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The Office has been on a roll with cold opens lately, and last night’s was another good one. It was pretty basic humor, but that’s all these bits needed, and it worked. The power goes out, and after Dwight seems way too eager to assume the world’s coming to an end and they’ll eventually need to resort to cannibalism, it comes back, but the company server is down. They can’t remember the password, but Michael shows the way he remembers people by recalling past IT guys, and they figure out it involves Pam’s body and a Z in the spelling. We laugh, and then the credits play.
The main plot of this episode revolved around WUPHF, Ryan’s social networking idea, and his relationship with Michael. WUPHF is an application that can message someone by phone, twitter, and everything else, and seeing it go off was a great sight (and sound) gag when they introduced it, but here they expanded it into a full story. Apparently he has managed to get several people at the office to invest in his company. Obviously Michael believes in him and has majority shares, but also invested are Stanley, Darryl, Pam, and Andy. The running joke of Erin being mad at Ryan using the color printer so much for his materials was cute, and we were treated to one of Stanley’s best moments in the series as he describes his dream of owning a decommissioned lighthouse.
The company seems to be going well, as Ryan already has an offer from Washington University. But then the other investors find out he only has nine days left before bankruptcy, and when he is unable to present an adequate business plan to save their money, they start pressuring him to sell. It gets worse when they find out Washington only wants the website for one of their departments since the acronym matches up, but Michael refuses to sell and end Ryan’s business venture before it can really go anywhere. It’s a funny story, but things get a bit more serious when Pam confronts Michael about how she thinks his affection for Ryan his blinding him, and that he doesn’t really return Michaels’ feelings of friendship. Michael refuses to give in, but luckily Ryan does when he realizes there’s no way he can save everyone’s money any other way before the deadline.
This week’s B story was Dwight using the parking lot to create his own Hay Place, a kid-friendly Thanksgiving event involving lots of hay and hay-related activities. It’s funny seeing the way he runs the business, including things like differentiating show hay from hay the kids can touch and not giving prizes for certain contests as a life lesson, and of course there’s the ending of him crowning himself Hay King to make up for a childhood disappointment. The joke of Kevin getting lost in the hay maze was a bit obvious after some stronger material for him elsewhere in the episode, but I liked the development of Angela getting fed up with Dwight ignoring his legal obligations in favor of running the event, meeting a nice single father played by Jack Coleman from Heroes, and voiding her sex contract.
The C plot was about Jim discovering that he reached his commission quota for the year, a new policy instituted by Sabre that completely removes his motivation to do his job until January. It’s a fairly low impact story, but there’s some nice humor as Kevin demonstrates his work method, and Gabe explains the policy with an analogy about naked men at his gym. Jim gets some mild revenge for his displeasure, and that’s about it. Before that Michael wraps up the main story by describing his employees as cards in a deck, and it’s both a funny and often spot-on metaphor, and also significant in how he candidly admits that Ryan is a 2, but also says that sometimes 2s are wild, which sheds a lot of light on how he sees their relationship. It was another pretty good episode in what is turning out to be a pretty good season. I was kind of hoping for a bit more so far from Michael’s last season, but they have plenty of time before he actually leaves, so there’s no reason to worry yet.