'The Office': Green beer and megadesks

steve-carell-the-office-320.jpgAfter the high points of "The Delivery," the next episode of "The Office" was almost bound to be a comedown. So that it was isn't anything unexpected.

Which is not to say that "St. Patrick's Day" was bad. Just a good deal different.

"St. Patrick's Day" was one of the slice-o'-life episodes the show does where not a ton happens and it relies on our relationship with the characters to carry us through a half-hour. That was enough for me this time out: My loudest laugh came on a throwaway talking head from Andy, but I found myself chuckling a good amount throughout.

The letdown, such as it was, was in the fact that the show chose to tell three small stories right after the one very big one it did with "The Delivery." Jo trapping the staff at the branch on St. Patrick's Day, a classic (in terms of structure, at least, if not massive laughs) Jim-Dwight faceoff and Andy and Erin's first date were light on plot movement, but as I've noted before, I'm comfortable enough with all these people that I just kind of like spending a half-hour with them every week. The highlights:

The Fitful and Not Always Consistent Growth of Michael Scott. I had been wondering a little if Michael would mistake Jo's Southernisms -- calling him "Sugar" and whatnot -- for more than the pleasantries they are, and it happened tonight as Michael, as is his wont, up and bought a plane ticket to Tallahassee after she offhandedly said he had a place to stay if he ever found himself down there.

It eventually dawned on him, though, that Jo wasn't actually offering to open her home to him, and that she wasn't trying to hurt his feelings by acknowledging Darry's (legitimately) sound idea. His reward? A night out of green beverages with the Dunder Mifflin crew, who are so thankful he sprung them that they even pick up his tab. Well done, Michael, for A) at least recognizing, if not exactly comprehending, Jo's head games and B) not calling yourself a hero for it. This is what we like to see.

"I spent all day trying to make her like me, and I forgot to ask myself something: Do I even like her?" Michael asks, before quoting "the Irish poet" Bobby McFerrin. (And for the record, no, I don't think he just torpedoed his career. I think he sold the "we did good work" line well enough that Jo is willing to let it slide, given that he also canceled his Tallahassee trip.)

Megadesk! Now that Dwight's Evil Plan is a thing of the past, it was nice to see him and Jim get back to their lesser struggles. Of course Dwight would have colonized Jim and Pam's desks while they were on parental leave and created the Megadesk (featuring areas for command central, surveillance, gaming and business). And of course he'd try to keep it by playing mind games to make Jim feel guilty about being away from little Cecelia ("I'm a little surprised that it's working," Jim notes).

The very relatable guilt Jim was feeling -- and the fact that Dwight wasn't being actively malicious -- made the bit work. And the payoff, with Jim's pyramid of desks, was pretty sweet.

Andy and Erin. Finally, we got to Andy and Erin's date, and the best line of the night, Andy explaining why it had to be perfect: "Why? Because according to 'How I Met Your Mother,' that's the date that your kids are gonna wait patiently to hear about. You better have a good story for them." Brilliant.

With these two, though, you sort of knew it wouldn't go smoothly. Erin is getting sick and gets sent home. So Andy -- in what's an undeniably sweet move -- fakes his own sickness and then goes to her house to have their date. It's all perfectly adorable ... until Erin's ambiguously affectionate foster brother pops in from the other room. Sigh. Erin's kiss on the cheek at the end of the evening seems to eliminate at least some of the questions about what the heck is going on. I hope so, anyway, because their oddball chemistry really is nice.

Other bits and pieces from "St. Patrick's Day":

  • Loved the double-edged sword of Darryl getting Jim's old office upstairs. It's a step up the ladder, sure, but it also means he can't bug out when the rest of his warehouse team does, and [shudder] he has to tuck in his shirt. Michael's cross-office wave after the warehouse guys leave was priceless.
  • Note to Andy: I get that you're down with the St. Pat's spirit, but maybe change out of the kilt before going on a date. Also? Kilts are Scottish.
  • Kevin gets indignant about having to work late: "Just because Jo has no life does not mean that the rest of us don't have lives. Oscar has a life. I think Ryan has a life..."
  • More excellent Darryl, as he's moving into his office: "Mike, I have to ask you to leave so I can learn about this tiny television."
  • Funny, but also sad: Michael recognizing a possible kindred spirit -- or at least a guy with a similarly sparse romantic history -- in Jo's overworked assistant Gabe: "I'm young, right? I will date when I'm dead" [rueful laugh]. Michael: "That's just depressing." Yes, it is.

What did you think of "St. Patrick's Day"? Were you OK with the small stories, or do you need to see more going on at this point?
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