Tori’s Review: Night Out

This episode was strange.

It was dark, but I don’t mind dark. “Money” was dark, and it is my favorite episode of Season 4. This was just a little strange.

“Night Out” begins with Ryan making a visit to the office to, once again, try and get the employees of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton, to embrace the website. The only people who have embraced it so far are not allowed to live near schools or playgrounds — or are named Creed.

Much like Jan, the pressure of corporate life has affected Ryan. He was hyper, paranoid, and let Michael make full-body contact with a hug. It also probably doesn’t help that he is now a coke head. Good job, intern.

I’m not sure why this character twist caught me so off guard. I know better than to ever think there is anywhere The Office won’t go. We have been laughing at Meredith’s alcoholism for 4 seasons. I am never above laughing at someone with a problem.

The difference is Meredith has always been presented to us as a drunk. She hid vodka in a Big Gulp, slept with the Captain of the Booze Cruise, and took her shirt off at the Christmas party. When we see her lick hand sanitizer to get a fix, it is awesome — not sad. (Okay, maybe a little sad.)

But with Ryan, we have watched him grow up. He started out as a little, wide-eyed, pompous, ass, and has now gone all “Bright Lights, Big City” on us. It is a little strange.

I can only hope this will eventually lead to a Michael Scott version of A&E’s Intervention. But, that’s the thing about Michael: he calls his mother from a nightclub, and he doesn’t understand The Wire. Ryan could act out the last scene in Scarface (I’m really dating myself now, aren’t I?), and Michael still wouldn’t get that he has a drug problem. Dwight might figure it out.

Drugs aside, in the long run, I think I am more worried for Jim than Ryan. When Michael and Dwight aren’t around; he completely loses his cool. It is like he needs them in his universe to stay balanced. And, now it is spreading to Pam.

What if Jim and Pam are only cool in comparison to Michael and Dwight? What if on their own they are both as awkward and weird just in different ways? If they ever leave Dunder Mifflin, they are going to have to keep Michael and Dwight chained in their basement so they aren’t total idiots. We might need two interventions.

As awkward as it was, when Pam hit Meredith in the face with the football, it was my one laugh-out-loud moment. (Maybe things are just funnier when they happen to Meredith?)

And now Jim has a reason to hate Toby just as much as Michael. Pam definitely has power over men. She caused one guy to cry and move to Connecticut, and another guy to throw himself over a fence and move to Costa Rica. All while wearing sensible shoes! Girl has got some super powers. Sorry, Toby.

Unlike Jan, Michael cannot be held responsible for Ryan’s downfall. As much as he may have wanted to, I’m pretty sure Michael never slept with Ryan. Ryan did this to himself. Michael may not be the smartest guy, but he has made it to 40-something without ever waking up next to Dwight, covered in cocaine sweat, in a 150 square foot apartment.

I’d like to think the overbearing mother on the other end of that cell phone had a hand in that.

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.

52 comments

  1. This was great. I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking that this episode was just…strange. Funny in parts, but *strange*.

  2. Maybe that corporate postion is “cursed”…just like the “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teaching position in Harry Potter series.

    Nice review as always!

  3. Hey Tori!

    Thanks for your reviews! I enjoy reading them.

    I must disagree with you on one point though, and that is Michael being responsible for Jan’s downfall. Yes, he was center-stage in her tragedy, but that doesn’t mean he wrote the play. She made her own choices.

    Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I was tickled by your take on Jim and Pam’s “coolness” being dependent on constant comparison with Michael and Dwight! I never thought about it that way before. I’m going to have to ponder that for a while!

    Keep ’em comin’! (TWSS) :-)

  4. Thanks for the review! It’s quite a challenge to recap such a full episode so well after only having one day to absorb it.

    We are definitely being thrown a lot of Plot (capital P) here recently to make up for the shorter season. The writers may not be able to take us where they wanted to go initially, but they’re taking us somewhere.

    I do disagree about one thing. I think whenever Jim is thrown into the leadership position it tells us more about the job itself than about Jim. We’ve been shown that Michael was not too unlike Jim before he took the job (at least at work). In other words, the writers are furthering Jim’s story by forcing him, and all of us, to examine his future. But I don’t think they’re forcing him into becoming Michael (a paraphrase of general sentiment, not the reviewer’s words).

    Besides, Jim went to Stamford and he did quite well without Dwight and Michael.

  5. Great review!

    “What if Jim and Pam are only cool in comparison to Michael and Dwight? What if on their own they are both as awkward and weird just in different ways?”

    You’re right. They aren’t nearly as collected in situations as I thought they’d be. Jim has me seriously worried. Someone give him some sense and confidence, stat.

  6. I’m going to say, I loved Michael’s “Back to the Future” reference. That girl not understanding was sacrilege.

  7. Great review, couldn’t agree more with the “strangeness comment.” It had a few laugh out loud moments but mostly I was shaking my head trying to figure out what was going on and then having to rewind it on my DVR.

  8. Nice review, Tori. When I discussed this episode with my Office-obsessed friend (aren’t we all though?), she was upset that I just didn’t think it was funny.

    I agree – my one laugh out loud moment was when Pam hit Meredith in the face, but other than that – it really was strange!

    Not only was the peanut butter skit too much even for this show, I felt awkward watching Ryan shake at the night club, and I absolutely cringed during the Toby-Costa Rica scene.

    Just a little too heavy if you ask me.

    Needless to say, I love Mindy Kaling anyway and I still hope to see a lot more of her work in the future :)

  9. Good review Tori. Glad to know I wasn’t alone in thinking how completely strange this episode was…

  10. There was so much in that episode! I watched it 3 times and got something extra each time I watched it.

  11. long time reader, 1st time commenter.

    i think they are making jim into michael, Toby into jim (kinda), and ryan into jan. they all will see themselves going into paths they do not want to go to and big changes will occur. proposals? changing careers? moving to colombia to work as a mule?

    these last episodes have been getting darker, although sometimes i miss the silliness, dark is good indeed

  12. I watch The Office religiously, and this episode was pretty disappointing. This season is becoming more and more over-the-top and in my opinion, dumbed down. Where has the subtle humor gone? I’de like to think its just the cramming of the storyline because of the strike, but it’s all a little much..

  13. I definitely see all your points in your review of this episode – but I guess I just wasn’t as creeped out by things as everyone else was. I had plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and I thought it was a very interesting idea to have a favorite Office member have an addiction problem. I will admit, the only cringe worthy moment I had was when Jim, for that brief minute, acted very much like Michael.

    It’s obvious they’re setting something up for the future and i’m interested to see where they go with it. Maybe this means Ryan will lose his job and come back to DM? I can only hope. I can’t wait for next weeks though and I hope that we get some yummy JAMness :)

  14. Yes, a bit strange, but I would rather watch a show where the writers push the envelope a bit and try new things, rather than relying on tried and true jokes and storylines. Some things will work, some won’t, I’m encouraged they’re willing to take chances. FWIW, I found everything in this episode very believable. This says something about my own business experiences, not sure I want to examine this too closely.

    Kudos, cast, writers and crew. Keep us on our toes for a long time, please.

  15. I enjoy your reviews and analysis on episodes! Like others have said, I like the thought that Jim and Pam may only be cool in comparison to Michael and Dwight!

    I cracked up too when Pam hit Meredith with the football. Meredith gets all the crazy scenes: flashing, having her head trapped in a bag with a bat, getting hit by a car, getting hit by a football. You go, Kate Flannery!

    Other things that made me laugh: Dwight making out with that chick and Toby losing his mind and making a move on Pam while everyone watched! Ha! Great stuff, even with all the plot curve balls!

  16. I found this episode kind of disappointing. My “ha-ha”larious moment came when Kelly said, “Yea, I have a question: ‘How dare you?'” I thought it was so brilliant and sooo Kelly. But that’s the thing, it honestly feels like only the secondary characters are keeping their personalities in tact.

    I mean, between this episode, Jim almost leaving Pam at the dinner party and a few other awful moments this season, I’ve had to keep asking myself. When did Jim become such a jerk?

    That and Ryan’s coke problem did seem a little out of left field which made it really surprising. I mean, we never really see him going from point A (wunderkind) to point B (crackhead). I mean, are we to assume the pressure was too much?

  17. As always Tori, your review says what I’m thinking. It was a strange episode. Hopefully the strangeness of it all is leading up to a great final episode.

  18. I kind of like it when they show Jim and Pam doing stuff that isn’t always well-received. I mean, yeah, they “get” the office functionings more than Michael and Dwight, but they are still people, and people aren’t perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and Jim and Pam aren’t immune to being human.

  19. Re #6: “Jim did quite well without Dwight & Michael”

    Well, yes and no. He had Andy to torment, and let’s not forget that he still managed to prank Dwight via the fax machine and US mail. Clearly, Jim needs Dwight–though he’d never admit it.

    And Tori’s spot on: Jim and Pam aren’t “cool.” Like, at all. They’re regular, boring people–like most of us–who happen to be coolest people in the office by default. ;)

    Finally, I fully expect Ryan to go all Patrick Bateman before he goes Tony Montana. :D

  20. I don’t completely agree with what people are saying about Jim being a jerk. I mean, him leaving Pam at the dinner party was something I totally see him doing as a joke. I mean, it’s not like he left her at a hockey game. ;]

    Also, I hate the thought of Jim becoming like Michael.Staying late so they don’t have to go into work on Saturday is not something Michael would do. Lol, if anything he would plan some sort of ridiculous event in order to make it more fun, to everyone elses dismay.

  21. I’m sooo glad I wasn’t the only one! It was strange. but the toby stuff had me cracking up!

  22. Jeez…what are you guys trying to figure out? This episode was pretty easy to get. People don’t always turn to drugs because they are stressed…they do it for fun thinking it’s no big deal. Ryan makes a lot more money now, probably wanted to have a little fun not realizing it would escalate. I don’t think it’s out of character at all. His character was never that well developed anyway…other then being a pompous, self-involved ass. But anyone can develop an addiction.

    Also the thing I think they are illustrating with Jim is that it is much harder to be “in charge” then it looks. It makes you realize that Michael probably deserves more credit then we give him. (Although yes – he is over the top and should/would have been fired already) It’s hard to make a large group of people happy. Even the best of intentions can turn out wrong.

  23. Wow, am I the only one who saw Ryan’s drug problem coming?! It didn’t surprise me one bit… like I said in other posts, I totally expected it. Ryan’s character definitely fits the the profile of someone who would do Coke. Stereotypes aside even, there have been subtle clues all along.

  24. I think the writers are not trying to change Jim but show how easy it is to gain certain traits or tendencies when working under pressure like Michael does. If you saw “Money” Michael was like he always was, but when he worked at his second job as person in sales, he was this cool guy. Everyone listened in on what he had to say, and laughed at his jokes and even asked him to hang out after work. That NEVER would happen if he was manager or a boss, which is the case when he works at Dunder Mifflin. All of the sudden he goes back to being the awkward boss that no one really likes. No one laughs at his jokes and would rather avoid him than spend time with him outside the office.

  25. Very interesting review and discussion.

    As far as Jim and Pam go, I have to admit that I do not mind them not having it all together, as some of you have said. I certainly don’t, and I like to see that in their characters. I don’t particularly see what Jim did that was so “bad” in this episode anyway, other than forgetting to tell security that they would be staying late. As Jim probably did, I would assume that the idiot security guard would see a parking lot full of cars, as well as an office with the lights on, and say, “Oh, maybe I should check before I lock them in with a rusty padlock.” I don’t see how Jim can be held accountable for that. And his idea to stay late on a Friday was merely making the best out of Ryan’s request to work all day Saturday.

    As for Ryan’s addiction, I thought that was way too dark for the show, and not something to laugh about. While I love the dramatic moments in the show, I look forward to 9 oclock on Thursday nights because I love to laugh. Unfortunately, as this season continues with its awkward, dramatic, and over the top storylines, I find I am laughing less and less.

  26. Am I the only one who noticed that as all the Scranton people were waiting in the lobby, Pam had her head on Jim’s shoulder? I thought it was a cute callback to Diversity Day.

  27. I don’t understand how you can claim that it is “out of character” for Ryan to turn to drugs. One of the best things about The Office is that it can approach a serious topic (drugs, drinking, racism, etc.) and let the audience laugh at it, while not necessarily making light of the subject. Anyone can get caught up in drugs whether they are big city guys or small town folk. I liked the episode. Ridiculous means hilarious to me.

  28. I think there was quite a bit of subtlety in here. There were things I didn’t catch until a second time around and things I thought were hilaaaaarious when I first watched it. We have to keep in mind that our beloved characters are changing and going out of the Scranton bubble… In terms of Jim and Pam being cool or not, there are reasons why so many are smitten with their characters. Perhaps previous episodes need a glance-over to recall what makes them so great in the first place?

    I loved the episode myself. Best since the strike, I think.

  29. Poor Meredith needs to stay out of that parking lot! She’s either getting hit by Michael’s car or Pam’s errant football! At least the vodka probably dulled the pain.

  30. I can’t believe you didn’t think that this episode was that funny – I LOL’d about 8 times! First of all, the whole intro with the gum in the hair and Pam yelling at Dwight (“not the good peanut butter! people are gonna get mad”) – loved it. plus Dwight being such a mack and making out with that girl then ditching her, Ryan being excited to see Michael and Dwight at the club (um, knew something was up right then), Kelly asking Ryan “How dare you?”, Ryan being such a tool (“Keep it real, Scranton. Peace.”), and Toby hitting on Pam then jumping the fence! I could keep going. Yeah the coke thing’s a bit odd for “The Office,” but I didn’t think it was at all out of character for Ryan…

    And I think Jim is still cool, he just forgot to tell the security guy (who should have noticed all the cars!) not to lock up.

  31. Hey, #6, where did it ever mention Jim went to Stanford? In real life, John went to Brown.

  32. HAHA, yes. I don’t really think they are total idiots. I also don’t really think they would keep Michael and Dwight chained in their basement. Unless they move to Wisteria Lane.

    Thank you for all of the comments!

  33. It’s been three days, and this episode is still wrapped around my head. I thought there were many funny parts to this episode, but I didn’t really get it. It took me watching the episode three times then reading about it to finally grasp the whole episode.

  34. Thanks for your two cents Tori! I was kind of thinking the same thing. I feel bad for Ryan.

  35. For some reason there have been a few times this season where Jim has come off like a jerk. What was with his racial profiling this episode? Once when on the phone with the guard & then again with Oscar to the maids (the latter was actually funny). I think they’re making Jim look like an ass to set up some drama for the proposal. Perhaps Pam will start to see another side of him.

  36. I think people are looking into Ryan’s addiction way too much…It’s not like he has lost control of his life, he just has that egotistic complex where he thinks he is living the high life and is allowed to party however he wants.

  37. Personally, I thought the episode was darkly hilarious. Particularly since I have friends who have taken high powered jobs in NYC and subsequently turned into cokeheads. Is it kind of awful if you think too much about it? Well, yeah. But at the same time, Ryan has always been exactly the kind of guy who would buy into the cokehead finance guy lifestyle. And the stuff with the website was hilarious. I like that they’re showing that Jim and Pam aren’t perfect (although still right for each other).

  38. Ok. After further review (2 additional viewings)…I have decided that for me, this was the best episode since the strike. This one…come on….Meredith’s football head, Toby freaking out…The hobbit….Dwight’s make-out session…HI-freakin-larious! And let’s not forget “Then bring me two glasses. One filled with olives and the other with marachino cherries!” Hooray Office!!

  39. Sadly, the Office has gone the way that all decent sitcoms eventually go..”dumbed down!” Since the strike, nay since the beginning of season four, The Office has shifted from it’s subtle ironic humor, clever characterizations and hilarious plot set-ups altogether. WHY??? Apparently, the writers are catering to the idiots that generally watch TV. Gratuitous dark humor is a complete departure!! You lost me!!!!!

  40. Can anyone enlighten me on Ryan’s friend at the club? Was it just a random choice to have the “hobbit” guy or what? If Ryan is so cool and going clubbing everywhere in the city, how come his only friend that night was a strange man of short stature?

  41. This is a brilliantly dark episode, it’s good to see some insight into Ryan’s life. To be honest, I was relieved it was only a drug problem. When I saw his short friend I thought Ryan had gone gay, and I don’t think I would have been able to stand that. Ryan is too much of a pimp to go to the gay side ;).

    I also love Dwights make out session, then how he just leaves her in the club – idiot. Keep em coming!

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