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The Office Recap: ‘The Incentive’

September 30, 2011
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Yeah, so I missed the season premiere of The Office, too (again, Sister’s wedding last week, combined with a total ignorance of the show’s return—I’ve seen tons of ads for the new “comedy” with the two sisters from that one show and the other “comedy” with Zooey Daschenel, but nothing about The Office or Parks and Rec). Has NBC put the kibosh on advertising for their shows?

Still, I watched last week’s episode “The List” to catch up, and, writing out this recap, I can safely say that don’t remember much of it outside of there being a list made up by Robert California (I love that name) and everyone worrying about what it signifies. I can’t say it was very good, but it didn’t seem particularly bad either. More ho-hum. What I do remember is that I didn’t really notice that Michael was gone. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Michael last season, feeling that his hijinx had gotten too cartoonish and self-aware. Granted his send-off was well handled, and I was looking forward to seeing more of James Spader, but the departure of Steve Carrel was something I welcomed. Though I’m not sure about Andy’s promotion.

And, after tonight’s episode, I’m still somewhat on the fence. I like Andy, but I never thought that he’d get the same amount of screentime as Michael. If anything, I figured that he’d be treated as more of a supporting character rather than the “star,” and that would give the writers more time to focus on the other supporting characters. I’d be happy with that, because I feel like they’ve been neglected, and, to be honest, they’re just as strong, if not stronger, than Andy. I guess that’s just a long way of saying, “Can we please have a Stanley-Toby-Darryl-centric episode?”

So back to tonight’s installment—“The Incentive”—Robert is called back in to basically threaten Andy and demand that he double growth, so Andy devises a point scheme in which every time someone in the office does something good, they get a point and can cash their points in for toys and/or a vibrator. Nice touch there.

Of course, the scheme quickly escalates out of control thanks to Jim, who casually asks what, say, 5,000 points can buy once he learns that the office can pool their points. Andy, flustered, responds that he’ll get a tattoo on his ass of whatever the office chooses. Naturally, this inspires everyone to work harder than they’ve ever worked before, and by the end of the day, they’re at the tattoo parlor. Jim takes Andy aside and confides in him that no one expected Andy to actually go through with it, but go through with it he does, and, in a rare show of solidarity, the rest of the gang decides on a tattoo of a droopy dog wearing a bib that reads “Nard.” For those of you wondering, “Nard-Dog” is Andy’s nickname for himself. And he’s touched.

Subplot-wise, it’s some small ones this week: Darryl and his ex-wife are back together and enjoying a lot of pants-down hugging, and Angela and Pam become walking buddies. All of four scenes are devoted to these. The Pam-Angela story basically highlights Angela’s uppitiness, and the Darryl one seems like it’s laying the groundwork for a future episode. I hope so, because I love Darryl.

So it’s a lackluster week. Nothing particularly funny, but I like the direction in which they’re taking Andy. While I was constantly scratching my head over why the company continued to keep Michael around (and I wasn’t the only one, as there would periodically be a few moments in which Michael proved himself a stellar salesman), Andy proves himself an unorthodox yet nevertheless effective boss. I hope that’s where his character is headed, because I don’t want him to end up as a Michael II after, oh, five seasons of establishing him as his own person?

Converesly, Jim’s become somewhat of a dick, and the office is clamoring for someone at least semi-competent, even if it’s in a Kramer-esque way. The show seems to be losing the tinge of reality that made it so charming in the first place, and with the romantic arc between Pam and Jim having run its course, there isn’t much left keeping the show from falling into outright farce. Speaking of which, was Dwight even in this episode?

Ideas for Tattoos: A clown vomiting and saying “I’m not as think as you drunk I am”; “Do Not Resuscitate”; and Phyllis’s idea of having a baby “coming out of his butt.” Phyllis is a dirty dog.

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2 Responses to “ The Office Recap: ‘The Incentive’ ”

  1. Harmony on October 1, 2011 at 5:59 am

    I was searching recaps of The Incentive to see what the rest of the world thought about it- and to me this is exactly how I felt about the ep too!
    Sure it was a bit lacklustre but it kept me engaged all the same- I’m treating it as I would a pilot… the writers just need to find their feet again. fingers crossed for next week.

  2. Nat Almirall on October 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for the kudos, Harmony. I agree and hold out hope–I think the writers should or perhaps will take this as an opportunity to subtley shift the focus onto the strong supporting characters.

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