The Office – Episode 5-12 Review

David Wallace assigns Michael and Dwight to go undercover to investigate Prince Family Paper, a local family-owned paper distributor. Meanwhile, The rest of the office spends the day trying to decide if Hilary Swank is hot or not. Not beautiful, “hot”:

“A painting can be beautiful. But I don’t want to bang a painting.”

Dwight enters Prince Family Paper to apply for a job as Michael acts as a local businessman who is curious about the company’s history and number of clients. As they leave, Michael catches his bumper on a divider in the parking lot. Mr. Prince is happy to help reattach it and Michael is suddenly sympathetic to the small time paper supplier.

The Hilary Swank debate reaches ridiculous proportions as Kelly breaks down crying when Toby denies the celebrity’s hotness (she looks nothing like Hilary Swank and is therefore very unattractive), Angela comes forward and admits that Swank is hot, and Oscar presents an argument that has to do with facial symmetry.

Michael and Dwight return to the office, with Michael worried about what would happen to the Prince family if they report their findings to David Wallace. Dwight tries to convince Michael that it is necessary from a business perspective. After a brief scuffle for the Prince client information, Michael ends up submitting it to David Wallace. He is lauded by Wallace, but regrets what he has done.

Andy takes a final tally of the Hilary Swank debate, and the results are split right down the middle. In the last scene of the episode, Michael comes out of his office, sees the photos of Hilary Swank that the office has posted up on the wall, says she’s hot, and tips the debate in favor of Hilary Swank’s hotness.

This is probably the first Office episode that’s taken a perspective on large corporations beyond parody territory. The message about the pains that large companies inflict upon small, family-owned businesses is handled in the least funny way possible, and the writers somehow expected the chase scene to be a hilarious climax. Most of the satirical messages on the show are infused with biting sarcasm, which the main plot lacked. The “back at the ranch” storyline of the Hilary Swank debate was amusing, but overall the episode lacked any hard-hitting humor. Surpasses “The Duel”, but oddly preachy.

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