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"Nepotism" is the first episode of Season 7 and the 127th episode of The Office overall. It was written by Daniel Chun and directed by Jeffrey Blitz. The episode originally aired on September 23, 2010. It was viewed by 8.40 million people.

Cold open

The opening begins with various members of the office participating in a lip dub of The Human Beinz's version of Nobody But Me. Despite their best efforts they are unable to execute a perfect lip dub, unaided by Ryan's attempts to advertise his new website WUPHF.com. Darryl and Angela also insist on being left out of the video. At the end of the lip dub, things begin to go a little out of control as Dwight begins brandishing a knife maniacally, to the horror of the office members. Andy asks Toby, who is recording the lip dub, how they did, and Toby replies that it was their best take so far, to their delight.

Synopsis

The office members reminisce over what they did during the summer. Michael recollects how he contracted West Nile virus and lost some weight. After recovering he returns to the lake, only to cut his foot on a piece of glass in the parking lot, which got infected after he peed on it. Gabe reveals that he started dating Erin over the summer, and both parties agree that they are enjoying the experience (although Erin admits she only agreed to the first date as she was afraid Gabe would have her fired if she didn't). Andy tries to remain calm at the prospect, but it is obvious he is mad at Gabe for stealing his girlfriend. He tries to calm himself by picturing himself at a calm beach, where he sees a whale in the ocean eating Gabe.

Dwight discloses that he became the owner of the building over the summer and carries a key ring everywhere he goes. Kelly participated in the executive training program at Yale, which she claims has made her smarter.

The new assistant, Luke Cooper, arrives late with the employees' coffee and accidentally mixed up Darryl's order. Darryl begins to talk about his summer but expresses his dislike for Luke instead. In the break room, Oscar and Phyllis complain that they gave Luke packages to deliver to clients, none of which arrived at their destination. Michael defends Luke, however, much to the displeasure to the rest of the office.

Jim tries to play a prank on Dwight by adding more keys to his key ring, but Pam laughs and exposes Jim's plan. Pam says she is sorry, but Jim is upset that he was unable to prank Dwight.

As everyone in the office becomes increasingly annoyed with Luke, Michael continues to defend him. In a talking head, Michael reveals that "One more thing I did over the summer... I hired my nephew." Michael tries to justify hiring Luke by explaining that he had an ulterior motive; namely, he hoped that doing so would end hostilities between him and his half-sister (Luke's mother). He also reveals the cause of said hostilities, explaining that he has been cut off from that side of his family for fifteen years, after he lost Luke in a forest.

The rest of the office still persists in their demands for Michael to fire Luke, but he once again refuses. He holds a meeting for the purpose of telling everyone, "Don't not bother Luke," and gets frustrated when his use of a double negative is pointed out. When asked why he is defending Luke, he claims he does not want corporate to hear that an assistant is being mistreated, only for everyone (including Gabe) to laugh and point out no one would report this to corporate anyway. Left with no option, Michael confesses that Luke is his nephew, to the outrage of the office. Oscar points out that giving Luke special treatment is nepotism and unfair to everyone. Michael then compares himself to how God "hired" his son Jesus to be a religious figure, asking "why does God get to do something that I don't?" Oscar continues to point out the flaws in Michael's logic, and asks Michael why he would have hidden this from them if he himself did not think there was something wrong. Michael claims he was actually hoping that Luke would be doing a great job to the point of receiving praise, upon which he would have revealed their relation.

Pam, trying to make it up to Jim, decides to come up with a plan to prank Dwight. She explains that she feels horrible for ruining Jim's prank, and "Dwight hasn't been messed with in a while, so he's become a monster." In the parking lot, members of the office discover the packages that were never delivered all sitting in Luke's car. Meredith is able to break into the car so they retrieve the packages. With Luke now costing the office clients, Gabe reports the matter to Sabre CEO Jo Bennett, who sternly tells Michael to deal with the issue.

Now being accountable for Luke, Michael takes over his assistant duties, such as buying coffee, while Luke sits in Michael's office and plays with his computer. Pam seeks the help of Kevin to rewire the elevator, so the buttons will achieve different results. After text messaging Dwight, she boards the elevator to show him "something in the lobby," but the plan backfires when they become trapped in the elevator due to the rewiring. Dwight starts to urinate in the elevator, which he states is due to all the water he has been drinking.

When Luke continues to irritate the office, Michael gets fed up and repeatedly spanks him in front of the entire office. Luke runs away crying and quits his job, with the rest of the office satisfied that Luke will no longer be a problem to them.

People from building maintenance are called in to get Dwight and Pam out of the elevator. As it lowers to ground level, Jim is impressed with the prank Pam pulled on Dwight, even though it had the opposite effect that Pam intended.

In the final scene, Gabe informs Michael that because he spanked Luke (which was "physical assault" of an employee) he must either have a counseling session or be fired immediately. Michael takes the former option happily, but after finding out that the session will be with Toby, he pauses and reconsiders being fired instead.

Connections to other episodes

  • Jim and Phyllis reprise their dance moves from "Café Disco": Jim jumps up and down in place, and Phyllis swings her arms up and down. This episode and "Café Disco" were both choreographed by Mary Ann Kellogg.
  • In "Body Language," Darryl drops out of the running for the Sabre Minority Executive Training Program because it would interfere with his softball schedule saying that he "only has about a year left in these knees." Unfortunately for Darryl, he had even less time than he thought.
  • Andy states in a talking head that Gabe stole Erin, however in "Sex Ed" we learn that Gabe asked Andy before he began to date Erin. We also see at the end of "Whistleblower" that Erin makes a move toward Andy suggesting he had a chance with Erin before Gabe but procrastinated and lost his shot.
  • Andy references his anger management training that he was sent to in "The Return".
  • Dwight asks sarcastically "Who's going to tell on us? Gabe?" which the whole office, including Gabe, laughs at. Gabe had previously tried to be an authority figure, but it is revealed to everyone that he has no authority and power in the office in "Secretary's Day".
  • Michael previously bought women's clothing for himself in "The Negotiation" and "Launch Party".

Goofs

  • Near the end of the lip dub, the top of Dwight's head pops into frame a second too early, then quickly disappears so Dwight can make his correct entrance licking the knife.
  • Jim is able to put three keys on Dwight's key ring before Pam laughs and blows the prank. However, when Dwight grabs it back and throws the keys at Jim, he throws too many (one for every word; Ha. Ha. Not. funny. Jim). He would have actually thrown two of his own keys off of the ring. However, it's possible this isn't the first time Jim has done this and Dwight is removing and throwing all of the keys he doesn't recognize.

Trivia

  • Toby is the one filming the lip dub, on a lower quality camera than is typical for the show. This is presumably because the filming of the lip dub took place over the documentary crew's "summer break" when the production crew was not present at the office. It is unlikely the office staff would be allowed to use the documentary equipment for their own purposes anyway.
  • Stanley drinks out of a plastic water cup even though everyone is supposed to be using metal Sabre bottles.
  • A certificate from Sabre's "Print in All Colors" program is on the wall behind Kelly when she talks about attending the minority executive training program at Yale.
  • Angela remains in Darryl's office for the rest of the lip dub.
  • As of this episode, different footage is used for the main cast's opening credits.

Amusing details

  • Jim participates in the lib dub only minimally, with no dancing, and just holding up a sign. This mirrors his minimal participation in Halloween.
  • After Dwight threatens Jim with the knife during the lip dub, he flips the knife in the air and catches it.
  • Michael enthusiastically shows as much of his magic kit as he can during the lip dub.
  • Michael says he stepped on a piece of glass which, "Got infected, even though I peed on it." It is a myth that urine is sterile and can be used to cleanse a wound. (It is also a myth that peeing on a jellyfish sting relieves the pain.) A 2015 study found that urine contains low levels of bacteria.
  • Kevin refers to the circuit board of the elevator as the "circus board".
  • Jo asks why Michael can't fire Luke and he says, "I love him." Jo solemnly asks, "Oh Michael. How far has it gone?" believing them to be in a romantic relationship.
  • Michael confuses capital punishment with corporal punishment.
  • The camera pans to Ryan shifting uncomfortably in his seat when Michael asks "Why aren't you bugging me to fire everyone who is bad?"
  • Kelly is not paying attention to the meeting but decides to say something from her corporate training, stating "I'd like to address what Darryl said about a level playing field, that is actually a zoning issue." She was unaware that Darryl was talking about a metaphorical playing field.
  • Michael appears to have accidentally bought female clothing for himself again, telling Erin to return a pair of pants to Talbots, saying, "I know they fit, that's not the issue."
  • Michael physically points to "account setup" just as he says "Luke, is going to use his laser pointer to point to account setup," negating the point of asking Luke to use his laser pointer.
  • As Pam and Dwight were trapped in the elevator when Michael spanked Luke, Phyllis and Andy reenact the scene for them.
  • After Gabe tells Michael they need to have a private chat about Michael physically assaulting Luke, Michael replies "Yes of course, what is this regarding?"

Cultural references

  • The episode opens with a lip dub to The Human Beinz's version of Nobody But Me. A lip dub is a type of video which became wildly popular starting in late 2009. Performers lip-sync to an existing song shot in a single take.
  • Gabe's cross-kneed dance is one the of steps of the Charleston dance, popular in the 1920's.
  • During the lip dub, Creed plays air guitar. Creed Bratton played lead guitar for the band The Grass Roots.
  • Michael says he got West Nile virus, a disease which reached the United States in 1999 and by the time this episode aired had spread across the entire country. Michael says, "Then I went back to the lake." The disease is carried by mosquitos, and Michael apparently was undeterred by his bad experience.
  • Michael saw the movie Inception, a 2010 film about a man who can infiltrate other people's dreams.
  • Orville Redenbacher was a businessman best known for his brand of unpopped popcorn. Erin confuses him with "the guy who invented the peanut", presumably thinking of George Washington Carver who developed peanut agricultural research.
  • Gabe jokingly calls his desk in the annex "Siberia", a part of Russia known for its inhospitable climate and its use as a place of exile.
  • Andy imagines himself on Cape Cod, the easternmost portion of Massachusetts and known as the home to many upper-class families.
  • Luke says that his favorite movies are Citizen Kane and The Boondock Saints. The 1941 movie Citizen Kane is widely considered to be the greatest film ever made. The Boondock Saints is a 1999 cult classic. Luke is trying to sound like a film buff, but his choices are generic and cliché.
  • Luke causes Phyllis to lose a potential sale to Lehigh Motors. Lehigh is the name of a town and a county not too far from Scranton, although there is no such company.
  • Luke watches his computer monitor and says "Yay, strawberries are ripe." He is most likely playing FarmVille, a game on Facebook.
  • Meredith tells Luke to stop listening to Chumbawamba, a British band mainly known for their 1997 song "Tubthumping".
  • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, sometimes known as "Ace Ventura 2", is a 1995 comedy film starring Jim Carrey. Michael remembers the day he lost Luke in a forest by connecting it to that movie's opening day, suggesting that he may be resentful at having to babysit his nephew instead of watching one of his comedy idols.
  • When Pam expresses confusion over Michael's use of the international No symbol 🚫, Michael says, "Haven't you seen Ghostbusters, Pam?" The No-Ghost Sign logo for the comedy movie Ghostbusters consists of a No symbol placed over a ghost. Michael may be under the impression that the movie invented the No symbol, even though the slash in the movie logo goes the other way.
  • Michael talks about open auditions for the band Hanson ("What if no one named Hanson showed up?"), not realizing that it is a family band consisting of three brothers.
  • Michael points out that "God, when he needed help on earth, who did he hire? Jesus Christ, his son." It is the central tenet of Christianity that Jesus is the son of God. (Erin confirms, "That's a really tight argument.")
  • Michael was hoping to be able to say "It's in the genes," an idiom meaning "It is a trait common to the family." But he was going to turn it into a joke by pointing to his jeans (pronounced the same as "genes").
  • Michael defends the undelivered packages in Luke's car by suggesting that Luke might own an eBay store. eBay is an online marketplace in which people sell a variety of goods. In the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Steve Carell's character falls in love with a woman who owns an eBay store.
  • Michael calls the hate for Luke a "witch-hunt", a term originally used to describe searches for people engaged in witchcraft, and usually finding "evidence" implicating those who were socially or politically out of favor. It is used in modern day to refer to a politically-motivated investigation. Michael blends the term with the title of the horror movie The Blair Witch Project, producing "The Blair Witch Hunt Project".
  • Erin finds the pants that Michael wanted to return to Talbots, a chain of high-end women's clothing stores. The nearest Talbot's is at Montage Mountain. This scene refers to a previous episode "The Negotiation" when Michael wears a woman's suit.
  • Andy threatens to call "triple-A", a common nickname for the American Automobile Association, a motor club that provides services to its members, most notably roadside assistance.
  • Jo tells Michael to "Cover his a** like tighty-whities." This is a made-up expression that means roughly "Monitor him closely." "Tighty-whities" are slang for briefs.
  • Michael describes that he and Luke worked as master and commander, with Michael as master and Luke as commander. Master and Commander is a title in the Royal Navy given to one person (not two). It was later shortened to "commander".
  • Michael says, "There are many different schools of thought on capital punishment." Capital punishment is the use of death as punishment for a crime. He confuses this with corporal punishment, the use of physical pain as punishment. Corporal punishment by parents against children is legal in the United States. Stanley calls it "Texas justice", referring to the "wild West" image of Texas as a lawless land, where people take punishment into their own hands.
  • Creed says he follows Luke on Twitter because he doesn't talk about Betty White, the American actress who made a comeback in 2009. White is famous for her raunchy sense of humor and longevity. She was 88 years old at the time the episode aired.
  • Pam says, "They don't call me the Bart Simpson of Scranton for nothing!" Bart is the ten-year-old troublemaker on the long-running TV show The Simpsons.
  • Michael wonders how The Ringling Brothers manage to "still work with their family" every night all over America. The Ringling Brothers Circus was founded in the United States in 1884 by four brothers, with three more brothers joining the company in subsequent years. The company was active until 2017, but the last founding brother died in 1936. Michael is under the impression that the circus performers are all brothers.
  • On the break room refrigerator is a magnet for Sheetz, a chain of gas station convenience stores.
  • There are three connections in this episode to the film Kill Bill, possibly coincidental.
    1. The song Nobody But Me from the lip dub was used in Kill Bill in the Showdown scene, with O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) facing off with The Bride (Uma Thurman).
    2. When Luke delivers coffee, he calls Darryl "Darryl Hannah". Actor Daryl Hannah plays Elle Driver in Kill Bill.
    3. Michael spanks Luke as punishment. At the end of the Showdown scene in Kill Bill, The Bride, as an alternative to killing a younger boy who joined the Yakuza gang, instead spanks him a number of times.

Behind the scenes

  • Writer Daniel Chun wrote the lip dub scene in a day, but it took much longer to realize the script.[1] A pre-production day was spent by choreographer Mary Ann Kellogg working with her dance crew and the film crew to plan how the scene would play out. The actors learned their steps and rehearsed on the morning of filming.[2] Kellogg had the particular challenge of figuring out how to get everyone to their places at the right moment called out in the script.[1]
  • An entire filming day was allotted to the lip dub, but it was completed in just three or four takes.[1]
  • In the script, Meredith was "strapped to" Kevin's back. The production team had to turn that description into reality.[1] Mike Thompson from Special Effects created the harness, and Stunt Coordinator Sean Crowder got the actors into the harness during the shoot.[2]
  • The original script had the dance begin in the parking lot, then go through the warehouse before reaching the office. However, those sets are not connected, so a cut would have to be hidden somehow. Director Jeff Blitz suggested that it all take place in the office, so it could be filmed in one continuous shot.[1]
  • There were four speaker hidden throughout the set to allow the actors to hear the music.[2]
  • Magician Amos Levkovitch hid behind Michael's office door to preset the flame trick.[2]
  • Rehearsal dancers and crew members were hidden in various places around the set to cue the actors.[2]
  • Surprisingly, there were no serious mishaps during filming.[1]
  • Despite the complexity, DP Matt Sohn called the shot "straightforward".[1]
  • Chun chose Nobody But Me because he wanted a song he liked that was short, upbeat, fun to lip-sync, and not too trendy.[1]
  • According to Chun, the most difficult roles were Brian Baumgartner (carrying Meredith on his back), Ed Helms (a lot of choreography), and particularly Jenna Fischer (who had to flip the blinds on cue, then dance backwards while looking straight forward, stopping at her mark, all while lip syncing).[1]
  • Ellie Kemper was already good at roller skating. She didn't have to learn it for this scene.[1]
  • Steve Carell improvised Michael's magic tricks. They just gave him a bunch of cheap magic tricks and told him to go crazy.[1]
  • The dancing at the very end of the lip dub was largely improvised.[1]

Cast

Main cast

Supporting cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Tan, Jennie. "The Office Lip Dub: Q&A with writer Danny Chun". Office Tally, September 25, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Tan, Jennie. "The Office Lip Dub: 1st Assistant Director Kelly Cantley's report". Office Tally, September 25, 2010.
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