I’ve spent a lot of time watching Stanley on The Office yet the cold open for tonight’s episode, “Welcome Party,” managed to make me doubt the mental image I’ve had of him for years. I began to wonder if Stanley actually had a mustache, or if perhaps his mustache was something I remembered from the first few seasons that had long disappeared. Although it wasn’t the funniest cold open of the season thus far, I was definitely drawn into the debate and when Stanley finally walked into view, I was anxious to see if I had been remembering his mustache correctly.
It’s been a few weeks since the last episode of The Office and I had sort of assumed that Andy and Erin would be back in Scranton when episodes resumed. I was a little lost trying to calculate how much time had actually passed since Andy drove down to Florida to get Erin after the special project in Tallahassee had ended.
Being the upstanding woman that she is, Erin refused to let Andy kiss her until he had officially broken up with his forgotten girlfriend, Jessica. So anxious was Andy to make things official with Erin, that he decided to reroute their journey home to include a stop at a Jessica’s friend’s bachelorette party so he could break up with Jessica right away.
Andy’s initial attempts to break up with Jessica were completely spineless, but the back and forth between Andy and Jessica’s gay friend, Kenny, were pretty great. After Andy announced that he was breaking up with Jessica because he was gay, Kenny’s “I knew it!” made me laugh out loud. Eventually Andy came back to be honest about the reasons for his break up with Jessica, but it’s hard for me to think he did the right thing when he basically poured salt in her wound in front of a large group of her friends. He probably could have waited to do something like that in private.
Back in Scranton, Robert California had all the staff working together to cheer Nelly up. Having sensed that Nelly was under some kind of stress, Robert insisted that Jim and Dwight help her unpack while the rest of the staff put together a party for her.
I couldn’t quite figure out what angle Robert was going for here. In some moments, I got the impression that he was flirting with her, and in the next moment I thought that maybe he was trying to manipulate her into leaving the office for the day. I’m still not entirely sure why he was making everyone go so far out of their way to make her feel better.
The hilarious and perfectly awkward Brett Gelman (who also plays “Brett” on Adult Swim’s Eagleheart and is hands down my favorite character on that show) stepped into The Office to play a ridiculous stage magician in a shiny blue vest. Pretty much all of my favorite lines from the night came as a result of the magician being invited to the party. I particularly loved Robert California’s confusion about Jim’s behavior: “Why is Jim treating the magician so poorly?” and “I apologize, if I had known Jim and Pam would use this opportunity to abuse a magician…”
Overall, this was kind of a middle-of-the-road episode for The Office this season. The tension between Erin and Andy has finally resolved, but I don’t know what that means for their story line. It seems that things will be going back to normal as soon as they get back to the Scranton office, but they’ll have an overabundance of corporate management to deal with in a small branch office setting and I’m not quite sure if that will end up being a good or a bad thing for The Office.