TV Recap

Gone Batty

On ''The Office,'' Michael tries to spread his wisdom, Ryan gets the comeuppance he deserves, Dwight battles vampiric forces, and Pam remembers what being with Roy is really like

RISKY BUSINESS Michael bombarded the students in Ryan's class with candy bars
RISKY BUSINESS Michael bombarded the students in Ryan's class with candy bars

''The Office'': Michael's secrets to success

Those of you who thought Michael was too over the top at the wedding last week, could you even stand watching him strut into Ryan's class as a guest speaker and make an arse of himself? His already overinflated ego became blimp-size at the thought of an audience of students hanging on his every word. He was so intent on dropping some wisdom, entering with his own theme music and tossing candy bars around for emphasis (Payday!), there was no way he could pick up on the class's underlying disdain for him, which was set up by Ryan. Ah, yes, Ryan, who thought to bump up his grade by bringing in his boss, yet totally sold him out.

Once Michael discovered that Ryan had told the class Dunder-Mifflin would be obsolete within 10 years, gone was the idiot boss and out came the steely (yet petulant) salesman. He called out Ryan for never having made a sale, and he even brought up the kitchen fire Ryan started back when he was still a temp. His anger was palpable in the car ride back to the office. And here again was a flash of insight into Michael: ''Business is always personal. It's the most personal thing in the world.'' That's particularly true when you don't have anything else in your world. (This is the point when you'll all want to remind me about his now girlfriend Jan, but I'm not entirely convinced she hasn't come to her senses and dumped him offscreen.)

And the real evidence of Michael's deliberately mean side (the one that probably still has Dwight doing his laundry for him) was Ryan's banishment over to the annex right next to Kelly. (Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Ohmygod!) Talk about a masterful punishment. That's got to be a setup for Andy's return from anger-management leave. (Is there really such a thing?) Can you imagine Andy, Dwight, and Jim all sitting facing each other? I can't wait.

So Pam is back with Roy. We saw this coming, people. Be strong. She's already remembering all the things she didn't like about him. He's slipping a little on the A-game he brought when he tried to woo her back. He went to her art show but displayed his insensitivity (while trying to score points) by observing that none of her officemates had showed up, but he was here with his brother — and then dipped out early. Of course, that was after he assured her that her art was ''the best of all the art.''

Which it wasn't. I was actually writhing with embarrassment for her from the moment they showed her sketchpad-size work in pastel in the context of all the edgier canvas pieces. Don't get me wrong. Those ''impressions'' of things, things like a cup and a stapler, are better than anything I could make if I sat down and tried really hard for 10 years. But they were so indicative of her mild, retiring personality, a fact highlighted by Oscar and Gil's biting, overhead comments. It just made me want to hug her — but Michael took care of that.

This show has always been able to turn on a dime and take the comedy to a soul-stirring dramatic climax with just the lightest of touches, and last night was no different. Michael's joy at seeing Pam's rendering of the Dunder-Mifflin building, after what had felt like a personal attack from Ryan, was validation for Pam. The fact that it came from Michael, who was sporting a Chunky in his pocket as they hugged, was an irony that Pam was willing to live with.

Noticeably, her ''friend'' Jim didn't make it to the art show. Maybe he was home going through the vampiric transformation that had Dwight so convinced. Or maybe he was just tired of hanging around Pam. He should be tired of the uncertainty with Pam, because he and Karen rock! They acted as one well-oiled machine as they slowly convinced Dwight that Jim was becoming a vampire, thanks to a bite from the bat that Dwight found in the ceiling. (It was nice of Jim to give a nod to our preoccupation with Jam/Kim by referencing Brangelina.) And to think we were worried that Jim wouldn't want to pull pranks once he became No. 2 in the office. They just keep getting better.

My favorite line of the night, from Angela: ''Poop is raining from the ceiling. Poop!'' Or maybe it was Stanley just saying, ''Goodbye,'' as soon as the bat flew through the room.

Creed Creep-O-Meter: 10 What size stake do you want? And Dwight didn't have to work at all to enlist him in his cryptically laid-out plans.

Now, if I may take a moment, just on the off chance that I've offended Phyllis Smith, I'd like to say that the comment about the dress last week was merely an observation of Phyllis and Pam's difference in dress sizes and not a dig on her. I couldn't wear the same dress as Jenna Fischer either. And Phyllis Smith was pretty damn fetching in it. Everybody happy? And heck no, I'm not putting up my picture. Ask my kids. Photo sightings of me are akin to those of Bigfoot — out of focus, poorly lit, and infrequent.

So what did you think of last night's episode? Was Michael too much to bear again? Or was order restored with the double dose of out-of-the-office trips and Dwight's batty behavior? And how will Ryan fare in the annex?

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Originally posted Feb 16, 2007