I guess it was only fitting that it took this long for Michael Scott to learn that manufacturing-giant China is quickly becoming a superpower while the U.S. is slipping behind. Welcome to the modern age, Mr. Scott. If it wasn’t for a Newsweek-type magazine being the only thing left at the dentist to read, Michael would not have discovered that “China is a sleeping dragon ready to stir,” which hilariously disturbed Erin as you could see from her face that she imagined an actual fire-breathing dragon. Michael’s now very alive concern about the rise of China and the fall of the U.S. set the backdrop for the main story that brought much of the office together in a fact competition.
When “Mr. Actually” Oscar gets a fact about China and the U.S. wrong (and shockingly Michael was correct), Oscar is determined to reclaim his intellectual superiority. Of course everyone else knows that Oscar is far brighter than Michael, but they take pleasure in seeing the “stereotype of a smug gay Mexican” be wrong for once. Therefore, Erin, Ryan, Kelly, Jim and Andy rally to prep Michael for a follow up debate with Oscar (a.k.a. coffee discussion). Michael holds his own for a minute or two, providing very measured and coached responses. Then Oscar really lets loose with his knowledge and leaves Michael speechless. Just when you think there is no way Michael can come from behind to win, he actually has a big idea—that the very nature of this disagreement between a boss and his employee is what makes America a unique force…freedom will always prevail. Michael is hailed as the winner, except by Oscar.
The Michael versus Oscar debate over the U.S. and China was not the only competition brewing in Dunder Mifflin. As building owner, Dwight enacted more ridiculous measures and cost savings schemes such as lights that constantly turn off and (much to the discomfort of Stanley!) only one-ply toilet paper. This was putting everyone in a bad mood and, as office manager, Pam was determined to act effectively on behalf of the staff. When she threatened Dwight with an office-wide move to another building, he eventually saw through her bluff. This was after Dwight and his assistant tracked down the address of the new building only to find a vacant lot and, oddly, another woman named Pam walking by whom Dwight proceeded to verbally attack. Dwight was ready to crush Dunder Mifflin Pam over her bluff, until he overheard her lament to Jim that she feels like all her recent attempts at career success (i.e. graphic designer, salesperson) were failures. All she wanted was to do something effective for her coworkers to prove herself in her new role. We the viewers did not know Dwight overheard this—instead we were led to believe that Dwight’s assistant Nate tipped Pam off to some valuable legal intell. But, when Dwight backed down very quickly and then admitted to planting the info himself, we got a glimpse of his soft-spot for his enemy’s wife…just don’t call it compassion!
In an amusing minor storyline, Daryl was exasperated that Andy was texting him constantly throughout the day with stupid things. For Daryl, the only valuable text is a booty call. The ending was a nice touch, when Andy texted him about something stupid (crazy pigeon action outside) yet Daryl found it a highly worthy text. I have really enjoyed the Daryl-Andy dynamic since earlier this season when they had a jam session. I hope to see more of their odd friendship bloom and more of their band practice—or maybe even a gig!