‘The Office’ Recap: Mrs. California

S8:E9 “In four seconds my wife is coming in that door. I told her she was allowed to work here but under no circumstances is she allowed to work here.” – Robert California

The day begins with Robert California knocking ferociously at the windows of Andy’s office and shouting how his wife is about to come in looking for a job, but she is not to be given one. A few seconds later, Robert walks in with his arm around his wife, Susan (played by Maura Tierney), and Andy comes out to greet them in reception. Robert explains his wife is there looking for a job, and Andy is under strict orders to take her around the office, introduce her to all the departments, and give her a position somewhere. Andy is very confused, but obeys Dunder-Mifflin’s CEO and shows Susan around. However, he’s careful to encourage all the employees to tell Susan what they hate about the company so she won’t want to work there, and Andy won’t have to disobey Robert’s secret orders to not hire her by hiring her. The only problem is everyone is really nice to Susan, and she only ends up wanting a job more. So Andy takes Robert and his wife back into his office and again tries to tell the two of them the company is fully staffed. Robert makes this big speech about how he is demanding the regional manager to find SOMETHING for his wife to do and how it shouldn’t be that hard, and Andy has no choice but to formally put Susan in accounting. Robert then exits the room and calls Andy on his phone and reprimands him for being unable to follow the simple instruction of not giving his wife a job. And since he’s been backed into a corner, Andy tells everyone in the office to be mean to Susan so she will quit and Robert California won’t be mad at him.

“Your path from obesity begins right here.” – Dwight

Dwight is on a major health kick, and he starts of his efforts to get healthier by making the decision to never ever sit down. But once he realizes how hard that is, he builds a gym in the office so he can charge money while everyone gets in shape with him. However, it’s filled with exercises you’d do on a farm, like splitting wood, hammering at a tire swing, and pulling on a lever to make a large gear shift. Once Daryl sees what Dwight put together, he says it’s no good and that it must be filled with REAL equipment if he’s going to charge any money for people to use it. So then he revamps it and buys all this new equipment, but only Daryl is interested in joining because Dwight promises to make him look like LeBron James.

“Your employees don’t seem to be taking to me.” – Susan

Per Andy’s instructions, the entire office is rude to Susan. So much so, in fact, that she goes and tells Robert California that the group isn’t making her feel welcome. Robert is disappointed with what his wife tells him, and he calls Andy into the room and informs him that the crew isn’t treating his wife with as much respect as they should. Susan chimes in and tries to be understanding, and says if she had to work with her boss’s wife, she wouldn’t really appreciate it either and says perhaps it’s best she not work at Dunder-Mifflin. Robert says that’s nonsense, and then abruptly leaves because he wants to get cash from a nearby ATM (but really because he doesn’t want to deal with Susan, who is very sweet and nice!). So it’s just Susan and Andy alone in the conference room, and she asks him if Robert did anything to make him uncomfortable about hiring her, and Andy subtly answers in the affirmative. Susan says she understands how her husband can be quite difficult, and calls Robert back into the conference room and asks him point blank if he told Andy not to hire her. Robert adamantly denies doing anything of the sort. Susan asks Andy to tell his side of the story, and because Robert agrees Andy should be honest about the exchanges they’ve had the day, Andy says to Susan, yes, Robert came in the morning and said you’d be coming in looking for a job but that I was not to hire you. Robert screams that Andy is a liar, and so to save himself Andy calls for Jim, because he witnessed Robert telling Andy he didn’t want Susan to work there. Not wanting to get involved, Jim runs out into the hallway and then up onto the roof. But Robert eventually catches up with him and drags him back down into the conference room, so he can tell his side of the story. Jim feels pressure to choose between Andy and Robert California, but because he works with his wife and absolutely loves it, he says Robert would be lucky to work with Susan. The episode ends with everyone leaving for the day, and Robert gritting his teeth in Andy’s direction, and Andy inadvertently agreeing to going on a date with Susan.

This episode was a vast improvement over Gettysburg. In fact, it might be my favorite episode of the season so far because it capitalized on the very real problem that arises when your boss gives you instructions but then makes it very hard for you to follow them. Maura Tierney was completely delightful, and perfectly cast. The Dwight/Daryl storyline wasn’t as enjoyable, in part because the Robert/Susan/Andy storyline was so dramatic and extensive and good that it really didn’t leave room for much else to happen. But all in all, I really can’t complain about anything.