'The Office' Season 7, Episode 2 Recap (VIDEO)
by Joel Keller, posted Oct 1st 2010 1:00AM
['The Office' - 'Counseling']
For those of you who are new to my recaps of 'The Office' and were annoyed that I disliked last week's episode so much, you can rest easy: This week's was a vast improvement, a solid return to the office-centric form that more often than not makes for funny episodes. Why did this one work? Because everyone at Dunder-Mifflin Scranton acted like themselves, like the characters that they have established. Yes, even Michael Scott acted like Michael Scott.
Last week's awkward spanking incident -- what Michael calls "corporate punishment" -- led to a great counseling session between Michael and his arch-enemy Toby. It was a meeting of the minds in a way... which mush-brained office drone will get the upper hand, the wimpy one or the childish one? It was fascinating to watch.
I will give Toby credit: he didn't let Michael off the hook for a very long time. Michael sat silently for an hour, then, when pressed to talk, gave BS about being raised by wolves. "I was 32 the first time I saw a human being." Three hours went by and Toby hung in there, not letting Michael get credit for time served, as it were.
In fact, Toby managed to hit on a great way to get Michael to open up, stumbling on the fact that you needed to treat him with child psychology methods. Play some Connect Four with him, engage him in conversation, draw him out. It gave us some good insight into what makes Michael the middle-aged man-child he is. No real father figure to speak of, combined with an overprotective mother who slept around a bit was a combination that led to the needy adult sitting across from Toby.
But, I was surprised that Michael caught on to what he was doing, as soon as things got too personal and he said "we're not in counseling." But somehow Toby managed to turn the tables. Did he know that Michael would fill out his own evaluation form to say that he was homicidally deranged? Probably not; Toby's not that clever. But it worked. "You have your notepad? OK, let's knock it out," he said, after the two of them bonded over Gabe's lameness.
What intrigued me more than the session, though, was Pam's ballsiness in creating herself a "office administrator" position, because -- let's face it -- we all know that she's way too nice to be a good salesperson. How she's skated by on barely any sales to this point is beyond me. "Most of your pay is based on sales!" she whined. "If you don't make any sales, you barely get any money! Ok, that's pretty fair."
Everything about how she went about creating the job for herself was ingenious: negotiating salary with Oscar via her speculation on what she thinks the position pays; getting Meredith and Angela to sign her request; finally, seeing Gabe's inability to say anything definitive within the confines of the office. "Just say it..." she said to him. "Say that I'm lying or say I have the job. Make a definitive statement, Gabe." All the poker watching while feeding the little Halpert have paid off. "You don't play the cards, you play your opponent," she says proudly. Good for her! I'd rather Pam buy chairs and nameplates than try to sell printers.
More fun stuff:
-- The Dwight / 'Pretty Woman' storyline was OK. It's an attempt to humanize him a bit as we figure out if he's fit to take over the office once Michael leaves. The best part about it was Kelly running in to say 'Big mistake!' as Andy was describing the scene to the camera. And being turned away for bloody-looking beet hands seems like a legit reason for denial of service as any I've heard.
-- Great to see Mose Schrute again (played so creepily by Mike Schur, producer of 'Parks and Recreation'). That was the saddest day care center I've ever seen. Best sight gag: An Insane Clown Posse poster made kid-friendly by crossing out the first and third words of the band's name. Wonder how Mose and Dwight got out of the room after Jim locked him out?
-- Mindy Kaling's getting great lines this year: "I talk so much, I tune myself out."
-- Biggest laugh out loud moment? Erin taking the definition of "disposable camera" literally by throwing the camera out after it's done. "If you want to remember the day, use a real camera," she admonishes the audience. "I don't care if I remembered today."
'The Office' airs Thursdays at 9PM ET on NBC.
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