The Office: New Leads

The Office is a sitcom, not a serialized drama, so there's not as much of an arc or through-line for each season. There's an endgame, yeah, but everything between here and there is up for grabs. That's all I could think about during last night's episode, "New Leads," which had some good moments but was ultimately a forgettable installment. Aside from a plot development relegated to the end-credits tag, it could be removed from the season without the viewer noticing. There was just one plot, and it felt forced the entire time.

I'd hoped the episode, which dealt with new leads from Sabre for its sales team, would get a little Glengarry Glen Ross, and though Michael sadly didn't issue an epic seven-minute monologue, there was some interesting division between the sales staff, who are high on the rush of making money thanks to Sabre's new push, and everyone else, who are tired of taking a back seat. Michael's more put out than any of them, especially since he's told that his job is now to manage the support of the sales staff. So when new leads come in, he distributes them to Creed, Oscar, Angela, Meredith, and Kevin, screwing over the sales team. After a few diverting gimmicks meant to make the salespeople earn their leads back (the best of which was Stanley refereeing a fight between Kelly and Ryan, earning a lead every time he supported one of them), Dwight rushes Kevin to find out where the leads are. It turns out he hid them in the trash, which has since been taken out and transported to the dump.

As a result, Michael and Dwight go to the (very obviously green-screened dump) to look for the leads but wind up getting in a fight before patching it up and returning to the office without the leads. While they're gone, Jim persuades the sales team to smooth things over with others by offering part of their commission, but all he has to do is serve snacks for them to appreciate the gesture, so the salespeople keep their money. When Michael and Dwight return with nothing but a bean bag chair, everyone heads home, dejected.

That was seriously the whole episode right there. The tag had Andy and Erin at the dump looking for the leads, where they finally kissed. Good for them for finally getting together. But that's all this episode had to offer, really. Pam's still out of the picture with the baby, Jim's on autopilot dealing with Michael, and the sales and accounting people got back to square one by the end in a ridiculously easy way. I felt like I was watching out of objective curiosity about what would happen with the leads, not out of any sense of enjoyment. I'm not sure what will happen over the next few episodes as the season draws to a close, but I'm hoping it's more energetic than this.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Katharine Shilcutt