Previously on "The Office," our departing hero Michael Scott finally proposed to Holly, and she said yes, but it comes with a price: they're moving to Colorado. The big swan song departure has been a long time in the making, but who will replace Michael Scott?
As bizarre red herrings would have it, DeAngelo Vickers (Will Ferrell) is Michael’s replacement – for the time being. DeAngelo and Michael inadvertently meet up in a bar, where Michael is sipping a Kahlua Sombrero and waiting to meet his replacement. As wacky coincidence would have it, DeAngelo is there waiting to meet the man he's going to replace. The two hit it off socially without realizing who each other is, until a "hey, you're late" phone call becomes their awkward connector.
They have some drinks, awkwardly happy to enjoy one another's company, and go up to the office and run around tipsily. Once in-office the following day however, the power struggle truly begins. Michael flaccidly tries to maintain his expired authority while D'Angelo feels out his new control, and the staff begins the pathetically demeaning game of kissing up to the new boss. Kevin has a wig ("I hate bald people, don't you?"), Kelly plays seductress and Angela talks up her Senator boyfriend, but Jim and Pam take the suckup-MVP award, using their baby to angle for a parent-empathy connection).
It's here that the darker side of Will Ferrell's character is revealed, and we can't help bust shake an appreciative fist at the writers' secret plan for making us nearly forget that Michael's leaving: they'll make us get so caught up in hating Ferrell that Michael's departure is almost relegated to a peripheral formality. DeAngelo has decided that Andy is the office "funny guy," despite a complete lack of comic ability on his part. Desperate for acceptance after flopping at a political joke, Andy makes a total buffoon of himself to please the intimidating new boss, including eating soap and pouring scalding coffee down his pants.
Ah yes, there's the toaster-electrocution as well.
As DeAngelo's mean-spirited authoritarianism begins to shine through, the staff grows increasingly alarmed. He drops the initial charm charade and, while having an old school barber shave him in-office (an act of alpha-male-ism that Michael is immediately intimidated by – so he copies immediately with Erin as the barber), lays out the truth that he has zero interest in Jim and Pam's baby ("That baby could be the star of its own show called 'Babies I Don't Care About'.") – a painfully awkward failure on the part of JAP.
Dwight is deeply upset at not have been made manager and confronts Michael, who hides the fact that he never recommended him as a replacement. He goes to Gabe about it, who tells him he needs a letter of recommendation from Michael. When Dwight tells him to use the one on file that surely Michael wrote, you can cut the awkwardness with a knife. There is no such letter. Dwight has been betrayed.
The power struggle becomes more apparent when DeAngelo requests a change in the way Erin answers the phone. Michael likes the old way, so he subtly insists she do it that way. There's a heavily awkward tug-of-war moment, and then the phone rings…. and then more awkward moments. Erin chokes and apologizes to the caller before hanging up immediately. Can you blame her?
The pissing contest conflict comes to a head when Michael, knowing that DeAngelo has a peanut allergy, gives everyone peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ("Mom's special recipe"). Infuriated, DeAngelo ends up isolating himself and making a stand the conference room, demanding everyone else in the office join him. They do, since he's the new shot-caller, and even Michael's reliable whipping boy Dwight goes along, burned by the lack of recommendation.
As Michael begins to accept defeat, DeAngelo comes out to make things right, and they put aside their differences in an awkward embrace. He humbly bows to his predecessor and asks for parting advice. After 19 years, it's time to turn the page, and the tears in Michael's eyes are very likely real as he retreats to his own office while the rest of the staff awaits word from their new captain in the conference room.
“Training Day” was a strong and particularly wily introduction to Will Ferrell’s run on the series. It's clear they're going to make a total fiasco out of Michael's departure, and we'd anticipate nothing less. There are only two episodes of Michael Scott left (with the second being an hour long), and we've got a lot of narrative ground to cover if the final goodbyes are going to be anything more than a sad farewell montage. Steve Carell deserves more. Michael Scott deserves more.
The writers know it, too, which is why we're undoubtedly going to be thrown for several loops within the next couple weeks as we try to figure out the next move at Dunder Mifflin. With Ray Ramono, James Spader, Catherine Tate, Will Arnett and Ricky Gervais all in conversation as possible replacements for our dear leader, the sky's the limit on the possibilities – though I'd be a liar not to admit that I'm rooting full force for the only member of the Bluth family in the running to replace Michael.