The Donna-Michael arc continued in last night’s episode of “The Office,” but like all good things (the arc, not the affair), it came to a crashing end. And after riding a high of great writing, character development, laughs, and heart, “The Office” stumbled with “The Chump,” veering sharply into the cartoonish and unrealistic realm that’s dominated the show for the last two seasons.
Michael (Steve Carrell) now sees himself as a higher being for having broken social rules by cuckolding another man, and essentially spends most of the episode behaving in the most childishly evil ways possible (eating Meridith’s birthday cake, stealing snacks away from the children in Donna’s husband’s little league game).
It was a clever-in-concept move; however, it’s execution was less than laugh-out-loud, and drove Michael into the same heartless, semi-depthless corner that “The Simpsons” writers pushed Homer into several seasons ago—from a lovable idiot with a heart of gold to a cruelly stupid and oblivious boob.
- Director: Randall Einhorn
- Writers: Aaron Shure
- Honorable Mentions: Greg Daniels (Developer), Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant (Creators)
- Cast: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak, Ed Helms, David Denman, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Kate Flannery, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, Paul Lieberstein, Oscar Nuñez, Craig Robinson, Phyllis Smith, Amy Pietz
“The Office” is a mockumentary following the mundane, yet hilarious, lives of employees of the paper company, Dunder-Mifflin, in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Title of this Week’s Episode: “The Chump” Season 6: Episode 25
“The Chump” is all about Michael and the rush of testosterone that’s flooded his body now that he’s an alpha male for the first time in his life. His affair with Donna has made him the office pariah, and he responds by threatening to kill Toby, stealing birthday cake, and teasing Andy for being cheated on by Angela and Dwight.
Andy then decides to take Michael to watch Donna’s husband coach a little league game, which eventually rouses Michael’s near-broken conscience in an ending that felt (like all of last week’s episode) a little rushed, albeit a little touching. Meanwhile, the episode’s twin B-plots had the increasingly bland Pam and Jim struggling for sleep due to their newborn baby, while Dwight and Angela decided to annul their pact to procreate together (in lieu of paying Angela a $30,000 severance fee, Dwight has to sleep with her 5 times).
The Good (Spoilers ahead!):
- Michael (sort of): While most of Michael in “The Chump” left something to be desired, his tiny moment at the end of the episode (post breakup, he quietly ruminates on what his options were: “I could have lived with myself, or I could be happy”—with the sad, heartstring-pulling twist coming when you realize that for him, dumping Donna meant the former, and that he sacrificed his happiness in order to do the right thing) recalled the best of “The Office” from the past.
- Sabre Printers: The ending in which the press confronts Michael about a possible cover-up concerning the faulty printers mentioned in last week’s episode—concluded with a cliffhanger that actually ramped up anticipation for next week’s show. Here’s hoping that like this one, season six can start off weak but finish strong.
- Looney Tunes: Either “The Office” decides to become a full-blown cartoon, or it shifts back to some semblance of reality with characters that we know and care about. Can’t have it both ways.
That’s What He/ She Said:
- Michael (to Toby, in a rage) You say radon is silently but deadly, but then you expect me to not make fart noises with my mouth? What is this?!
- Dwight: I don’t have $30,000 just lying around! I have it buried very deeply and I don’t want to have to dig past a certain someone to get it.
- Michael: If I had a gun with two bullets in it and was in a room with Hitler, Bin Laden, and Toby I’d shoot Toby. Twice.
- Andy (to Michael) In any movie, the person being cheated on is the hero. You’re Ali Larter, I’m Beyonce.
- Michael: I like Donna. s it wrong to keep seeing her? Depends on who you ask. I mean, if you ask her husband or you took a random poll, yeah, then it’s wrong.
Slipping back into the empty goofiness of previous season six episodes, “The Chump” was certainly the weakest link in what has been a hot streak for “The Office” lately. Falling back into the same traps—cartoonish writing, one-dimensional characters, an absolute devolution from reality, and little to no characters to actually care about—that sabotaged much of the show this year. Fingers crossed that this was simply a misstep and not the beginning of the death throes.
What did you think of last night’s episode of The Office?