode where he just found out Michael was trying to acquire inside info on Dunder-Mifflin -- let Pam just hang around in the office? And would Jim want to be seen with her in front of Charles?
• The opening montage of the Michael Scott Paper Company staff tossing cheese puffs into each other's mouths -- which either required a lot of practice from Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer and B.J. Novak, or else is something the cast was already doing between takes -- was amusing enough (particularly the final gag with Pam getting bombarded after yawning) that I'll forgive the show for ditching the MSPC version of the opening credits after only one episode.
• Mike Schur may be busy running "Parks and Recreation," but dammit, we need to see Mose again. References to him falling down wells just aren't enough.
• I liked Ryan 3.0 recognizing the genius of the "old man" with the Rolodex. Assuming all three MSPC staffers will eventually rejoin Dunder-Mifflin Scranton, I wonder if he might not be a complete and total douche by the time he's in his old office again.
What did everybody else think?