The Office: Murder (Not Mukduk)

Last night's episode of The Office, "Murder," was a cute enough episode that won't rank among the series' greats but still had some solid moments and fun plotting. After a cold open featuring Dwight beating himself in a karate seminar that was a little too "hey look how wacky he is," the ep jumped to the main action: bankruptcy fears at Dunder Mifflin corporate have the office worried about being shut down. Dwight's deadpan offer of assistance -- "You can all have jobs at Schrute Farms as human scarecrows. It doesn't pay much, and you can't unionize." -- was great, but then it became about Jim's battle to keep Michael from going over the edge. There's been a fun change in the dynamic now that Jim's all official: Instead of being the one pushing Michael out of boredom, Jim is now often charged with reining him in out of deference to the rest of the office and an attempt to keep the peace.

To get everyone's mind off the money talk, Michael drags out one of those murder-mystery games for dinner parties that no one I know has ever actually played. The whole time, Andy's doing his best to flirt with Erin, though he winds up being cast as her brother in the game. (The look of bitter disappointment when he figures this out is killer.) The Southern accents they affect for their characters are brutal, though, and the scenes where they actually have to act out their parts are awkward and sad and way too accurate in re: the kind of stupid shit that happens at cubicle farms. Take it from one who knows.

But there was a startling moment when Jim shouted at Michael and finally got him into his office to talk, only for Michael to drop the game character voice and yell at Jim! He actually got in his face and told him to shut up because people need the game. I get that's what Michael was doing all along, it was kind of clear, but man, I did not expect him to slap Jim down like that. But it was also kind of the awakening Jim needed, since when he later fielded the phone call from David Wallace and found out that the company is basically out of money, he told the office that there was no official news yet but that there had been "another murder," restarting the game. The ep was another of Jim's Object Lessons for Management in Which Michael Actually Knows A Thing or Two, and there seem to be enough of those to last a while.

And seriously, Andy and Erin are so nerdily perfect together. Their crossed wires this week were a little heartbreaking: he asked her out and she said yes, but they both were worried the other person was joking, so they didn't do anything. Dude! Just have Pam step in again.

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