"Costume Contest" was the funniest episode of The Office since season 5, and contained the best opening segment the show has ever had. Last week's episode was a treat and a half, but this one might have convinced me that The Office still has some juice. Let's just have a party that doesn't get ruined by your issues, please.
We opened on Stanley accidentally (presumably) sipping Jim's OJ instead of his own coffee. "Is there no limit to what he won't notice?" young Halpert wondered. That introduced quite possibly my favorite sequence in the show's history: Kevin dressed as Phyllis, Andy with his shirt off (but tie on), Jim covering Stanley's monitor with a cardboard box, Michael wearing strange teeth, Stanley sitting in a meeting facing the opposite way from everyone else, Pam sporting a mustache, and Dwight bringing an honest-to-God pony into the office. Amazing. Seriously, they could have made this the whole plot for the episode, and I would have been happy. (I also fully expected Stanley to confessionalize that he of course did notice these things, and simply didn't care, but that didn't happen. I still think it could, though.)
It was Halloween at Dunder-Mifflin HQ, and everyone was in the super-costumey spirit, thanks to Pam's idea to award a coupon booklet to the best getup. Kevin dressed as Michael Moore, Michael as MacGruber, Pam as Olive Oyl, Dwight as the Scranton Strangler, and Erin was sporting a spooky mask. Nothing quite compared to Gabe's elaborate Lady Gaga outfit, however. Poor Gabewad. Andy's Bill Compton costume was less elaborate, but no less telling, as was Meredith's Sookie get-up.
Not in costume? Jim Halpert and new guy Danny. Pam was still a little irked about now being called back lo those many years ago, and she and Jim pressed Danny to confess why he'd blown her off. At first, his story that she'd talked about Jim the whole time was really charming -- except that it wasn't true. Alas, the real reason he wasn't into the former Ms. Beasley was that she was a dork. So true, Danny. But she's Jim's dork. Awww.
On the business side of things, Darryl's suggestion to have delivery people also be able to sell paper turned out to be a bright idea -- one that Michael had blown off, but that Gabe had funneled to corporate. This led to a big showdown between Michael and Gabe, and poor, sobbing Kevin was caught in the crossfire. His emphatic "f--- you, Gabe!" was 12 kinds of fantastic.
I think I literally squealed as everyone paraded down the "runway" at the end of the episode. It was such a perfect, earnest-but-goofy Office moment, and it's the kind we only get when everyone is together not just in a scene but in a story. Gabe's dance moves, Kelly's prance, Oscar's surprisingly runway-savvy strut (as a "rational consumer"), even Angela's awkward shuffle as a sexy nurse -- argh, so perfect.
NEXT: The episode's best moments