Thursday, October 4, 2007

Old School

Last week I speculated that the creative juices of The Office might be running dry and that the season was pretty much hinging on old-fashioned narrative conflict--specifically, the dynamic between Ryan and Michael now that the former is the latter's boss. This week's episode came through on this premise in a big way (and showed how underused B.J. Novak has been in previous seasons). From the moment he walked through the door noodling on his annoying Blackberry, Ryan's presence electrified the atmosphere for at least the first half-hour. (The second half was more standard but still funny.) His unearned sense of entitlement and revisionist sense of history--it was Ryan who had asked Karen out last season, not the reverse--was truly appalling; yet like all compelling bad guys, Ryan isn't completely wrong about what he believes in. (And, as his humiliations by Kelly and Pam made clear, he's still way over his head when it comes to women.) Dunder-Mifflin needs to change in order to survive, and Michael does too.

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