It’s back to school for Michael when he accepts an invitation to speak to Ryan’s class, and what was meant to be an honor soon turns into an attack on all that Michael holds sacred: paper and Dunder Mifflin. In his absence, a wayward bat has run of the office and Dwight has reason to suspect Jim of undertaking a very spooky supernatural journey. Pam’s first art show puts her through a little transformation of her own.
Michael enters the spotlight and weddings are disrupted, shipmates are driven overboard into the icy waters of Lake Wallenpaupack, and audiences of conventions and classrooms alike are held in rapt dismay.
Michael : May I borrow someone’s textbook, please? Thank you. What have we here? Ooh, economics. Very, very interesting. [He begins to rip out pages] You cannot learn from books. Replace these pages with life lessons, and then you will have a book that is worth its weight in gold. I know these are expensive… um, but the lesson is priceless.
Yet, once again, he shows a remarkable talent for redemptive insight.
Michael: A good manager doesn’t fire people, he hires people and inspires people. People, Ryan. And people will never go out of business.
He’s thought himself to be something of a father-figure to the office in the past, and oddly enough, he may not be entirely wrong. One of the eternally mismatched fathers, of course, tube socks with sandals, kids dying of embarrassment to claim him in public, but one that somehow comes through right when he’s needed the most.
Michael : What is the most inspiring thing I ever said to you?
Dwight : “Don’t be an idiot.” Changed my life.
[Cut to interview]
Dwight : Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, “Would an idiot do that?” And if they would, I do not do that thing.
A wise rule to live by, to be sure. What I want to know is how often Dwight actually relies on this in the course of a day, and, if it allows him to dash about the office brandishing broom spears to stave off nocturnal winged creatures, exactly what idiotic behavior is it preventing?
There are some schemes that take Jim hours of preparation and even more hours in execution, and some that are all a work of the moment, simply a presented opportunity grasped. And then there are those that can only be attributed to divine intervention.
[Dwight is turning a box into a glue-filled trap for the bat]
Dwight : [muttering] This is your job, Halpert.
Jim : Ow!
Karen : What happened?
Jim : That bread on your desk? I just picked it up, it’s white-hot.
Karen : But Jim, this garlic bread is cold.
Jim : What? No. It burned me. I… bizarre.
Dwight : [to himself] No. One crisis at a time.
[Cut to interview]
Dwight : If a vampire bat was in the U.S., it would make sense for it to come to a “sylvania.” Like Penn-sylvania. Now that doesn’t mean that Jim is going to become a vampire. Only that he carries the vampiric germ.
And once granted, it is rewarded with a commitment few other guys could give.
Jim : So, you’re cool to just wait here for Animal Control?
Dwight : Animal Control? I’ve been controlling animals since I was six.
Jim : Okay, cool. I’m going to go home and lie down. Draw the shades. There’s just so much sun in here. Bye, Dwight.
Dwight : Goodbye, Jim. And good luck.
Of all the vampiric activity of the day, I’d have to say that Jim lurking silently behind Dwight, who is nervously clutching his honed broom handle, is far and away my favorite.
If art is indeed a glimpse into the artist’s soul, nothing less than Pam herself is on display in her handful of selected sketches. And if her art, beautiful in its careful detail, is limited, it is because she herself is limited, grasping the timid safety of her immediate world, flowers and mugs and staplers, not unwilling but afraid to test its bounds.
Oscar : You’re the one that said we needed more culture.
Gil : This is culture to you?
Oscar : It’s her first try.
Gil : Yeah. On Van Gogh’s first try, he drew the hands of the peasants.
Oscar : Meaning what?
Gil : Meaning, real art takes courage, okay? And– and honesty.
Oscar : Well, those aren’t Pam’s strong points.
Gil : Yeah, exactly. That’s why this is motel art.
Criticism a bit too tough, perhaps, or at least, too brutally truthful to overhear from a stranger. Sting as it might, there’s a fluttering sense of realization, a restless stirring against the cocoon. In the end, apart from Jim, or Roy, or any other influence, I most want to see Pam happy with herself.
I’m still marveling at how an episode devoid of contact between Pam and Jim– not so much as a background glance, her back under the thumb of Roy– can possibly feel so heartening. For the first time since Jim’s return they are a non-issue, and it proves to be the breath of air needed; even, the first right step in their direction.
It’s tough to pin down for the Index, but after much thought I contend that even without action, other than Roy giving Pam reason to remember why she left him in the first place, it was heartening enough to avoid any further plunge. Rather, in a flatline of sorts, it’s Even for Business School.
It’s not every day someone has their head bagged with a bat by a masked broom-wielding co-worker, so “Mary-Beth,” this one’s for you.
I’m going to have to go with dual honors here, to Michael and Pam, who were each outstanding on their own, but together created one of the most amazing scenes this show has ever set to film.
Michael : I am really proud of you.
[Pam tears up, steps in to hug him]
Pam : Thank you.
Words alone cannot hope to convey how powerful this moment was, and I’m far from ashamed to admit they had me reaching for the tissues.
Michael : Will they throw their hats, you think?
Ryan : What?
Michael : A lot of times, at a school, or naval academy, after a rousing speech, the crowd would throw its hats high into the air.
Ryan : You– you understand nobody’s graduating?
Michael : Yeah, I know, I know. I’m just saying that if they did throw their hats, I’ve got a great line for that. “May your hats fly as high as your dreams.”
Right about now is when the regret really sets in.
Michael : Campus. Brings back so many memories. That I would have made.
And the world is probably a better place for the lack of them.
Michael : What do you say we get our Fris on before class?
Where is Andy when you need him?
Angela : Poop is raining from the ceilings. Poop!
Angela bonneted in impermeable head gear and indignant over the atrocities is a sight to behold. And calls into question how prepared she is for any future as the matriarch of Schrute Farm.
Michael : There are four kinds of business. Tourism. Food service. Railroads. And sales. And hospitals/manufacturing. And air travel.
Dwight : I don’t have a lot of experience with vampires. But I have hunted werewolves. I shot one once, but by the time I got to it, it had turned back into my neighbor’s dog.
Dwight needs his own network special, “Into the Wild with Dwight K. Schrute: An Idiot’s Guide to the Natural Universe.”
Michael : Okay, I’m seeing some confused faces out there. Let me slow down a little bit. Break this down. Okay. The more stickers you sell, the more profit– fancy word for money– you have to buy PlayStations and Beanie Babies…
Michael might actually have some success if his audience was comprised entirely of eighth graders.
Michael : You need something to sell. Now this could be anything. It could be a thingamajig. Or a whosi-whatsi. Or… a “Whatchamacallit.” Now, you need to sell those in order to have a “PayDay.” And, if you sell enough of them, you will make a “100 Grand.” Satisfied?
Again, the eighth graders.
Dwight : Extraordinary events call for extraordinary actions. We form an allegiance…
Creed : Sure.
Dwight : …to use sudden violence.
Creed : Okay.
Dwight : Do you have the tools to turn a wooden mop handle into a stake?
Creed : [opens his desk drawer] What size?
Two of Creed’s desk drawers are accounted for, first the sprouted mung beans and now this. Maybe it’s best to leave the others unopened.
Michael : Ryan has never made a sale. And he started a fire trying to make a cheesy pita. And everybody thinks he’s a tease. Well you know what? He doesn’t know anything, and neither do you. So suck on that!
That cheesy pita is going to haunt Ryan for the rest of his life.
Dwight : Jim is on a path now. An eternal journey. And I wish him well. But I have a destiny in this realm. Specifically… [dons mask and brandishes broom handle] …in the kitchen.
It’s magic time.
Ryan : Look, I’m sorry. I was just trying to do my presentation. Of course I was wrong to suggest that Dunder Mifflin might ever go out of business. But you don’t have to fire me.
Michael : Fire you? No no no. You are moving to the annex.
Ryan : To the annex? Where Kelly is?
Ryan puts on a good, exasperated show, but for someone as eager to escape his dead-end job as he would have us believe, he sure doesn’t jump at any opportunity.
Kelly : Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…
Ryan : It’s only temporary, okay? Don’t get excited.
Kelly : I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t…
It was this, or be fired. It was this, or be fired. It was this, or be fired.