‘The Office’ Recap: The Inner Circle

S07E23: Strange times we be having in The Office and not just because I be talking like a pirate for some reason. With Michael Scott out of the picture and apparently never to be mentioned again (this is a good thing; focus on the future not the past) we’re supposed to see what life is like now that he is gone. But things haven’t quite settled back to normal. Instead of a Michael Scott-free episode we instead got a let’s-replace-Michael-with-an-unhinged-Deangelo episode.

“Did you get that Ma? Your boy, Kevin Malone, is in the inner circle. Which doesn’t exist.” -Kevin

Did it work? Kinda. Will Ferrell finally got to be Will Ferrell despite all previously laid character traits for his characters and the rest of the ensemble stepped up to take part of the burden. It was a funny episode and we met a new character but it was by no means an indicator of what the rest of the show will be like. And judging from the promos, neither will the remaining episodes. Next week sees Dwight as the interim manager ruling in his typical fashion and the following week has a bevy of guest stars. Each episode is trying desperately to keep you hooked in enough to keep you watching until next season when things will finally calm down into something resembling normalcy. It’s a tricky, but clever, plan by the producers of the show and it’s working out as well as they could hope.

So what was wrong with Deangelo this week? It turns out that along with being an incompetent moron on the same level as Michael, a brown-noser, and a recovering fat guy, he’s also sexist. Deangelo was never allowed to explore one single weird characteristic and it seemed like this week he was given something that would make for the funniest scene instead of what the character would actually do. That’s a really big complaint but he won’t be around again so I guess the writers can get away with it. Anyway, this week he’s sexist. Deangelo is an incompetent manager and invites all the dudes in the office to create his inner circle to help him delegate the tasks of the office.

But this doesn’t sit well with the other department heads, who happen to be women and who were not invited to the inner circle (which doesn’t exist). So Pam and Angela rope Jim into talking to Deangelo about it because he’s the only one with a shred of common sense about the whole thing. That backfires horribly as Deangelo is definitely one to play favorites. When he is replaced with Andy, Jim finally calls out Deangelo on all his bragging and basically demands to see him do a foul line dunk down in the warehouse. Deangelo accepts and who would’ve thought that the world’s worst dunk would end with a concussion? It was an unusual way of getting rid of a character (this was Ferrell’s last contracted episode) but was it effective? You betcha.

“This is for you, Jimmy. Also for the troops.” -Deangelo

Basically, all that was wrong with The Office can be traced back to Deangelo’s story mentioned above. What saved the show was the rest of the cast. When he was doing his pantomime juggling routine it was too long and not that funny. Comparatively when Michael would do such a thing we found it more enjoyable because, first, he was a more grounded character and second, we had more invested in him. But what was funny was Kevin getting into it and Pam’s recap later in the break room. Deangelo’s sexism wasn’t that funny but Kelly finally standing up to Ryan? Damn good for her. Deangelo offering his new personal assistant to Dwight (who I’m assuming we’ll learn more about in the coming episodes) wasn’t that great. But Kelly claiming working at Anthropologie as her dream job? That was awesome. It seems that the best thing possible for The Office is to get rid of this new boss. For anyone thinking that they could just replace Michael with some other funny guy (Ferrell was basically doing his take on the character) it just doesn’t gel with everything that’s developed so far. Which is why I think that after the finale with every guest star known to man, someone will be promoted from within.

The only thing that bothered me about the core ensemble was Andy and Angela. They sat beside each other in the break room like she hadn’t cheated on him and ruined their engagement two years ago. Yes, I realize that was two years ago and it is seemingly enough time for the wounds to heal, but still. He talked to her as if nothing had happened and when she scolded him about joining the inner circle (that doesn’t exist) he had to defend himself by saying he’d take it down from the inside. I didn’t want to see any animosity but for them to just act like it never happened? Nah, it didn’t sit well with me.

It’s an unusual time for The Office and I really think they’re doing the best they can. It’s going to be bumpy for the next few episodes but from what I can tell of the plan for next year, things will be fine. Still, the cynic in me agrees with Jim, “Now what?”