Gender lines are drawn in the office when Jan decides to gather the women in the conference room for a Women in the Workplace seminar. Eager to make a power play of his own, Michael leads the men of the office down to the warehouse, where he comes in contact with heavy machinery and practically everything else down there. The day turns out to be a complete bust for both camps with the exception of Pam who discovers that there is life beyond the reception desk, but only for those willing to take the plunge.
Michael manages to desecrate the English language further and further each week. Fortunately, he has, oh, about a million more words or so to go before he exhausts himself of options.
Michael : What is more important than quality? Equality. Now, studies show that today’s woman, the Ally McBeal woman, as I call her, is at a crossroads.
Jan : Michael–
Michael : And–no, just, I–you have come a long way, baby. But I just… just wanna keep it within reason.
Clearly, there is a higher power looking after Michael. It’s the only reason I can think of that explains why he’s still alive.
Dwight is the King of Crackpot Theorists. Between Michael and him, this office has all the misinformation it can handle. Actually, no, that’s not true. Because of Michael and Dwight, this office is impervious to misinformation.
Dwight : That’s a terrible idea.
Jim : What is?
Dwight : Them in there all together. They stay in there too long, they’re gonna get on the same cycle. Wreak havoc on our plumbing.
How can one man be so incredibly weird? It doesn’t seem humanly possible.
Several viewers picked up on the emerging friendship between Jim and Ryan this week. It makes sense that after hitting a sort of wall with Pam, he would seek out other ways to get through the day. Now, don’t get me wrong; the original duo is still alive and well, but I think Jim realizes that he’s going to need something else in order to survive at this job now that his dreams of eventually landing Pam have been dispelled for the most part.
Dwight : Michael wants us to bond, so we need topics for conversation.
Jim : Ponies.
Dwight : No.
Ryan : How about rainbows?
Dwight : No.
Jim : Flowers.
Dwight : No.
Ryan : Make-up.
Ponies, rainbows, flowers, and make-up. That sounds girly even by girly standards. Even Phyllis would agree.
Comedy is a wonderful thing, but it’s not why I write these recaps. I write them because of scenes like this:
Pam : Dreams are just that. They’re dreams. They help get you through the day. Like the thing about the terrace. It’s nice. But, um… I don’t know. It was just something I read in this book when I was twelve. Uh, the girl in the book has a terrace outside of her bedroom. And she planted flowers on it. And I just loved that. Just always kind of stuck with me.
Strip away the story of the girl and her terrace and you have what amounts to a very hopeless statement. Whenever I watch this show, it’s a constant battle betwen the rational part of me that realizes that it’s all fiction and the emotional part of me that would rather be caught up in the moment.
Pam : It’s impractical. I’m not gonna… try to get a house like that. Um, they don’t even make houses like that in Scranton. So I’m never gonna… [Breaks down]
You will always have your cynics, but I shudder to imagine what sort of person could make it through a scene like this without feeling at least a hint of sorrow.
It looks like the fallout from The Secret is starting to clear. Last week’s Jim was still struggling with the reality of the situation, but the Jim we saw tonight seemed more at ease with the impending ceremony. I wouldn’t say that it’s left his thought process completely; far from it, actually, but I do think that he’s finally starting to see Pam as a friend and not as an object of pursuit. Just as perfect dramatic timing would dictate, though, the moment Jim begins to accept this ends up being the moment Pam starts to come around.
Pam : I don’t know how I fit in with these women. Here. Or with Jan. Um, I mean we get along great. Fine. Um… I guess the person I have the most in common with is…
Course, it’s not all luck. Recent events have almost certainly contributed to Pam’s developing realization that she may be one leap of faith away from a much happier life. Still, I think we’ll all look back one day and be glad that this Women in the Workplace seminar took place when it did. As fruitless as it may have been in its original intent, it may also have been just the thing she needed to spur herself into action. More on this later.
Roy : Jim. Halpert. Hey, uh… I, uh, you know, heard there’s a rumor going around about, you know, you used to have a crush on Pam, and…
Jim : Oh, no, no, no.
Roy : No, no, no, it’s cool ’cause I know you’re a good guy, and I know that that crush ended a long time ago, so, you know. We’re cool, right?
Jim : Yeah. No, yeah, definitely.
Roy : You know, I’m–it’s great with me, ’cause that way… I’m glad she has a friend at work she can get through the day with.
Jim : Oh…
Roy : That way she’s not all, “Bah, bah, bah, bah,” you know, when she gets home.
Jim : Yeah, I like talking to her, too.
Roy : So, uh… we’re cool, right?
Jim : Yes. Yeah. All right. Yep.
Roy : All right.
Jim : Cool, man.
Roy : Sweet.
Roy presents an easy target, especially when placed beside Jim. I think that it’s important to maintain a fair perspective here, though. As callous and intimidating as he may appear to be, I see him as a more reasonable man than many people give him credit for. Even if Jim manages to win over Pam, I can’t see Roy ever resorting to violence as a means of retaliation. He may put up a threatening front, but he doesn’t strike me as a person willing to follow through on it without a good reason. Besides, it has always been my belief that if Jim and Pam end up together, it will ultimately be because Pam made the call, not because Jim stole her away. I suspect a break-up under these terms would wound him as deeply as it would her, but in a manner that would incite retreat rather than hostility.
Pam : Hey.
Jim : Hey!
Pam : How’s it going down there?
Jim : It’s a complete d–well, actually, it’s exactly what you’d expect, so…
Pam : Right.
Jim : How are the girls?
Pam : Good. We watched a video about our changing bodies.
Jim : Did you really?
Pam : No. [Laughs]
Jim : Oh, good.
Pam : Almost. Um, but, hey, um… something kind of cool. There’s this internship in graphic design that Jan was telling us about. She made it sound, like, really great.
Jim : Nice. Well, what’s it all about?
Pam : Um…
Jim : I think you should do it. [Laughs] That’s great.
Pam : It’s really cool.
I found this exchange notable for several reasons, the most prominent one being that Jim appears to have settled into non-crush mode. For the first time, I saw him looking out for her not as a love interest but as a friend, and he seemed completely sincere in doing so. Now, he’s always had her best interests at heart when he’s acted, but to see him do it when he knows that he can’t have her is a different matter entirely.
Jim : So you’re not doing it?
Pam : How did you know?
Jim : Why not?
Pam : Just, like, no big reason. Just a bunch of little reasons.
Jim : Come on.
Pam : Roy’s right. There’s no guarantee it’s gonna lead to anything anyway.
Jim : Roy said that?
Pam : What? You have something you wanna say?
Jim : You gotta take a chance on something sometime, Pam. I mean, do you wanna be a receptionist here, always?
Pam : Oh, excuse me! I’m fine with my choices.
Jim : You are?
Pam : Yeah.
Confrontation is not something we’re used to seeing between these two, and so when things escalate in the breakroom, we know that we’re heading into uncharted territory. Although I agree with viewers who insist that Pam has a long way to go before she’s ready to take a chance with her life, I also don’t believe that she’s ever had a better reason for questioning the sense of her engagement to Roy.
Regarding the JPI, I’ve decided that this show is hopeful by nature. True, the office literally saps the life out of anyone unfortunate enough to be employed there, and Michael and Dwight go to extraordinary lengths to maintain the soul-crushing atmosphere of it all, but Jim and Pam almost always emerge at the end of the day in relatively high spirits. The only time we’ll ever see a Down here is if one of them makes a mistake. Before, these two were so hesitant to challenge one other that it hardly ever happened, but now, I feel like there’s enough out in the open for them to start shaking things up. I predict a bumpy ride over the next few weeks leading up to June.
That being the case, I also believe that some progress was made with tonight’s episode. Even without speculating too far into the future, I think that Jim made the right call by putting some heat on Pam. Although their relationship may have suffered momentarily for it, I consider it inconsequential in comparison to an upside that is evident even by the end of the episode. One need only examine the final shot of Pam looking at Jim to know what I’m referring to. There is something in her eyes, and it’s not anger, or indignation, or even merely respectful acknowledgment. Jim may have been speaking as a concerned friend, but those eyes indicate to me that she took it as something more.
Boys and Girls rates an Up on the JP Index.
Michael and Darryl play off of each other so well. This is brilliant casting.
Michael : This is Darryl, one of our warehouse staff. Darryl, what is your biggest fear?
Darryl : My biggest fear is that someone will distract us from getting all the shipments out on time.
First of all, who leads off with “what is your biggest fear” as an opener? Still, Darryl takes it in stride and fires back a grimly serious response.
Pam, who does her best to hide everything in front of the camera, but chooses to let it all go tonight and, in the process, cuts right to the heart in all of us.
Pam : Today’s a Women in the Workplace thing. Jan’s coming in from corporate to talk to all the women about, um… I don’t really know what, but Michael’s not allowed in. She said that about five times.
Michael and a room of women: sounds like a recipe for tears, and not from the women.
Michael : Everyone, guys. Circle up, please. Come on over. Bring your chairs. Toby, come on over. You’re a guy… too. Sort of.
Toby will have his revenge one day, just you wait.
Jan : I don’t know what you’re doing here, Michael, but–
Michael : Just having a little guys in the workplace thing. Why can’t boys play with dolls? Why does society force us to use urinals when sitting down is far more comfortable?
It’s perfectly acceptable for boys to play with dolls as long as those dolls are equipped with guns and knives and have names like Duke and Sergeant Slaughter.
Michael : These guys are down there. They are real men doing real man’s work. We are going to learn how a warehouse works. Oh, I think this is gonna work out great because managing the warehouse is a very important part of my job, and I haven’t been there in months.
Not that important, apparently.
Dwight : Remember on Lost, when they met the Others?
Dwight may be a weird dude, but I can’t knock his taste in television.
Michael : There’s Roy, ridin’ the big rig! Um, so Roy is actually going to be marrying Pam sometime this summer. And, uh, she’s our receptionist. Sort of a Brangelina thing.
Roy : Why?
Michael : Brangelina is the Brad Pitt and Angelina.
Roy : I don’t understand.
Michael : Roy… Roy and Pam. It’s a Ram. It’s a Ram thing.
Least appealing celebrity couple nickname ever.
Kevin : I bet Roy heard about you liking Pam. I bet he’ll try to beat you up.
Jim : Thanks for the heads up, Kev.
Kevin : I got your back if he does. [Pauses] But try to stay out of it.
That’s a heavyweight matchup if I ever saw one.
Michael : Now, you may look around and see two groups here. White-collar, blue-collar, but I don’t see it that way, and you know why not? Because I am collar-blind.
It must be awesome writing for Michael because no matter how bad it is, it’s bound to come out as gold.
Meredith : Hi, I’m Meredith, and I’m an al–good at supplier relations.
Old habits die hard.
Jan : Phyllis?
Phyllis : Um, I’m good at computer stuff. E-mails, um, spreadsheets, all that.
Angela : Really?
Phyllis : I don’t know. I thought that…
Jan : No, okay, stop.
Angela : You know, I’ve seen some of your spreadsheets, and I almost always–
Phyllis : Really? I thought they were pretty–
Phyllis is a time bomb waiting to go off. Not even the holy hand of God will be enough to protect Angela from her wrath.
Jan : Well, I’ll be honest. One of the goals of these women’s seminars is to feel out if there’s any standouts. Women who could be a valuable addition to our corporate life. [Pauses]
And that was the first and last Women in the Workplace seminar held at the Scranton branch.
Michael : Let’s start with the warehouse. What bothers you as guys? You know?
Darryl : My priority is safety.
Michael : Ok.
Darryl : So it really bothers me when somebody comes in here speeding around on a lift, playing with it like a toy. It kind of gets under my skin, ok?
Michael : Yeah, yeah, yeah. Shh, shh.
I’m surprised we made it through this episode without any fatalities or lost limbs. Michael with a forklift should be treated as a sign of the apocalypse.
Roy : Pam shushes me. It drives me crazy.
Michael : I hate shushing, you know? That’s the thing. What b–ok, what is our… beef as… human men.
Lonny : You know, that’s a good question, Hasselhoff.
Human men, as opposed to what other type of men?
Angela : I’m not gaining anything from this seminar. I’m a professional woman. The head of accounting. I’m in the healthiest relationship of my life. I just think it’s insulting that Jan thinks we need this. And apparently, judging from her outfit, Jan aspires to be a whore.
Everyone’s a whore to Angela.
Roy : I hate it when girls insist on taking them out to new restaurants every weekend night, and then they’re like, “When are we gonna go on a date date?”
Darryl : Oh, I hate that, too, man.
Michael : Exactly!
Kevin : That sucks so hard.
Michael : It totally sucks!
Dwight : And then they make you drive ‘em to church the next morning. Like, gas ain’t free!
Now there’s something that probably should have been kept inside.
Dwight : Word.
I have nothing to add here.
Michael : Part of my job is knowing how to talk to women.
[Cut to conference room scene]
Michael : Let’s… be… rational… here. What are the pros, what are the cons?
Jan : The cons are that everyone will lose their job, Michael. Everyone. Office, warehouse. What do you think the… pros… are… here?
Michael : Don’t talk to me that way, please.
Talking to women like they don’t understand English is less effective than it sounds.
Ryan : You know what? We could get this done a lot quicker if we formed a type of assembly line.
Stanley : This here is a run-out-the-clock situation. Just like upstairs.
Business school doesn’t teach you everything.
Jan : Sports metaphors are one of the ways women feel left out of the language of the office. Now, I know this might sound silly, but many women ask to go over it. So, fumble means…
Phyllis : Mistake.
Meredith : Slip.
Jan : Right. Par for the course is a golf term. It means right on track. Uh, below par means worse. Wait, that should mean better. That doesn’t make sense.
Kelly : What about second base? Like, if Michael said he got to second base with you? Does that mean you, like, closed a deal?
Jan : Excuse me?
Kelly : I mean, that’s a baseball term, right?
Jan : I don’t know what… Michael was… talking about, I don’t know.
Kelly : [Turns to the camera and winks]
Such a troublemaker, that Kelly. Thumbs up for delivering that perfect wink.
Michael : Pizza. Great equalizer. Rich people love pizza. Poor people love pizza. White people love pizza. Black people love pizza. [Pauses] Do black people like pizza?
There’s no hope. None at all.
Michael : Thank you to our hosts.
Darryl : Hey, Michael! This ain’t over.
Cue ominous music.