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"Murder" is the tenth episode of the sixth season of The Office and the show's 110th episode overall. It was written by Daniel Chun and directed by Greg Daniels. It first aired on November 12, 2009. It was viewed by 7.76 million people.

Cold open

Phyllis attempts to punch Dwight, while the latter grabs her arm and explains how he would counter her attack. Jim then explains in a talking head that once a year Dwight holds a seminar to update the office on developments in karate, although Jim points out that karate is a thousand year old martial art that does not change. Dwight then gives a scenario where the office staff are part of the Yakuza who are attacked by the Triads, and advises them to use a throat punch. Jim asks if there is no defense for a throat punch and Dwight replies that there is but demonstrating it requires a volunteer. Kevin refuses, as it is revealed that the previous year Dwight strangled Kevin with his own shoelaces and pulled his pants down. Jim then plays with Dwight's vanity and says that since no one is Dwight's equal in martial arts he should demonstrate on himself. Dwight then proceeds to beat himself up to the amusement of the entire office.

Summary

The day gets off to a rocky start when rumors reported in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal point to financial troubles for Dunder Mifflin. In an attempt to get the worried staff under control, Michael and Jim call the monthly staff meeting to provide what few assurances and optimistic viewpoints they can on the steadily worsening news. In a moment of quick thinking, Michael pulls out a party game, Belles, Bourbon & Bullets, but Jim says that they cannot afford to play around. Michael gets his way, saying Jim owes him 'one' after earlier insisting that Michael abandon his idea to run hamster tubes throughout the office, called "Tube City".

The staff slowly warms up to the game, which is a murder mystery. It is set in Savannah, Georgia, and everyone has to adopt a Southern accent (with varying degrees of success). Thanks to Pam, Andy, and Phyllis, the game quickly becomes a hit. Almost everyone present starts to play along, except for Oscar (who tries to get updates on the situation from corporate) and Creed (who shows up late to work and flees after being told he is a suspect in a murder). Jim continues to believe the entire exercise is pointless.

Throughout the game, Andy is trying his hardest to make a move on Erin, and with the possible impending closure of Dunder Mifflin, decides he needs to make a move now. While 'in character,' he asks Erin out for a weekend date, but becomes unsure if he really asked her out, or if he just simply asked out her murder mystery character, "Naughty Nelly." He is worried that Erin only said yes because Naughty Nelly, a promiscuous, flirtatious, and scandalous woman, "says yes to everyone and might be a murderer."

Just as the game seems to get interesting, Oscar returns and reveals even more bad news from corporate. Accounting has been notified to stop payments to vendors, which is in Oscar's words "unprecedented and should be a cause for concern." This brings the staff out of the game and back to the scary reality of losing their jobs. Michael tries to win them back, but accidentally skips to the game's conclusion, revealing the murderer to be Beatrix Bourbon (Phyllis). Michael refuses to give up and continues playing the game with Dwight.

After the game, Andy and Erin meet at the receptionist desk, where Erin asks him about their upcoming date. Andy chickens out and indicates that the "date" was just part of the game, although that was not his original intention. Silence follows, and Erin leaves Andy at reception in embarrassment. She later reveals to the camera that she thought the date was real and was excited about the idea of dating Andy.

In a vain attempt to salvage the day, Michael tries to introduce another murder and other twists to the story to pull his staff back into the game. This infuriates Jim to his breaking point, and they hold a private talk in Michael's office where he begins to yell at him. Michael interrupts Jim angrily and stands his ground, telling Jim "they need this game" or they might cave in under the impending bad news and possible closure of Dunder Mifflin, and Jim nods his head in understanding. CFO David Wallace finally returns the Jim's phone calls, and reveals that while nothing has been officially decided yet, Dunder Mifflin is expected to be insolvent by year-end. Knowing how damaging this could be to his staff, Jim deliberately hides this news from them and nudges them back into the game. At the end of the day, Jim is "happy that we have two co-managers today," realizing it helps having someone to distract people from pressing issues. Michael then exhales, and tells Jim today was the hardest he has had to work in a long time.

Michael, Dwight, Andy, and Pam find themselves in a fake Mexican standoff, after each reveals themselves to be double agents, lasting until 6:00 at night. Jim pulls Pam out so they can go home, and the others pretend to shoot each other to death.

Cultural references

Characters in the Murder Mystery Game

  • Voodoo Mama Juju, played by Angela. Her props were a head scarf and a plastic shrunken head
  • Beatrix Bourbon, played by Phyllis. Her prop was a hand fan.
  • Deb U. Taunt, played by Pam. Her props were a pair of lacy white gloves.
  • The Butler, played by Dwight. His props were a pair of white butler gloves.
  • Caleb Crawdad, played by Michael
  • Naughty Nellie Nutmeg, played by Erin
  • Nathaniel Nutmeg, played by Andy. His props were arm garters.
  • Rich Cowboy, played by Kevin Malone. His props were a cigar and wad of cash.
  • Jim Halpert (time-traveling co-manager), played by Jim (deleted scene)

Amusing details

  • Creed bought a proper rear-view mirror for his car sometime between "Café Disco" and this episode.
  • Michael initially believed David Wallace was referring to his own "feelings journal" which he had asked Erin to put into a time capsule.
  • Michael is listening to music in his office. He has previously done so when he was feeling down, first seen in "A Benihana Christmas" after Carol breaks up with him.
  • It is revealed Michael was intending to build a system of tubes around the office to put hamsters in and call it "Tube City" before Jim stopped him.
  • Michael gets Stanely and Angela to stay for the murder mystery game by promising them sandwich platters and baby carrots respectively.
  • Michael suggests Kevin pretend his character was kicked in the head by a horse since he talks slowly in real life.
  • Andy is enthusiastic that Pam's character "Deb U. Taunt" is a wordplay on "debutante".
  • The "brains" used for Meredith's dead body appears to be beef jerky, possibly provided by Dwight.
  • Angela reveals that she believes that Harry Potter is a corrupting influence, however Dwight is an avid Harry Potter fan.
  • We are led to believe that Michael, Andy and Dwight are the only ones staying late to have their imaginary Mexican standoff, however the camera shows to Jim's disbelief that Pam is also enthusiastically taking part.

Trivia

  • According to series creator and episode director Greg Daniels, the episode explores the idea that Michael is positively motivated due to his subconscious; although his antics seem nonsensical to many members of the office, in the end, his idea to take his coworkers' minds off of the fiscal trouble proves to be the best choice. This was first explored in the third-season episode "Grief Counseling".
  • Initially, after Michael announces that "there has been a murder", the show was supposed to have cut to a commercial break. However, the producers realized that this was too misleading, as it would have implied that a real homicide had taken place.
  • Andy reveals to Michael that he once did stand up comedy.
  • It is revealed Erin is similarly interested in Andy and did agree to a date with Andy before thinking that he was just role playing.
  • The following office members decide to continue the game after Oscar reveals the bad news:
    • Michael
    • Kevin
    • Dwight
    • Andy
    • Pam
    • Meredith
    • Erin
  • At the time of this episode, most businesses were still recovering from The Great Recession, which took place from December 2007 to June 2009.

Goofs

  • When Michael, Dwight and Andy all shoot each other and fall to the ground Andy flips off the camera while lying on the ground and it is uncensored.

Cast

Main cast

Supporting cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast

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