‘The Office’ Recap: Drama in Tallahassee … and Scranton

S8:E16 Last week’s episode of The Office took a step back in the right direction and hinted at some major developments. Tonight we saw those developments — or at least the shapes they might take — and perhaps an even stronger episode. Dwight, Jim, Kathy, Erin, Ryan and Stanley are still in Florida, where the most drama transpires (in the romance and job departments), but the goings-on back in Scranton more than hold their own and devote the entire Dunder Mifflin leg of the story to a somewhat underused member of the office.

“She’s going to give it to me … as I’m giving it to her, tonight.” –Todd Packer

There was a LOT to grasp in the Tallahassee/special-projects arc of tonight’s story, some of which we might’ve seen coming with subtle foreshadowing in previous episodes and some of which, well, we knew was coming, because it was promised at the end of last episode. Let’s start with the latter: We knew that Packer and Dwight would fight to the death, almost, for the vacant position of vice president of special projects, directly beneath (pun intended in this case) Nellie Bertram (returning guest star Catherine Tate) — and fight it out they most certainly do. What begins as an unfriendly game of appealing to Nellie’s every whim (i.e. simulating a beach setting) ends when Dwight, with an assist from Gabe, spikes Packer’s drink, causing him to effectively drop out of the race for the night … and puke all over Gabe. It sends Nellie, by default, into Dwight’s room “one-on-one time,” er, sex, but Dwight isn’t interested and it looks like we’ll have to wait until next episode to see the true outcome. The first of two romantic developments involves the somewhat weird cat-and-mouse thing going on between Ryan and Erin, but it seems to have ended when Erin informs Ryan, presumably, that it might take up to six months for them to have sex. The second of two such developments is a little more consequential. We’re talking about Jim and Kathy, who invites herself into Jim’s hotel room, clad in only PJs, and not the type you wear to keep warm. Things immediately get too close for comfort, which is when Jim blows the whistle. Kathy promises she’s not there for “that,” but before long she’s in a bathrobe — after a shower in his room! — resting up against Jim. Soon thereafter, Jim has had enough and brings in the big guns: Dwight, responding to a bed-bug disturbance. He literally sprays Kathy out of Jim’s room, ending any chance for a hookup. But not ending the chance of drama once Jim and the rest of the gang return to Scranton …

“OK, everybody – 5 o’clock, workday’s over. Put your pencils down … and pick ‘em back up! Because now, the late-night work jam begins.” –Andy

As previously promised, Tallahassee wasn’t the only place to see a little romantic drama in tonight’s episode. That’s right — love is in the air in Scranton, and no, it’s not Creed and Meredith. But first, the obligatory boring setup side-story: Andy forces everyone to stay late to service the accounts of their office-mates who went to Florida. Unexciting as usual — that is, until everyone converges in the conference room, where Daryl and Val are sitting next to each other. Remember, they have a history: In the quasi-Valentine’s Day episode two weeks ago, the two of them danced around their apparent interest in one another. All ended well and all seemed well in that episode, as the two acknowledged the attraction. Tonight, though, Val’s boyfriend enters the picture, literally, when he drops off some Jamaican food and a threat to Daryl to stay away from Val, claiming to have seen the texts he’s sent her. Daryl says the texts were innocent, platonic, but Kelly calls him out when one of the many texts he reads aloud for the group ends in an ellipse … with two too many dots. Ultimately, the hubbub comes to an end, and Daryl tells Val, “I don’t think you and me [as a couple] is ridiculous.” To be continued. And nice to See Daryl get an episode to himself!

Overall, this was a great episode, teeming with the developments we’ve been hoping for — and teased with — really all season long. The Jim-and-Kathy (who, it must be said, is slightly “Pam”-y) storyline could be over, but it’s more than likely not. Who knows? Jim could fall for her, or she or Dwight could say something to Pam (even though Jim certainly did nothing wrong) when they return to Scranton. The point is, the writers have us, or least me, guessing again and, dare I say, slightly titillated! There were also scenes, primarily between Jim and Dwight, that reminded us of the good ol’ days, when there was realistic interplay between the characters, but it was also funny. More of this, please. Please?