Tori’s Review: Branch Wars

About 6 months ago, Jim Halpert broke up with Karen Filipelli and left her crying by a fountain in New York. I must say, since then, Karen’s life is looking up. She has a good job at a well respected Dunder Mifflin branch in Utica …

… and Jim is dressed like Earl Hickey, hiding in a PT Cruiser that kind of smells like pee.

Branch Wars started with Karen offering Stanley more money to leave Scranton and go to Utica. While most managers try to keep good employees by offering a raise or more vacation, Michael’s brain just doesn’t work that way.

Michael doesn’t understand why someone would ever want to leave Scranton. To him, DM Scranton is family, his home team, his Apollo Theater, and a place where no one would dare wear a red bow tie.

So he fights back the only way he knows how: Molotov cocktails, grand theft, and bladder incontinence.

While much of this episode was classic Michael mania, the interesting thing to me was that Jim was forced to participate. Usually we watch him watch, horrified from the sidelines, so it was great to see him as the straight man in the mess. Especially with Karen involved. And, it created the opportunity for Michael to tell Jim to “just climb on top of her and think about Stanley,” which is my new favorite line.

I do have one question about where the cameraman was during the idiot road trip to Utica. We’re all pretty forgiving when the show pushes the documentary format. I believed two cameramen hid in the office to catch Jim and Pam’s first kiss, I believed a seasoned cameraman would stay quiet and keep shooting while in the backseat of a sinking car, but what the hell? Was Verne Troyer wedged between the dashboard and windshield?

Eh, I’ll believe this one too just because we got to see Dwight pee in a can, complete with grossed-out close up shots.

I loved the transition from Dwight cutting his penis, to The Finer Things Club tactfully sipping tea (Pam’s teapot!). The club was very funny, but also a little strange to me. I consider Pam, Toby and Oscar to be the “normal” ones. Normal enough to laugh at someone who would wear a babushka on their lunch break.

But, I thought it was a cute take on book clubs and other activities that give office workers the feeling they can break out of the cubicle walls, if only for a short time. I have a feeling, though, if given the chance, Toby would strangle Oscar with his red bow tie to have lunch alone with Pam once a month.

When Michael and Dwight’s plan literally crashed and burned, Jim found himself face-to-face with Karen. There is no doubt in my mind that Jim is totally in love with Pam, but we have seen in the past that Jim isn’t always the perfect guy. He dumped Katy on the booze cruise, and Karen by a fountain.

I like that the writers haven’t made him too perfect. He is real, and real people sometimes don’t know what to do or say, and hurt people when they don’t intend to.

Jim may have looked like a jackass dress liked Earl Hickey in a PT Cruiser that smelled a little bit like pee, but he also finally has the one thing he has wanted for years. While Karen is doing well and (almost) moving on, things are looking up for Jim too.

Hopefully this will make his expulsion from The Finer Things Club a little easier to take.

Tori Weber is a Web Producer and writer for a television news station in Orlando, FL. Writing keeps her sane, and ice cream makes her happy. Dogs are good too. Visit her here.