After last week’s great episode, I was curious to see where The Office would take the arrival of former rival Danny Cordray. When I realized it was also going to be the Halloween episode, I said it would be pretty hilarious. On second viewing, I can admire how it advances (though doesn’t exactly conclude) the Danny plotline while also being an appropriately off-the-wall Halloween episode.
Let’s take things in that order. Danny (still perfectly played by Tim Olyphant) is trying to settle into his new job at Dunder Mifflin; he even invites the team to a Halloween party at his bar. However, he’s the only one willing to let the past stay in the past. Jim and Pam are determined to find out why Danny never called Pam back four years ago, even if it means following him everywhere. They finally find out (after cornering him outside the men’s room) that he thought Pam was “a little dorky.” You’d think he’d really insulted her by how she walks off upset.
As for Danny? So much for my thought that Tim Olyphant’s last episode would see him go out in a spectacular fashion. He’s seen walking through the last scene…and that’s it. While I’m glad that leaves the door open for him to come back sometime, I can’t help but wonder how the show will address his absence next week and beyond. Obviously, the character can be conveniently explained away as being off on the world’s longest business trip, but being aware that Olyphant probably won’t be available for some time, I was expecting that the writers might give his character more of a wrap-up than they did. Not to mention that ancillary characters are oftentimes conveniently never spoken of again on a lot of shows; I wonder if that’s what will happen to Danny or if we’ll hear about him in a future episode. It would seem strange to never mention him again considering he’s now part of the team, even if he’s not necessarily around.
As far as the Halloween part of the episode, it delivered the laughs that I was expecting. I loved the costumes that some of the characters chose, particularly Michael as MacGruber and Gabe as Lady GaGa. The highlight, though, was the two characters that chose not to participate in the costume contest. Who didn’t love Jim finally caving and turning up in his Popeye costume with the baby in tow? Funnier still was Oscar, the only person who seemed to see any kind of sense, not even trying and still winning the contest because everyone else was plotting against each other. I have to admit that I choked laughing on my soda when Creed said Oscar had the “best Edward James Olmos costume ever.”
There’s a third component, which involves Michael, Gabe and Daryl. Daryl has taken an idea over Michael’s head to Gabe, that is eventually implemented by corporate to great success. Michael (with some nudging from Dwight) believes everyone will go over his head and freaks out. The resulting discussion between the three is classic, because their overly complicated solution makes no sense. The fact that it makes no sense makes it a perfect commentary on how convoluted corporate structure can be.
I was hoping for “Costume Contest” to work on two levels: to be a worthwhile continuation of “The Sting,” and to be a good Halloween episode rather than the usual forced holiday episodes we see on TV. It delivered on both counts. While I found his ending pretty much random, at least we got to see more of Danny and find out what really happened between him and Pam. (I’ll certainly never turn down more of Timothy Olyphant in anything.) As far as the holiday spirit went, the costumes were hilarious fun. Not to mention that the Michael/Gabe/Daryl moments were another little slap in the face to the idiocies of corporate America.
Bravo, The Office. Well done.