The Office (BBC): Episode 2
by Annie Wu, posted Jun 6th 2006 11:38PM
Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of your favorite shows, in order, every week.
(S01E02) In the very beginning of this episode, we saw David Brent showing a hot, new, female employee (whom we'd later know as Donna) around his office. To work his humor, he pretended to throw his office answering machine out the window, jokingly frustrated with all the messages. As he started to set it back down, the machine slipped out of his hand and fell on the floor, clattering next to the trash can. The sheer seamlessness of this brief moment (and Brent's frantic mumbling) still throws me into hysterics. I love it when a moment looks so organic that I can't tell if it was improvised, accidental, or geniusly scripted.
The possibility of downsizing continued to loom above Brent's branch, but he still promised all of his employees that there wouldn't be any redundancies. It's obvious Brent cares more about his popularity than telling the truth. As they cut away from one of the "talking heads" (the single-person interviews scattered throughout each episode), we saw Brent finish up a joke in front of the employees. All we heard was "... it works with the turtle" and genuine laughter from everyone. Fun fact: That is one of two times that we hear Brent's co-workers truly laughing with him. The only other time I have ever seen this was in the very end of the second Christmas special. Anyway, all the guys seemed pretty pleased to have such a looker on the team. When Brent told everyone he's good friends with Donna's parents, one of which is a cop, the boys made off-color jokes about giving her something to take down as evidence or escaping up her tunnel. All the men got a chuckle after the first two remarks but the third one suddenly made Brent send him out of the room. The looks on their faces (and Brent's, looking like he's protecting Donna, even though he was laughing just as hard as the rest of them) were priceless.
The main storyline of this episode was a dirty picture circulating everyone's inboxes. Someone secretly Photoshopped Brent's face onto a woman's body in a pornographic picture and sent it to everyone in the office. What follows is one my favorite moment from the episode:
Brent: Who else has seen this filth? You know what I'm talking about. Who else has seen this filth?
[Absolutely everyone slowly raises their hand; Brent looks around the room and sees the cleaning lady with her hand up]
Brent: You haven't even got e-mail, Joan!
Joan: Someone printed it out for me...
Brent: Who printed this out for Joan?!
[Again, everyone slowly raises their hand]
Brent admitted that he was angry, but not because it was his face in the picture, but because pornography degrades women -- which he hates. He recruited his right-hand man, Gareth, to figure out whodunnit. He took his job very seriously, making signs for his makeshift office (really, the meeting room) and peering seriously through the blinds while questioning the employees. However, he found time to work his charms with Donna, asking, "Isn't Schindler's List a brilliant film?"
Meanwhile, Brent had Jennifer Taylor-Clark breathing down his neck about making some changes in the Slough branch. As they were trying to discuss, Gareth walked in with a floppy disk full of dirty pictures that he found on Tim's computer. He tried demonstrating on Brent's computer how he found these pictures by going through the History information, but that made Brent really nervous. "I don't really want to know how it's done... in a way... um... Can you delete the History thing?"
After Brent angrily confronted Tim, Tim revealed that it was really Chris Finch, one of the company representatives and Brent's best friend (and quite the douchebag), who did the picture as a joke. Brent couldn't help but laugh and tried shrugging the entire thing off. However, the other workers and Jennifer insisted Brent apologize to Tim and confront Finch. Brent then called up Finch and fired him... that is, until Jennifer hit the speaker phone button and revealed that Brent was just talking to the talking clock guy (y'know, the machine that gives the accurate time again and again). I loved how Gareth quietly checked his watch.
Final thoughts: This episode really revealed where Brent's loyalties were. He obviously cared more about people liking him than getting the job done. Plus, he's a bit of a pretentious bastard. Chris Finch makes an appearance in the next few episodes and he really puts Brent to shame. While Tim and the boys were hanging out with Donna, we could see Dawn silently staring, unable to do anything. We also saw mild flirtation between Donna and the new temp, Ricky (funnily enough, these same two actors would have a love storyline in the show Green Wing, as well).