It’s a sad day in Scranton for more reasons than one. News of his former boss’ death prompts Michael to assume a role as a savior of wayward birds, a responsibility that proves to be horribly misplaced until Pam lends her delicate hand. Meanwhile, a new alliance is forged in Stamford, one born out of a mutual contempt for douchebaggery.
Leave it to Michael to add dread to an already dreadful situation.
Michael : There are five stages to grief, which are…
[Michael peeks at his monitor]
Michael : … denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And right now out there, they are all denying the fact that they’re sad and that’s hard and it’s making them all angry. And it is my job to try to get them all the way through to acceptance. And if not acceptance, then just depression. If I can get them depressed, then I will have done my job.
No need to fret, Michael; the job has been done. In fact, it was done a long time ago, well before Ed Truck’s untimely demise gave you the opportunity to subject your employees to yet another mortifying display of mismanagement.
[Michael has gathered everyone in the conference room]
Michael : I lost Ed Truck, and it feels like somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears and at the same time somebody else is hitting my soul in the crotch with a frozen sledgehammer. And then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone, and I am crying, and nobody can hear me because I am terribly, terribly… terribly alone.
There are certain things a boss does not share with his employees: his salary, his bed, and his awkwardly conceived pleas for their sympathy.
Dwight was on an absolute tear tonight. I don’t know if he’s ever been funnier.
Dwight : When I die, I want to be frozen. And if they have to freeze me in pieces, so be it. I will wake up stronger than ever because I will have used that time to figure out exactly why I died and what moves I could have used to defend myself better now that I know what hold he had me in.
I wouldn’t bet on it, Dwight. There’s only one person on network television who can wake up from death and he works for Fox.
[Michael has just proposed to Jan that they build a statue of Ed Truck]
Michael : We could have his eyes light up. We could have his arms move.
Dwight : That is not a statue. That is a robot.
Michael : I think that is a great way to honor Ed.
Dwight : And how big do you want this robot?
Michael : Life-size.
Dwight : Mmm, no. Better make it two-thirds. Easier to stop if it turns on us.
Jan : What the hell are you two talking about?
The peaceful coexistence between humans and robots, that’s what. The extension cord is a nice touch.
[Michael is holding a grief counseling session for his employees in the conference room]
Michael : Phyllis, you want to give it a shot?
[Michael tosses the ball to Phyllis. She reaches out to catch it, but Dwight intercepts]
Dwight : I got it. When my mother was pregnant with me, they did an ultrasound and found she was having twins, and when they did another ultrasound a few weeks later, they discovered that I had resorbed the other fetus. Do I regret this? No. I believe his tissue has made me stronger. I now have the strength of a grown man and a little baby.
More little baby than grown man. The fetal essence explains many things, not the least of which is the need for a grown man to physically compete against children.
Jim seems more and more at home with each passing week in Stamford.
[Karen walks into the break room and scans the vending machine]
Karen : Damn it.
[Jim walks by and notices her cursing at the machine]
Jim : What’s up?
Karen : Uh, nothing. They’re just out of Herr’s chips.
Jim : Oh.
Karen : But don’t worry about it. My snack food doesn’t fall under the umbrella of your authority.
Jim : Mmm, that’s where you’re wrong. I’m your project supervisor today, and I have just decided that we’re not doing anything until get the chips that you require.
Jim : So I think we should go get some. Now, please.
Like Pam’s weakness for french onion (is it just me, or is there a connection be drawn between Grief Counseling and The Fight?), Jim has zeroed in on a certain dietary vulnerability of Karen’s.
[Karen insists that she’ll do whatever it takes to find the chips. Andy turns around to see what she and Jim are talking about]
Andy : Hey, what are we doing? What’s the game? I want in.
Jim : Oh, there’s no game. We’re just trying to get these chips for Karen.
Andy : Did you check the vending machine?
Karen : Oh, the vending machines. How did we miss that?
Jim : I have no idea. We went right for the copier
Karen : Hmm.
Jim : And then we checked the fax machine.
Karen : Yeah, nothing there.
Andy : Did you check your butt?
It’s unclear what sort of history Andy and Karen shared prior to Jim’s arrival, although the conversation above would seem to indicate that the two weren’t afraid to take shots at one another. United against a common enemy, two co-workers spend their days exacting delicious revenge against said enemy. It does seem familiar, doesn’t it?
As much as I enjoyed the Jim/Pam relationship, it’s been nice to see them develop independently of one another. Whereas Jim’s situation at Stamford is much like it was in Scranton with Andy and Karen filling in for Dwight and Pam, respectively, Pam’s life seems to have taken a more dramatic turn. Not dramatic in the spectacular sense, mind you, but rather in the sense that she’s had to contend with more change, an odd realization given that she’s the one who stayed behind.
[Dwight looks behind Pam’s desk for a box]
Dwight : I need a box, I need a box. A small box. Not confining…
Pam : Is it for the bird?
Dwight : Yeah.
Pam : I have it covered.
[Pam shows Dwight a tissue box that she’s converted into a casket]
Dwight : Oh, thank you.
Pam : If you want to do something for the funeral–
Dwight : Yes, please.
Pam : Maybe you could play a song on your recorder.
Dwight : Excellent.
Pam : Do you have it with you?
Dwight : Always.
[Pam pumps her fist in the air. Cut to interview]
Pam : Did I wake up this morning thinking I’d be throwing together a bird funeral? You never can tell what your day here is going to turn into.
Creativity is what drives Pam. She prefers not to display it in ways that call attention to herself, instead reserving it for moments where it may be quietly admired.
[Everyone is gathered outside for the bird funeral]
Pam : I’d also like to say a few words if that’s ok.
Michael : Yes.
Pam : What do we know about this bird? You might think not much, it’s just a bird, but we do know some things. We know it was a local bird. Maybe it’s that same bird that surprised Oscar that one morning with a special present from above.
Kevin : Oh, I remember that. That was so funny.
Pam : And we know how he died: flying into the glass doors. But you know what, I don’t think he was being stupid. I think he just… really, really wanted to come inside our building to spread his cheer and lift our spirits with a song.
Dwight : Not a songbird.
Pam : An impression then. Lastly, we can’t help but notice that he was by himself when he died, but of course, we all know that doesn’t mean he was alone because I’m sure that there were lots of other birds out there who cared for him very much. He will not be forgotten.
I’ll be honest, the notion of a bird funeral seemed a little ridiculous to me at first, even for a show with as good of a track record as this one when it comes to handling outlandish subject matter. It turns out I had nothing to fear: listening to Pam speak at the service was surprisingly touching. As absurd as it may sound, I found it poetic, although the absurdity does wear off a bit when you realize that her words were actually meant for Michael. There are few shows that could pull off a eulogy to a bird and even fewer that could deliver it in earnest. Credit Jenna Fischer for bringing genuine emotion to a scene that would be considered a farce in any other context.
This marks the first time during the entire run of the show where the Jim/Pam dynamic has been completely nonexistent for an entire episode. Previous episodes have always worked in a conversation or some unspoken exhange between the two indicative of their tangled relationship; even the first three episodes of this season managed to sneak in several glances and expressions without having them in close proximity to one another. Grief Counseling has nothing. As is often the case when two people no longer see each other, Jim and Pam seem determined to put the past behind them, and as such the Jim/Pam Index drops Down again.
On the bright side for those of you who cling to hopes for a reunion, the potential for buildup is certainly looking good.
Stanley, who remains calm and collected in the face of flying saliva.
A close call with Dwight delivering what I thought to be his finest performance yet, but I simply couldn’t ignore Pam’s wonderfully delivered eulogy.
[The Stamford branch is having a meeting in the conference room]
Josh : What’s going on with Fairfield County Schools? Karen, did you generate that price list?
[Karen fumbles through her papers]
Karen : Um, shoot. Uh, I will. Sorry.
Josh : Ok, just get it done. Jim, will you make sure?
Jim : Oh yeah, definitely.
[Andy coughs out, “suck-up”]
Andy : Josh, did you hear what I said?
Speaking of suck-ups…
[Creed is in Michael’s office with Michael and Dwight]
Creed : Ed was decapitated.
Michael : What?
Dwight : Really?
Creed : He was drunk as a skunk. He was flying down Route 6. He slides under an eighteen-wheeler. Pop! It snaps right off.
Michael : Oh, my god.
Dwight : That is the way to go. Instant death. Very smart.
Part of me thinks Creed was making all of this up. A very large part of me.
Creed : You know, a human can go on living for several hours after being decapitated.
Dwight : You’re thinking of a chicken.
Creed : What did I say?
I rest my case.
[Michael is on the phone with Jan]
Michael : I don’t understand. We have a day honoring Martin Luther King, but he didn’t even work here.
Jan : I understand how you feel, Michael. I really do, so would it be helpful to give everyone the day off?
Michael : You really don’t get it, do you? You really don’t understand these people. That is the last thing that they would want is a day off.
Actually, I think she understands them more than you do, Michael.
[Michael is standing beside Stanley’s desk]
Michael : Oooh. Can you imagine how much blood there was? If it happened right here, it would reach all the way to reception. Probably get on Pam.
Phyllis : Ok, that’s enough.
Michael : What?
Stanley : We do not want to hear about this?
Michael : Well, you know what I didn’t want to hear about it either, Stanley, but I did. Now I can’t stop picturing it. He was working, on his way home. Wham! His capa is detated from his head!
Stanley : You have just spit on my face.
His capa is detated! Whoever penned that line is a genius. All the cool kids will be saying it soon.
Dwight : I’m sorry, I grew up on a farm. We slaughtered a pig whenever we wanted bacon. My grandfather was reburied in an old oil drum.
Farm or not, an oil drum seems like an awfully crude way to bury someone, no pun intended.