See what everyone is like outside of the office. An e-mail surveillance campaign leads to some unwelcome discoveries for Michael, including his absence from the guest list to Jim’s barbecue. All signs point to a budding office romance between Dwight and Angela. Pam enlists the camera crew in her for pursuit of the truth, but drops the investigation when her own implication is brought to light, and a fiery doom is narrowly averted when Kevin steps between Ryan and the grill.

The Michael Scott School of Hard Knocks

Any time Michael pulls something out of his dictionary of imaginary words, you can bet that it will be featured here.

Michael : There’s always a distance between the boss and the employees. It is just nature’s rule. It’s intimidation, mostly. It’s the awareness that they’re not me. I do think that I am approachable as one of the guys, but maybe I need to be even approachabler.

The scenes that accompany the quote are equally hilarious. Basically, we see Michael terrorizing the office with a hand puppet shaped like a boxing siamese cat. If this sounds weird, it’s because it is.

Dwight Being Dwight

Everyone says they know someone like Dwight, but sometimes I wonder if that’s really true. I know my share of odd people, but none of them is remotely as strange as Dwight.

Dwight : I think one of the greatest things about modern America is the computerization of medical records. As a volunteer sheriff, I can look up anyone’s psychiatric records or surgical histories. Yeast infections… there are a huge number of yeast infections in this county. Probably… because we’re downriver… from that old bread factory.

Imagine, for a moment, that someone like Dwight had access to your medical records. Not a pleasant thought.

The Many Faces of Jim

It’s always interesting to see how your perception of someone changes when you remove them from the setting that you’re most familiar with, especially when that setting happens to be a soul-crushing paper office.

Pam : You have to sit down so I can get the full effect.
Jim : Ok, sure. Will do.
Pam : Ok, wait. So that would make me, like, right here.
Jim : Yeah, that… yup, that feels about right.
Pam : And then Dwight would be like…
Jim : Um, you know what? Let’s just leave that image out of it because this is a happy place. Happy thoughts, Pam. Happy thoughts.

A cursory glance at Jim’s desk reveals a card from his parents for the sensitive guy in him, a Dunder-Mifflin catalog for the industrious worker inside, and an Aluminum Powerbook for his stylish, yet functional side.

Confessions of a Receptionist

And here we see Pam’s morbid curiosities getting the better of her.

Pam : It’s like squishing a spider under a book: it’s going to be really gross, but I have to look and make sure that it’s really dead.

Pam’s one-on-one interviews are consistently great. She has fantastic comedic timing for a receptionist.

The Jim/Pam Index

Any episode featuring Jim and Pam outside of the office is sure to bring out their very best, and E-mail Surveillance certainly does not disappoint. Both of them show concealed joy when they learn that neither of their significant others will be present at the party.

Naturally, the highlight of the episode is the scene in Jim’s bedroom. They start off with some small talk before Pam uncovers Jim’s old yearbook. Jim protests, but not really, and it’s not long before we’re treated to a shot of him back in his high school days. The camera freezes on them for a moment with Pam clearly engrossed in her find and Jim one step closer to realizing his dream.

Pam’s conversation with Phyllis jolts her back to reality and places a dampener on everything, but not one that can’t be overcome by some karaoke heroics and Jim furthering his case that she’s with the wrong person. We can tell by the expression on her face that she approves. E-mail Surveillance earns a decisive Up on the JP Index.

Supporting Nod

Angela is fantastic in this episode. We finally catch a glimpse of her wild and crazy side, so to speak.

Angela : I’m just leaving for the day.
Michael : Yeah, well duh. Where you headed?
Angela : Charity… bake drive.
Michael : Liar!
Angela : No!
Michael : You are a liar!
Angela : No, I’m not!

I knew it was hidden in there somewhere. Exasperated Angela is fun to watch. Hooking-up-with-Dwight Angela is… something else.

The Superstar

Pam, definitely. Watching her operate as she attempts to get to the bottom of the Dwight/Angela situation is just too much fun. Her mannerisms throughout the episode are perfect. Awesome. She is so great…

Transmissions from the Office

  • Dwight : You could get a brain aneurysm…
    Michael : I’m not going to get a brain aneurysm.
    Dwight : … or hit by a car …
    Michael : Stop it.
    Dwight : … or a bus, or a train. You could get poisoned, fall down a well, stop on a mine, choke.
    Michael : Ok, if I step on a mine in Scranton, Pennsylvania and die, you can have my job, ok?

    Dwight considered planting a land mine on Michael’s front porch just then.

  • Michael : There are certain things a boss does not share with his employees. His salary, that would depress them. His bed, it…

    Michael’s mouth works at twice the speed of his brain.

  • Kevin : I gotta erase a lot of stuff. A lot. Of stuff.

    When Kevin enunciates like this, you know something is awry.

  • Pam : Something just happened. Dwight just told Angela that she has to delete all of her sensitive e-mails immediately.
    Jim : What?
    Pam : I know.
    Jim : Hmm.
    Pam : Do you think that they’re, like…?
    Jim : No. Yeah.
    Pam : Right. No. Eww. Ugh. Eww, eww, eww, eww… maybe.

    Pam’s delivery of “I know” as she cringes at the thought of Dwight and Angela canoodling is just so good. I don’t know what it is about the way she says it, but whatever it is, it’s awesome. No, Awesome doesn’t do it justice — it’s beyond awesome. And then she delivers another perfect line with her trailing “…maybe.” I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a finer 20 seconds of television. It is that good.

  • Pam : Hey, Dwight. Um. My friend is kind of into these two girls that he works with.
    Dwight : Nice.
    Pam : One is tall and brunette, and the other one is short, blond, and perky, and kind of judgmental. Who do you think he should choose?
    Dwight : Does he have access to their medical records?
    Pam : Um…

    Keep an eye on Jim as Pam poses her scenario about the two girls to Dwight, and then check out her reaction when Dwight asks about the medical records. She just kind of stares into the camera, at a complete loss for words.

  • Camera : [Approaches Pam’s desk and waits expectantly]
    Pam : What?
    Camera : [Rapidly turns and zooms towards Dwight having a candy bar]
    Pam : Yes! Thank You!

    If this scene isn’t genius, I don’t know what is. Bringing the camera in on her side was clutch.

  • Michael : I would not miss it for the world, but if something else came up, I would definitely not go.

    Hints can’t be dropped much more strongly than this.

  • Kevin : My brother is in town, and we are going to see the Alaska Film Festival at the…
    Michael : Ok, alright.

    There he goes enunciating again. Alarms bells should be going off.

  • Mary-Beth : La, la, la, la, la, la.
    Michael : Boom! Detective Michael Scarn! I’m with the FBI!

    The thought of Michael holding a gun is only slightly less distressing than the thought of Dwight armed with one.

  • Michael : Oh, come on. That guy? He is a good guy, not a terrorist.

    Michael demonstrating again that his mind works at half speed.

Odds and Ends

  • Of all the places to launch a terrorist attack, a paper office in Scranton, Pennsylvania would have to rank somewhere in the bottom five, right next to the barren lands known as Montana and Wyoming.
  • Watch the scene with Angela and Pam by the vending machines — Pam reaches to insert her bill into the machine, but Angela interrupts her to pick up a second candy bar. Pam’s reaction where she raises her fingers is the one most people will notice, but I think the one that comes right before it where she just kind of looks to the camera and raises her eyebrows is even better. There is a subtlety to her expression that really nails the moment.
  • Note the Birkenstocks on Dwight’s feet as he’s being introduced to Jim’s roommate. The show brings them to our attention, and for good reason.
  • Hipsters will dig the music playing in the background during the barbecue: The Skin of My Country Yellow Teeth by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The rest of us can admire Angela’s matching turtleneck and slippers, mainly the slippers — we’ll be seeing those later.
  • Fifteen seconds of Whitesnake is all Phyllis needed to show us that she was meant for the limelight.
  • Like David Brent before him, Michael shows us that he has a surprisingly good singing voice.
  • And oh yeah, those shoes I mentioned earlier? There they are, getting very busy with one another.

The Story in Pictures

Gallery Image

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Hiya,

Just finished watching. Great ep, and they got out of the office. Unfortunately, I watched it at the gym, so it was on mute with the words typed in. I think they messed up typing. There was a part where someone asked Jim where Kate was, and he said "I'll tell you later", or something. It was never brought up again. Anyone know any details on that? I think I missed something.

Thx,
Dani

1Posted by Dani on November 22, 2005

Dani : Ryan asks Jim if Katy is coming to the party. Jim replies that he hasn't talked to her in a while, so Ryan asks if it's ok if he gives her a call. Jim's response is something along the lines of "we can talk about that later." As you said, the subject is not brought up again.

Great episode, particularly the scenes with Pam playing detective. And how about that camera action during the scene with Dwight and the candy bar? Awesome.

Plus, a bonus for the indie rockers out there: listen closely during the scene with Jim and Angela at the grill and you can hear The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah playing in the background.

2Posted by James on November 22, 2005

The camera interaction with Pam was freaking fantastic!! I loved that-- it was as if the audience was totally participating in the secret investigation. Jim's happy face when Pam was reading his yearbook was priceless, as was his getting up to sing with Michael. Do men who are that interminably sweet really exist? And I love the way they made sure to incorporate shots of Dwight and Angela's shoes into the show, so at the end you would totally follow what was going on-- I swear, the writers/directors/dp's on this show are AWESOME.

3Posted by Shanah on November 23, 2005

What a great ep. The Pam/Jim interaction was perfect. Definitely "up" on the index =)

Did anyone else feel bad for Michael? Especially when he was hinting around for an invite to the party. At first I was a little annoyed with Jim for not inviting him, but he made up for it by singing that godawful song with him at the end.

4Posted by lalinapopina on November 23, 2005

Shanah : Great catch on the shoes, I was going to mention that in the recap.

lalinapopina : It's always tough to get a reading on Michael, and that's what I like about his character. Despite his many flaws, you're never quite able to dismiss him as a total jackass.

But yeah, I really am a sucker for the Jim/Pam thread on the show, machismo be damned, and this episode advanced things nicely.

5Posted by James on November 23, 2005

Great recap! However you did miss one great moment, IMO.

I don't remember the exact quotes, but its when Pam is asking Dwight for advice on women (LOL!) for her "friend" and she says, "One of them is tall, brunette. The other is short, blonde...kind of judgemental." and Dwight says, without missing a beat, "Does he have access to their medical records?"

haha...I was dying laughing at that part.

6Posted by lalinapopina on November 24, 2005

Oops, you did mention it. Sorry about that =)

7Posted by lalinapopina on November 24, 2005

Another stellar episode...this show never ceases to amaze! I just wanted to give a big thanks for including the screenshot of Pam after Jim looks over at here while karaoking with Michael. That smile could bring even the best man to his knees. She's so unbelievably beautiful it's ridiculous. I've said too much! :)

8Posted by Steve on November 25, 2005

Love "The Office". Someone left a link to Northern Attack on my website. So glad to find this site!!! I wrote a little article about my love for Jim/John... just wanted to pass it along.

9Posted by Remote on November 26, 2005

I'm dying to know what the poster over Jim's bed was, it looked like an equation for life...anyone have any ideas? I've never seen it before but it looked great!

10Posted by Del on November 28, 2005

I noticed something in this episode and am wondering if anyone else picked up on it. In the opening credits, the sign in front of Pam's desk says "receptionist." When the camera runs over to Pam the sign in front of her says "reception." Was this a goof?

11Posted by Ari on December 2, 2005

James, I know exactly what you mean about Pam's delivery of "I know" — sometimes it is just a quirky intonation, or a subtle gesture, or a sideways glance at the camera, that delivers comic brilliance! Every episode of The Office is packed with these little moments, which makes it so much fun to view the same ep over and over again.

Speaking of funny looks, the improv instructor throws the camera a great death stare while Michael is busy shooting up the entire classroom.

It's also worth mentioning Bill's (aka Dr. Ken's) funny bit of backpedaling dialogue to Michael about his after-class plans:

Michael: So Bernie's, huh? We're all going to Bernie's?
Bill: Oh, uh, sorry we're not going as a group, it's just a private friend, who happens to know all of us from different ways, is throwing a private birthday thing... (notice how the rest of the class scurries down the hall like hunted prey as Michael approaches)

Even guest stars get funny things to say!

12Posted by Jennie on December 10, 2005

In the scene where Michael is trying to get Dwight to tell him his real plans for the evening (as Dwight is leaving the office), did anyone notice that Dwight's coat collar is up when he is standing to the right of Michael and down when on the left?

13Posted by Kathy on February 20, 2006