Summer was kind to some and cruel to others. Pam’s decision to call off the wedding leads Roy to personal ruin while Phyllis inches closer to becoming Mrs. Vance Refrigeration. Determined to make a new life for himself, Jim forges ahead and finds a new sap to terrorize. Meanwhile, Toby experiences an uncharacteristic lapse in judgment and entrusts Michael with a bombshell. Innocent lives are almost lost. Thanks a lot, Toby.
Every now and then, Michael backs himself into a conversational dead-end through sheer power of will. Observe.
Jan : You know, it’s amazing to me that in this day and age you could be so… obtuse about sexual orientation!
Michael : I watch the L word, ok?
Jan : Good! Good.
Michael : I watch Queer as F*ck, so…
Jan : That’s not what it’s called.
Toby : Ok, Michael, are you aware that you outed Oscar today?
Michael : What? What does that even… ?
Jan : Coming out is a significant moment for a gay person, and they should be able to select the timing and manner of announcing it.
Michael : Well, gay pride, right? Gay pride parade? It’s not like gay… shame festival.
Hmm. Ok. There are a few missteps in there, but for the most part I see what Michael’s getting at. Let’s continue.
Toby : Alright, now Oscar’s feeling discriminated against by his co-workers, primary Angela, and, um, that’s your fault.
Michael : I think Angela might be gay.
Oh. Uh-oh. Oh no. Take cover, everyone; we’re about to lose him.
Michael : Could Oscar and Angela be having a gay affair?
Jan : No–
Michael : Maybe! Is that what this is about?
Jan : No.
Michael : I don’t kn–
Jan : No, that’s not possible.
Michael : Anything’s possible.
Run that by me again. Oscar (a man) and Angela (a woman) are having a gay affair? Got it. Yeah, that makes… absolutely no sense at all.
If you can’t beat ‘em, confuse the hell out of ‘em. It works everytime, but only if you’re too dense to realize you’re doing it.
Dwight’s brief stint as a volunteer sheriff’s deputy taught him to gather information from all possible sources in matters of investigation, even if that means turning to your arch-nemesis for guidance.
[Michael and Dwight are peeking through the blinds in Michael’s office, attempting to identify who else might be gay]
Michael : Do some research. Find out if there’s a way to tell by just looking at them.
Dwight : Jim told me you could buy gaydar online.
Michael : That’s ridiculous.
Dwight : Yeah, probably. He didn’t tell the truth a whole lot.
[The two stand in silence for a moment]
Michael : Let’s call him and get the website.
Dwight : Definitely.
The gaydar saga continues, one hundred and fifty miles away.
[Michael is asking Jim about gaydar over the phone]
Jim : What’s gaydar? Oh, oh, gaydar! Yes! No, uh, I think they have it over at Sharper Image. Oh, you know what? I can check for you. No problem.
[Jim bangs on his keyboard several times]
Jim : It’s sold out. Yeah, sorry about that. That’s a bummer.
[Cut to Michael and Dwight in Scranton]
Michael : They’re sold out.
Dwight : Damn. I’ll try Brookstone.
[Cut back to Stamford. Jim has a huge smile on his face]
Jim : I miss that.
Dwight couldn’t spot a malfeasance if it walked up and punched him in the face. You’d think he’d be safe across state lines… but no.
Jim takes his show on the road with varying degrees of success. Enter Andy, Jim’s new office neighbor and his next project.
[Jim is enjoying the view from his desk. Andy swivels around and strikes up a conversation]
Andy : Hey, Big Tuna. You’re single, right?
Jim : Mm-hmm. Yeah, I am.
[Andy motions towards an attractive blonde in the breakroom]
Andy : Pretty hot, huh?
[Jim squints and nods his head as if he is humoring Andy]
Andy : She’s completely crazy. Steer clear, Big Tuna. Head for open waters.
Jim : Ok.
Andy : Ok.
The potential is undeniable. Proper motivation in hand, Jim decides to kick things off with the tried and true.
[Andy reaches into his desk for this calculator. He finds it encased in Jell-O]
Andy : Ok, who put my calculator in Jell-O?
[Andy scans the office for the culprit. Jim can barely contain his smile]
Andy : Good one. But, uh, seriously… guys, who did this?
[Andy stands up, noticeably exasperated]
Andy : Seriously, guys. Who did this? I need to know who put my calculator in Jell-O, or I’m gonna lose my freakin’ mind!
[Andy delivers a swift kick to the nearby wastepaper basket. The glee evaporates from Jim’s face instantly]
Alright, so Dwight Redux isn’t quite as lovable as the original. I’m excited to see how this new dynamic plays out. Whereas Dwight’s complaints fell on deaf ears, Andy seems more open to direct confrontation, crazy temper trantrum style.
The new season sees a now ring-less Pam taking a few more risks.
[Pam is working at her desk. Roy walks in with a couple plates of leftovers]
Roy : Chicken or fish?
Pam : Uh… chicken.
[Roy hands her the chicken plate. He attempts to force some conversation]
Roy : So, you, uh, having a good day?
Pam : Excellent, thanks.
Roy : Good, I’m glad. Ok.
[Roy leaves. The camera zooms in on Pam’s ring finger devoid of a ring. Pam notices and sighs. Cut to interview]
Pam : Yeah, I didn’t go through with the wedding. I got cold feet a few days before, and I can’t really explain it. I just had to get out of that relationship. We still had to pay for all the food, so we froze it. But I’m… I’m doing well. I have my own apartment, and I’m taking art classes… and I have lunch for the next five weeks.
Good for her. Like just about everyone else, I was happy to see her sans a wedding ring. Almost as worthy of celebration, however (or perhaps even more so), was the sight of her finally taking matters into her own hands. More on this later.
The Oscar fiasco aside, the big story of the night is that Jim and Pam don’t get together after Casino Night. We’re treated at the beginning of the episode to a continuation of what happened post cliff-hanger.
[Pam is at her desk. She looks up to where Jim used to sit, now occupied by Ryan. Cut to a flashback of Casino Night as the two of them are kissing. They pull away]
Jim : You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.
Pam : Me, too. I think we’re just drunk.
Jim : No, I’m not drunk. Are you drunk?
Pam : No.
[Jim moves in for round two. Pam stops him]
Pam : Jim…
Jim : You’re really going to marry him?
Jim : Ok.
A few months later, we see Jim and Pam back to their old ways, dodging the issue and continuing as if what had transpired that night had nothing to do with their change in scenery and change in status, respectively. It does make sense though when you think about it. After all, neither of them knows that the camera caught them in the act. Sure, steps were taken that night; the plot was advanced, so to speak, but not without making a few concessions. Jim follows through on his transfer to Stamford, and Pam stays behind but not without instigating some change of her own: gone is Roy the unappreciative, soon-to-be husband, replaced by a repentant ex-fiancee.
The geographic divide that now separates the two limited our Jim/Pam observations to a few select moments, a mixture of fond rememberance and regret which I found to be a very effective way of communicating the hopefulness of the situation while maintaining the bittersweet victory of last season’s finale. For instance, take the beginning of the conference room scene as yet another of Michael’s attempts to improve office morale fails miserably.
Michael : Did you know that gay used to be mean “happy”? When I was growing up, it meant “lame.” And now, it means “a man who makes love to other men.” We’re all homos. Homo sapiens.
[Pam instinctively turns to her side in amusement and encounters Ryan. Ryan is unreceptive]
Ryan : What?
[Pam looks to the camera]
Ryan is a poor substitute for Jim. Pam’s reaction shows a hint of embarrassment, but mostly she just misses her friend. Nowhere is her loneliness more apparent than near the end of the episode when Dwight receives his improvised gaydar. He reads the enclosed note aloud, announcing Jim’s name in the process; notice how quickly Pam lights up at the mention of his name. The comedy that follows is at Dwight’s expense as usual, a reminder of how things used to be. She concedes a smile at the end, although it is tarnished by her realization that this may be the closest she ever gets to experiencing those days again. Course, we all know that this won’t be the case, but she doesn’t.
The situation is a little bit less dreary with Jim. Things may not have worked out for the best, but he at least knows that he took his shot, and that’s something he can live with. With the proverbial bullseye now on Andy, things feel kinda, sorta back to normal, although the scene with the empty chair during the diversity training seminar indicates that he hasn’t left Scranton behind quite yet.
I’m not necessarily a subscriber to the philosophy that time apart does people any good in these situations, but I do believe that we can have it both ways. That is, the two of them can develop independently of one another without sacrificing the crowd-pleasing aspect of their relationship. Certainly, there are sides to both characters that deserve exploration; Pam’s aspirations as an artist and Jim’s struggle against routine are two such dimensions that I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of. Even if the final outcome isn’t the ending that we’re all seeking, I’ll be fine with it as long as the evolution to that point makes sense.
Until then, we’re stuck in this morass of Scranford, and what a delightful morass it is. I wasn’t quite sure what I was hoping to get out of the new season prior to this episode, but I’ve got a much better idea now, and this is pretty close. I thrive on the angst.
Gay Witch Hunt rates an Even on the JP Index.
Creed, who cracks me to pieces with great regularity. Can the man be stopped?
Creed : I’m not offended by homosexuality. In the 60s, I made love to many, many women, often outdoors… in the mud and the rain. And it’s possible a man slipped in. There’d be no way of knowing.
Seriously, the guy may need his own section.
The obvious choice wins out here: Michael, for his continued efforts to rid the world of social progress.
Ryan : Yeah, I’m not a temp anymore. I got Jim’s, uh, old job, which means at my ten-year high school reunion it will not say “Ryan Howard is a temp.” It will say “Ryan Howard is a junior sales associate at a midrange paper supply firm.” That’ll show ‘em.
Or better yet, “Ryan Howard is a junior sales associate who almost burned down a midrange paper supply firm.” That will show them.
[Dwight is sobbing uncontrollably]
Dwight : Jim is gone. He’s gone. I miss him so much. I cry myself to sleep. Jim!
[The crying come to an abrupt stop]
Dwight : False, I do not miss him.
Is Dwight even capable of real crying? I think not.
Michael : I would have never called him that if I knew. You don’t–you don’t call retarded people retards. It’s bad taste. You call your friends retards when thay’re acting retarded, and I consider Oscar a friend.
Friends, enemies, they’re all the same to Michael. No one is safe.
Michael : Listen, man, I’m so sorry. I had no idea.
Oscar : Oh. It’s fine. It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok.
Michael : No it’s not. Listen, I feel terrible about it. I have been calling people “faggy” since I was in junior high and I’ve never made this mistake. If I don’t know how to behave, it is because I am just so far the opposite way. You know? I’m just–I–I can’t even imagine… the… thing. Maybe we could go out for a beer sometime, and you could tell me… how you do that to another dude.
Oscar : That sounds like a great, wonderful idea. Let’s do that.
Leave it to Michael to pick the absolute worst location to make his apology: smack dab in the middle of the main area. At least he didn’t call a conference to make a public spectacle of it. Oh, wait.
[Michael and Dwight are peeking through the blinds in Michael’s office]
Michael : There could be others. I need to know. I don’t want to offend anybody else.
Dwight : You could assume everyone is and not say anything offensive.
Michael : Yeah, I’m sure everyone would appreciate me treating them like they were gay.
No less than gay people would enjoy you treating them like they were gay, Michael.
[Michael and Dwight continue to spy on the employees in the office]
Michael : Hey, what about Angela? She’s hard and severe. She could be a gay woman.
Dwight : I really don’t think so.
Michael : I don’t know. I could imagine her with another woman. Can’t you?
[Dwight smiles ever so slightly]
He sure can.
Michael : The company has made it my responsibility today to put an end to one hundred thousand years of being weirded out by gays.
I think they’d be satisfied just to have you go through a single day without incident.
[Michael is having a conversation with Oscar in his office. Pam interrupts]
Pam : Michael, Dwight’s looking a gay pornography on his computer.
Dwight : Uh, Michael knows, Pam. Ok? He asked me do this just for him. He has his own reasons.
[Michael walks up behind Dwight’s desk to get a better look and is shocked. He takes a second to compose himself]
Michael : Nothing wrong with this stuff. At all. This is fine. You know what? Gay porn, straight porn, it’s all good. I don’t particularly get into this, but, uh, you know what? I totally see the merit, and actually… it is quite beautiful.
Again, not the type of thing you want to be doing out in the open. Avert your eyes.
[Everyone is seated in the conference room. Dwight raises his hand]
Michael : Yeah, Dwight.
Dwight : I think all the other office gays should identify themselves or I will do it for them.
Oscar : No one else in this office is gay.
Dwight : What about Phyllis? She makes absolutely no attempt to be feminine.
Phyllis : I’m getting married to Bob Vance.
What, you mean aside from knitting oven mitts and channeling Mother Goose all day?
Michael : Phyllis, in college did you ever experiment with other women? A lot of women do.
Phyllis : No, and you knew me in high school. Course, we all thought you were gay in high school.
Michael : Yeah, right…
[Michael laughs at the thought. Oscar is not amused]
Michael : … and I take that as a compliment.
Phyllis : Well, with your ties and your matching socks–
Michael : Well I just liked to look good, ok, so–
Oscar : You sound pretty defensive, Michael.
Michael : No, I am just coming out myself. I am coming out hetero.
Michael Scott: leading the charge for the much less heralded heterosexual movement.
[Michael and Oscar are embracing in the conference room. Oscar is clearly uncomfortable]
Michael : You know what, I’m going to raise the stakes.
Oscar : You don’t–you don’t–
Michael : I want you watch this, and I want you to burn this into your brains…
Oscar : I don’t think we need to do this–
Michael : … because this is an image that I want you people to remember for a long time to come. Whenever you come into the office, I want you to think about this.
Oscar : We don’t need to.
Michael : Yes, we do.
[Michael’s lips touch Oscar’s. Oscar is revolted]
Note that Stanley is completely unfazed by this monumentally tasteless gesture. I’m not really sure what that means.
Michael : We are not in the playground any more. There are new rules. We have to be mature, but we can’t lose the spirit of childlike wonder.
Somehow I doubt these are the sorts of things children wonder about in their spare time.
Oscar : I was going to quit, but Jan offered me a three month paid vacation and a company car. All I had to was sign something saying that I won’t sue. Gil and I are going to Europe.
[Oscar looks directly into the camera]
Oscar : Kids, sometimes it pays to be gay.
I guess this means we won’t be seeing Oscar for a while. Well, Angela did say that the work could be done by two.