The Office: "Casual Friday" 
B+

The Office: "Casual Friday" 

B+

The Office

"Casual Friday" 

Season 5, Episode 24

First off, I would like to apologize for the late nature of this post. I had the second part of a root canal performed today; I guess the part that involves the actual root canal. I have so much Novocaine coursing through my system that I closed my eyes for a minute and was out like a light. Sorry bout that.

Tonight’s episode found Michael Scott returning semi-triumphantly to power as the head of Dunder-Mifflin. But the great Dunder Mifflin-Michael Scott Paper Company Civil War of 2009 War—a vicious life or death skirmish that pitted co-worker against co-worker and fiancé against fiance—left deep scars. Michael, Ryan and Pam formed a smug little clique that lingered unbecomingly in the afterglow of the six-week wonder that was The Michael Scott Paper Company.

When Michael gives new sales-people Ryan and Pam clients the rest of the branch understandably thinks were stolen from them it generates an avalanche of ill will. Dwight took advantage of this lingering resentment and decided to instigate minor mutiny. Though Dwight, as always, took things too far, he had a point. As commenters have pointed out, the re-hiring of Ryan in particular strains credibility. Though the clean, sober and emotionally dead Ryan is great to have back, he is of course a man who disgraced Dunder-Mifflin and himself by stealing from his company.

So you can only imagine how frustrating it would be for the people who didn’t quit so they could be in direct competition with their old company to lose customers to a man like that. Dwight called an secret emergency meeting in a warehouse and furtively plotted against Michael, Ryan and Pam. Though some of the details went a little overboard—like the “disappearing ink” Dwight confesses is his own urine—it prompted a great gag in the long lost Darryl glaring malevolently at the would-be mutineers and hissing, “What’d I tell you about building forts in my warehouse?”

Meanwhile a conflicted Jim decided to opt out of the Michael Vs. Dwight war by hanging out and playing chess and Scrabble with Creed. This led to the following awesome exchange:

Creed: I want to set you up with my daughter.

Jim: I’m engaged to Pam.

Creed: I thought you were gay.

Jim: Then why’d you want to set up me up with your daughter?

Creed: I don’t know.

Meanwhile, Michael’s attempts to ingratiate himself with his bitter employees by reinstituting Casual Friday proves a disaster. Being able to wear whatever they like proved to be far more freedom than the Dunder-Mifflin gang can handle. Meredith abused the loosening of the dress code restrictions by wearing a barely-there dress designed to constantly expose her naked breasts and vagina to her co-workers. Yes, everyone saw entirely too much of Meredith’s vagina tonight.

We also got an X Men Origins: Wolverine-style origin story for Toby. It seems he left seminary after a year so he could pursue the woman who would become his ex-wife and stumbled into the first job he could find. It was a wonderfully half-assed beginning to Toby’s wonderfully half-assed stint as Dunder-Mifflin’s HR person.

When many of the salespeople threatened to quit if Ryan and Pam were given their clients Michael is forced into “what you call a classic difficult decision” (you know, like whether or not to rent The Devil Wears Prada again or Sophie’s Choice). He had to choose between Ryan and Pam. It should have been a no-brainer but Michael was, as always, semi-inexplicably besotted with Ryan and his cool hair.

In a scene that was a throwback to what I very fuzzily remember as being one of the first sequences in the British Office (and quite possibly the first American Office as well), Michael decided to toy with Pam by pretending that he’d giving Ryan the salesman job before giving up the goof and telling her she’s getting the lone new salesman slot.

Not one to quite while he’s behind, Michael then decided to pull the exact same juvenile stunt with the pretty new receptionist, who hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to do anything so far. I hope that will be rectified in upcoming episodes.

Yes, everything was almost back to normal tonight though enough residual tension and bad blood spilled over from the short-lived Charles Miner reign to provide a little dramatic depth alongside the usual quota of chuckles and nifty little character moments.

Grade: B+

 Stray Observations—

 I loved Kelly’s incredibly tacky outfit. The new receptionist told her she looked like J.Lo; which is true only in that she looked like someone on the way to audition to be an In Living Color Flygirl

—Tonight’s clever cold open—where Kevin lovingly describes how he makes his signature chili, only to have it spill all over the floor, leaving him a desperate, chili-stained mess as he tries to scoop it back into the pot so he can serve it to unsuspecting co-workers— had to rank as one of the shortest in Office history.

 —“Everyone is going to get to know each other in the pot.”

 —“It’s probably the thing I do best.”

—“Don’t fall in love with me, kid”

—“Close your mouth. You look like a trout.”

 —“I saw a crowd. I thought there might be a dogfight.”

 —“Crack some skulls, Chiklis style.”

 —“I feel like I’m describing a dream I had.”

 —“There’s no easy way to say this so I’ll drag it out.”

—“You dress like this amorphous blob of khaki.”

 —“I’m cowboying this meeting.” That is such a great line. I plan to use it myself the very first chance I get”

 —I didn’t even get any painkillers from the dentist. She was just all, “Let us know if the pain becomes so unbearable that you pray for the sweet release of death and then maybe we’ll hook you up with some Amoxicillin”. I’m starting to understand why people don’t necessarily look forward to getting root canals.