Even though I still hate Brian, I guess I ought to respect Greg Daniels and the writers for fully committing to ingratiating the character to both Pam and the audience. It’s hard not to sympathize with the person who swoops into a situation which technically he or she shouldn’t to do the right thing, in this case protecting Pam from Frank, the big, dumb, violent warehouse worker with worse anger issues than Roy and Andy combined. I find it interesting how much focus is placed on Pam this episode by men who are attracted to her, one way or another. The first instance, surprisingly, is Dwight who realizes Pam “has a pretty nice butt” only after she reveals her “vengeful bitch” side to Dwight in seeking retribution for the defacing of her mural. While this is of course played for laughs, on the opposite end of the spectrum there’s Frank who, while definitely angered by and resentful of Pam (for reasons never really made clear), is obviously fixated on Pam.
Finally there’s Brian who has been increasingly on the wrong side of the camera for the last few episodes and finally paid for it by being fired for interacting with the subjects of the documentary. Brian is clearly in love with Pam despite probably having a girlfriend, Alyssa, whom Pam politely asked about at the beginning of the previous episode. I thought the continuation of this plot worked well in this episode because although we saw a hint of Brian’s increased presence at the onset when he playfully bopped Pam on the head with his boom stick (some phallic symbolism perhaps?), he was largely unseen until the climax when Frank attacked Pam. Everything in between was just some playful and entertaining mock detective work from Nelly, Dwight, Pam, and Clark (“Pam, you know this is ridiculous, right? You’re smart!”), which I found quite amusing and light hearted – making the dramatic climax and foreboding falling action that much more effective.
The other plots in “Vandalism” didn’t carry nearly as much weight emotionally or comically as the mural plot, but I don’t have any outstanding complaints about them either. Despite never really enjoying the Oscar-Angela-Senator love triangle arc I suppose I was glad to get an update on it as ever since Angela discovered the affair I’ve been curious as to its fallout, of which we had yet to really see any. Apparently Angela’s fine with having a child and being married to a man whom carries on an affair with another man whom Angela has known and worked with for years, however, she’s not a big fan of feeling like it’s being rubbed in her face. Alright, fine. My issue with this arc, which has been my issue since its introduction, is that I have no reason to care. When at its climax Kevin tells the Senator off for being so exploitive of the people whom care about him it carries no weight because as far as I’m concerned everyone involved sucks. Angela, Oscar, and the Senator are all pretty terrible people at this point so whatever.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Jim and Daryl are doing the whole odd couple thing. This is one of the oldest and most clichéd tricks in the television book, but that’s because it’s pretty reliable in terms of comedy, granted the audience likes watching the characters involved. Because both Jim and Daryl can be and were funny in this plot, I have no major complaints about it and I admittedly chuckled when Jim took all that time to pour out Daryl’s travel mug before their presentation.
While “Vandalism” contained a lot of fluff narratives, the attention to detail in terms of writing and performances this season has been such a vast improvement on the last season that I really don’t mind, especially considering how much quality story telling is going into the PB and J arc. As I’ve mentioned, I may hate watching The Office’s golden couple go through this difficult period, but hate is a much more preferable reaction than indifference.