There was a period a couple seasons ago when The Office felt like it was running out of steam, but its current sixth season is as strong as ever. Last night's "The Meeting" hit all the standard marks for an episode -- Michael does something wacky, then something cruel, then something mildly redemptive -- but also kept things moving for Jim and Pam, who are finally getting married on the Oct. 8 episode. And as if that wasn't enough, there was also Dwight and Toby doing a stakeout and talking about trains. Poor guys.
After a weak cold open in which Michael asked Oscar how to get maximum pleasure from an upcoming colonoscopy -- hahaha he's gay and does stuff with butts! -- the episode got down to business as Jim had a private meeting with David Wallace, which Michael spent half the episode trying to infiltrate. So what would you do if you had to get into a closed-door meeting? That's right, you'd hide on a cheese cart and have a friend wheel you in. Duh. So that's what Michael does, though of course it ends right as he gets in. But the set-up lends itself to a stellar bit of absurd physical comedy: When Wallace goes looking for Michael, Michael pushes the cart into the main area with one foot, rolls out the side, springs up, and walks sideways, trying to sound breezy when he says, "You walked right by me!" Awesome.
The B-plot was mostly throwaway, with Dwight convinced that Darryl's recent work injury is a fake. Sure, it yielded some funny moments, like when Dwight tried to drive away from the botched stakeout but wound up slamming into garbage cans, but the whole subterfuge/investigation angle felt stale. It's the same thing Dwight did in the second season when he spent the day spying on Oscar to see if his calling in sick was legit. It was a good idea several years ago, guys. Gotta find a new one.
After Michael's botched attempt to spy on the meeting, Wallace tells him that Jim's in line for a promotion, so rather than figure out if that means his own job is in danger, Michael just barges ahead and sabotages Jim. Jim finds out and gets pissed -- I'm amazed he hasn't quit already, like seven times -- but there's a cute moment where Jim yells about getting screwed and Michael can't help but whisper, "That's what she said." Michael's a total moron but he's also this pathetic little dog, eager to please his emotional masters.
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The solution? Jim and Michael are now co-managers, which should generate some nice conflict for the rest of the season, or until whenever things suddenly fix themselves.
Seriously, though, the best moment of the night was Andy's really involved spiel about the different cheeses he was offering Wallace and Jim, especially his gleeful description of how Goldfish Crackers like to go swimming in the bleu cheese lake. Ed Helms, you make it look easy.
The second-best moment was Dwight's frustrated scream into the camera when he didn't get a promotion. It was fucking terrifying. Like, not even funny, just ... GAH.
Stray thought: Is the mockumentary these characters are starring in ever going to get made? Jim and Pam and everyone else talk to the camera and interviewers like there's a point to it. I guess what I'm saying is, do you think the show's conceit holds up?