Tonight, The Office gives us two episodes. I’m presuming this is because of that missed week last year when Superstorm Sandy forced repeats of The Voice and Revolution to be aired in its stead, but I don’t know for sure.
Tonight’s episodes actually continue directly from the big reveal from last week when we met, for the first time, the people behind the camera. In both “Junior Salesman” and “Vandalism,” Brian the Consoling Mic Guy takes an onscreen role. And, over the course of the hour, we learn that he’s incredibly creepy. Disturbingly so. It’s like the second he broke the fourth wall, something triggered in his brain. I hesitate to call it the renowned “perv switch,” but that smile at the end of “Junior Salesman…”
When we first see him tonight during the cold open of “Junior Salesman,” he’s asking Pam about the fallout from the Jim/Pam fight from the previous week. She says that they’re fine and worked everything out, but I’m sure there are lingering issues. At the end, Jim is giving a voiceover about how important his seat is, because it was from that chair that he saw Pam every day and fell in love her. As he speaks these words, we cut to Brian lecherously grin at Mrs. Halpert while gripping his mic.
During “Vandalism,” he becomes even weirder. The title refers to a warehouse worker vandalizing Pam’s mural with butts for no discernible reason, though he does accuse her of having a stick up hers. Butt that is. For vengeance, Dwight and Pam vandalize his car with their own murals (Dwight’s on the butt of his car). He sees this and runs after them angrily. Brian, noticing Pam in danger, wields his mighty mic saber and knocks him down. (Didn’t see him do that when Roy threatened Jim.) They briefly fight, and then we learn that both Brian and the warehouse worker (Frank?) got fired from their respective jobs. Pam looks sad when Brian leaves, and he tells her if she needs anything, she can call him. I don’t know how the show wants to us to read this “blossoming” relationship. If he’s a genuinely good guy, if he’s the Cathy (remember her?) of Season 9, or what, but Brian came across as very off-putting to me. Though if the show goes completely off the rails and has him kidnapping Pam, I would definitely give The Office credit for meeting its final season with guns ablazing.
But Brian The Creep was just one of the many happenings going on over tonight’s Dunder Mifflin hour. The first episode tonight, “Junior Salesman,” was the better of the two, and also one of the few that concentrated exclusively on a single plot. With Jim spending so much of his time with Athlead, David Wallace decides to hire a junior salesman and puts Dwight in charge of the hiring process. Although Clark wants the job (and ends up getting it), Dwight wants to give it to one of his friends. This means we get to meet a bunch of Dwight’s allies and relations. Mose comes back, and I was glad to have at least one final Mose runaway before the series leaves the airwaves. Dwight’s old babysitter from “Dinner Party” also returns. Matt Jones, best known as Badger from Breaking Bad, makes his first appearance as Dwight’s cousin- a role that would have been expanded had The Farm been picked up. And Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! also plays one of Dwight’s friends, but he is sadly underused. I am looking forward to the deleted scenes to see if he shows up in any of them.
At the end, Dwight realizes that none of the weirdos he associates with would be good as a salesman, but he can’t bear to break the bad news. So he enlists Jim, who is actually in Scranton for the episode, to take the blame and say that he refuses to hire any of them. Regardless, all of Dwight’s friends leave hating him. Jim also has a small plot that involves him asking David Wallace to become an investor with Athlead, but Wallace immediately refuses. It takes up less than a phone call but it’s nice to see continuity with last week’s story when a major investor dropped out of the venture.
“Vandalism” ends up truer to format with several storylines. I’ve already mentioned the main plot with Pam’s mural being vandalized. (And I am glad I was wrong about it being a painting of everyone in the office.) The other two big ones take place out of Dunder Mifflin, but it’s not annoying like last season when practically every episode shoved us out of the office.
Continuing the show’s decision to follow Athlead, we stick with Darryl during his beginnings at the new job. Using sick days to establish himself with the firm, Darryl is subletting an apartment with Jim near Philadelphia. Darryl’s clean, Jim’s messy, and Darryl’s annoyed. Thankfully, the show doesn’t over-Odd Couple it by turning it too comedic or making it too dramatic. I can’t say that this story felt important or necessary or even entertaining, but as filler, it wasn’t as egregious as “Lice.”
Finally, as I mentioned last week, we actually do see Angela’s crazy adventures as a state senator’s wife. Summoned to a campaigning event along with Oscar, she feels upset due to her husband’s torn loyalty. Oscar is honored until he realizes that he’s just being used as a token Mexican for a picture. Kevin, who tags along because no one wants to leave him alone with the money, tells State Senator Lipton that he’s a jerk for using Angela and Oscar since they both care about him. It’s a short segment, but well done. It’s nice that the effects of that storyline still linger, and I liked the bit with the photographer shoving as many minorities as he could find into the picture.
• Although I have not yet seen the final episode of 30 Rock, I have to say it was a fun seven years with the show. I enjoyed the ride consistently, which is more than I can say for some series.
• It’s been 12 weeks of show time since the start of this season.
• I would like to see Dwight’s Dunder Mifflin uniforms.
• Andy’s still gone and now he’s officially been absent for half the season.
• In another creepy “Vandalism” moment, Brian “cutely” bops Pam with the mic when she complains about being alone.
• Next week, finally, the return of Community!!!