I wasn’t quite sure what to think when I found out the title of this episode was “Turf War.” I was a little concerned that Andy might try to go out and start his own paper company a la Michael Scott. Having been down that road before, I hardly thought the writers would try going there again. But it seems Andy has loftier goals in mind here: a little thing known as corporate espionage. So not exactly the same as opening a rival paper company, but kind of a take over from within, all the while saving his favorite company. Andy has some business chops after all; I like it.
I also loves me some Jim/Dwight pranks and camaraderie, which we were treated to plenty of in this episode starting with the cold opening.
Jim meets up with Gabe in the kitchen attempting to mix himself a protein shake. Dwight enters and challenges Gabe to eat the powder dry, which he then does, causing him to spit most of it all over the kitchen. Dwight and Gabe argue about the merits of biceps versus core and while Jim is enjoying witnessing their exchange, he can’t help himself and suggests that the only way to determine who is stronger is by a classic thigh curl contest.
Everyone heads down to Dwight’s Gym for the big event. Jim starts them off by saying, “May the manliest man win. Go!” They start thigh curling and hurling insults at each other while Jim makes corny comments about Gabe getting hypnoTHIzed; ha ha. He then gives them each a pillow to rest their elbows and hands them a phone handset, which of course, is disconnected from the phones and has them hold it to their ears while Pam snaps a picture. This confuses Dwight and Gabe and they stop thigh curling. The next thing you know, Dwight is looking at the picture Pam took with a pink squiggly frame, more throw pillows and a bed spread have been Photoshopped in and pink text that reads, “Sleep Over Party! We gossiped all night.” Classic prank! The guys are annoyed at Jim for mocking them for trying to perfect their bodies. But we see that they’re not in such great shape when Robert walks in suddenly and orders everyone into the conference room right away. Dwight and Gabe can barely walk after their dozen or so thigh curls, but Jim is always happy to be of assistance and helps Grandpa, I mean Dwight, into the meeting. Dwight shrugs off his help, but then grabs onto Jim for dear life. Jim gives the camera a classic Jim smirk right before he and the hunched over Dwight enter the conference room. The Jim and Dwight interactions only get better from there.
After the credits we see Andy coming into the office to bring Erin a pair of forgotten socks (seems more of an excuse to hang out to me) and being treated like a second hand citizen just because he doesn’t work there anymore; imagine that? He decides to stick around and cook everyone up some home made gelato with cherries jubilee while picking up some prime gossip about the company. It seems the Binghamton branch closed down the night before and all their clients are up for grabs. Jim and Dwight are on the phone trying to scoop up as many as possible, but the other salesman warn them that Syracuse may not be so excited about them trying to snag NY clients. I wonder why Utica is never mentioned here as they are also a NY branch, hmmm… Maybe Rashida Jones is just too busy with Parks & Rec to make another cameo appearance.
Well it turns out that the rest of the salesman were right because a one Harry Jannerone comes storming into the office claiming to be from DM Syracuse and he wants to talk to Jim and Dwight and someone else by the name of Lloyd Gross. Everyone looks around confused at the mention of a non-existent salesman, but Dwight and Jim quickly explain that since the salesman have a salary cap, they made up Lloyd Gross, a fictitious salesman, so they could continue earning commissions in his name, thereby the defrauding the company. Who’d of thought that these two were complete scam artists?? Now I have more than just a few issues with this concept. First of all, it doesn’t seem like Dwight or Jim’s character to commit crimes. They saw what happened to Ryan when he committed fraud. I don’t understand how they even established this fictitious employee with the company. They would have had to fill out paperwork, including a W-4 and I-9 form for taxes and to prove citizenship. This means that they would have had to somehow secure a verifiable social security number, driver’s license and or birth certificate or passport. In order to do something of that nature, they would have had to commit identity theft, which is yet another crime. And the justification of all this? It helps them make more money. It just doesn’t seem worth it. Then Jim holds up a sketch that Pam drew of Lloyd Gross. It’s a composite of all the salesman which mostly looks like Phyllis. So does that mean that everyone is in on it and is getting a piece? How is it then that the Binghamton branch closed and Scranton is still opened?
Well that question is quickly answered by the head honcho himself, Robert California. He walks into the office and promptly vomits under Jim’s desk. He then announces that he went on a bit of bender to celebrate the finalization of his divorce and he needs everyone to keep their voices down. Oscar asks him why the Binghamton branch closed down and Robert is nonplussed. He says in a TH that he never considered closing the Binghamton branch, that is until last night. He might have reversed his decision, but he’s not going to start not trusting his drunken self so the decision stands. We then find out that he drunk dialed Nellie as well and in answer to his voice mail she tells him that the answers are Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes and Never. Robert has no idea what he said on her voice mail and turns to Pam, who overheard his conversation with Nellie for help in finding out the contents of said message. She tries to make some excuse, but Robert calls her on it and she’s roped into helping him.
Meanwhile Dwight points to Toby and makes him Lloyd Gross for Harry’s purposes. Really? The head of HR is in on this too? Where does the conspiracy end, people? Toby does the honorable thing and steps up be Lloyd Gross and decides Lloyd is a no-nonsense guy who doesn’t back down from anybody, and he likes to call people Kimosabe. He tells Harry that Scranton is closer to Binghamton than Syracuse is and that there’s no rule in the employee handbook that says you can’t cross state lines. When Harry asks if there’s a rule that says he can’t choke people with his bare hands, Toby takes it as his cue to exit the meeting. Jim suggests that they let Robert decide what to do. When Harry hears that Robert is in Scranton, he calms down some and agrees to give the decision to Robert.
He confronts Robert in the kitchen with Andy in the crossfire since he’s washing his frying pan in the sink and things heat up when Dwight enters and demands to have a say in the decision. Harry pipes up that there’s a big client in play, Prestige Direct Mail Solutions. They are responsible for half the junk mail on the Eastern Sea Board. Dwight says they already put a call into them. Robert says that nobody is to contact Prestige or any other Binghamton client until he’s had a chance to figure out how to divide things up. Meanwhile, Andy is eavesdropping over a the sink and decides to rush out a put in some face time with Prestige himself. He’s not really sure what he’s doing, but he sure looks determined.
Robert is in the conference room giving a talking head about training Geisha as the three salesman sit at desks and wait. Harry says that their boss is a weirdo and decides to go out for some air, when he was really planning on sneaking away to meet with the client. Dwight suggests this to Jim who runs into the manager’s office to look out the window and sees Harry getting in his car. Jim and Dwight run down to the parking lot to catch up with him, leaving Robert and his decision hanging back at the office. They take up the chase, slowing Harry down only slightly by opening his passenger side door at a traffic light. Dwight is disappointed when Jim’s turbo charge nitrous turns out to only be the windshield wipers. But ultimately it is Andy who gets there first and takes the meeting with the not so busy CEO of Prestige.
Meanwhile Pam is trying to get any information she can out of Nellie and it seems like she’s about to spill about the voice mail from Robert when Angela comes in and interrupts them with a strange story about needing to hear some girl talk. In a TH she explains that Robert sent her in as a back up in case Pam fails, which in her opinion is inevitable. When Gabe hears the words “Girl Talk” he gets excited and comes up with this zinger, “Sometimes I think I have ovaries in my scrotum because I am great at girl talk.” Well we didn’t see that coming, not even after the fake picture of him and Dwight gossiping all night. He starts in on Korean soap operas which none of the girls have any interest in. It doesn’t look like Pam is going to get any closer to finding out what it is that Robert said on that voice mail message during this encounter.
Andy is explaining to Prestige’s CEO, played by Dan Castenella of Simpson’s fame, that he is a rogue salesman and can get him 25% off all his paper needs and since he’ll be Andy’s first customer; he’ll get all his attention, and not only will Andy give him his personal phone number, but he’ll also give the CEO a key to his house so he can stop by anytime when he needs paper or whatever. The CEO seems impressed by this.
Jim and Dwight finally arrive and Dwight decides to use his belt to chain the doors to the building so that Harry can’t enter. But as the elevator doors are closing, and hand appears to pry them open. It’s Harry Jannerone and he gets into the elevator with them. Dwight pushes Jim out a floor in advance and tries to get himself and Harry stuck between floors by jumping up and down in the elevator, but all he succeeds in doing is getting his pants to fall down. They race to the CEO’s office, only to find that Mr. Ramish has already picked a new paper company. This is where Dwight mentions DM Utica, so they are not completely out of the picture, but Mr. Ramish says it’s not Dunder Mifflin at all, it’s Big Red Paper Company. Jim thoughtfully repeats the name, Big Red Paper Company. Then we see Andy driving his car and pumping his fists triumphantly; he’s got the account!
Pam decides the only way to find out what was on that message is to steal Nellie’s phone which she does and brings it to Robert. About half way through listening to her awkward and embarrassing messages, Pam’s conscience gets the better of her and she decides they should not be doing this and deletes all the messages before Robert has a chance to hear his own. He gets pretty upset with her as she leaves the conference room. She goes to return the phone to Nellie who treats her very nicely and even offers to buy her a pair of gold Arabian slippers. Again, she almost gives away the content of the message and says that Robert is a beast who only talks about sex (which is true) but Pam tells her to put it out of her mind. Nellie is happy that things are looking up for her and she’s made a new friend at work.
Andy calls Robert and tries to blackmail him into giving him his job back or he takes his biggest client to another supplier. Robert says he won’t be blackmailed by and ineffectual, privileged, soft penised, debutante and that he wants to start a street fight, he should wait to see how ugly it can get. He calls himself the f—ing Lizard King and then promptly hangs up. Andy doesn’t seem fazed at all. He just shrugs and says he gave him a chance. We then see him walking up to new millionaire David Wallace’s door. He’s interrupted David’s piano lesson, but David indulges him. He asks David if he’s interested in an investment, Dunder Mifflin. David says it’s worth 1/2 what it did three years ago, but Andy replies that he knows better than anyone that with the right management, it can be worth twice what its worth today. David invites Andy in to discuss it further. Looks like Andy may have found himself and investor. Eat your heart out, Robert California.
In the tag scene we see Jim, Dwight, and Harry Jannerone sitting outside of Prestige Direct Mail Solutions contemplating what they would be doing if they weren’t paper salesman. Jim can’t help but pipe up and say he’d be a beet farmer and be entering his prized beets in competitions. Dwight calls his bluff and Jim says he always wanted to own a bike shop. Harry says he’s always wanted to sell one big thing, like a plane. One sale and he’s out. Jim doesn’t know what to make of this but Harry just goes on to say that Robert is going to run the company into the ground and they won’t be doing this in six months. Then he just gets up and walks away. The scene ends with a confused Jim looking in the direction that Harry walked off in and then at the camera.
Kind of a strange ending, but since next week is the season finale, I’m sure all will be explained. It will also hopefully spell the end of Nellie and Robert in the office. Maybe they can have a tawdry affair and run off together or something. Wouldn’t that tie things up nicely with a pretty bow on top?
It has truly been a pleasure recapping for you (all 5 of you that is) this season. I hope that if we do get a season 9, I’ll have the distinct honor of doing it again in the fall.
Until then folks, have happy Office dreams.