It was Valentine’s Day time on “The Office,” only there wasn’t a lot of love in the air, only cynicism and trepidation. Well, at least there’s the “Couples Discount.” Jim took off from his Philly duties to be with Pam, but the tension over recent incidents hung heavy between them. (Note also how the credits started early, and highlighted Jim & Pam, almost as if to reassure viewers that they were still the metaphorical “heart” of the show after heavily implying that they might be on the rocks in previous episodes as of late.) Ditto Erin, who was almost resentful of Andy’s return and wondered if it wasn’t time to cut that cord once and for all and instead focus on a potential relationship with Pete.
Meanwhile, Dwight was enjoying what was left of Andy’s absence, playing at being a surrogate Andy while he was away.
Dwight: “I really like Andy these days. He’s pretend and he does exactly as I tell him to do. All that will change when real Andy comes back tomorrow. Unless he comes back as pretend Dwight, in which case, we’re in for an epic confusing showdown.”
Most everyone else was looking to scam retailers on as many V-Day specials as they could, by posing as couples.
Phyllis: “You get 20% off if you come in with your husband or boyfriend. But, I mean, if you don’t have one of those, you can probably just bring whoever it is you use to kill your loneliness.”
Stanley: “Phil, I’ll pretend to be your husband. I’m already sick of you, so it will seem realistic.”
Angela somewhat begrudgingly pairs up with Kevin, but she’s clearly thrilled to be getting a discounted foot treatment. Nice to see her smiling again after a rough last few weeks. I also loved the reactions of the store workers to her arrival.
Employee: “Tiny foot lady is back! Get the baby clippers! Oh, so cute!” (LOL on that delivery.)
Also pairing up, hilariously, were Oscar and Darryl. However, the shop owner balked at the two of them as a gay couple being qualified for a discount.
Darryl: “Him and me, alright, we are crazy in love. More in love than your small mind can comprehend. And we have two disposable incomes (Oscar helpfully held up two fingers here to illustrate) and no kids and we’re taking our business elsewhere!”
Jim and Pam went for lunch, ostensibly with Brian, the former boom guy, and Alyssa, his girlfriend, but as it turned out, they had broken up. Brian accidentally (or possibly on purpose) lets it slide that Pam has been crying a lot lately over current events, which Jim had no idea about. To his credit, he doesn’t take it out on either Brian or Pam, instead, accepting blame for his actions. At the same time, he does try to bail on the situation before Pam talks him into staying, whether they risk getting into fights or not.
Andy also returns, complete with a wily beard and island-style instruments. Dwight is not amused by this new attire.
Dwight: “Hey, Burning Man! If it’s not selling out too much, you might want to throw on a tie.”
Andy does not return to open arms with Erin, who keeps him at arms’ length for most of the episode as she sorts through her conflicted emotions with him. Andy also doesn’t exactly endear himself to the office when he seeks to take credit for the things they achieved without him, such as the deal with Jan. Meddling with it, he calls Jan and tries to renegotiate a new, higher price for the deal, which he never signed off on. Jan is not amused, and drops the account, which really ticks off Dwight and Clark, who wrangled the deal themselves.
Dwight: “I’d like to rat out Andy, but unfortunately, I have a bit of a “Boy Who Cried Wolf”- dynamic with David Wallace. Except instead of a boy, I’m a man, and instead of a wolf, I cried “genetically-engineered monster wolf.”
Andy tries to crash a meeting about how best to complain about him to Wallace, but the office isn’t in the mood for his wacky antics.
Andy: “What’s going on in here, dirty players? Let’s get back to busting some paper rhymes.”
He then goes on to sing a variation of the “New Girl” theme with his name inserted, which I found hilarious. The gang realizes how to take him down without having to pull the plugs themselves- they’ll simply feed him a wealth of information about what went down when he left, and he’ll dig his own grave when he talks to Wallace and is clearly wrong about any of the relevant information. I liked some of the more ridiculous proclamations, especially Clark’s
Clark: “Kathy Ireland signed on to be, like, the official spokesbabe of Dunder-Mifflin… In the European billboard, she’s gonna be topless.”
Andy: “Go Kathy! She’s, like, 50.”
Clark: “They’re tasteful.”
As predicted, Andy slips up left and right in the meeting with Wallace, but manages to wrangle his way out of it without alerting him that he’s been gone for three months. That narrowly avoided disaster is flowed by another, when Erin seeks to break up with him,
Andy: “I know you may not be feeling love for me right now, but if you fake it, I won’t be able to tell the difference.”
Erin relents, ultimately, but then goes outside to tell Pete she’s going to put off breaking up with Andy after all. Then she kisses him goodbye, and there’s a clear connection. Cut to: Erin breaking up with Andy again, this time much more definitively, taking him to task for being gone for three months and hardly putting forth any effort to stay in communication with her at all. The proclamation is even worse for Andy, as he had Wallace on speakerphone the entire time when Erin stormed in, which means Wallace now knows that Andy was gone all that time. I’m guessing he’ll be paying for that next week, but he already lost the most important thing- or what should have been the most important thing- Erin.
A pretty decent episode. It had its moments and I laughed here and there, but it wasn’t quite up to the standards set by the new episodes this year thus far. Still, some good bits, including Meredith’s hilarious self-assessment, in which she labeled herself a “vomit mop,” “floor meat,” and a “flesh Hoover.” I loved how Pete was like, why do you let her go on and on?
What did you think of “The Office” this week? Think Andy is doomed to be fired? Think he will self-destruct after the Erin break-up? How will he feel about the Pete & Erin connection when he finds out? What about Jim & Pam’s situation? Think they will work it out in the end? Or is this the beginning of the end for our beloved lovebirds? Let me know what you think in the comments!