'The Office' Season 7, Episode 22 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted May 6th 2011 12:30AM
Tonight, we finally got our first glimpse of what 'The Office' is going to be like without Steve Carell. And, I've got to be honest with you; the episode did have its funny moments, mainly because characters that we haven't seen or heard much of lately came out of the woodwork and acted funny for the first time in a long time.
But overall, you can just feel that the show has changed in a very fundamental way, and not just because Will Ferrell's character of Deangelo Vickers is so Will Ferrell-ish. For now, at least, the show is no longer about discomfort, and it's no longer about drudgery. It's about all the quirky characters in an office, which isn't much different than any workplace sitcom that has been on TV in the last forty years. If this show didn't have seven years of history to back it up, this episode would have made you feel like you were watching 'Suddenly Susan' without a laugh track.
Ok, maybe I'm being too harsh. But that's how I felt as I was watching this episode.
I understand that it's going to take the writers time to rebuild after losing the show's heart, soul, and (yes) emotional center. And I also understand that the show can be successful even if its tone changes. It's probably best that I wait until things settle down sometime next season before I judge whether this transition was successful or not.
But, in between the funny moments, a lot of this episode was painful to watch. We got to know a little bit more about Deangelo this week, and what we found out was that he is as loony as Will Ferrell. I don't get it; I thought we were really getting somewhere last week when we saw that not only is Deangelo a terrible salesman, but he also turns to food in times of crisis. Dwight turning to Jim as Deangelo grabbed chunks of Michael's goodbye cake and saying 'Uh-oh' made me think that Deangelo was going to crack under pressure, and that would end up being his undoing.
Instead, we see a Deangelo that seems fully in control of the office, except for moments when he does wacky air juggling. He's even got an inner circle of suck-ups, just based on who didn't challenge him in his big intro meeting (or someone like Kevin who somehow "got" him). There's some vague notion that he might be ignoring the women, but it seems to be ignored as soon as Jim challenges him to do a Michael Jordan dunk like he claims he can.
At this point, you start to wonder what's going to be the thing that makes Deangelo leave Dunder Mifflin Scranton. Does he snap? Are his bad sales skills discovered? Is he exposed for being sexist and gets slapped with a harassment suit? Nope, the reason why he leaves the office is that he executes the dunk by stepping on Kevin for help, then hangs onto the rim too long and gets crushed by the warehouse's basket. He doesn't die, but as we saw in the credit tag, he ain't OK, either.
Yikes. That's something you'd see on 'Just Shoot Me,' not 'The Office.' It could just be that Ferrell's brand of comedy was just too big and broad for the room. Or it could be a sign of things to come. Not sure.
The positive signs, though, lead me to think that Paul Lieberstein and company are going to figure this out eventually. We got Dwight taking a stand against sucking up, basically being the complete opposite of how he had been for much of Michael Scott's time at DM. He's probably still angry that he got passed over for the manager's job. But it was good that, when he got texted to be in the inner circle, he said "NO!", and it was funny that when Deangelo told him about his cousin who figured out the formula for Coke, Dwight said, "Good for your one cousin. I have 70 cousins, each better than the last!" The only time he became a suck-up was when Deangelo threatened him with his job -- "I respond to strong leadership," he said in a shell-shocked manner.
We also got Pam doing a great impression of Deangelo's pantomime juggling, especially with no hands, Kelly blackmailing Ryan into being a good boyfriend as long as he gets to pretend to be her boss when Deangelo is around, and Andy saying he'll defend the women because he wrote a response to 'The Vagina Monologues' that he called 'The Penis Apologies.' And, hopefully Jordan can stay in the office so Kelly can pump her for information on her "dream job," which just happens to be working at Anthropologie.
If we see more of these glimmers in season eight, I'll feel OK about this show. But if we're going to end up seeing a lot of broad moments like Deangelo getting squashed by a basket, this show's going to go into the "stayed at the party too long" pile in a hurry.
More fun stuff:
-- Gabe is so unmanly that he combined Magic Johnson's and Michael Jordan's names.
-- Darryl: "The guy is paying me to learn Chinese, so I'll tell him whatever I have to tell him, hopefully in Chinese."
-- Kelly: "Ryan's barely had a job here for years. No one really knows what he does."
-- Did Jim challenge Deangelo because he was defending his wife and the other women in the office or because he got kicked out of the inner circle when he brought up the sexism issue?
-- The opening credits started off with Rainn Wilson, but then they had to fill in the Michael-less gaps with crazy antics from everyone else in the office. It felt oddly strange. Nice in-joke, though, with Deangelo straightening a voodoo statue on his desk like Michael straightened his Dundie award.
-- Dwight: "If I wanted to see a pissing contest, I'd lock Mose in the chicken coop." When, oh when is Mike Schur going to don the Mose beard again? Every time Dwight mentions Mose, it makes me want to see him that much more.
-- Next week's episode is entitled 'Dwight Schrute, (Acting) Manager.' This is probably going to be as irritating as those two episodes of 'M*A*S*H' when Frank Burns was in charge. But that may be a funny brand of irritating.
'The Office' airs Thursdays at 9PM ET on NBC.
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Watch the full episode here: