"The Office" Recap: Dunder Mifflin Infinity
Posted by Mike, Ryan and johnnysweeptheleg
As we start the second of four straight hourlong episodes set to begin Season 4, Toby witnesses Jim and Pam sharing an intimate moment and, out of equal parts jealousy and loneliness, issues a memo warning employees against engaging in public displays of affection in the workplace. And that’s how the until-now secret relationship between PB&J (which, thanks to Kevin, is how we will always refer to Pam Beesly and Jim from now on) is revealed to the rest of the office. Somehow everyone is surprised, and everyone has an opinion on the subject. Dwight thinks that both Jim and Pam could do better, Angela calls Pam “the office mattress” and Andy thinks he’s now the best-looking single guy in the office. As Michael says, it’s a day that will live in infamy.
With the big announcement out of the way, the office prepares for Ryan’s first visit to the Scranton branch as the new boss. A crooked welcome back sign affords Michael a “that’s what she said” opportunity, when he asks if it can be made straighter (though, sadly, he’s not able to work “you should put your mouth on that” into the conversation). When the prodigal temp finally does return, we find out that he’s still sporting that nasty Sonny Crockett beard that made an appearance last week — and that he’s kind of a jerk now. After sternly reminding everyone that he is now the boss (not “fire guy”) and demands respect (that means no noogies), Ryan’s first order of business is to make the company younger and sleeker by implementing Dunder Mifflin Infinity: a new, technology-based business model that includes a business-to-business website and the use of BlackBerrys.
After Ryan introduces his plan, Creed becomes worried that old-timers like himself will be phased out and he takes his concerns to Michael, who begins to fear for his own future. And Kelly … well, she only cares about her relationship with Ryan. She tells him that she’s pregnant — which she’s not, as we quickly find out when she smiles and shakes her head in the second-best cutaway shot of the episode — and makes him take her out to dinner. Dwight (who unsuccessfully tries to make up for killing Sprinkles by offering Angela a replacement feral cat named Garbage) makes a dinner date with Angela as well.
Jan shows up at the office and, after an awkward confrontation with her replacement, Ryan, plants a seed in Michael’s head about the possible ageism that’s going on at Dunder Mifflin. The revelation that “older people have just as many rights as younger people” prompts Michael to arrange a visit from company founder Robert Dunder to prove that the old way of doing business is still relevant. As is the case with Michael’s best meetings, this one has visual aids: photos of Titanic actress Gloria Stuart, “Where’s the beef” lady Clara Peller, Robert Loggia and Tom Hanks dancing on the giant piano in Big (which we first saw after Michael burned his foot on the Foreman grill in “The Injury”), and Ben Kingsley (recycled from “Diwali”). The basic lesson to be taken away from Dunder’s visit is that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks — because it’s illegal and you will go to jail.” Creed obviously doesn’t subscribe to that theory, because he shows up for work that day with dyed hair, claiming to be weeks away from his 30th birthday.
That night, Angela breaks up with Dwight at dinner because every time she looks into his eyes she sees “Sprinkles’ stiff, lifeless body.” Despite Dwight suggesting that Angela use an old sales trick and simply look at a spot on his forehead instead of at his eyes, the breakup stands. Feeling the need to win somebody back, he joins Michael the next morning on a quest to win back clients with “the essence of class and fanciness” — gift baskets — and mark a return to customer service with a human touch. You see, Michael believes that Ryan has gotten so caught up with e-mails and IMs that he has forgotten the original instant message: “letters attached to baskets of food.” The battle of old-school customer service vs. new-school technology is officially on.
Meanwhile, Ryan stays at the office and enthralls Andy and Kevin with a story of bumping into Vince Vaughn. Obviously impressed, the duo tells Jim that he needs “awesome lessons” if he can’t understand why Ryan’s life is so great. After all, among other things, he’s got a killer job, he’s rich and he can get any girl he wants. That last theory, by the way, is proved wrong when Ryan offers Pam a chance to design the Dunder Mifflin Infinity logo and asks her out to dinner to discuss the project. She says she’s not interested because she’s dating Jim, whose reaction provides the episode’s best cutaway shot.
Michael’s gift basket excursion doesn’t go quite as planned. After going 0-for-6 with one basket left, technology strikes its final blow when the GPS on Michael’s rental car tells him to take a right turn into a lake en route to the final client. Because he is who he is, Michael follows the order and plunges the vehicle right into the water — which he somehow feels has proved his point about technology. “A machine told me to drive into a lake — and I did it,” he reasons. Upon returning to the office, after a brief stop to reclaim one of the gift baskets, Michael informs everyone that the Scranton office will not be using any new technology ever. When Ryan overrules him, Michael explains that “computers are about trying to murder you in a lake.”
Game, set, match. Point. Scott. Game over. End of game.
Best Quote: “He smells like what I think Pierce Brosnan probably smells like.” — Andy to Jim on Ryan being “so money” and not even knowing it (but he does)
Best Moment: Robert Dunder’s visit. It reminded us that old people should be revered for their storytelling and the funny things they can do. Also, Andy’s plaid pants during Michael’s ageism seminar. When did he suddenly become Herb Tarlek?
Employee of the Week: Ryan’s beard. I noticed it last week and thought it was kind of creepy. This week, it really took on a life of its own. He should keep it forever.
Best Quote: “Make a U-turn, if possible.” — the onboard GPS navigation system in Michael’s rental car as it slowly submerges into the lake
Best Moment: Dunder Mifflin’s website: “Under Construction. Coming Christmas 2002!”
Employee of the Week: Toby. Poor Toby. The sad, lonely, shy HR guy has to put up with all the office relationships going on around him. He has the hots for Pam, and can’t stand to see Jim and Pam PDAing, so he issues a memo reminding employees about the company’s PDA policy. And when Jim and Pam approach Toby about signing one of those employee relationship waivers, he tells them those are only for “serious” relationships and that they should just “wait it out.” And even when Toby agrees with Michael on the company’s ageism policy, he’s told to shut up.
Best Quote: “I guess he can’t get any … girl he wants.” — Jim referring to Ryan, whose advances were spurned by Pam. This, despite Kevin and Andy claiming Ryan can now get any girl he wants because of his money and the fact that he bumped into (literally) Vince Vaughn once.
Best Moment: Jim asks Michael why he used the Big picture again, and Michael responds that he ran out of ink in the printer. The camera pans over to Creed and it’s implied that he has used the black printer ink to dye his hair. Classic Creed moment.
Employee of the Week: Creed. Creepy Creed is making the best of his newfound “regular” status on the show. Creed facilitated Michael’s crusade against ageism, only to turn around and ink dye his hair, claim to be 30 (in November), and use phrases like “ride the bull” and “kewl beans” to survive the youth movement. Oh, and he turned Stanley into Sammy, this episode. Do you think Ryan will still help Creed post his blogs?
Photo: Copyright © 2007 NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. Credit: Ron Tom
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