There are three things Michael does not need more of in his life: power, responsibility, and employees under his power and responsibility. But a fateful call from corporate affords him the possibility of all three, and a day on the shores of scenic Lake Scranton becomes the setting for the ultimate challenge: selecting the worthiest hypothetical successor. Courage may make a good manager, but it can do a whole heck of a lot for receptionists too.
Where corporate America is concerned, channeling Jeff Probst is to determine your managerial heir is not widely accepted; however, where Michael Scott is concerned, it’s really not a half bad idea. It will fail miserably, but really, not a half bad idea.
[Michael is presiding over the unenthusiastic hot dog eating contest]
Michael : Come on, the winner gets a big, big prize.
Meredith : [mouth full] What is it?
Michael : I can’t say.
Jim : You can’t say, or you can’t pronounce it?
Michael : The winner gets a regional manager’s salary for a year, and a Sebring, and the feeling that they are making a difference in the world.
Kelly : Can we just take those first two things?
Michael : The winner of today gets my job.
So yes, basically, just those first two things.
Michael : I knew that finding a successor would be difficult. I did not know that it would be impossible. Thus far, the candidates have been wildly disappointing. Uh, Jim is not taking it seriously, Stanley is having a stroke, and Andy… where is he? Where the hell is Andy?
On the scale from rousing success to utter disaster, this hovers around total failure.
Dwight would not be Dwight without an overzealous and slightly disturbing reaction to any promise of obligatory activities that would make a normal person groan.
Michael : We are all participating in mandatory fun activities. Funtivities! And there is a special secret prize for the winner!
Dwight : Yes! Funtivities! I knew it wasn’t just a trip to the beach.
Michael : Okay, you know what? Your enthusiasm’s turning people off.
Dwight : I hope there will be management parables.
Dwight would also not be Dwight without a devious plot of subterfuge when such activities are at hand.
Dwight : Sabotage.
Angela : What? What are you saying? Did you say “sandwich”?
Dwight : No, I was saying that before. Not now. Now I am saying… sabotage. The ancient Dutch art of screwing up your own team.
Angela : I knew you were saying sabotage. I was giving you an example of it. I will misunderstand everything that Andy says until he goes insane.
Dwight : If Michael organizes some kind of group hug, stand next to me.
And that is what you call an alliance. Forming one with Angela proves much more advantageous than any previous attempts with Jim.
Jim is the one of the few– wait, actually several– to have a near-death experience on beach day. His comes at the hands of Stanley, whose tenacity only Ryan knows to properly fear.
[Stanley plows Jim to the ground in the sumo wrestling contest]
Stanley : Sorry about that. It’s all about taking points away from Dwight.
Jim : Yeah, no, good, okay.
[Cut to interview]
Jim : Oh my god, I have never seen that look in a man’s eyes… ever. I thought that I might die. On beach day.
Loss of the sumo contest aside, Jim is without a doubt the best of the candidates for the job– whether new management is needed in Scranton (nah), or the New York office snatches him up (please, no!). Still, it’s strange to reconcile this newly ambitious Jim with the Jim of season one, who vowed he would throw himself to a train if this should become his career, although that sort of development has been necessary this season with Pam no longer his anchor.
It’s vaguely ironic that much of the impetus for last year’s astronomical finale was the possibility of a transfer and now the issue is raised again. Let’s hope that this year is only possibility and possibility alone. I’m going to go plant the bug in the CFO’s ear: Karen!
Pam says it best herself: she has the most boring job in the office, why shouldn’t she have the most boring job on beach day? All I can say is, if it took diligent note-taking and the warming of 800 hot dogs to push the fireworks into the fire, thank goodness for Michael.
Michael : Who’s ahead in points?
Pam : I think they’re even. At various times, you gave Jim ten points, Dwight a gold star, and Stanley a thumbs-up. And I don’t really know how to compare those units.
Michael : Well, check to see if there’s a conversion chart in that notebook.
Pam : I really doubt it, Michael.
Michael : Please just check.
To wish for her breaking point to have come sooner than now is pointless. There’s a timeline at work that’s close enough to reality to not be entirely dictated by network schedules, sweeps and endings. Every moment of her self-awakening this year, even the back-sliding mistakes and missed opportunities, was a cumulative downpayment on a payoff of this. Pam’s constraints are at long last breaking, and I’m guessing the lengths she’s come this year will only multiply in the next.
Editor’s Note: The JPI segment this week is amazing. Wonderfully put. A round of applause for Jamie, please.
Ever since the shocking turn of events last May, there has been only one course of action possible, the one we’ve been rooting and waiting for all year. The “what” was certain; it’s the when and how and why that’s kept us on the edge of our seats and, for some, throwing up hands in exasperation.
Time was the prescription, and time was the trouble. Pam was willing to play the waiting game to figure herself out, and while it probably cost her more than it should, it was a necessary price to pay. The Pam we know and love wasn’t the Pam she knew at all, and before anything significant could affect her life, she had to figure things out for herself.
And at last, it comes.
Pam : Hey, I want to say something. I’ve been trying to be more honest lately and I just need to say a few things. I did the coal walk! Just, I did it. Michael, you couldn’t even do that. Maybe I should be your boss. Wow, I feel really good right now. Why didn’t any of you come to my art show? I invited all of you. That really sucked. It’s like sometimes, some of you act like I don’t even exist.
The speech is pitch perfect on so many levels– not only every word she says, but the way it sort of explodes out of her, and the expressions Jim reflects back at her as he follows her train of thought, even before it’s turned on him.
Pam : Jim, I called off my wedding because of you. And now we’re not even friends. And things are just like, weird between us, and that sucks. And I miss you. You were my best friend before you went to Stamford. And I really miss you. I shouldn’t have been with Roy, and there were a lot of reasons to call off my wedding. But the truth is, I didn’t care about any of those reasons until I met you. And now you’re with someone else, and that’s fine. It’s… whatever. That’s not what I’m… I’m not… okay, my feet really hurt.
One of the things I love most about the stance she takes is that it’s not an overtly romantic declaration of love. It plays on the strain that she misses him, just him, not any romance surrounding him. It could be from from the fact that she’s spilling her guts in front of everyone, but upon careful consideration, I’m inclined to think not. She’s saying exactly what she wants said, because much like he did for the years she was with Roy, she will take any part of him that he’s free to give, even if it’s not complete or as much as she wants. Their friendship was their love, and she wants him to know that’s what she misses, without demands for anything more.
Pam : The thing that I’m just trying to say to you, Jim, and to everyone else in the circle I guess, is that I miss having fun with you. Just you, not everyone in the circle. Okay, I am gonna go walk in the water now. Yeah, it’s a good day.
By this point, her happiness with herself is thorough and contagious, and I doubt there was anyone watching who wasn’t feeling her rush of blood to the head as she ran off to soak her symbolically scalded feet. It was an incredible defining moment, one with decades of history and a blank, question-marked future. But for once, Pamela Beesly was fully in the moment, unafraid of the past and careless with the future. And those are the rare grasping moments where absolutely anything can happen.
My own personal wish for the coming season is less a wish for Jim and Pam to plunge headlong into any kind of romance, and more a hope for them to simply remove some interference and free themselves up to slowly rebuild the friendship that has been so phenomenal in the past. A relationship without extraneous drama is considered death to television, but I am convinced that this is the show, the characters, the time, and the place to prove that nothing more than a myth. That said, I’m too invested to not happily follow any direction they should choose to take.
Beach Games ranks Up on the JP Index. She’ll sleep like a baby tonight; he won’t close his eyes at all.
Angela. The woman is unstoppable. This week she earns the nod from her role in the margins, the true definition of a supporting character– first, on the bus ride when Kevin starts singing, and then, at Jim’s side through the pivotal confrontation and the look we all wanted to give him in the end.
As if I even have to state the obvious to say that Pam gets ten thousand points, a hundred gold stars, two thumbs-up, and wins yet again the hearts of us all.
Michael : To what do I owe this great honor, David Wallace?
David : Michael, I am calling…
Michael : And Gromit.
Michael : Jan? Is Jan there?
David : Jan is out of town right now.
Michael : Oh. You sigh like Jan. [Sighs] I broke Jan’s heart, David. And I feel awful. It was… it was never my intention to ruin a life. But you know what? Sometimes…
David : Michael…
Michael : You just gots to get your freak on.
David : Michael.
Michael : Yeah?
Michael : Hmm?
Having Michael shoo Pam and Dwight from the office for a supposedly serious call from the CFO only to allow for this conversation is a hilarious strain on logic. And having David follow up this exchange by offering an opportunity that would bring Michael into closer corporate proximity is another.
Michael : What happens to a company if somebody takes their boss away? I will answer your question with a question. It’s like what happens to a chicken when you take its head away. It dies. Unless you find a new head. I need to see which one of these people have the skills to be a chicken head.
Stating that you will answer a question with a question generally predicates that a question will follow, unless you’re Michael Scott.
Michael : Hey, Pam, I have a very important job for you today.
Pam : I thought we were just having fun at the beach.
Michael : We are, we are. But I would like you to take notes. And I want you to find out about people’s character. Not their hotness, per se, but their humor, and their charisma, and the indefinable quality that makes you all glad to follow me.
Good thing it’s not their hotness, per se, or some smart, sexy temp would be on the fast track to the top without so much as a sale.
Michael : You will be divided into four tribes. Each tribe will have a leader that I will pick randomly off the top of my head without thinking.
Marginal amounts of thought went into this.
Michael : We are going to choose team names. Dwight.
Dwight : We will be called Gryffindor.
Jim : Really? Not Slytherin?
Dwight : Slytherin are the bad guys, Jim.
Jim : I know. Okay, we will be Voldemort.
Dwight : He who must not be named? I wouldn’t do that.
Watch for Dwight’s desperate attempt to keep that name from being spoken aloud, most noticeably after the ill-fated coal walk when Michael is deducting points from Voldemort for false pretenses.
Michael : But you know what, I don’t know who to recommend, because frankly, nobody’s stepping up.
Andy : I am so hungry! [He starts shoving a hot dog into his mouth]
Stanley : Do you expect me to believe that you are truly making your recommendations on this basis?
Michael : Word.
Michael : What does a great manager need most of all? Courage.
Stanley : How so? I mean, sure thing, that sounds smar… I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to sit in the bus.
Michael : Your loss, Stanley. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have a super fun time defeating our fear and creating a lasting memory… walking through fire!
And… game off.
Andy : Angela! Angela, hey! Oh thank God! Please go to tell somebody!
Angela : What, Andy? Andy, what should I tell them?
Andy : Go tell them I’m floating away, obviously!
Angela : I don’t understand what you want from me.
Andy : Angela, it’s pretty simple. Look at what I’m doing, and go tell somebody it!
Angela : Sorry!
Andy : Aah!
Anegla : Bye, Andy!
Andy : Angela!
Andy does not stand a chance against the queen of sabotage.
Kevin : Are you going to try it?
Angela : I’m not going to walk in a fire after your disgusting feet have gone through.
Kevin : Angela, it is a million degrees.
There must be some history of trauma involving Kevin’s feet for Angela to have such recurring issues with them. Actually, no. It’s Angela. No trauma or reason necessary.
Kevin : Why don’t you go Michael?
Michael : Because I already did, remember? I burned my foot. On a George Foreman grill.
Jim : That is not the same at all.
I was waiting for that to come up.
Michael : The mind has to wrap around the foot.
We know why the episode was necessarily supersized, so Michael could take ten minutes to not walk across the fire.
Michael : We are going to have a 100-point, winner-take-all sudden death tribal council round. To test the aspect of my job that I think is the most important… something I call the Bob Hope factor.
Kelly : Who’s Bob Hope?
Michael : God! He’s– he’s a comedian.
Kelly : Oh, like Amanda Bynes.
Michael : Who’s Amanda Bynes?
Kelly : She’s from What A Girl Wants.
Michael : Oh, I love that movie. Yes, Kelly is right. The person to replace me has to have a great sense of humor and they have to possess the leadership qualities of a Bynes or a Hope.
Obviously, watch for Ryan’s reactions throughout this exchange. But the real treat is Dwight’s attempt at the Bynes and Hope factor which, from the mangled parts to which we are treated, is the most disastrous variation on the Aristocrats joke ever.
Michael : Pam, that was amazing. But I am still looking for someone with a sales background.
Someone heard one of the most touching parts of last week– Michael’s wish that Pam be granted courage.