The Office – “The Promotion”

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“The Promotion”

October 1st, 2009

After last week’s co-manager reveal, we knew this was the next logical step. Michael doesn’t deal well sharing power, and Jim has never actually been in power and when he has been it’s been a pretty big disaster. So, when this episode begins, we find Michael and Jim in a power struggle that shows no signs of ending easily, and which confirms what we knew about both men.

That’s not a terrible plan for an episode, but it’s problematically reductive and didn’t end up bringing anything new to these characters. While it comes to some sort of conclusion, it doesn’t feel as if it really proves anything, and the comedy throughout the episode was too scattershot for me to really claim that the largely transitional episode was as well-executed as it could have been.

At least it was a great Oscar episode, right?

I don’t want to be too down on this episode, because it wasn’t terrible by any means: Michael wasn’t any more ridiculous than you’d expect him to be, some of his antics proving both ridiculous and hilarious (like his decision to have a meeting with “one of each”), and a scenario where nobody likes Jim has some potential. The issue is that we’ve already been there before, and it didn’t feel like any of this was particularly novel. I really liked Dwight’s reaction, stirring the coals in an effort to get Jim ousted, but other than his “Viva la Revolution” stylings it didn’t feel as if the reactions were as strong as they could have been. There was some decent subtle stuff, but the question of raises ended up turning the individual characters in the office into an angry mob, with only Dwight, Oscar and Kelly at all differentiating themselves.

The big problem is the way the storyline is resolved, or not resolved. To some degree, the episode wants us to believe that the real problem here was Jim and Michael being unable to work together, but once Jim realizes how hard Michael’s job can be, and once Michael sees that Jim is just as uncomfortable as he is, they are able to bond over some gin from “World’s Best Boss” mugs. There’s a sense that they’re about to walk out of that office and present a united front, which would have been great to actually be able to see. Not resolving the COLA issues (which were well chosen for falling under both big picture/day-to-day, just to give them credit for that) makes it feel as if that wasn’t actually the real problem here, which undersells the characters’ frustration with Michael and Jim. The whole point of the conference room scenes was that they quickly spiralled into the bean counting game which was a complete and total farce, and that they needed to take it more seriously, but then the episode ends with them self-medicating?

It wasn’t helped that the episode had only the slightest of B-stories, one which was poor for two reasons. First, Pam’s quest to get money for the wedding never really hit a comic apex, as getting suckered in by Ryan wasn’t enough of a punchline for the somewhat meandering storyline (although, just so we’re clear, I’m writing “to love’s eternal glory” as the memo on my next cheque). It felt like a cheap reminder of the wedding, something that the show should be above. However, more problematically, it kept Pam out of the Jim/Michael storyline, where she would logically have had had something to say to Jim. It was a bizarre choice of a subplot, and one that I think was ultimately a mistake.

And yet, as noted above, I thought Kelly had a couple of fun lines in this one, and Oscar stole the show both with his narration of the battle between Jim and the employees and his talking ahead about how people thrive with two leaders. Combine with Dwight’s radicalism, and you have a few fun lines and clever scenes. Overall, though, the emphasis seemed off, and it’s definitely the season’s weakest episode thus far.

Cultural Observations

  • To further prove that Oscar’s point is correct, there WERE actually two popes at one point (Avignon Papacy what up!), and that didn’t work so well. And thus ends today’s history lesson.
  • Dwight’s epic hammerlock sequence, ending with $18,000 and a chance at the title, was just plain great.
  • Love the use of Erin as the message girl: whether it was interrupting Dwight’s wrestling match, or Jim and Michael’s meeting, she did well in making interruptions pleasant and charming.
  • Creed and Meredith? Ick.
  • Michael’s drawing of Toby was a fun little throwaway, and I do enjoy when the show returns to that well.

2 Comments

Filed under The Office

2 responses to “The Office – “The Promotion”

  1. Chris

    The only real time I laughed during this episode was at Kevin’s “Whats a bean mean?” line. He used it several times when the plot was first discovered, but later in the episode he says it again even though he was off screen. I found that hilarious.

  2. Oscar’s line was definitely the highlight.
    I found that the lack of a resolution was very maddening. This show tends to resolve it’s problems by the end of an episode, and this time it really didn’t and there’s no way it’s going to happen next week.

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