The Office: Business Ethics

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

We open with Jim, on the phone with Pam. She's upset that no one from Dunder Mifflin has congratulated her on their engagement. Well, Pam, Jim didn't exactly tell them yet, see. He puts her on speaker and announces it to the office. They're confused; Oscar says he thought they were already engaged. Michael walks in and Creed tells him "the tall guy got engaged." Michael tackles Jim. I mean, literally. They fall right out of the shot.

But that's a minor subplot. What's really going on in this episode, as can be gathered from the title, is a very serious ethics discussion. Holly's been ordered by corporate to lead a workshop on ethics, which of course she and Michael open with a choreographed dance to that venerable Olivia Newton-John hit "Let's Get Ethical." You know headbands are included.

What's led to this whole debacle is, of course, Ryan's nonsense (whose arrest, contrary to Paul's recap last week, was not in fact for drug charges, but rather fraud). You know, not that we're naming names. But as Kevin points out, "He's right there!" This leads to a new nickname for Ryan: Hired Guy! Kevin cackles in delight over his brilliance riffing on Fire Guy of seasons past.

Holly addresses several "ethics" issues, such as personal phone calls, stealing office supplies for personal use, and time theft (Kelly wants to take up smoking just to get the breaks, and to this I say: WORD. Smoke breaks are a joke. Michael stops Holly and whisper-conferences that the staff expects surprise twists and hilarity from these meetings, so she's going to have to step it up. Holly really just wants to get through the binder.

Oscar speaks up to say this is really just a corporate anti-shoplifting lesson, and somehow this turns into a moral discussion on whether or not one would steal bread to feed one's family. Amy Ryan insists on pronouncing dilemma like "die-lemma," and it is driving me a little bit nutty.

I'm not sure of the reason or cause, but everyone starts admitting various ethical crimes they've committed. Meredith hits the jackpot (Jim's words) when she announces she's been sleeping with Bruce Myers from Hammermill for discounts and Outback Steakhouse gift certificates. Michael's rather proud of her. He then hijacks the meeting completely and poses that ethics are indeterminable and thus this is a useless discussion, and dismisses the staff.

Because she has a modicum of decency and takes her job seriously on some level, Holly insists that she and Michael talk to Meredith. They want to know how many times these liaisons have occurred. Answer? Once a month for six years. Mer! Michael doesn't seem to care much about this situation. Holly, on the other hand, does.

Michael suggests a lunch so he and Holly can solve this issue, and despite his attempts to turn it date-like, Holly keeps it quite strictly business and won't even bite at Michael's suggestion that they punish Meredith by not allowing her to have sex for six months. Even his proposal of a chastity belt doesn't sway her! She is one tough cookie.

When she won't budge, Michael gets so mad at her that she compares his behaviour to that which she experienced when she was a hall monitor in middle school. But when he gets Kendall from corporate HR on a conference call, Kendall rails on Holly because all he wants are signatures on forms confirming the employees took the ethics workshop. He thinks the discount Meredith is getting is a great thing for the company and doesn't really care how it comes about. Sigh. I want to say it's ridiculous, but I'm not convinced it's all that unrealistic.

So Holly is forced to give the ethics training another go, and this time she is allowed to read straight from the binder. Michael sits quietly by for once in his life, and the two of them make up with their eyes as she reads.

In another subplot, after Dwight averred in the original meeting that he never, ever stole company time, Jim has taken to timing every single personal thing Dwight does. A yawn takes four seconds. Taunting Jim is another 20 or so. Dwight eventually starts sneezing with his eyes open and forgoing bathroom breaks to pee into two-litre pop bottles under his desk (EW EW EW), and even Jim's discussion with Andy over how much Battlestar Galactica sucks and doesn't make sense can't make Dwight crack. He might be in total brain meltdown over the conversation, but he sure as hell is not going to stop working.

But then Dwight's gone for 19 minutes and 48 seconds, and clearly he was banging Angela in the warehouse. Jim: "Maybe you're not completely ethical after all." Dwight leeringly says, "Yes... maybe I'm not," and turns to creepily stare into the camera.

In the tag, Meredith's brought steak and ribs for the whole gang. They're officially in favour of her arrangement with Bruce at Hammermill.

Tags: the office, michael scott, office u.s., jim halpert, amy ryan

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Original Comments Posted (1)

Sarahm says...

Ok the first meeting had me laughing so hard I was almost crying. Kelly with taking up smoking in the meeting just about killed me, that was so funny (And she's totally right, we should all take up smoking so we can get extra breaks). And Jim: "Jackpot!". Oh man, sooo funny. I really heart this show.

Oct 15, 2008 2:12pm

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