The student outshines the teacher when Michael accompanies Dwight to the annual North Eastern Sales Convention, where the immortal words of Benito Mussolini resurface at the most unexpected of times. Back at the office, the accounting staff wrestles for dominance over the thermostat as Jim bites the bullet and makes plans to fly himself across the globe mere days before Pam’s upcoming wedding.
I’m still waiting for Dwight to figure out that Michael needs him more than he needs Michael. He’ll eventually make the leap, and once he does, I suspect we’ll see a power struggle of cataclysmic proportions.
Dwight : I can’t do this.
Michael : That’s because you’re incapable of doing it. Because you don’t know how. Because you have no skills. Dwight, there’s no way I can possibly teach you what you need to know about public speaking by speech time.
Dwight : Ok.
Every brown-noser has a limit, even Dwight. Michael better be careful, or he’s going to get another swift punch to the gut.
I don’t know what it is exactly, but Dwight and spelling bees seem so right for each other. I’m not suprised that he remembers the full name of his sixth grade nemesis.
Dwight : When I was in the sixth grade, I was a finalist in our school spelling bee. It was me against Raj Patel. And I misspelled, in front of the entire school, the word “failure”.
I really enjoyed seeing Dwight out of his element. Dwight always believes that he’s in control of everything; half of the time… ok, almost all of the time, it’s an imaginary authority that no one respects, but that doesn’t stop him from believing that it’s true. The scale of the convention overwhelms him, though, and we finally catch a glimpse of Dwight the Vulnerable. It’s only a matter of time before the superiority complex kicks in, however, and Dwight the Militant makes his triumphant return to a surprisingly receptive audience.
Dwight wasn’t the only one who was exposed during this episode; Dwight’s Speech also revealed a great deal about Jim’s character.
Jim : Dwight was the top salesman of the year at our company. He wins a little prize money and gets honored at some convention. It is literally the highest possible honor that a Northeastern Pennsylvania based mid-size paper company regional salesman can attain, so…
I wonder how many takes it took to rattle that one off successfully.
Ryan : You really think you’re gonna go?
Jim : Yeah, I’m definitely going.
Ryan : Nice. Send me a postcard.
[Cut to interview]
Ryan : Jim has worked at the same place for five years. Jim eats the same ham and cheese sandwich every day for lunch. I don’t know, if I were a betting man, I’d say he will have a fun weekend in Philadelphia.
This is the first episode I’ve seen of the US Office in which the deadlock that plagued Tim from the original series was duplicated in Jim’s character. I’ve always viewed Jim and Tim as two very different personalities struck with the same problem. There’s a confidence I see in Jim that I didn’t see in Tim. I’ve always assumed that Jim was capable of making it on his own far away from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I saw his mundane routine as a concession that he was willing to make to be around Pam, but maybe I’m completely wrong. Maybe he needs this job more than I thought.
Ryan raises a good point. Despite the confident and easygoing image he puts out, there is clearly something keeping him here, and I’m starting to think that there are reasons for him staying that don’t sit at reception. I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops throughout the remainder of this season and the next.
No episode is complete without Pam correcting Michael on some detail.
Michael : Alright, we’re all gonna go around the room and we’re going to make toasts, and that way we will overcome our fear of public speaking.
Pam : You mean toastmasters?
Michael : Pam, I’m public speaking. Stop public interrupting me. Actually, this would be good practice for your wedding toast.
Pam : Yeah, the bride doesn’t really do… have… you ever been to a wedding?
Michael at a wedding. Sounds…. dangerous.
By surrounding Jim and Pam with the prospect of the upcoming wedding, the creators have effectively put an end to their scheming. It’s an unfortunate, but necessary result of allowing the situation to play out.
Pam : I have a ton of stuff to do for the wedding, and I have to do it in the office. And that can be kind of awkward. Um, just because people… can get all weird about wedding stuff, and… I just–I don’t want to offend… Angela. Or someone.
The wedding may be imminent, but at least Pam is making progress on acknowledging the effect that it’s having on Jim.
Kelly : June 10th is perfect. I want a June wedding. I’ve always wanted one. Ryan, do you know when you would want to get married?
Ryan : Actually, I don’t see ever getting married.
Kelly : Oh. [Leaves the conference room]
Pam : Ryan, you should be more sensitive. It’s obvious she likes you, and comments like that… they just–
Ryan : I know what I said.
Pam’s inaction on this front has been a hot topic as of late. Personally, I’m still on Pam’s side here, if only because I expect her to be the one to call off the wedding once she finds her reason, and I’m confident that she will. At this point, she’s just going through the motions as she’s done her entire life. She puts on a pleasant face at work, but I believe that part of her sees this wedding as an obligation and not as something that she can look forward to. Eventually, she’ll realize this for herself. I don’t think that Jim will play a direct part in orchestrating her revelation; I believe that she’ll come around on her own.
Pam : Australia? I have always wanted to go there.
Jim : I’m going. I’m a little nervous to run into Dwight on his connecting flight to Mordor, but other than that… um, yeah, I bought the ticket. Non-refundable.
Pam : That’s awesome. Where are you staying?
Jim : I don’t know. I feel like I have plenty of time to figure out the details, but…
Pam : When are you leaving?
Jim : I’m… leaving on June 8th.
Pam : Oh.
Jim : Yeah, and I’m really sorry about that, I just…
Pam : Oh, yeah, that’s too bad.
Jim : Yeah. Do you want me to take these on my way out?
Pam : It’s ok, I got it.
Jim : Alright.
Although it’s possible (and probably true) that this exchange elevated Pam’s doubts about the wedding even further, I think that I’ve reached my personal allowance of wishful thinking. With four episodes left before the season finale and, presumably, the wedding, it’s going to take more than a hint of uncertainty to sustain the index. I’m rooting for Pam all the way, but for now, Dwight’s Speech rates a Down on the JP Index.
This one was easy. Angela, without question.
Angela : The very best of luck to you, Dwight!
Dwight : Thank you, Angela.
Angela had this one in the bag the second she delievered that line.
I’m going with the obvious pick here and selecting Dwight for top honors. Live it up, Dunder-Mifflin Salesman of the Year.
Michael : If we ask corporate for that, then…
Dwight : They are either gonna say… yes or no.
Michael : Could go either way. We don’t know what they are going to say.
Dwight : Think it through!
Michael : We have to think it through, because if they say no…
This is like saying you’re always right except when you’re not.
Michael : You all right, Ryan?
Ryan : Yeah.
Michael : Pam!
I guarantee you that ball made contact with everything around reception but Pam.
Michael : So, you ready for the big speech this afternoon?
Dwight : Well, it’s not really a big speech. You’re still coming, right?
Michael : Oh, absofruitly. Fruit, grapes. Nailed the joke. Matter of time.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse.
Michael : Um, and yes, it is a big speech. Biggest of your life.
Dwight : [Looks mortified]
[Cut to interview]
Michael : Speaker at the sales convention. Been there, done that. Went there again, did it again. Two years in a row. Consecutive.
In a row and consecutive. Amazing.
Michael : Just try not to be such an idiot.
Dwight : Is that an insult or is that part of the public speaking advice?
Michael : Insult.
Someone needs to remind Michael that Dwight is a purple belt.
Oscar : I get here early every morning so I can set the thermostat. I like it a little cooler, around 66 degrees. I’m more productive. Maybe some people don’t like it as cold as I do. But I don’t care.
Witness the cutthroat nature of thermostat politics.
Dwight : May I have your attention please? There has been an accident on 84 West. Cars have skidded off the road into the safety railing. Several cars have flipped. There is broken glass everywhere. Several people are injured.
Pam : Do we know anyone who was in the accident?
Dwight : Brad Pitt. Also, there will be no bonuses.
Stanley : Why would this affect our bonuses?
Dwight : They’re unrelated.
Kelly : Is Brad ok?
Dwight : He will never act again. Also, this branch is closing.
Oscar : What the hell is going on here?
Angela : Are we out of jobs?
Dwight : Yes.
Kelly : This is karma because of what he did to Jennifer Aniston.
I like how Kelly is completely oblivious to the tragedy of the situation.
Stanley : … cancel the wallpaper.
Great job sneaking that line in just outside of the camera.
Kevin : You should go to Hedonism.
Jim : What is that?
Kevin : It’s like Club Med, but everything is naked.
Jim : I was thinking more like Europe, or something like that. But… good… second choice.
All of these remarks are painting a slightly disturbing picture of Kevin.
Toby : To Amsterdam.
Jim : When did you go there?
Toby : Um, after my divorce.
Jim : Really? For like how long?
Toby : About a week or, uh… maybe a month.
Time really flies when you’re… never mind.
Dwight : Ok, uh, you know what? This isn’t working, because, um, I’m not nervous in front of them. They’re my subordinates.
Jim : No, we’re not.
Dwight : Uh, yes, you are. I am assistant regional manager.
Jim : Which means absolutely nothing.
Dwight : Michael, can you explain?
Michael : Well, it’s mostly made up, so…
Man, not a good day for Dwight.
Jim : Dwight, if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Dwight : I can travel anywhere, except Cuba. And I will travel to New Zealand. And walk the Lord of the Rings trail to Mordor. And then I will hike Mt. Doom.
Slap on those ears from Christmas Party, and he’s the spitting image of Legolas.
Angela : [Sniffles] I’m just feeling under the weather. And… I think that I will go home and rest.
Kevin : I’ve never ever seen you take a sick day.
Angela : Well, I’ve seen you take enough for the both of us.
There are terrible liars, and then there is Angela (see E-mail Surveillance).
Michael : I wanted to say a few words about excellence. What makes… a work environment excellent? Well, there are many things, I believe, that do such a thing of that… nature.
It amazes me that lines like this are scripted.
Kevin : I always set it at 69.
You see, this is what I mean.
Michael : Dwight gave a great speech. That’s the word on the street, anyway. And I entertained Dwight to no end with my bar story, so I captivated the guy who captivated a thousand guys. Can you believe that? A thousand guys.
And with that, mathematicians all over the world were appalled by the blatant misapplication of the transitive property. I am such a dork.