Michael returns from vacation brimming with a new zest for life and a tenuously guarded secret, and armed with enough incriminating evidence to guarantee the ruin of both before the day’s end. Meanwhile, the warehouse demands an inventory and Angela’s party planners are called upon to transform the proceedings into an impromptu luau, during which much more than just paper is taken stock. In the end a confession is made, a reprieve is granted, and Kevin snags a bargain on a fine piece of art.
For the second week in a row, an inappropriate photo plunges Michael into very hot water, only this time the scandal isn’t over any manipulation– it’s the very real, sun-baked, bikini-clad truth.
[Michael is narrating a slideshow of photos from his vacation]
Pam : Oh my god, is that Jan?!
Michael : No, that’s a German woman named… Urkel Grue.
[cut to interview]
Michael : Jan told me to play it cool and not tell anybody because it could get us both in trouble. So officially, I did not see her. …But I did see Jan there. In our room. At night. And in the morning. And that’s all I’m gonna say.
Jan! With Michael! In Jamaica! You would need Freud and a team of psychiatrists working round the clock to even attempt a guess at why this warrants such rejoicing. Michael can hardly walk around for all the feet in his mouth and Jan is, as Packer can be counted on to elegantly put it, the definitive ice queen. Yet somehow, in some wild, unfathomable way, it works. And well.
Toby : All right, if you are having a relationship with your superior, you must disclose it.
Michael : No, no, no. I am not dating Jan. She was very clear about that. Just two like souls having a romantic time in the most romantic place on earth.
As a friend of mine pointed out, Jan needs to loosen up and Michael needs one of those electric collars with somebody working the remote. In that way, they’re a match made in heaven. And hey, if a woman’s going to self-destruct, there are worse places than Jamaica and no better guarantee than Michael Scott.
What’s funny is, as word spreads and Michael starts getting every bit of the attention he constantly craves, the egotistical jerk disappears. Would you have ever thought to see the day when the warehouse cheers him on in front of a scandalous life-size poster and his reaction is to truly panic and bolt off in some attempt at damage control?
Jan : Why am I here, Michael?
Michael : Uh, I…
Jan : In the last year I’ve gone through a divorce, an identity theft, a husband who would not… communicate. This is neither here nor there. My psychiatrist thinks that I have some self-destructive tendencies and that for once, I should indulge them. Are you following me?
Michael : Uh, uh, yes.
Jan : I think I owe it to myself to find some kind of happiness. You know, I mean, I mean even if it means lowering my expectations, or– or redefining the word itself…
Michael : Okay, yeah.
Jan : This is the thing, you know. I am attracted to you. I– I don’t know why, but I am. And I need to follow my instincts. At least that’s what Dr. Perry thinks.
Michael : Who’s Dr. Perry? I–
Jan : This is the point, okay? You’re wrong for me. In… every way.
Michael : Well, not–
Jan : But I still find myself wanting to… be with you.
Michael : And I, to you, in addition, feel, the same feelings, that you are, as well.
Well, that’s one way to put it, though the classic “you complete me,” it’s not. Oh, but wait…
Michael : Jan. You complete me.
Jan : Oh, God.
All I can say is Michael better count his blessings, relish the moment, and hang on for dear life as long as he possibly can. Oh, this is going to be good.
There are a dozen different kinds of clueless and Dwight is every one. Exhibit A:
Michael : [whispering] I have a special assignment for you.
Dwight : Who’s the target?
Michael : A sensitive email has been released to the office. It contains a file…
[Dwight takes notes]
Michael : A picture… the filename is “Jamaican Jan Sun Princess.”
Dwight : What’s it of?
Michael : Not important.
Dwight : Unless you’re willing to tell me everything, I cannot accept this assignment.
Michael : Okay, forget it.
Dwight : Okay, I accept it.
Pam : Michael, it’s Jan on the phone.
Michael : Oh, God! No, no, no, no! Hang up. Hang up. Tell her I’m not here! Don’t. Don’t. I ran out of gas. I hit a deer! I hit a deer with my car. No, I hit a cat. Tell her I hit a cat.
Pam : [to phone] He’ll call you back. Okay. Great. [hangs up]
Michael : Do you think she bought it?
Michael : Okay. Okay.
Dwight : Michael hit a deer?
And a cat. And he ran out of gas. And he’s not even here. Where were you, Dwight?
And then, out of nowhere, the sight of Pam in tears brings out a side of Dwight that is rarely exposed without the influence of serious head trauma. It’s one of those deeply affecting moments this show is famous for, where it transcends the typical limitations of a half-hour sitcom and suddenly, you’re pinching yourself just to remind that it’s fiction.
Dwight : Who did this to you? Where is he?
Pam : What? No… it’s not… it’s nothing.
[Dwight takes off his jacket, seems to want to offer it to her, but ties it around his waist]
Dwight : It’s hot in here.
Pam : Yeah.
Dwight : Yeah.
[Dwight hands her a handkerchief]
Pam : Thanks.
[Dwight sits down beside her]
Pam : You don’t need to stay here.
Dwight : I know.
[Dwight puts his arm around her shoulders and she sobs]
Before the universe can hurtle to a screeching halt (or Angela can discover them), a little classic Dwight-ness creeps back in.
Dwight : So you’re PMS-ing pretty bad, huh?
And not even that can spoil the effect completely. Welcome to earth, Dwight.
With Michael away, Jim gets the chance to exercise some of his newfound authority.
Jim : All right, let’s get started. Um… Oh, first off, we’re supposed to be pushing cardstock this week so… let’s push cardstock this week. Uh, also– what is this?
Dwight : Tape recorder.
Jim : For what?
Dwight : For recording. Michael is on vacation, and he has asked me to record all meetings and to type up the transcripts.
If Jim was still determined to turn over a new leaf and keep it professional, even after backsliding over Pam’s ingenious Christmas gift, well, then this temptation will forever deem it a lost cause. And sure enough, within seconds:
Jim : Oh my god, Dwight, what are you doing?
Dwight : What?
Jim : You’re not allowed to take off your pants in the middle of the office.
Dwight : I’m not…
Jim : Dwight, you know what? Just back off, okay. It’s making me uncomfortable. This is sexual harassment, by the way. Oh my god. He’s got a knife!
Dwight : I do not have a knife.
Jim : No, let the record show that Dwight K. Schrute is now completely nude and is holding a plastic knife to Stanley’s neck.
Dwight : Let the record show that Jim Halpert is a liar!
Jim : [grabs recorder] Dwight Schrute is now wearing a baby’s bonnet.
Dwight : [grabs it back] I am not!
Phyllis : Oh, Jim Carrey just walked in! Dwight, get his autograph for Michael, quickly!
Dwight : Jim Carrey did not just walk in. Okay?
Karen : Dwight, what is that on your stomach? Is that a Muppet Babies tattoo?
Jim : Oh my god, Karen, you’re right. That is Animal from the Muppet Babies.
Dwight : You can’t see my stomach…
Andy : I am now chopping off Phyllis’ head with a chainsaw!
On the other hand, it could be considered a very effective team-building exercise.
The past year has not exactly been the kindest to Pam, and now the new one is off to an even shakier start. The changes she’s worked so hard on seem to be of less and less consequence. The novelty has worn off a bit, improvements went unrewarded, and some old habits are dying hard.
A little steel drum serenade should be just the thing to lift the spirits.
Michael : [Banging on a steel drum and singing] “Feelin’ hot, hot, hot!” That’s all I know so far, but I’m gonna keep practicing.
Pam : It’s good.
Michael : You know, I had never been out of the country before now.
Pam : Oh.
Michael : Got to see how Jamaicans live. It is great, you know? They just relax. They party all the time.
Pam : It’s kind of an impoverished country.
Michael : Yeah. Gosh… great.
Fortunately, Pam is never too distracted to reel Michael back down to earth, and also fortunately, he never takes root so that she is perpetually needed. And not just by him, but throughout the office, often the only glue holding things together.
Jim : Hey. Thanks, a lot.
Pam : Oh, don’t worry about it. I mean, it’s better than listening to Michael play a conch shell, which is what I was doing.
That’s got to be qualification for some kind of sainthood.
The story continues its deepening triangle with Jim and Karen at odds and Pam, a long history with one and a recent ally of the other, stumbling into the middle.
Jim : So, I don’t know, I just feel we’ve been dating a month, right? Same street? I think that might be a little close, a little bit much.
Pam : Hmm.
Jim : “Hmm,” what?
Pam : How far away does she live now, like ten minutes?
Jim : [sighs] Yeah, I guess.
Pam : Honestly, I think you should go easy on her.
It’s an extremely tough position, first to find Jim so obviously conflicted and then to be the one who offers support, and not an ounce of the difficulty is lost on Pam. It has shades of their old break room exchanges all over it, only with the roles completely reversed. Arguably the main difference is that she was with Roy in spite of Jim, and now he is with Karen perhaps because of her, and for no bigger mistake than that she woke up to a heartrending realization a little too late.
But Jim is first and foremost her friend, and for Pam, there is nothing to do but come to the rescue no matter what the cause. Using the situation for her benefit is not only incomprehensible, it’s outside every realm of possibility.
Pam : No, I didn’t mind helping Jim with his problem. That’s what friends do. I… help Phyllis all the time. Just yesterday I untangled a piece of tape from her hair. So, yeah.
It seems that Jim knows least of all where Pam’s heart now lies. He may guess, but by now, after so much guessing, it would too easily chalk up as self-delusion. And she likely knows this, but characteristically ties her hands and frustrates herself almost to the point of punishment. At this point her mistake seems irreversible and the best she can hope for is a taste of their old connection, which is thankfully never too far out of reach.
Pam : Oh, also– Michael went to Jamaica with Jan…
Jim Yeah, how have we not talked about this already? I mean, what happened there? Kidnapping?
When Karen thanks Pam for talking sense into Jim, oblivious of the weight involved, it’s the proverbial straw that breaks the back. We’ve seen Pam in tears before, but never like this, never sneaking off to cry as someone who’s just seen their best chance at happiness slip away, knowing that she’s the one who relinquished the key.
The outcome is tough to gauge. Are things worse because Pam reaches her breaking point and Jim, who was once the consolation, is now the cause? Or better, for the same reasons, and because such a catharsis is the first step to an eventual mend? I’m inclined to say both, enough of each to keep the scales balanced for one more week. Even with a lack of external resolution, that kind of inward release does the heart a world of good. And so, Back From Vacation ranks Even on the Jim/Pam Index. Everything’s not lost.
The lady, Jan Levinson, because who didn’t love to see her plant that kiss and leave Michael’s hair standing on end?
This is an extremely tough call, because a breakdown from Pam has not yet failed to secure her the honor. However, I just can’t ignore the other half of our favorite anti-couple, Michael, who carried the episode on his shoulders in rare form, and for once, made us root for him to be the hero that gets the girl. The coin flips, and Michael it is.
Stanley : Oh, Michael, I’m glad you’re here.
Michael : Stanley, you know what? It is really good to see you too.
Stanley : My bonus check was $100 less than you promised.
Michael : Okay, well, payroll is in charge of all of that.
Stanley : They said I should talk to you.
Michael : Well, I am just getting settled in, so I am gonna… [starts away]
Stanley : I am not doing a lick more work until I get my full bonus check.
Michael : You are not as much fun as your Jamaican brothers. Mon.
You get the feeling Stanley walks away from every encounter with Michael satisfied that he got exactly what he expected.
Michael : How hard is a luau? All you need are some grass skirts, pineapple, poi, tiki torches, suckling pig, some fire dancers. That’s all you need.
All plentiful commodities in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the dead of winter.
Packer : Big whoop. I was in Hotlanta. That whole town is whack.
Yeah, because nothing says “exotic destination” like the state capital of Georgia.
Michael : Hey man, how’s it going?
Darryl : All right. What’s up, Mike?
Michael : That’s great. Okay, um, so did you get an email from me?
Darryl : Yep.
Michael : Okay. Well, that was supposed to go to Packer, not “packaging.” Did you already forward it to a whole bunch of people?
Darryl : Uh-huh.
Michael : Okay. Um, well, did you get the second email that I sent, explaining that the first email was a mistake and that you should delete it?
Darryl : Yep.
Michael : And you sent that out to everyone?
Darryl : Mike, I’m very busy down here.
Every scene between Darryl and Mike is an instant classic.
Angela : Okay, we only have three hours, people, to plan a whole luau, and you’re not helping!
Karen : What are the ingredients of poi?
Phyllis : I called every grocery store in Scranton and no one sells whole pigs.
Angela : Did you try the petting zoo?
First, not the best way to win back the respect of the committee that lynched you not three weeks ago. Second, never underestimate Angela’s apathy where animals and small children are concerned.
Toby : Hey, I need to talk to you.
Michael : Not now, not ever.
There is no statute of limitations on the persecution of Toby.
Kevin : Hi Jan. You look… tan.
Jan : I was in Scottsdale, visiting my sister.
Kevin : Yeah? How was it?
Jan : Very sunny. Family’s important.
At least she can hold her own in the blatant lie department. Is her sister’s name Urkel Grue?
[Sitting in the midst of the warehouse luau]
Roy : Hey. Remember when we were planning our honeymoon? You wanted to go to Hawaii, and I wanted to go to Mexico.
Pam : Yeah.
Roy : I was definitely right.
[Pam looks at him and they start to laugh]
Roy : Oh brother.
After all these two have been through, it’s really good to see Roy coax a genuine laugh out of Pam.