S8:E10 Last night’s The Office showed what Andy’s first Christmas as Regional Manager looked like, and for the most part, I’d say it was a success. It probably wasn’t as drama-free as he would have liked it to be (he probably would have been happiest if the only problem of the night was Meredith’s inebriation), but it was kind of his own fault. But as an episode, it had that certain… “spirit” that I enjoy from Office episodes.
“He’s trying to entrap me.” – Jim
Pam’s replacement is sick and tired of sitting with Dwight and Jim because all they do is play pranks on each other and it’s really distracted for someone who was actually hired to do something. So she puts in a request with Andy to switch desk islands. But before Andy obliges her request, he takes Jim and Dwight into his office and tells them they are not to play any pranks on each other because it is making other people uncomfortable. He also says that if he catches either one of them pranking the other, he would take the pranker’s Christmas bonus and give it to his intended victim. So obviously this leads to Dwight setting up opportunities for Jim to mess with him (because Dwight wants Jim’s bonus), like leaving his wallet on his desk in plain view and leaving his email program open. Dwight even puts a porcupine in his own desk drawer and then tries to pin it on Jim. Jim retaliates by defacing a picture of his own daughter, because that’s the easiest stunt he can pull that will cause people to automatically blame. He shows Andy the tarnished picture, who is shocked and tells Jim he’s going to fire Dwight for doing something so unthinkable. Jim is surprised at Andy’s reaction, retreats immediately, and tells Andy he’ll handle the situation on his own because he’s the one who actually gave his daughter a moustache and devil horns. In the end, Andy decides it’s not right to mess with Jim or Dwight’s bonuses and tells them they can keep messing around with each other if they don’t let it affect their work.
“How many drinks have you had tonight?” – Andy
Andy brought his new girlfriend, Jessica, to the annual Christmas party, and Erin is immediately jealous and so nervous that within minutes of meeting Jessica, she begins rambling on about some scoliosis she doesn’t have. She pretends to be happy Andy is with someone else, but it’s her sadness that leads her to accept a few shots of alcohol from Robert California. After a while, Erin is completely intoxicated and goes up to Jessica and Andy and tells them she hopes they get married and that she gets to meet someone at their wedding and then compliments their hair and demands they kiss in front of her. Then, Erin goes back into the conference room to keep dancing and having a good time. But Andy follows her in, and tells her to eat something so she’ll sober up a bit. But Erin responds to his instructions by telling hi she wishes Jessica were dead and had worms coming out of her mouth so they could be together again. Andy finally realizes why Erin is so drunk, and it’s because she’s jealous and wants him back. But in front of everyone, Andy decides it’s a good idea to shoot Erin down and demand that she come to grips with how they are no longer an item. Erin gets drunker and sadder and Robert California sweeps in, realizes she’s drinking because her heart is broken, and offers her a ride home. Andy watches, outrageously angry, as Erin gets into a car that isn’t his and drives off. And even though he has his own date, he can’t forget how Erin left with Robert California. So Andy gets Jessica to leave the party and offers to drive wasted Meredith home as a means of driving by Erin’s house to make sure she and California don’t engage in any funny business. And sure enough, Andy witnesses Erin getting out of Robert’s car and marching right into her house without giving her vehicular escort anything more than a “thank you.” He smiles, and Meredith thinks it’s because he wants to sleep with her.
I think we could have guessed Andy and Erin’s complicated relationship would have been a primary focus of this season. The fact the two of them now have to walk around the office leading separate lives while still dealing with residual attraction is the complete opposite of what happened to Jim and Pam (who, you know, got married, have two kids, and are deliriously happy), and the writers certainly wanted to show us their own interpretation of why Toby discourages office relationships. However, even though Andy and Erin are no longer together, it’s not like they have complete disdain for each other. They still care for each other, but unlike Jim and Pam’s courtship, both Andy and Erin are much more open with their feelings. And so of course they were going to cause trouble at the holiday party! But what I enjoyed most about this episode was that even in Andy’s and Erin’s attempts to be horrible to each other, it’s obvious they’re both aching to reconnect.