Quick spoilers for last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I test your politeness...
There were Thursdays last season when "30 Rock" was having an off night, when "My Name Is Earl" was presenting one of its lazier episodes, and when "Kath & Kim" was being... well, "Kath & Kim." And in that context, even a slightly above-average "The Office" stood out as something special. On a night like last night - when "Parks & Recreation" was as brilliant as it's been all season, when "Community" turned in a good showcase for Joel McHale, and when "30 Rock" finally remembered how to be funny most of the time - a relatively small "Office" episode like "Double Date" doesn't seem quite as impressive. (There's a reason it's the only one of the three I didn't attempt to write up before going to bed last night.)
Which isn't to say "Double Date" was bad, just that its ambitions were more modest, and that the episode didn't really know how to end.
Pam's discovery of Michael's relationship with her mom in "The Lover" led to a hilarious episode where Pam got to be loud and irrational while Michael was resembling a voice of reason. Everyone had calmed down by the time of "The Lover," and even Michael's decision to dump Helene on her birthday wasn't so much unfair (he had legitimate, well-articulated reasons, especially when you consider that he is, in fact, Michael Scott) as horribly-timed and uncomfortably-presented.
And then Pam's desire to punch Michael in front of the whole staff - and the staff's desire to see her do it - kind of fizzled. The problem, I think, is that once they set up what Pam wanted to do, there was nowhere for it to go - as Oscar noted to Kevin, there was really only one outcome (Pam hits Michael) - and even though they messed with the timing (Pam gives up, then hits him anyway after Michael tries to blame her mom) and the style (a slap instead of a punch), it was one of those things that the audience had built up in the same way the staff had, and there was no way the moment could live up to that build-up.
Dwight and Andy's subplot was a nice showcase for Ed Helms, and an illustration of how Dwight still doesn't really understand how society works, but it got repetitive after a while. I kept waiting for a twist on them trying to out-favor the other, but it was just a lot of variations on the same joke.
What did everybody else think?