December 30, 2010

The Office Recap: China

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Oh man!  Finals week (and the exorbitant amount of stress that comes with it) kept me from writing about The Office. Sorry guys, but I’m not the only one suffering.  It seems that, in this episode, the characters also face a lot of stress, although nowhere near the average stress felt by a Cornelian over the past two weeks.

The episode starts off with Dwight, up to his old antics.  He uses a pencil with his feet, and when Jim asks him about his ridiculous behavior, Dwight answers by saying, “20 minutes a day and I’ll have the Pedi dexterity of a chimp and you’ll be sitting there like an idiot.”  He proceeds to sharpen his pencil, after which, he spills one of Pam’s mugs. He attempts to type Pam an apology letter with his feet, but his true test comes when Jim, who lets Dwight know how thankful he is for his hands, offers Dwight a cup of coffee. Dwight attempts to drink the coffee, but spills it all over himself.  Even then, Dwight high-fives Jim with his feet (and not his hands).

The episode moves to the building maintenance guy, working in a corner of the building and selling breakfast food. Imagine if the Rusty’s from Uris Hall was suddenly in your building … with double prices for everything.  Andy is shocked when he buys a blueberry muffin for $8.

Unfortunately, this is just one of the many changes that Dwight has brought to the building since becoming its owner.  He admits to “surrounding his enemies and starving them.”  It is part of his green initiative, and by “green,” Dwight means money.  He actually speaks my language, and my successful future will entail rolling in money, hopefully. Anyways, Dwight’s green initiative doesn’t settle well with a lot of the employers.

While Dwight is working on saving money, Michael is hell bent on solving another crisis – he walks in, picks up all the trinkets in the office and says “China” over and over again. He finds that everything in the office was made in China, since it’s a place where things are made (according to Andy Bernard). Michael’s realization hit us all at one point … about 5 years ago.

Michael claims that, “China is a sleeping dragon that is just beginning to stir.” He had presumed that America was number one, England was number two, and China was, maybe, number eight.   If only that were true; we all know how much those numbers have changed.  While Michael is struck by the news, other office members have problems of their own.

An angry Daryl asks Andy to come into his office.  Annoyed by all the texts that Andy sends him, Daryl wants Andy to ask himself whether something is worthy of a text and whether Daryl needs to know – the answer is almost always no.

Daryl then mentions, “there was a time when the only people who texted you were people who you wanted to text you: girls. All saying the same thing, I’m coming over baby, and I would text back, BTB. Bring that booty.”  I’m sure there are plenty of people that would agree with that. Although personally, it doesn’t hurt to look at a stupid text and pretend it’s important so that everyone around you thinks you are awesome. That’s just my way of thinking, though.

Moving back to Dwight’s debacle, and the stress that he is imposing on his colleagues, Dwight’s actions fall onto Pam – the recently appointed office administrator.

When Stanley gets mad about the one-ply toilet paper, Dwight retorts, “coddled the modern anus is.”

Pam and Dwight argue over the cutbacks, and eventually, he makes her schedule an official appointment with the office owner through a different phone line. When she does, he pretends to be busy (even though he is in front of Pam and clearly not doing anything so important). A typical douche move by Dwight, but then again, that’s why we love him.

Speaking of love, Erin and Michael don’t seem to feel any for China as they look up facts about the country on Wikipedia, the mother of all knowledge.  The facts inspire Michael, all riled up, to deliver a speech to the entire staff.  He goes in and tells everyone, “Imagine a world in which America is not the number one superpower, where forks are irrelevant, and where every women, man and child is expected to play the cello.”

Distraught, he asks everyone to come up with super ideas that might save America. What are these ideas? An antacid pill that only needs to be taken once every six weeks. Good luck America, with ideas like these, we are sure to remain a superpower.

In the midst of all this, Michael mentions that China has 56 cities, whereas America only has 9. Leave it to Oscar to fight Michael, and mention how he is wrong. However, as it turns out, China actually has 56 cities, and America trails behind with only 9 cities. For once, Michael knows more than Oscar, and oh boy, is the entire office happy. I mean, Michael knows more than the smartest guy in the office, and who doesn’t love besting the annoying know-it-all?

Speaking of being besting everyone, Pam wants to get rid of Dwight’s cutbacks, and even threatens to leave the building if he doesn’t make changes. She goes so far as to find a new building, and very happily brings back pictures.  This new place has a Korean nail salon, a Laundromat owned by white people, and not to mention, an Outback Steakhouse that might actually kill Stanley (I mention the ethnicities of the owners of the nail salon and the Laundromat because, for some reason, both are very important to Kelly, who approves of the new building). It seems that Pam may actually have some leverage over Dwight.

Michael however seems to be at a disadvantage with Oscar. Oscar, who is actually quite knowledgeable, is unable to live with himself.  Everyone taunts him, calling him “Actually” because he butts into every conversation with an “actually” and then proceeds to blurt out all the facts that he knows. For Jim, he fits the “stereotype of a smug gay Mexican.”

In order to set things straight, Oscar invites Michael for coffee – a naïve Michael agrees.  When Michael realizes that he has been invited to coffee only to be faced off, he knows how much trouble he is in. At this point, all Michael can say is, “Alright then, I should learn everything about China. To be safe I should learn everything about everything but I don’t have time.”

Michael is still confident.  However, Andy and Jim know better, and begin the coaching session. Unfortunately, moments away from the smack down, Michael does not many of the fact, and so, to be safe, Ryan offers him a cheat sheet.

As Michael prepares for a smack down, Dwight and Pam share a smack down of their own.

Dwight: “You wanna move? Moving is one of the most stressful things in life. You’ll probably take it out on the kid. Jim will turn to the drink, the family will fall apart and 25 years from now, Cici will become world-famous for stripping.”

Pam: “We move, the other tenants follow, the bank takes the building, takes your farm, takes your car and beats the crap out of you. Penniless, you die and my daughter Cici dances on your grave, fully-clothed.”

Even though Pam seems to have the upper hand, Dwight finds out that Pam lied about finding a place.  In fact, Pam made up the address and brought pictures of a random place.  Pam begins to feel what many of us in college feel, even though it’s the farthest thing from the truth – she feels like a failure.  She tells Jim that she doesn’t want to fail again, and even though he reassures her that she isn’t, she lets him know that she’s not an artist or a salesperson.

At their face off, Michael and Oscar share words, and Michael starts to win. He blurts out random facts, and they all seem to be correct. However, Michael does not know how to analyze anything, and soon enough, Oscar outsmarts him.  Of course, Oscar pays the bill, but Michael does not let him have the final moment.  He points ouy, “As long as people like you and me can’t stop talking, nobody can stop the United States of America.”

So, it looks like Michael has the final say, despite not really knowing anything.

Nate, Dwight’s assistant, brings Pam a guidebook with Article 19 outlined. Pam then goes to Dwight, and informs him that he can’t lower the standards and that he’s breaking Article 19.  So, it appears like Pam has actually won the battle. However, she doesn’t know that Dwight overheard her conversation with Jim, and that he actually gave Nate the guidebook.

However, Dwight keeps saying, “I was not motivated by compassion; I have no compassion, make sure you note that.”  However, we see a smiling Dwight when Jim and Pam are hugging each other. So maybe, Dwight isn’t as heartless as we might think.

This episode focused mainly on the relationship that exists between Dwight, Jim and Pam.  Although it may seem like Dwight is out to get everyone, he has a soft interior that he constantly covers up. Like the many characters on The Office that have always seemed, in some way, one-dimensional, many opened up this season and revealed different sides.  Although we have always known that all the characters are innately very good, we haven’t been able to prove that goodness until this season.  At this point, it seems that even Dwight could possibly make a good manager after Michael’s departure. Could the writers be working toward this storyline? We will see.

Original Author: Aishini Thiyagarajan