‘The Office’ Review: “Vandalism”
Tonight's second episode of 'The Office' follows "Junior Salesman," which mostly felt like a filler episode until to the big reveal shot of Brian the boom guy, who is definitely going to be a major player going into the final stretch. This last season is going to be about someone new in Pam's life, but how will it go down? "Vandalism" answers some of those questions.
The episode starts with Erin covering for Darryl's absence (he's already working in Philly part time) in wacky ways. Darryl's actually using sick days, but Darryl likes making Erin happy. Pam comes in to work on her mural, and finds that someone has vandalized it. Angela wants to leave early for a party for her child, and when she tells the office about it Oscar reveals he's got an invite too. Angela reveals that she's okay with her husband being gay (it seems) but she doesn't like that his boyfriend is invited to the party, so she says she'll bring her own stud. In Philly, Darryl and Jim are living together, but Jim is using the opportunity to be a slob, which annoys Darryl and his annoyance is building. Pam questions the warehouse staff about the graffiti, but she gets no answers. Pam says she feels alone when Brian bops her on the head with the mike. This is so unsubtle.
Pam wants everyone in the conference room to find out who did this and how to punish them. No one wants to cooperate, except Nellie and Dwight. They go down to the warehouse, and after having no luck, they pull aside Nate who says Frank did it. Angela invites Dwight to her party, but Dwight wants no part of it. Kevin wants to go, and so she takes him, where he's solely interested in the food.
Frank is questioned by Pam, Toby and Nellie, and Frank admits he drew butts on her mural and thought his drawings were better. He also rubs it in that they can't fire him. Pam goes to Dwight to get scorched earth-style revenge, which turns Dwight on. They send Clark down to the warehouse, who knows this will never work. At the party it seems the real reason why Angela's husband brought Oscar to the party was to show his support for the Latino community. And in Philly Jim and Darryl's relationship is growing more tense.
Pam gets info on Frank from Darryl, and she finds out that Frank loves his truck, while Clark is tied up in duct tape. Dwight and Pam both paint on a truck, but when Frank comes out to fight with Pam, Brian takes him down with his boom mike. As Angela's party ends, Brian says that Angela's husband is a terrible person for using his loved ones for a photo op. Back at the office, Pam and Brian talk, and it's revealed that Brian's been fired. Brian then tells Pam that if she needs anyone he'll be there for her. Back in Philly, Jim has learned to clean up, and we see him and Darryl getting along, but also Darryl bending a little to Jim's ways.
This episode spent a lot of time on the Brian/Pam relationship, while also painting Jim in the worst possible light. The order on these episodes is weird because the last two have spent time showing that Jim's Philly company is in financial straights but that didn't come up at all in this one. Weird. Perhaps it will come up again next week, but it makes it feel like there's some order shuffling, or poor writing. The idea of Brian's relationship to Pam is really interesting in that there is a backstory that comes from having someone spent nine years following these people, but it also points out how strange and convenient it is that someone's finally crossing over right now. If Brian and Pam have this friendship, wouldn't everyone know about it already? Why now? It could be argued it's because Jim's been a bad husband lately, but how far can they go down that road?
This wasn't a funny episode, it felt more like set up for the big conclusion, but it's nice that the show is finally getting its house in order for the final stretch, which we;re definitely getting into. The question is if at this point Brian the boom guy can be more than just a last minute obstacle in the way of Jim and Pam's happy ending - if they can make it feel meaningful - or if the show has a slightly darker conclusion in mind. The latter seems unlikely so it's hard to say there's weight to this narrative. We shall see.