As I’ve said in the last couple of weeks, I’m coming to terms with the fact that The Office no longer has the same emotional resonance or impact it once did. Test the Store once again reinforced this; sure, Jim and Pam aren’t quite as interesting as they used to be, and I don’t feel sorry for Andy in the same way I once did for Michael, but as long as the show is funny, it’s okay. Luckily, this episode featured some wonderfully silly, funny moments, but it also tug at my heartstrings a little. I can honestly say that has happened much since Michael’s departure at the end of season seven.
Eager to impress Nellie (Catherine Tate) and secure the Vice-President he’s been aching for, Dwight enacts a bizarre plan of action to ensure the Tallahassee store’s success. Ryan is placed in charge of an inspiring speech to rev-up the tech bloggers and customers exploring the new store, Erin is transformed into a hipster to give the store a ‘cool’ edge, and Kathy is made to flirt with the bloggers. This storyline was truly funny. I already thought that Ellie Kemper deserved every single award possible for her work on The Office this season, and Test the Store solidified that. Erin is such a delightful, bubbly character and to see her transform into and ultimately fail as a hipster was fantastic. Her scene with Georgia Engel—the magnificent Georgette on The Mary Tyler Moore Show—was lovely, sweet and made me remember that The Office is still capable of real, emotional moments.
Ryan’s realisation that he couldn’t pull off his inspiring speech was a fantastic call back to season five. For a long time, he’s built himself up as a wunderkind, but it’s surprisingly touching to know that he really isn’t capable of the heights he—and others—claim he is. That’s why, again, his inevitable failure was one of my favourite moments of this season. This is the Ryan that I find truly interesting. He’s a complicated mess, who needs to put others (mostly Kelly) down to build himself up.
The B storyline focussed on Andy’s black eye, which was inflicted by a young girl who was trying to harass Pam. This storyline was funny, but Ed Helms doesn’t make me feel sorry for him in the same way that Steve Carell did, which is unfortunate.
All in all, this episode struck a nice balance between emotional resonance and humour, so I’m giving this episode a B+. Sure, it wasn’t on the level of the show’s episodes from earlier seasons, but honestly, at this point it seems a little unfair to compare The Office of today with The Office of yesterday.