S8:E8 This episode was decent. It had the requisite Dwight plotting to ruin it for everyone, a bit of romance, and the Oscar quota was satisfied. But by far the best part of this episode was Jim’s part of it, because he is just the greatest — and if you knew me, you’d know that I am currently gathering the requisite materials to build a shrine to him in my closet, a la Helga from Hey Arnold.
“Simply end the mistakes.” – Robert California
In a meeting, Robert California pointed out that last week a client got their order for free because of an accounting error. Andy tries to rectify the situation by asking Robert who his favorite Iron Chef is, but Robert tells him to just make people realize how important it is for them not to make mistakes. So Andy agrees to make his employees more accountable, and he holds a meeting with Dwight to explain to everyone they all need to cut down on their errors. They also explain that there is a new system in place, called The Accountability Booster. The Accountability Booster is: when the whole group makes five mistakes in one day, Robert California gets an email that consists of a copy of the report from a few years ago that recommended the branch be shut down ALONG WITH all the negative emails people have written about him – including the really bad ones, like the one where Jim says Robert’s favorite songs were “Creep” by TLC and “Creep” by Radiohead. So the rest of the day, everyone is super careful – but they make five mistakes anyway. They all begin to panic that they will be out of a job once Robert sees what they’ve all written about him, and they ask Dwight if there’s any way he can prevent Robert from receiving the email. Dwight says the only way the email won’t be sent is if he enters the password to the program, but he refuses to do it because he doesn’t believe Andy is worthy of being the regional manager.
“I get the feeling that Val enjoys a good put down. And since I get that sense, I’m going to be milking that hard.” – Gabe
Gabe dated Erin for a while but that ended, and Gabe is single again. While walking through the office he encounters Val, one of the new people hired to work in the warehouse. He is instantly attracted to her and he goes over to Toby and asks him to start filling out the appropriate human resources form that both acknowledges the relationship between coworkers and absolves the company from any responsibility regarding the relationship. Toby is unwilling to start the proper paperwork because he doesn’t believe Gabe has spent sufficient time with Val for there to even BE a relationship, and so Gabe spends the majority of the day in the warehouse, trying to win her affections. After some time passes, Gabe asks Val if she wants to join him in drinking wine in a cemetery that night, but she politely declines because she “doesn’t date coworkers.” Gabe is disappointed, but doesn’t admit defeat.
“Oh wow. I forgot how pretty your house is.” – Pam
Because Dwight shows no desire to stop Robert from getting the email, the group devises the following plan: Jim is to go play squash with Robert and make sure that, if the email is ever sent, he never receives it. Pam, Andy, Kevin and Erin are to go to Dwight’s house and be nice to him as a way of convincing him not to get them all fired. Once at Schrute farm, they help him dig a horse grave above a horse grave, and eat some of his pie while making casual conversation. In the meantime, Jim is playing a game he’s never played before with his boss. However, through Pam’s incredible ability to relate to people, Dwight decides against sending Robert California the email and enters his password into the program just before it was scheduled to go out. Everyone is delighted except for Jim, who had to wear white shorts in front of his boss.
It seems clear that the writers are spending more time on characters finding love, and I actually enjoy it very much. There are only so many crazy situations that can arise in a workplace that only have to do with actual work, and so I’m delighted to see new romantic bonds forming. Perhaps this is just because I adore what happened between Jim and Pam, and also what happened between Michael and Holly, and I suspect the writers are aware that ultimately what all of us want for the Dunder-Mifflin employees is love. And I also don’t mind how it seems like the writers are relying pretty heavily on Robert California to create problems. It’s not implausible for a new boss to come in and make everyone crazy a little bit, while other people may feel he’s still an outsider and shouldn’t have any bearing on the group, Michael’s departure left a pretty big void (which I suspect the writers are still trying to figure out how to fill).