WHAT are you microwaving?!?!

The Office - Branch Wars
When recently appointed Utica Regional Manager Karen tries to lure Stanley to work at her branch, Michael and Dwight kidnap Jim to help them strike back with a poorly planned prank. Meanwhile, the exclusive "Finer Things Club" rubs the rest of the office the wrong way. Photo © NBC.

I'm torn. I'm delighted that this episode was so great, but I'm disappointed because The Office's track record as of late makes it clear that it can no longer be depended upon to provide a routine ray of sunshine on an otherwise boring Thursday night.

"Branch Wars" was literally overflowing with choice bits, not the least of which included Jim finding the Molotov cocktails in the trunk -- "These have been back here the whole time we've been driving?!?!" -- as well as "I think I cut my penis on the lid," "Wanted: middle-aged black man with sass," "The eyes are the groin of the head," and my personal favorite, "WHAT are you microwaving?!?!" In fact, I think pretty much every single moment was pure gold.

But the best part was the cringe-worthy awkwardness between Karen and Jim. How much did you wince when Karen told Jim that he should have just called her if he wanted to see her ... because of course, you knew what was coming. You just didn't expect it to be quite as awful as it was. Jim has always had a firm grasp on the rules of social propriety, but he absolutely ate it when he came face-to-face with Karen. And it just kept getting worse and worse, until he wasn't even forming words anymore. A fantastically written scene, and terrific acting from John Krasinski and Rashida Jones.

Finally, in my running tally of "things that will eventually lead to a Jim & Pam breakup," comes the book club scene at the end. It's entirely possible that I'm over-emphasizing certain moments just because I cannot believe that a breakup is not imminent, but what that scene said to me -- buried way beneath the humor -- was that Pam let Jim be a part of something that is important to her, and he scoffed at it. He didn't bother to read the book, and he just didn't get the point of the Finer Things Club. Call me crazy. Tell me I'm over-analyzing. But just watch, and wait...

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