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This Is The Office's Most Underrated TV Episode

If you're a fan of NBC's beloved mockumentary sitcom The Office — and by now, who isn't? — you probably have a favorite episode, and with 201 to choose from, you've got plenty of options. Set in the modest paper supply company Dunder Mifflin in the humble town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, The Office explores the lives of its workers, including its hapless but big-hearted manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell, who left the show after its seventh season), sardonic salesman Jim Halpert (John Krasinski), sweet receptionist Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer), and oddball Assistant to the Regional Manager Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson). Throughout its nine-season run, Dunder Mifflin and its workers experienced plenty of ups and downs, and when all was said and done, some of its half-hour installments stand out from the rest. 

From "Dinner Party," which sees Michael and his erratic girlfriend Jan (Melora Hardin) desperately trying to throw a classy get-together for Michael's employees, to "Stress Relief," which features one of the show's most ambitious cold opens of all time, The Office has a ton of great episodes. So many, in fact, that there may be some that you've overlooked for years. Here's why season two's "Booze Cruise," in which Michael plans an ill-fated outing for the office, is the show's most underrated episode.

What happens in the "Booze Cruise" episode?

The eleventh episode of The Office's second season finds Michael planning a surprise team-building event outside of the office for his employees. As usual, he makes a mess of things right off the bat by telling the workers to pack an absurd list of items that includes a bathing suit, a ski mask, and a toothbrush. Ultimately, the surprise is a booze cruise on Lake Wallenpaupack, which would be nice, except that they're taking this normally scenic journey in January.

Jim, who is secretly in love with Pam, brings a date — his vapid girlfriend Katy (played by eventual Academy Award nominee Amy Adams) — to deal with the fact that she'll be there with her fiancé Roy (David Denman), but that turns out to be just one of the evening's issues. Michael, unhappy with the fact that the ship's captain, Jack (Rob Riggle), is the person actually in charge, causes chaos when he announces that the boat is sinking, intending to use that as some sort of sales metaphor. Meanwhile, Roy, inspired by Jack's stories of his time in the armed forces and considering what's important in his life, finally sets a date for his wedding to Pam, leaving Jim heartbroken. In the midst of all this, Dwight spends most of the episode manning a fake wheel, which Captain Jack ordered him to watch over, leaving the authority-hungry Dwight to truly believe that he's "steering" the boat.

After Michael incites a near-riot on the cruise, Jack zip-ties him up outside, and Jim, having just broken up with Katy, goes to commiserate. Ultimately, this leads to a heartfelt moment between the two, in which Jim confesses his crush on Pam and Michael tells him that he should never give up on love.

What makes "Booze Cruise" so great?

"Booze Cruise" has plenty elements of the classic The Office formula, like Dwight getting tricked into thinking he has any power or Michael causing a huge problem despite good intentions, but its real backbone is the story between Jim and Pam. According to a new book by Andy Greene, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History, this episode alone instilled faith in some members of the cast.

In the book, Krasinski recalls, "I remember that one episode where we were on the booze cruise. When I saw the episode they had allowed that incredibly long pause where Jim wanted to say that he loved Pam and he couldn't. I thought from then on I had full and total trust in anything [the writers] wanted to do."

Producer Jen Celotta also remembers that the episode helped propel the love story between Jim and Pam, saying, "I remember overall an enormous amount of discussion about how quickly to progress them. We wanted to have obstacles in their way that felt real. There was something very beautiful about them pining for each other. Even when you didn't focus on it in a given episode, it was always there in the background."

Perhaps the reason that this sweet, thoughtful installment of The Office often gets overlooked is what happened immediately afterwards. The next episode to air was "The Injury," an episode in which Michael burns his foot on a George Foreman grill. That memorably bonkers outing has become a fan favorite, overshadowing the emotional beats of "Booze Cruise." In any case, you can relive both episodes now; The Office is currently streaming on Netflix until it moves to Peacock, NBC's forthcoming platform.