The Office: Heavy Competition

Posted by: Ariana  //  April 19, 2009 @ 1:43am

Filed under: TV Recaps/Reviews 

As Pam tells us, there is only so much cold-calling you do in a day, but no limit to the number of cheese puffs you can throw at another person's mouth. The staff of the Michael Scott Paper Company have gotten extremely proficient at the great sport of cheese puff throwing. They even pull off a three-way puff throw/catch. As we head to the credits, Michael throws two at Pam as she pulls a big yawn; she throws one back at him and the other gets stuck in her hair. She doesn't notice.

In the episode's less interesting subplot, Andy is sharing some of his discarded wedding bookings and planning tips with Pam and Jim. He tries to get them to hire his Cornell a cappella group for nine grand. They can sing "You Can Call Me Al" while Pam walks down the aisle! She's not having it.

A little later, Andy shares with Jim that he's concerned about his relationship with Pam--all the negativity, the bossiness, he can feel that Jim's not happy, and he doesn't think the relationship can go the distance. Jim plays right off it, telling us in an interview that he was planning to purge his inbox today, but something much more pressing has come up.

The A-plot this week sees Dwight switching to full-length-sleeved shirts as laid out by Charles' new dress code. He's squirmy and uncomfortable and thinks it feels like a straitjacket and he hates it. He interviews that when Michael was in charge, Dunder Mifflin was like the Roman Empire. The Wild West. War-torn Poland. Regular Poland. There was no time to worry about sleeve lengths.

Dwight and Michael are having secret rendezvous in back of the building, wherein Dwight shares Dunder Mifflin insider info and tips with Michael. One of the tips he gives him is that Ed's Tires is considering looking for a new paper supplier. Michael looks him up in his Rolodex (old school!) and tells Pam and Ryan that they need to meet with the guy and also if they can factor in a deep distrust in women, that would be helpful. Pam can't do it, but Ryan says he can get there. They share the U-G-L-Y group cheer. ("Goooooooo, MichaelScottPaperCompany!")

Charles calls Dwight in to his office and tells him to sit. Dwight says there is less of a chance of blood clots if he stands, but Charles says that's weird and tells him to sit again. Nice work, Charles. He wants to know how things are going for Dwight because he likes his work ethic and wants to make sure good work doesn't go unnoticed. He wants to give Dwight more responsibility and asks if they can meet for a drink sometime this week. Dwight's thrilled, and they shake hands. Dwight declares it firm. "It" being the handshake, I imagine. (It's too easy to just say "that's what she said" every time...)

Dwight calls Michael, conflicted. He talks in very, very poor code about a personal hero and a cool new guy (very Will Smith-esque), and Michael wonders whether this is for some movie he's writing. Pam and Ryan have to scribble on a pad of paper, "He's talking about you!" and wave it around at Michael before he catches on. He tells Dwight that the old boss has dibs, and doesn't Dwight respect dibs? Dwight indignantly replies that he's not a barbarian.

Back to subplot-land, Jim and Andy talk in the office, and Jim goes heavy on the confusion, on the one hand wanting to break up with Pam, and on the other declaring that she gets him through the day and he's pretty emotionally needy. Andy tells Jim how happy he is since breaking up with Angela, and that he's willing to be Jim's traveling pants. AHAHAHA. Jim goes for a knuckle bump, but Andy sticks his face in there instead.

Dwight and Michael have another secret meeting, but this time Dwight's sold Michael about and he's brought Charles with him. After Michael's relatively mild freak-out, Charles tells him to leave Dunder Mifflin alone; does he understand? Michael: "I... understand... nothing."

Back at MSPC headquarters, Michael tells his staff that it's like when a girl says she'll make out with you and then her boyfriend is waiting around the corner with a pee-filled balloon. Pam needs further explanation, but Michael elaborates on the pee balloon story instead of what he's actually talking about. (He suspects a funnel, by the way. And I'm glad he said that, because I was wondering.)

Andy and Jim talk in the lunchroom. Jim pretends that he blew a sales call and totally hates himself for it. Andy's like, "Tuna, be nice to my friend Jim." But Jim hates the face he sees in the mirror. Andy: "So what? Your body's a 10." Jim gets up and kicks some stuff around angrily. Andy makes a bemused face at the camera.

So next, Michael has a plan to steal Dwight's biggest client, a Mr. Schofield at Harper Collins. He somehow reveals this in a phone call to Dwight in which he declares that he will come at him, and come at him hard (ok, NOW that's what she said). He'll steal all of Dwight's clients and kill them in front of him! He brought Dwight into this world and he can take him out!

Dwight hangs up and immediately calls Schofield, but he's told that he's in a meeting. Michael meanwhile switches back to his other line where he's discovered that Schofield has hung up on him. It's not completely clear how this all went down, and the first time I watched it, it made no sense to me. But after a few viewings, that's the best explanation I can come up with.

Dwight's mad. Phyllis says he looks worried. He tells her she has bad skin, ooo, we're all making observations, some weird "ughlalala" sound.

Michael gets Schofield back on the phone and offers him Wilkes-Barre Penguins tickets and asks after his daughter. Ryan watches, amazed at "the old dude at his Rolodex," and Pam tells him she spent a month putting all that information on Michael's Blackberry, which he now uses as a nightlight.

Dwight talks to Schofield next and learns that he's considering MSPC for paper. He tries to tell him Michael suffered a nervous breakdown. In an interview, he tells us that he and Michael are pitted against each other for the future of the greater Scranton paper market--not exactly like Highlander, but still.

In a phone call to Michael next, Dwight tells him he wants to arrange a truce. They set up a meeting (100 feet away from the usual spot, towards the sun, at noon. I'll let you figure out what's wrong with that for yourself). They meet, and Michael says he hopes Dwight's not recording this. Dwight, with one motion, drops his pants, and lifts his shirt way up. WHY? WHY WHY WHY WHY???

He leisurely redresses as they discuss a truce. Dwight offers to take the whole of MSPC out to lunch. He suggests Alfredo's. Michael wants Cooper's. Dwight had fish yesterday. Michael: "Darn it!"

As the MSPC staff wait at the restaurant, Michael takes a call from Dwight, who says he got stuck in traffic. Only there isn't any. He tries, "I hit a bear." What he's really doing is putting a dead fish in the vent in MSPC's ceiling and stealing most of their office accoutrements, including the mighty Rolodex. He tells Michael to order him the meatball parm, and he'll be right there.

When Michael, Pam, and Ryan get back to their office and discover they've been robbed. The phone rings, and it is, of course, Dwight. "Not now!" Michael yells, "We've been robbed!" Dwight says that no, they've been sabotaged. Pam and Ryan scribble another note to Michael: "Dwight did it!!" Michael is stunned that the truce isn't real. Dwight starts blathering, all enemies and wolves and blah blah blah. Michael, for his part, is going to eat Dwight's meatball parm, SO THERE. Dwight knew that he would, though, and that's why he told Michael to order Alfredo's worst sandwich. Michael takes a big bite. He's not pleased.

Dwight starts calling the people in Michael's Rolodex, stealing all the personal information Michael's amassed on them. He brings his own card in to an interview, and says the back reads, "Great friend, better salesman." Then he shows us what it says for real: "Tall. Beets."

So now Michael's on the warpath. He calls Dwight and says he's going to have him listen while he steals Dwight's biggest client, at which point he is called in to Schofield's office. He puts his phone into his breast pocket, still on, and Dwight races off to his car and drives maniacally to the Harper Collins offices with his phone open and balanced on the dashboard. He can hear as Michael calls doubt upon Dwight's authority to make promises to Schofield, but that as president, owner, and founder of MSPC, he has that authority. It's like buying software from Bill Gates. Dwight, at the phone: "ARE YOU SAYING YOU INVENTED PAPER????"

Michael then mangles a metaphor Dwight likes to use about paper as soil or the seeds of business or some such, but Dwight yells that paper is the manure! On-time delivery is the soil! He screeches into Harper Collins' parking lot, grabs a yellow short-sleeved shirt from his backseat, and throws it on as he runs in to the building. Schofield's assistant greets him, but Dwight just hollers, "SPIN MOVE!!" at her as he indeed executes a beautiful spin move and scoots past her into Schofield's office.

Schofield exclaims that he's in a meeting, but Dwight tells him that he BARGES because he CARES. He calls up April 13, 2002, as the date that Schofield tried to switch paper providers for an obscure sociology textbook, and was hung out to dry when the price of glossy stock increased. Who stepped in for him then? Dunder Mifflin!

Michael gets all brilliant businessman-y on us and tells Schofield that April 13, 2002, was the last day he truly evaluated his paper needs, and that he should consider that bloated companies like Dunder Mifflin will fall short in this economy, and they just closed two branches while MSPC opened a new branch just this very month. Mr. Schofield suggests that they both email him their best offers, and they agree. Michael says he'll see him this weekend for the hockey game, and Dwight, ohhh Dwight, says, "Tell me, how's your gay son?"

Michael interviews in the parking lot that he has a colour-coding system in place for his Rolodex back-of-card tips: green means go, as in go ahead and shut up about it, and orange means orange you glad you didn't bring it up? Basically all the colours mean don't talk about it. Dwight, inside, keeps pushing the gay son thing with Schofield.

In the aftermath of this debacle, Michael declares that he wanted to start a company, not a war, and that while some wars such as the Civil War did big things like abolish slavery, maybe this is not as important as that.

In the conclusion of our subplot, after Jim fakes a mental breakdown in the hallway culminating in big hugs from Andy, Andy gives the office a lecture about being nicer to Jim. Phyllis lets him know that Jim is messing with Andy, and sure enough Jim's in the lunchroom grinning at Andy through the window blinds. Andy joins him in the lunchroom, and Jim has two things to tell him: one, he and Pam are happy together; two, while the thing with Angela is a big bummer, and Andy may think he's never going to find someone else, he will. Jim promises. Aw, that's nice.

And in the conclusion of our sub-subplot, MSPC has a cheese-puff stuffing competition, and they manage 32 cheese puffs in their mouths between the three of them. Michael answers the phone with his mouth full. How is he not gagging? Seriously. They nearly fall over laughing at the hilarity of it all. And... scene.

Tags: the office, dunder mifflin, michael scott, comedy, recap

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Original Comments Posted (3)

Paul Little says...

This was probably my favourite episode of The Office from the last 2 seasons. Seriously, it was great. The backstabbing, Dwight being Dwight, finally seeing a full-on Michael Scott sales call (showing that he really is a pretty darned good salesman -- I loved how he politely said, "Sounds good," when Scofield suggests e-mailing him their fitures, which was a huge contrast to Dwight's craziness), and even the B-plot with Jim and Andy (he was playing an elongated joke on Andy, but in reality it was to help Andy admit he's hurt over the Angela situation).

I hope the last few episodes of the season are up the standards of this one!

Apr 19, 2009 4:32am

swishy5 says...

I also LOVED this episode. Particularly the cheese puffs and the traveling pants reference (I just about choked I was laughing so hard...and eating).

Apr 21, 2009 1:02am

sarahm says...

Spin Move was one of the funniest things I've seen on TV in awhile. Rainn Wilson is a genius. And also, "Green means Go, as in go ahead and shut up about it." This episode was golden. I laughed out loud so many times.

Apr 21, 2009 4:53pm

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