'The Office': Don't let your mouth write a check your Nard-Dog can't cash

office-incentive.jpgWe now know why Robert California picked Andy Bernard to be Dunder Mifflin's new branch manager -- and we got a firmer idea of why the "The Office's" real-life bosses chose Ed Helms. "The Incentive" was a more assured take on the new dynamic at Dunder Mifflin, and we're happy to see the progress.

The episode also gave a little more insight into Robert's personality and how, as showrunner Paul Lieberstein said in our interview, he likes to control any interaction he's part of. Witness his observation that Erin and Andy like one another, then near-immediate loss of interest when Andy starts in with their history.

And, OK, we can't say be blame him, but it goes to the point Lieberstein was making.

Robert also gives a stirring speech about how companies like Dunder Mifflin matter again, and oh by the way you need to double your sales growth and just do it, OK? Andy doesn't know how to do that -- and doesn't have any of the conventional means Jim suggests -- but he does hit on something: a point system by which people can earn (mostly pretty lame) prizes.

Jim goads Andy into promising bigger prizes, up to and including a promise to have something tattooed on his keister for 5,000 points. And since it's OK to pool points ... cut to more work being done in one afternoon than we've seen done in seven years of this show. ("It took them one day," Andy laments.)

The office has been united against the boss plenty of times in the past, but it's never resulted in anything this productive. And the fact that Andy actually goes through with getting ink on his stink? Well, maybe he can inspire people after all -- which is why Robert picked him.

Or, you know, this: "Why did I choose Andy? Because he's all surface, uncomplicated. ... There's something about an underdog that really inspires the unexceptional."

So, yeah -- Robert doesn't really think much of Andy. But he's managed to make everyone else think a little more of Andy, which is probably the important thing, along with Andy maybe believing he can do the job a little more. If this keeps up, the growth of Andy Bernard, manager, could be pretty fun to watch.

Other notes from "The Incentive":

  • Passive-aggressiveness suits Dwight Schrute rather well, doesn't it? The show has played with Dwight's rage issues so much over the years that it's nice to watch Rainn Wilson play a bit of a different note.
  • Jim is once again acting as the guy behind the guy with Andy, but it too feels a little different. With Michael, Jim was most often trying to prevent disaster. That may well be the case down the road with Andy too, but at least here it felt like he was trying to encourage Andy toward a more positive goal.
  • So Kevin's new way of speaking in the cold open: Was it more Cookie Monster or Tarzan, Tonto and Frankenstein for you? I guess we see when him president.
  • If I were, I think I would steer a mile or two clear of having Angela as a pregnancy buddy. Pam should know better, don't you think?

What did you think of "The Incentive"? Might Andy have what it takes after all?

Photo/Video credit: NBC