Turn off the Lights

The Office – China

First things first, last night’s cold open was the first weak one in a while. Dwight is attempting to gain the “pedo-dexterity of a monkey” by using his feet instead of his hands for 20 minutes every day, and Jim thinks this is silly. The problem is Dwight never explains why he wants this skill, which is an issue since it seems like the kind of thing he would usually scoff at, and the comedy fails to make up for it. It just wasn’t very good. Luckily, the rest of the episode basically made up for it.


Most of Dwight’s material this season, when he hasn’t been contractually making love to Angela, has revolved around the fact that he now owns the building they all work in, and that’s the main focus of this episode. He’s been cutting costs with things like having lights installed that shut off when motion detectors aren’t tripped and having his assistant manually reduce the ply of all the toilet paper. Eventually everyone is sick of the changes, and they turn to Pam as the new office administrator to take care of it. Her first tactic is to look for new office space that the company could move into if needed, and she appears successful when she brings some photos and information about a pretty good location. That unravels though when Dwight tracks down the address, and it’s actually an empty lot. After a cute bit where he and his assistant accidentally meet another Pam, he returns and lets her know she failed.

There’s then a pretty honest moment when Pam confides in Jim in the stairwell that she really doesn’t want to fail in her new position, like she did as an artist and a salesman. But she gets a break when the assistant turns her on to some health and safety regulations Dwight’s cutbacks are violating, and Pam gets her moment of triumph when things return to normal and the gigantic exterminator sign is pulled off the building. Then Dwight reveals that he heard Pam’s conversation with Jim and told the assistant to give her the information she used to bring him down, explaining that he can get more company later by keeping her happy now, but it’s clear that he still considers her a friend and wants her to be successful too.

Meanwhile, Michael is concerned about China’s development as a cultural and financial powerhouse, and manages to get the office on his side when he manages to get one by Oscar, the office know-it-all. There’s some funny material teasing him about Michael being smarter, but he gets fed up and offers to talk more about China with Michael over coffee. The other employees know this is a trap so Oscar can finally prove his superior knowledge, but Michael won’t back down and they rally to his aid, helping him study. He manages to hold his own in the discussion for a while, but Oscar eventually pulls one of his points from under him and appears to be the victor. While he’s walking away Michael responds with an uplifting monologue that really has nothing to do with what they were debating, but he’s still perceived as the winner in spite of that. Not a whole lot to the story, but it was fairly entertaining, and more snobbish Oscar is always fun.

There were a couple other bits in this episode worth mentioning. Erin was again a comic highlight, going along with Michael completely in his fear of China, and especially when she backhandedly accuses the office of hiring her so they could kill her in an insurance scam. The C plot involves Andy and Darryl’s friendship continuing to develop, as the latter is getting fed up with the former’s idea of what constitutes a worthwhile text message. Andy sends him the most mundane and uninteresting messages, while Darryl mourns the days when only women used to text him. He warns Andy that one more bad text means he’ll get blocked, but Andy saves it when he messages him in time to see a couple of pigeons sharing a fallen ice cream cone in the parking lot, they high five, and the episode ends. Like the rest of the episode for the most part, it wasn’t great, but it was kind of funny.



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