This week’s “Office” was the kind of episode that can only happen when a show has earned the trust of its audience. Not a great deal happened, and a good amount of what did was pretty goofy. But I had a smile on my face the entire time.
“Cafe Disco” was basically just another iteration of Michael trying to goof off and make work “fun” again, which he believes his staff sorely needs after Charles made them focus so much on, you know, being productive. Except, wouldn’t you know it, it worked — completely inadvertently and having almost nothing to do with Michael’s own efforts, but it worked.
A good third of the episode, maybe even more, was devoted to everyone just dancing around and acting silly, while Dwight gives Phyllis a surprisingly effective massage in the Dunder Mifflin conference room. But the characters are so well-drawn at this point that it doesn’t really matter if they spend that much time just cutting loose. Ninety-some episodes into its life, “The Office” has earned the right to let its people just kind of cut loose without it feeling like time-killing before next week’s season finale.
And besides, if it can give us moments like Kelly’s “Flashdance” pantomime, Angela’s unconscious toe-tapping, Kevin making out and Creed’s mini-disco ball/rear-view mirror, who’s to argue with that?
That probably would have been enough, but the episode also contained another pitch-perfect subplot involving Jim and Pam, who were on their way to Youngstown, Ohio (about five hours from Scranton) to get married. Youngstown would be pretty far down the list of destination wedding sites, but it’s also the closest place that doesn’t have a waiting period to get a marriage license, and they were both dreading the planning and cost of a wedding.
“This morning, we’re having breakfast together, and I just looked up from my cereal and I said, ‘You know what I want to do today? I want to marry you,'” Jim says. “I had just woken up,” Pam adds. “I didn’t look cute. That’s how I knew he meant it.” Now, I’m still pretty much a newlywed, and I’m probably more susceptible to shmoopy stuff like that little story than usual. But come on.
On their way out, though, the happy couple decides to put in an appearance at Cafe Disco, and like everyone else they get sucked into the fun — and during “YMCA,” they each decide that while it’s incredibly cheesy, they kind of like cheesy, and they kind of both want a real wedding. And so ‘shippers won’t be denied their on-camera nuptials either (although they may have to wait till next season).
More fun from “Cafe Disco”:
New receptionist Erin (played by Ellie Kemper) got the most substantial screen time she’s had so far, and she seems all right, doesn’t she? She’s obviously a little naive (see her part in Dwight’s really-not-funny joke on Pam in the opening), but I like the friendship she seems to be building with Kelly and the way she seems to roll with all the weird stuff happening around her. You get the impression that this is maybe her first real job, so maybe she just doesn’t know any better.
- I never would’ve guessed the Dwight-Phyllis teamup would have worked, but again, the show has kind of earned that sort of oddball pairing by this point. The fact that Dwight was using a method of treatment his family used on a horse, the fact that it worked, and the fact that Phyllis felt grateful or comfortable enough with him to admit her suspicion of Bob’s new secretary added up to a nice little C-story.
- Michael’s discussion of the no-lunch-with-the-boss rule was perfect Scott cluelessness, but this line nearly broke my heart: “I guess they got what they want — I’m eating alone. It might as well be dinner.”
- Loved the way everyone sort of subconsciously started to groove when Michael started blasting “Gonna Make You Sweat” through the vents. It’s not a good song, but for folks of a certain age — like most of those who work at Dunder Mifflin, and me — it induces that sort of Pavlovian response.
- Michael calling himself “daddy” and Andy making baby talk in response, though? Just as creepy as everyone else thought.
- Stanley sacked out as his desk — brilliant.
How’d you like the diversion of “Cafe Disco”? “The Office” can get away with an episode like this every once in a while, can it not?