Tonight’s episode saw the return of one of The Office’s most notorious obnoxious characters: Todd Packer. Packer is Michael’s “best friend”…if a best friend is someone who takes a dump on the carpet in your office as a special surprise. Of course everyone other than Michael (and Kevin who is…well…Kevin) thinks that Todd Packer is pretty much the biggest and most inappropriate jerk, which he most certainly is. That is why no one is very happy when Holly agrees to hire Packer as an in-house salesman at Michael’s request to let him come in off the road.
I think this was one of the strongest episodes of The Office in a long time. There were no flashy bells and whistles, no crazy antics taking them out of the office on unbelievable scavenger hunts…it was just genuine clashes of personality in an office environment and various power threats and plays. In other words, it reminded me much more of early seasons of this show that truly focused on character interaction within the office setting. Plus, almost every character was involved somehow in the proceedings, so a lot of our favorites had a chance to shine. Even the Jim-Dwight-Pam banter and pranks felt old-school to me—it was by far the most likeable I have found their particular characters all season.
The A-story that involved pretty much everyone in the office obviously revolved around Packer coming in off the road…and he has not changed one bit. Holly doesn’t see a problem with Packer at first, and I enjoyed the grand united front formed by everyone else to tell her exactly what they thought of him. And I especially enjoyed Jim and Dwight teaming up for the purpose of messing with Packer (as they sometimes do to take on a greater cause). Their brainstorming sessions for how to best prank Packer are great, especially with Jim still being able to mess with Dwight ever so slightly and effectively (i.e. pranking him with the desk drawer trick that Dwight himself shot down as an idea). Our favorite odd couple eventually succeeds with a prank—calling Packer as CEO Jo and telling him to pack his bags to head down to the Florida office. Meanwhile, Michael continues his maturity streak (no doubt because he is leaving soon) by having a relatively normal and effective (for Michael) boss-employee conversation with Packer about his behavior. When even that backfires, Michael is still willing to defend his friend—that is, until Packer insults Holly. That is when Michael calmly decides he is over his friendship with Packer and sends him packing. It is crystal clear now: Michael knows that Holly is his best friend.
I even enjoyed the B-story tonight regarding Andy’s desire to get a new computer. Pam had purchased a new computer for Erin since she knows firsthand how horrible and old the one at reception is. When Pam refuses to also get a new one for Andy, he decides to have fun doing everything possible to break his current one so that Pam will have no choice. Pam even eventually helps him break his…and then in front of everyone tells him she found an old computer in the warehouse as a replacement. Andy balks at first, but soon realizes Pam actually did hook him up with a new computer. Maybe my imagination started running away from me, but after that little wink and smile between Andy and Pam, for a minute I thought that Pam actually did give Andy an old computer—Erin’s—and that it had something on there that perhaps proved Erin’s feelings for Andy. I was wrong. But it was still a fun outcome nonetheless, and it also led to Daryl striking a corrupt deal with Pam as well.
There were many memorable lines and moments from this episode:
- Dwight eating all his about-to-expire food in the cold opening, and Jim egging him on like the old days.
- “Just so you know, he’s at his funniest when you give him five shots” (Michael’s endorsement of Packer).
- “He is turning in his condoms for a condominium” (Michael’s announcement to the staff that Packer is joining the team).
- “I have very little patience for stupidity” (Kevin, of all people).
- “I don’t want to say it was old, but its IP number was 1” (Pam, proud of her little computer joke).
- “What do you grow in here, bull crap?” (Dwight regarding the zen garden)
- “We can’t fire someone because we don’t like him” (Holly); “Yeah this isn’t the U.S. government” (Ryan).
- “In sumo culture, you’d be considered a promising up-and-comer” (Dwight consoling Kevin about his weight after Packer makes fun of it).
- Erin’s awesome and totally random obsession with the ant farm.
- Holly’s visual demonstration of where Packer ranks on the “funny scale”
- “Who is Justice Beaver?” (Dwight); “It’s a crime fighting beaver” (Jim)
- Michael trying to smooth the waters by drawing comparisons between Packer and the others… “Angela likes pussycats and Packer…”
Were you feeling the old-school vibes of this episode like I was? I think it really “packed” in the laughs!