'The Office': Will Ferrell dunks his way out of Scranton

office-inner-circle-320.jpgThe Will Ferrell interlude on "The Office" ends, not with a whimper but with a bang -- of Deangelo hitting the concrete floor of the warehouse trying to prove a point to Jim.

As we mentioned last week, the show didn't quite seem to know what to do with Ferrell or his character. Thursday's (May 5) episode, "The Inner Circle," was the first (and only) one of his run that really focused on Deangelo as a boss, and it used the character for what we have to assume was his purpose all along: to make Michael Scott look better in hindsight. If that's the case, it worked -- but if that's the case, it's also good that Deangelo Vickers won't be around anymore.

Because, simply put, Deangelo is kind of a jerk. He doesn't respect his job or many (any?) of the people who work for him, he's at the very least an unconscious sexist and he's not a good manager. That several people -- even the usually rational Darryl, who despite the free Chinese classes should really know better -- sucked up to and helped reinforce those qualities made it that much worse. The staff suffered under Michael, sure, but it was a much more benign form of torment because at bottom Michael always wanted people to like him. Deangelo doesn't seem much to care about that.

(Side note: I missed about the first minute of the cold open, but unless it happened during that time there was not one mention of Michael Scott in the episode. It's a smart move on the show's part not to play up Steve Carell's absence, and also probably pretty reflective of real-life office situations. You're much more concerned with the boss you have than the guy used to be there.)

Within Deangelo's brief and unfortunate reign in "The Inner Circle," though, there was a decent amount of comedy. The Ryan-Kelly scenes (the first extended time we've spent with them in quite a while) gave B.J. Novak a fresh chance to remind us why Ryan is such a tool -- we particularly enjoyed their talking head laying out the ground rules for when he's her supervisor (when Deangelo's around) and when he's a good boyfriend (all the time -- after Kelly gives him a nudge with her elbow). And speaking of Ryan and Kelly, do take a listen to the latest tune from Subtle Sexuality.

Pam's overly eager-to-please behavior (reminiscent of the way Jim acted with Charles Miner) and disdainful air-juggling also hit home, as did Dwight's dismissive/borderline insubordinate attitude toward the new boss, until Deangelo screamed at him. ("Few things about me ... I respond to strong leadership").

The way Deangelo and Ferrell exited the show also felt right: Jim's challenge to Deangelo to do a real Jordanesque foul-line dunk is the kind of thing that his old boss would have found a way not to do. Deangelo, however, likes to assert his alpha status whenever possible, so of course he'd use Kevin as a stepladder and then hang on the rim until the hoop tipped over.

The answer to Jim's "What now?" at the end of the episode will play out over the next couple weeks (cue the parade of guest stars!) and probably into next season. But it's probably for the best that Deangelo is headed off to greener pastures and/or intense recuperation from his fall.

A few other notes from "The Inner Circle":

  • We've always known that Gabe is a born sycophant, but even with Jo in his first couple episodes his sucking up didn't seem as egregious as it was tonight. Zach Woods played it very well, particularly the "Magic Jordan" comment and the look of fear that crossed his face when Deangelo corrected him.
  • Brian Baumgartner also had a great episode as Kevin became a proud member of the inner circle. "You hear that, mom?" he tells the camera. "Your boy is part of the inner circle. [Pause; puzzled look.] Which does not exist."
  • Based on Pam's description of her YA novel "The Horseflyer," Jim should probably keep buying those lottery tickets.
  • One more good Kelly moment: her reaction to Deangelo's new assistant having left Anthropologie to work at Dunder Mifflin. "That's my dream job!"
  • The new, Carell-free credits sequence had Rainn Wilson first, but it ended with basically the same shot as the original -- only this time it was Deangelo adjusting a figurine of a Tusken Raider from "Star Wars" on his desk. I'm curious to see what the final two episodes do with that shot.

What did you think of Will Ferrell's last episode of "The Office"?
Photo/Video credit: NBC