Jury Duty is the first episode of this season, where I think something actually happened. That is, for the first time things have become complicated. Which, more importantly, means that I actually care about the lives of these characters for the first time since Michael’s departure.
So, what happened that reignited my interest in a show that let’s face it, I don’t love anymore? Angela gave birth to her baby, and not only did she admit to Oscar, Erin, and Kevin that it was not premature—as her husband, the State Senator believes, meaning it was conceived before their marriage—but she also made the unfortunate error of letting Dwight see the baby. Dwight knows—well, thinks—he is the father of Angela’s son Phillip. If you’re anything like me, as soon as Angela revealed her pregnancy you were hoping that Dwight was the father. I’d been missing their relationship, somehow Dwight and Angela make as much—if not more—sense as Jim and Pam, and even the slightest possibility of a reunion is fantastic.
Unfortunately, this was actually the B-plot, so most of the episode was devoted to Jim trying to cover up the fact that he had been lying to the office when he told them he had been at jury duty, when in fact, he was at home helping Pam with CeCe and Phillip (and yes, that is also Angela named her son Phillip, as well). Few things in this show are funnier than when Dwight turns the tables on Jim, and this was no exception, but while it was a nice storyline, I was much more interested in what would happen between Dwight and Angela, so I didn’t care as much as I probably should have.
Perhaps, the best thing about this episode; however, wasn’t either of those storylines, but the absence of Robert California. To be honest, I had completely forgotten that he was even in this show; it just works so much better without him. Robert’s presence often feels forced (see: Pool Party) and without him, the show flows much more naturally. The structure, the interactions between the characters, and general atmosphere of the office felt much closer to the way they were before Michael’s exit than to the way they are with Robert. The dynamic between Robert and the rest of the office is an enormous departure from the way it was between the employees and any of the other superiors, and unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
All in all, I was impressed with Jury Duty, so I’m giving it a B. However, I shouldn’t get my hopes up. Next week, Robert California will be back and the show will likely go back to forcing his weirdness on us.