I never (never!) would have imagined myself standing up for Andy Bernard, Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager, but in the face of the horribleness that is Nellie (Catherine Tate), I’m not sure that any choice could be more obvious. Under the circumstances, how could you root against him?
It was bad enough having to suffer through Nellie for the weeks that Andy was off bringing Erin back from Florida (man did that take a long time), but when Nellie rejected Andy’s request that she kindly vacate HIS office … well, violence against women is wrong. But Andy, we would have understood.
Nellie succeeds in bringing others down as well. Robert California was about a four (on a scale of 1-100) before, but seeing him stand down from a confrontation with Nellie (no matter the reason, and his wasn’t a good one) brought him to a zero. The Office has managed to ruin James Spader for me.
The one worthy moment in the story line came when Andy punched what I believe is the same exact part of the wall that he put his fist through way back in season three. And at least that was for the awesome reason of Jim having thrown his phone up into the ceiling before calling it over and over again. Last night’s plot wasn’t worthy of the recreation.
Could the “B” plot save the episode? I’m sure it did for some, but my least favorite characters on the show — at least before Nellie joined the cast — have always been Kelly and Ryan. Having to listen to more of them didn’t help the episode much. Jim and Pam’s kids’ pediatrician, Dr. Ravi (Sendhil Ramamurthy, from Heroes and Covert Affairs) should run far and fast.
Interestingly, the episode made the weak cold open that much better in hindsight. Jim promises the office he’ll send out for hot chocolates should Phyllis utter all twelve of her cliches about rain before noon. There were a number of times where a foul should have been called, but none more so than everyone’s attempts to get her to say the twelfth one. Ironically, it was everyone’s “interest” in Phyllis, which she translated as kindness, that kept her from saying she’d prefer being at home curled up with a good book; she wanted to be with her office mates … and they were defeated by their own kindness.
There was also Dwight’s comment about how most of his writing involves making love as a mermaid. Unconventional, sure, but it more makes me wonder what he’s written … and how come we haven’t found it plastered all over the Internet. Apparently Dwight has a fondness for the sea.
By far the greatest part of the episode, and perhaps of the entire season, was Toby’s line in response to Erin’s request that he put a stop to what was in fact a wholly inappropriate conversation for the workplace. We’ve known it for years, but it wasn’t until he said it that it became real: “Erin, H.R.’s a joke; I can’t do anything about anything.” Wherever Michael Scott is, he heard that. And he’s laughing.
Incidentally, the worst decision ever that I mentioned in my title? The writers deciding to bring Nellie in to steal Andy’s job and having her refuse to leave.
The Office hasn’t managed to ruin James Spader for me, but I am glad to see him getting out of this train wreck. I’ve seen him in enough things to know he is a terrific actor. The writing of his character was basically horrible all season long, and lets face it, even Lord Olivier occasionally could be brought down by terrible writing so Spader is not alone.
I agree 100 percent with everything you’ve written above, Aryeh. Everything.
Scranton Strangler, if you’re out there, please come for Nellie.
I hate the office I only watch because I have a lesbo crush on Nelly.
I didn’t think that episode was bad. But then again, James Spader has been woefully misused.