'The Office': Climb aboard the murder train

stevecarell_theoffice_s6_290.jpgThursday's "Office" presented a weird sort of looking-glass situation for me, as someone who works for a company that's currently making its way through bankruptcy. The situation, as far as I know, has never been quite as dire as Dunder Mifflin's apparently is now. But I still kind of wish there had been a murder-mystery game in the office to distract us when I heard the news.

Because Michael did have that game in his office cabinet, though, the Scranton branch managed to keep its mind (mostly) off the bad situation at work and made way for some silly fun with accents, Andy and Erin crossing their signals and a glimpse into how Michael's irresponsible management can be to everyone's benefit.

The obvious question going forward is what the very bad news David Wallace delivered to Jim -- that Dunder Mifflin will be insolvent by the end of the year (which, by the way, is a hell of a lot worse than a bankruptcy reorganization) -- will mean for our characters. Unless "The Office" has a very bleak and premature ending in mind, I'm guessing that it won't involve everyone losing their jobs and going their separate ways. But it feels like there are a lot of storytelling possibilities to be had from this development, whether it be Michael Scott Paper v2.0, a last-minute save via Jim's supermarket pitch or any number of other things.

But in the meantime, there's been a murder in Savannah. And although the game was obviously a way for Michael to keep the looming clouds from corporate off his mind, in this case him projecting his emotions worked out for the rest of the team as well.

That said, though, I'm getting concerned that the co-manager storyline isn't finding many new beats to play. We've seen the Levelheaded Jim-vs.-Impulsive Michael dynamic play out dozens of times on the show now, and we've seen Jim come around to understanding the method of Michael's madness more than a few times. And while Jim composing himself and realizing that keeping the game going would be good was a very nice moment, I feel like there needs to be some new juice injected into the Michael-Jim relationship.

I think that's why Jim's idea to go after the supermarket chain is sticking in my head. "The Office" doesn't throw things like that out casually, and part of me wonders whether that will be something that will A) rescue the company and B) give Jim the upper hand in the branch, which would definitely give a kick to his dealings with Michael. I kind of hope so.

But that's all for the future. We'll head into the bullets now with several of the fine comedy moments from the murder-mystery game and the rest of the episode.

  • Poor Andy, poor Erin. As my colleague Alan Sepinwall noted, it's almost as if the "Office" writers are replaying the Jim-Pam courtship with these two, but in a much more overtly goofy way. Erin's talking head (was that her first solo time with the documentary cameras?) about thinking Andy was asking her out for real, not just in the game, was a little bit heartbreaking. I hope they get things figured out, because I would love to see these two goobers on a date together.
  • Andy showing off his facility with accents was amusing, but Kevin crushing him -- "He's [the Swedish Chef] from 'Sesame Street,' dumbass" -- was genius. (Note: The Swedish Chef was actually a "Muppet Show" character.)
  • The closing bit, in which Andy, Dwight and Michael all reveal themselves as double agents -- and Pam gets in on the standoff as well, preventing Jim from going home -- was a strong one. All three guys also died spectacular fake deaths, with Dwight especially committing to the bit (his miming of the blood spurting from his chest was outstanding).
  • It was a really good physical comedy episode for Rainn Wilson all around. His karate opening, where he fought off himself, was pretty brilliant.
  • And, of course, there's the Creed Bratton moment of the week. The moment he pulled up, you kind of knew he'd be hightailing out when he heard about the "murder." But Bratton still played it expertly -- and him driving a massive old Lincoln seems like the just the right touch.
What did you think of "The Office" this week? How do you think the bad news will affect Dunder Mifflin Scranton going forward?

Related:

'The Office': Subtle Sexuality will invade your brain