Hey, remember when Andy was an actual presence on The Office? When Ed Helms was around and was a character and not an idea? Since he left, the show has been smoother, at least it was for a while. It almost felt like “Andy” was just a nightmare from which we had all collectively woken. Ah, but alas, it is the last few episodes that have been a beautiful dream. Or, at the very least, an adequate dream. Until Brian showed up. Now, what if I were to tell you that this week’s episode, entitled “Couples Discount,” featured both the return of Andy and some more Brian stuff? Am I hearing you weep through your computer machine?
I am, admittedly, being a bit hyperbolic for comedic effect. I have not been enthused by Brian or by the way Andy has been characterized since he became boss, but neither has crushed the show. However, I was also not looking forward to seeing either, but the premise of Andy returning around Valentine’s Day, what with his relationship with Erin and all before he left for the Caribbean, at least offered some hope. “Couples Discount” had no cold open and a super brief credits sequence. They just got down to brass tacks.
With Andy returning the next day, everybody in the office, more or less, decides to spend one day playing hooky before he’s back. The mall is evidently offering up couples discounts at a nail salon, so everybody goes, except Jim and Pam who have a lunch date with Brian and his wife. See, Brian is married everybody. There’s no reason to worry about Brian having feelings for Pam. I mean, unless we find out his relationship is over, but that’d be pretty on the nose and kind of dumb, right? Also, Dwight doesn’t go. He just goes about doing his job, which pleasing his fake Andy character he has concocted. Both Dwight and I like fake Andy better than real one at this point. Now that I think about it, some others may not have gone, or at the very least they didn’t get any lines.
Everybody heads to the salon after pairing up, and you would think that maybe this would take up a fair amount of the episode. However, it is really just a quick scene. Clark and Nellie are paired up until Nellie annoys Clark and Clark spills the beans because Nellie makes fun of him. Oscar and Darryl pretend to be gay, but the old Asian woman at the desk apparently doesn’t seem to think homosexuals actually exist. The Ancient Greeks seemed pretty aware of it. I reckon a somewhat older woman in modern times is at least aware to some degree. Anyway, Darryl then storms out in a huff, and that’s about all that happens. I mean, first he didn’t seem all that cool with pretending to be gay, so that’s sort of what the point was, but it didn’t extend beyond that. Also, there were no jokes about Kevin’s feet.
However, what this episode is really about is Andy showing up a day early, and he looks awful, with an ugly beard and hat, and he looks like he didn’t smell all too fresh either. Fortunately, Andy was in full on jerk mode. For a little while, Andy was looking like he was going to become the villain of the final season, or to become more like David Brent. Then, they seemed to swing away from that, which was an irritant. At this point, I prefer Andy the jerk.
He gets on everybody for ducking out for a couple hours even though, you know, he ducked out on three months of work. He plays an annoying Caribbean instrument. You know, like Michael when he returned from his trip to Jamaica. Andy also claims he came back early to surprise Erin, but in reality it’s because he has a meeting with Wallace. Also, apparently he had internet, which somewhat explains how he could get away with this, or at least enough for me to accept, but it also got in Erin’s craw. Oh, by the way, Erin plans to break up with Andy because he’s a jerk. Grill power! Pete doesn’t believe it though, and compares it to when they had to put his dog to sleep when he was a kid. Erin offering to go play catch with a novelty flying disc in the parking lot, which humorously furthers the comparison.
Anywho, Andy goes about being a jerk, and nobody wants him around. However, nobody wants to rat him out to Wallace either, except Dwight, but Dwight doesn’t think Wallace will believe him. Meredith gets some funny business to do, and she has another great wig. So, nobody budges, but then Andy looks so shabby he’ll get fired anyway. Then, shockingly, Andy shows up clean shaven and in a suit but with weird looking hair that seems like a wig. He also references the New Girl theme. Way to promote a show on another channel, The Office. To be fair, New Girl is a really good show worthy of promotion. Plus, it’s on right before The Mindy Project.
Andy tries to find out the haps on what has gone down the last few months, and I already miss those months, and Dwight and company decided to lie to him so he looks foolish in front of Wallace, so they regale him with tales of warehouse fires and tastefully nude Kathy Ireland billboards for Dunder-Mifflin. Alas, their plan backfires, and old jerk Andy will stick around. He also manages to convince Erin not to break up with him even though she doesn’t love him anymore because maybe, just maybe, someday some of Andy’s love will pour over to Erin. It was actually fairly funny. Everything was coming up Andy, until Erin tells Pete that she didn’t break up with him and he says she just wants him to be happy. This, obviously, leads to a kiss between the two, and then she rushes upstairs to break up with Andy and drops the fact he was gone three months. As luck would have it, Andy happened to be on the phone with Wallace even though, you know, he had literally left the office slightly earlier that day.
Oh, I also forgot to mention Andy lost the White Pages account because Dwight wouldn’t say coolio. At least we got to hear Jan’s voice. She was more reasonable than she is usually, more of an old school Jan, but it was still good old Jan. And after all the awful things Clark had to do for her and with her…
So… is Andy going to be fired? Well, fair enough. On the one hand, getting him out of the office would benefit the dynamic I reckon, although Andy as villain is somewhat interesting, but on the other hand that would mean spending time with Andy in other locations, because you don’t just push Ed Helms to the wayside when he’s not filming Hangover sequels. Also, now that Erin and Pete will, presumably, be together, that now fails to be interesting in the least. However, that was also the case with Erin and Andy for the most part.
As for Jim and Pam, hey guess what Brian shows up and his lady isn’t there because they broke up. Ugh. They just sort of talk then and Pam and Brian show their closeness which somewhat irks Jim and then the show lays it on thick when Brian points out that when he and his lady Alyssa stopped fighting she knew it was over. This is something I’ve heard before, and it is obviously meant to relate to Jim and Pam. It was handled in a somewhat clunky fashion, and it isn’t terribly interesting. Anyway, Jim finds out about Pam crying and Brian consoling her and then Jim is mad and he says he doesn’t want to fight he just wants to go to Philly but then Pam convinces him to stay and fight because OMG they are still in love and stuff.
Last week, I made a joke on Twitter that I was concerned that after the emotion and heft of the 30 Rock series finale the new episodes of The Office were just going to wash over me and I would feel nothing. That’s sort of what happened with “Couples Discount.” It just sort of happened. I watched it and then it was over and I greeted it with a shrug. I mean, it was still good, all in all, but in the most insignificant, banal way possible. It didn’t really have many highs or lows. That’s not bad, but it also is not what television often aspires to, especially in their final season.
The Andy stuff was OK. There was a couple funny moments and it played out well and it was nice to see Erin show some backbone and also give Andy his comeuppance. Plus, as I have said, I prefer Andy the jerk, and Andy the jerk deserves to be hoist on his petard. Jim and Pam’s stuff was fine or whatever I suppose. Honestly, there is really not much to say about it, and I am somebody who loves to write about pop culture and think about pop culture. I suppose this is a failure, but the most insignificant kind of failure. So, um, Happy Valentine’s Day, I guess?