‘The Office’ Recap (Season 8, Episode 13): “Jury Duty”

Jim takes a week off work in a surprisingly sweet episode of NBC’s The Office

Two weeks ago (NBC are apparently alternating episodes of Parks and Recreation and The Office with their massive backlog of 30 Rock episodes) someone commented that it seemed like I wanted to hate this show. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Office used to be one of my favourite shows: it was consistently funny, often quite emotional and had a great cast of characters. In recent years its formula has grown tired (did Parks and Recreation growing in quality have something to do with this?) and I expected the whole “Steve Carrel is leaving so we’re going to replace Michael Scott with a new manager” thing to bring some life back into the show.

And, the general consensus is, it didn’t. We spent a year wondering who the new manager was going to be and watched numerous episodes with stars like Will Ferrell and Will Arnett making appearances. James Spader was picked, only he ended up taking over the entirety of Dunder-Mifflin, and Andy became the new manager. Unfortunately, the writers didn’t really take the opportunity to capitalize on this change and continued with the same old, boring stories that The Office could have done at any point in the last few years. No, I don’t want to hate this show, random commenter (I believe I even gave the episode before a positive review); I just want it to be as good as it used to be… or at least better than it is now.

“Jury Duty” begins with Andy taking over the warehouse just to dance and make a mess in an attempt to relieve stress. After watching this scene, I realized this was going to be yet another bland and/or stupid episode of The Office. I was wrong. “Jury Duty” turned out to be a fun and surprisingly sweet episode of a show I supposedly hate.

Jim returns from work after a week of jury duty. The thing is… he was only in court for half a day. The rest of the week he spent at home with Pam and his two children. After everyone in the office tells him how much harder they had to work to make up for his absence, Jim feels guilty for his deception and Dwight begins to suspect that he was lying. Jim eventually comes clean and brings in Pam and his kids to make it up to everyone with drawings (Phyllis would have preferred cookies). The office realizes that maybe Jim didn’t have a week of vacation when his kids start crying and Pam tries to get them out of the office. They let Jim go home to be with them, which I thought was one of the best moments this show has done in a while.

While Dwight was investigating Jim’s story, Oscar was doing some detective work of his own. Angela has given birth a month early and Oscar, Kevin, Erin and Gabe have gone to the hospital to see it. They soon realize that Angela hasn’t given birth to a preterm birth because the baby is a healthy, nine-month old giant. Oscar confronts Angela about this fact and she reveals that she had sex with her probably-gay senator husband a month before they were actually married. But it is Dwight who uncovers the real truth, after coming to the hospital in search of Gabe to talk about firing Jim: Dwight believes the child is his, as he and Angela also had relations a month before she was married and the baby looks like a Schrute (and he hasn’t taught Mose sex). Dwight forgets about wanting Jim fired. He can understand why Jim wanted to be with his family… after all, they’re both fathers now.

It will be interesting to see if the writers continue to develop this idea. Dwight as a father (and bonding with Jim) has a lot of potential and I hope they don’t forget about it like almost every other development this season.

Before I finish, I just wanted to talk about one more thing. Last week it was announced that NBC were planning a Dwight spinoff (and supposedly that episode where he went to Robert California for an interview was a hint at things to come). Is a Dwight spinoff a good idea? What would The Office even be like without one of its best characters? Will it even go ahead? I don’t know… and I don’t think I want to find out. Let’s concentrate on making The Office a good show again before making an unnecessary spinoff. “Jury Duty” was a strong episode. Let’s keep it up.

Craig McQuinn is a poor student currently living in Australia. He was born in New Zealand and had to kill many wild animals to survive. He enjoys almost all forms of po ...read more

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