Ryan’s first sales call takes him to places he never imagined he’d find himself. Dwight serves as his errant guide, a wellspring of spoiled platitudes and crackpot advice. Meanwhile, it’s business as usual back at the office where Pam is entrusted with duties hardly becoming of her talents. In return for her tireless efforts, she receives a special surprise at the end of her day: an opportunity to relive better times.

The Michael Scott School of Hard Knocks

What’s the best remedy for a struggling branch office teetering on the edge of being downsized, you ask? How about a little sugar-powered management?

[Michael is riding the sugar high from his pretzel. He walks out of his office to address his employees]
Michael : Phyllis, Stanley, I want you to switch desks. I am going to reorganize and restructure the physical layout of the office to maximize everything. I think we’ll get a lot done. Don’t you? On paper, at least, and we are, after all, a paper company. Are we not? Are we not? Are we not? Are you with me? Are you with me? Thank you very much.

He was able to blurt all of that out in fifteen seconds for those of you who were wondering. John Moschitta would be proud.

We might be onto something here. Thirty minutes of Michael going at full-speed probably does more for the company bottom line than a full day’s worth at his regular, glacial pace.

Dwight Being Dwight

I have no idea whether or not dilapidated beet farms are a staple of the surrounding countryside, though my guess is that the vaunted Schrute Estate sticks out like a sore thumb.

Dwight : I am very excited. Ryan hasn’t made a sale yet, but more importantly, he hasn’t made an ally yet. Is he going to be a slacker, a loser, a wise-ass like Jim was? Or is he going to join the Dwight Army of Champions?

Much like the Roman Empire’s conquest of the Mediterranean world circa 200 B.C., the Dwight Army of Champions would go on to cut a swath of destruction across isolated portions of the Northeastern Pennsylvania paper market.

[Dwight has just taken Ryan to his beet farm. Ryan is confused]
Ryan : So, where’s the sales office?
Dwight : When you are ready to see the sales office, the sales office will present itself to you. Your journey begins now.

Ok, Morpheus. So I guess this means Ryan is The One. Go get ‘em, temp.

[Ryan is planting a beet seed. Dwight is standing over him]
Dwight : And just as you have planted your seed in the ground, I am going to plant my seed in you.
Ryan : I don’t think you know what you’re saying.
Dwight : Smells pretty bad doesn’t it?
Ryan : Uh-huh.
Dwight : It’s called bullcrap, and a client can smell it from a mile away.
Ryan : Gotcha.

Who knew there were lessons of salesmanship to be learned amongst the filth-ridden fields of Dwight’s beet farm? Speaking of Dwight, what a great low-budget infomercial voice. Ditch the desk job and make your living as a spokesperson for phony self-improvement programs.

[Dwight is driving Ryan back to the office]
Dwight : You still mad?
[Ryan sits in silence]
Dwight : It’s just… Jim and I didn’t get along, and… I didn’t want it to be that way again. You know, I wanted us to be a team. An unstoppable team that competed against other teams.
Ryan : Look, that–that’s not what I wanted, ok? I just wanted to go on a sales call.

All sarcasm aside, it was nice seeing this heart-to-heart between Dwight and Ryan. The two of them have come a long way since The Fire. Ryan may be jaded, but I don’t think even he’ll be able to shun Dwight’s efforts to befriend him, as strange as his advances may be.

The Many Faces of Jim

Following Pam’s performance from last week’s episode, Jim breaks out with a little song of his own in the name of retaliation.

[Karen rocks back and forth on her squeaky chair in an attempt to annoy Jim. Jim responds by singing Lovefool by The Cardigans]
Jim : Love me, love me, say that you love me. Fool me, fool me…
Karen : Stop.
Jim : … go on and fool me. Love me, love me, say that you love me…
Karen : This is not fair. This is going to be in head all day. Please.
Jim : … fool me, fool me, go on and fool me. Love me, love me…
Karen : This is not a proportional response.
Jim : …say that you love me. Fool me, fool me, go on and fool me.

Is that Nina Persson or Jim Halpert? Only the most discerning of ears could tell the difference.

Confessions of a Receptionist

Pam really dialed up the patented Beesly charm for tonight’s episode. There’s a reason why she’s one of the most crushed-upon female characters on television.

[Jan has just left Michael’s office in frustration]
Jan : Hi, Pam.
Pam : Hi.
Jan : I’m great. So, Pam, I’d like you to keep a log of everything Michael does hour-by-hour so that we can analyze it at corporate. Ok?
Pam : Oh, I don’t think–
Jan : Thanks, Pam.
[Jan leaves. Cut to interview]
Pam : It’s weird. Jan used to treat Michael like he was a ten-year-old, but lately it’s like he’s five.

It’s a thankless job, the task of keeping tabs on your boss who appears to be regressing to his childhood years.

[Michael is waiting in line for his pretzel. Pam stops by with a suggestion]
Pam : I thought you might want to use this time to authorize some checks.
Michael : I thought that maybe you could wait in line for me while I go to the bathroom? You’re an angel.
Pam : Hey, why don’t you just go up to your office, get some work done, and I’ll bring you a pretzel?
Michael : Because I like them a certain way, and it it gets screwed up then this whole thing’s blown.
Pam : You know, I just think it’s really important that you be productive today.

One of these days, Michael will realize that Pam is the most loyal employee that he’s ever had. Unfortunately, the chances of that day arriving soon enough for it to actually matter are slim.

[Pam answers the phone]
Pam : Dunder-Mifflin, this is Pam. Oh, hi, Jan.
[Pam looks to Michael, who is passed out on his desk]
Pam: He’s, uh, on a sales call. No message? Bye, Jan.

Lucky, lucky Michael. So very lucky.

The Jim/Pam Index

Jim/Pam moments have been scarce this season, understandably so given the parallel office situation. Those of us who have been waiting for them to resume their dance got a doozy of a spark tonight and not a moment too soon.

[Pam’s phone rings just as she’s about to leave for the day. She answers]
Pam : Dunder-Mifflin.
Jim : Uh, hey.
Pam : Oh, my god.
Jim : Hi.
Pam : Hi.
Jim : Sorry, I forgot Kevin’s extension. It’s a fantasy football thing.
Pam : Oh.
Jim : And I was–I was just going to go through the system ’cause I didn’t think you’d be there. Why are you–why are you still there?
Pam : I had to work late. Jan’s making me keep a log of everything Michael does all day.
Jim : Wow. Do you think you could send me a copy of that?
Pam : Yeah, totally. So–
Jim : So–
Pam : Do you–
Jim : Oh, I’m sorry, go ahead.
Pam : Uh, no, I–um, everything’s pretty much the same here.
Jim : Oh, good.
Pam : A little different. What time is it there?
Jim : What time is it here? Um, we’re in the same time zone.
Pam : [Laughs]  Oh, yeah, right.
Jim : How far away did you think we were?
Pam : I don’t know. Felt far.
Jim : Yeah.

One detail of this conversation that my transcript woefully fails to communicate is the sheer awkwardness with which it takes place. The numerous uncomfortable silences, the mistimed replies that cut the other person off, the foolish questions that you never would have asked if you weren’t so nervous, all of the things that you’ve done when you’ve had a similar conversation in your own life — they’re all there, acted out to stunning perfection.

This show is no stranger to moments of realism, and although its trueness to life may be overexposed as its crowning virtue, you really can’t argue against such praise given the tremendous performances by John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer in this exchange. The accuracy with which they’ve duplicated the swirl of panic and joy that accompanies such a conversation, one that you’ve recited in your head many times but which arrives at a moment when you are wholly unprepared for it, is nothing short of amazing.

[Jim and Pam are still talking on the phone. Pam tells a story of how she mistook 28 Days Later for 28 Days. Jim playfully feigns disbelief]
Jim : Fancy, new Beesly would make that up. New apartment, new stories.
Pam : Oh, yeah, my fancy new apartment. I have one bedroom, one bathroom, and a closet.
Jim : And how many kitchens?
Pam : I have one kitchen.
Jim : Wow, you got totally taken for a ride, Beesly.
Pam : [Laughs]  It’s actually–
Jim : Most apartments these days have, like, three.
Pam : Three kitchens?
Jim : Yes! [Dwight and Ryan walk into the office. Pam covers the phone with her hand]
Jim : How are you going to cook every meal of the day in one kitchen?
Pam : Hey, Ryan, are you ok?
Jim : Pam?
Ryan : Yeah. Yeah.
Jim : Pam?
[Pam removes her hand from the phone so that she can resume her conversation with Jim]
Pam : Um.  [She speaks to Ryan as he’s leaving]  Ok, bye.
Jim : Oh, yeah, I should–I should probably–I should probably go, too.
Pam : Oh, no, I was, um–
Jim : Oh, no, no, no, um…
Pam : You have to go?
Jim : Yeah, uh–
Pam : Yeah, I should probably go, too.
Jim : Ok.
Pam : I mean… yeah.
Jim : Yeah.
[Both of them are silent for a moment]
Jim : Bye, Pam.
Pam : Bye, Jim.

It’s a telling commentary on the current state of this relationship, the fact that one slight interruption is all it took to derail what seemed like a promising return to form for these two. And what an appropriately unceremonious way to end the moment: the product of even more confusion and misinterpretation, it was a perfectly imperfect conclusion to an awkwardly conceived conversation.

A few weeks of conditioning for a Jim/Pam drought, and all it took was a three-minute phone conversation to undo all of that progress. Initiation rates an Up on the Jim/Pam Index.

Supporting Nod

Ryan, who took several steps towards earning his own section in the recaps.

The Superstar

Our receptionist gave a wonderfully nuanced performance tonight. Pam all the way.

Transmissions from the Office

  • [Dwight and Ryan are standing in the fields of Dwight’s beet farm]
    Dwight : Do you know where we are, temp?
    Ryan : I know where we’re not.
    [Dwight extends his hand to Ryan]
    Dwight : I hold in my hand a beet seed. Take it.
    [Ryan reaches for it. Dwight closes his hand]
    Dwight : Ah.
    [Ryan pulls back for a second. Dwight reopens his hand. Ryan quickly grabs the seed]
    Dwight : Wait–damn it.

    Morpheus just got owned.

  • [Michael and Stanley are waiting in the pretzel line. They notice Phyllis giving Bob Vance a hug in line]
    Michael : Hey, hey, hey! Phyllis! What are you doing?
    Phyllis : I’m just saying hi to Bob.
    Michael : No, I think you’re cutting in line.
    Bob : Well, settle down, Scott.
    Michael : No, I’m not going to settle down.
    Stanley : Uh-uh. No way. Uh-uh.
    Michael : Get in the back, please.
    [Michael and Stanley start booing. Phyllis heads to the back of the line]
    Michael : Thank you.
    [Stanley gives Michael a high-five]
    Michael : That’s right.
    Stanley : Mm-hmm.
    Bob : What a pair of merries.
    Stanley : This is pretzel day.

    Michael and Stanley actually agreeing on something? It’s like Natalie Portman said: we’ve just witnessed an original moment in human history.

  • [Andy finishes off the chorus to Lovefool by The Cardigans]
    Andy : I don’t care about anything but you.  [Pauses for a moment]  Whatever happened to those guys?

    They’re still putting out good albums, actually.

  • Dwight : Mose is my cousin, and he lives here. He will always be my best friend. Unless things go well with Ryan today, in which case I won’t hang out with Mose so much any more.

    Familial bonds don’t count for much in the Dwight household, apparently.

  • [Dwight is questioning Ryan in his barn]
    Dwight : What is the greatest danger facing Dunder-Mifflin?
    Ryan : Outsourcing and consolidation of competition.
    Dwight : Wrong! Flash floods. What is the true cause of Robert Mifflin’s suidide?
    Ryan : Depression?
    Dwight : Wrong. He hated himself. What is the Dharma Initiative?

    No kidding. What the hell is the Dharma Initiative? And they still haven’t explained where the polar bears came from.

  • [Kelly and Angela are sitting in the break room]
    Kelly : I can’t believe that Ryan is not back yet. Where could they be?
    Angela : Sales take a long time.
    Kelly : Oh, my god. I’m so worried.
    [Angela takes Kelly’s hand]
    Angela : I’m sure Dwight will protect him.
    Kelly : I don’t know. Dwight’s so weird.
    Angela : He’s not weird. He’s just individualistic.
    Kelly : No, he’s a freak.
    Angela : You’re a freak!
    [Angela storms out of the room]

    And in other news, Johnny stole pencils from Mary’s backpack and stuck them up his nose.

  • [Dwight is still questioning Ryan in his barn]
    Dwight : Final question, young Ryan Howard.
    [Dwight leans in closely]
    Dwight : What… is Michael Scott’s greatest fear?
    Ryan : Um, loneliness. Maybe women.
    Dwight : Wrong. He’s not afraid of anything. Also, I would have accepted “snakes.”

    A shout-out to Indiana Jones, perhaps?

Odds and Ends

  • Dwight runs like a girl.
  • Of all the places to announce your dominion, an old, decrepit barn would not be one one of them.
  • Nice shirt, Mose.

The Story in Pictures

Gallery Image

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NBC is running commercials billing this episode as the first "Jim and Pam" reunion since last season.

Me thinks they are using spin, and it'll just be an e-mail or something innocent and not dramatic.

1Posted by Joe on October 19, 2006

I think that they are just going to talk on the phone. About Roy, the wedding, his transfer. It also looked like they were talking at the end of the day. Karen, Andy, Josh, and everybody else in the Stamford office weren't there at all. I think that there will be no mention of Karen. Overall, it looks like a good episode. I can't wait. Only 7 more hours! Yay! Can't wait for the Michael Scott School of Hard Knocks recap. ;]

2Posted by Melissa on October 19, 2006

I can't wait for tonight's show! B.J. Novak is the show's most amazing writer!

3Posted by Brittney on October 19, 2006

Pam's also is standing up with her coat on, while Jim's sitting down. To me -- and presuming this isn't some kind of promo misdirection -- it says he called her, not the other way around. Honestly, that would be depressing. I kind of hoped the next step would be for her to get brave and take some initiative.

Disclosure: I'm not as big a fan of Pam's character as some. While a lot of folks figure she was unconsciously pining for Jim, I saw it at times as approaching purposely leading him on to maintain a security blanket to compensate for her lousy relationship. And for all the stuff about her being confused and indecisive, she was bold enough to functionally cheat on her fiancee. Even though it was a brief and heated moment with a dreamy dude, it still wasn't quite fair or very becoming.

(And like a lot of guys, I've been both 'Jim' and 'Roy', so to speak, so I oddly end up mad at her twice!)

Suppose we'll find out soon enough. This is a good television show.

4Posted by Clarence on October 19, 2006

Obvious up on the Jam-O-Meter. Best ep of the season so far IMHO.

5Posted by Pat D. on October 19, 2006

IT'S BACK!!! The office we loved from Season 2 has finally returned...best episode of the season by far. Funny all the way through (let B.J. write every other episode) and culminating in an awesome ending. Woot Woot. Love the carving Mose made. Loved Mose even. Who knew all Michael needed was sugar to be productive. Can't wait for Diwali.

6Posted by Chris on October 19, 2006

I would agree, best episode of the season. Love seeing Stanley excited for prehaps the first time ever.

7Posted by Zach on October 19, 2006

This ep should definately silence the few that have been doubting the show so far this season. Best part was the throwing of the eggs and the bar scene, along with the Michael in his office after the pretzel with the works. Even the stuff from the other branch had a different feel to it. Thanks temp for a great episode. And to top it all off we got a JAM fix, that has been long overdue. Thats all, my nerdz...

8Posted by Todd Packer on October 19, 2006

I have been one of them...not so much a doubter as feeling that something was lacking. The episodes weren't sticking with me.

"Pretzel Day". Brilliant. Who'd a thunk it. I wonder who played Mose. He MUST become a recurring character he is just too funny. I may even start eating beets. Pam and Jim were very sweet...rekindling a little bit. But nothing over the top. ANDY...HILARIOUS. All of it...great stuff. Can't wait to see it again.

9Posted by Chris on October 19, 2006

mose was michael schur.

10Posted by doug on October 19, 2006

Smart double meaning re: the title. Not just Dwight's initiation of Ryan, which is obvious, but the "Initiation" of contact and who knows what else at the end. Nice.

11Posted by Clarence on October 19, 2006

Hmmm, "Todd Packer", who just posted above makes me wonder whether we will ever see David Koechner again on the show.

Too good of a character to just disappear.

12Posted by Pat D. on October 19, 2006

Did "mose" (Michael Schur, thanks for the answer doug) play one of the guys who works for Bob Vance and delivered the giant teddy bear to Phyllis in the Valentine's day episode?

What a great way for one writer to take care of another on a show. B.J. rules.

13Posted by Chris on October 19, 2006

I hadn't seen any of the previews prior to the show, so when Jim turned out to be on the other end of the phone, I was very surprised. I was expecting Jan. But I have to agree with Clarence, I'm not so fond of Pam at the moment. It always seems like Jim has to be the one to make all the moves and that doesn't seem fair to him. I think she could have at least e-mailed him when her wedding was canceled and told him she was sorry about all that had happened, etc. I think he deserved more than just nothing from her. I suppose she had her reasons, but she hasn't been as kind as she could be. Ultimately, they will probably end up together, but I like Karen. She seems like a woman who might actually appreciate Jim instead of just take him for granted.

14Posted by Tammie on October 19, 2006

NOT KAREN

15Posted by not Karen on October 19, 2006

Funny...I'm seeing a difference forming between Jim/Karen and Jim/Pam. Whereas Jim and Pam was more of a flirty subtle love, Jim and Karen is more of a competitive thing. It reminded me of the "Drug Testing" episode where Jim won't talk to Pam because she jinxed him, but she is trying to get him to talk, and it's a competition they have going on all day.

It's sort of like that on a continual basis with Jim/Karen. She is clearly much more competitive than Pam. The moment where he sings to cover up her squeaky chair shows that she was actually getting agitated with him; she obviously doesn't like to lose.

16Posted by Philip on October 19, 2006

The Jim/Pam dynamic is still the backbone of the show, made obvious tonight, as a single phone conversation has redeemed everyone's faith in The Office this season. Seemed to inject something that was missing in the other episodes.

I agree that Pam character's flawed, naturally everyone on the show has flaws, but you can't help but feel very happy for her and Jim as they spoke on the phone. I was in a room with 6 (normally noisy) people, and you couldn't hear a whisper during that conversation.

When the branches merge, and Jim's dating Karen....I guarantee there will be a lot less fans of Karen than there are now....

M@

17Posted by M@ on October 19, 2006

So so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so awesome.

LOVED the bar scene, especially when Dwight stops yelling TEMP and starts with RY-AN, RY-AN, RYAN! Very subtle but important transition.

And the call...what can you say? I had a HUGE smile on my face the whole time. I wanted to jump up and down but my wife was draped all over me. After they both left their separate offices I couldn't help but yell BEST! SHOW! EVER!

GREAT job BJ!

18Posted by Jermaine on October 20, 2006

p.s. - Clarence, good call on the double-meaning of the title. You have planted your seed in this board.

19Posted by Jermaine on October 20, 2006

I don't think the first 4 episodes of the season were on par with any from Season 1 or Season 2. Does that make me a Doubter?

Yep, this episode was funny and fantastic. I loved it.

20Posted by Loaded Teapot on October 20, 2006

Hey all, first time poster, fairly-long time visitor. The user comments over the past few months have made for very entertaining reading.

So, with my sucking up out of the way :)... don't kill me, but am I the only person who didn't really enjoy the last episode? It just didn't sit well with me for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it was a show all about Ryan, written by the actor who plays Ryan. I dunno, it just felt uncomfortably self-indulgent to me. Previously, pretty much all his character's really been given to do is to stand in the background, looking bored/scared by turns, and it felt weird to see the actor's self-penned attempt at turning him into a fully fledged character. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against B.J.. which in itself sounds slightly wrong:) .. but I just felt that giving such a large amount of screentime to a fairly uninteresting character felt awkward and strangely wasteful. Fair play to him for trying to develop the role, but to me it was too much to cram into one episode. So, too much, too soon. Hrm.. or given that he's been in around 30 episodes now, maybe it was actually too much, too late. Certainly one of the two. :)

Also, Dwight. He felt really out of character to me somehow. Like he was almost human or something. :) It just felt wrong to see him apologising for and attempting to justify his bizarre actions. The 'insane barn' sequence was pushing the boundaries of believability as it was, even by normal Dwight standards, and his partial humanisation throughout the episode only made it jar even more horribly. Then again, maybe it was just another case of 'too much screentime'. I think the character probably works better in small doses.

As well as this, I agree with the view of some peeps on here that it's becoming quite difficult to appreciate Jim/Pam as the 'heart' of The Office when Pam is increasingly coming across as someone who doesn't actually have a heart at all. ;) OK, not strictly true.. she's sporadically lovely to Michael and dead birds.. but the character grows more unsympathetic by the week. I know she's branching out and trying to discover who she is and all that stuff, but given that she's now free and single, I'm struggling to see how the writers can find any satisfactory explanation as to why she's not contacted her Good Friend Jim by now, other than 'Pam is not right in the head' . I hope to be proven wrong.

Anyway, enough negativity. On the positive side, a gold star is due for the 'Cardigans' sequence. "Whatever happened to those guys?" :)

Thus far, I've really enjoyed the shift in the dynamic this season. I loved the English Office but it's really great to see the US version branching out in different directions, while seemingly still staying true to the orginal story arc. I know there are still people out there scratching their heads over some of the changes but I'm sure they're essential for the longevity of the show, and it'll all come together soon.

Anyway, sorry for rambling for waaaay too long. Hopefully I've not ruffled too many feathers. Leave that to Dwight and his fire extinguisher. ;)

21Posted by Because I'm Him on October 20, 2006

"Love me love me, Say that you love me. Fool me fool me, Go on and fool me."

14 hours later and that stupid song is still stuck in my head. Thanks a lot 'Office'.

Going on the record as my first post that I've been loving Season 3 without exception... ever so humbly of course.

MOSE LIVES!

22Posted by S.Kim on October 20, 2006

I loved that the show was about ryan. The show has been trying to hard to use the acting of Steve Carell and setting up a relationship between Jim and Karen. It gave us small doses of Jim and Karen, Jim and Pam, Michael, and bits of all the other characters. Through season 1 and 2 the development has been nice and slow, and unfortunately this season everything has been faster, to get jim back in scranton and to create something between Jim and Karen to make Pam miss Jim and be jealous. Season 3 for me has been... the office on speed. Last nights episode slowed it down a bit, except for the introduction of the beet farm and cousin mose. The best part of the night for me was the fact that Ryan let go and accepted the fact that he is a dunder mifflinite. His drinking and egg throwing with Dwight were the best. B.J. episodes are all usually good, and yeah they show Ryan more than the others. The only critism I have is with Kelly and Angela's character. I think that Kelly is a little much at times, and Angela seems so forced anymore. Thats just my opinion. One more thing as I sit here and waste time at work, I think I'm going to stop watching those Yahoo preview clips, I think I would enjoy the show even more if I didn't already see 5 minutes of it earlier in the week. That is all.

23Posted by Todd Packer on October 20, 2006

BJ Novak's episodes have all been a little Ryan-centric. He wrote The Fire, which was of course caused by Ryan, and Boys and Girls, where Ryan had a stand out role. I don't have a problem with it though. He is a regular, and I usually come away from and episode wondering why he isn't in the show more, so I think that there should actually be more episodes that have Ryan-related plotlines.

24Posted by Kalon on October 20, 2006

Hi all. I do not normally post but I just had to chime in on the Jim/Pam conversation at the end. I believe the way the conversation ended with Pam being distracted by Ryan dos not bode well for the near term. It kind of shows Jim is maybe not as high on Pam's list as we all thought.

25Posted by swordwind on October 20, 2006

I read/heard somewhere that Ryan has a hard time writing himself into the scipts he writes, or maybe it was that he's also a producer and that takes away from his desire to be in the show. Either way, I think we should see more of him. Kind of like the intern on the Dilbert cartoon.

26Posted by Bill on October 20, 2006

Because I'm Him:

Some validation: I felt the same about many of your points including the BJ thing. But between "Lovefool", The Bar Scene and the Phone Call I couldn't help but be sucked into the episode. These scenes to me more than made up for the rest.

Ugh, SUCH a fan-boy I am.

That is all, that is fine.

27Posted by Jermaine on October 20, 2006

About the B.J. Novak actor vs. writer issue...

It's possible that the producers/head writers want to get some episodes about Ryan in the show...and naturally they give ("assign") them to BJ to write since he's so familiar with the character.

About this week's episode...I don't feel like giving an extended review at the moment, and I probably need to watch it again before I come to some definitive conclusions, but here are my preliminary thoughts:

- As echoed above, the Stanford branch plot was the best of the season IMO. A very simple, Scranton-esque caper played on Dwight's geographical counterpart, Andy.

- John was on top of his game as Jim tonight, pulling off the witty and dry humor which he excels at. Best performance of the ep.

- I still like the character of Karen, but Rashida Jones needs to step up her acting: she gave the puppy-dog "Jim face" a couple of times in the ep, and it's only the second episode of that romantic subplot. The Jim/Pam interactions were much more subtle throughout their "courtship".

- Jenna had another great performance; two weeks in a row now.

- The smaller touches in the ep were great: Stanley's excitement, the convo between Kelly and Angela, Michael playing the music, Kevin tapping his pencil in sync with Michael's music, Pam's reactions to Michael's behavior, the bewilderment of the security guards after seeing the smashed eggs and, as already mentioned, the drinking scene with Dwight and Ryan.

- I know some people probably loved the Dwight/Ryan plot, but I'm not one of them. I agree with "Because I'm Him": it seemed too over-the-top and outlandish for a show as normally grounded as The Office. That's not to say that such an "outlandish" premise can't be funny; I just don't think it was funny or well-executed in this situation, as almost all of the gags and lines fell flat for me. Maybe it will improve upon a second viewing, but I still don't think I'll find it "good".

----------------------------------------------------------------

28Posted by Wayne on October 20, 2006

Ah, sorry, I got kicked off my comp before I had a chance to mention the most important part of the ep: Jim/Pam's phone convo!

Just watching them talk for 3 minutes made me realize how much I miss seeing the two of them together. The scene was, of course, fantastic, the best part of the ep. It's a great scene not only for the obvious reasons, but for how it treats the Jim/Pam power dynamic.

I would say that Jim had more of the "power" in the convo than he ever did before; whereas all throughout last season, it was Jim who was longing for Pam's love and companionship more than the other way around, in this scene I feel like the power relations were reversed. He was clearly more at ease than Pam in the beginning (she blurts out "everything's pretty much the same here" unprompted, and her time zone remark - also notice that he's sitting down relaxed in the beginning and that she's standing up and is a little off kilter), and he calls her "Beesly" twice instead of "Pam" (a less reverential way of addressing her). Also, once the conversation ends, it's interesting to juxtapose their two reactions. Jim hangs up the phone pretty quickly and doesn't fixate on the convo, simply grabbing his coat and walking out. Conversely, Pam hangs up the phone much slower (notice how much longer it takes her to hang it up after Jim stops talking, how she holds the phone by her ear for that extra split-second), then stares off into the distance, and then looks at Jim's desk as she walks out. She's clearly thinking about the implications of the convo while Jim seemingly isn't; although we know he probably is, he's not obssessing over it as Pam was.

Anyway, that's my long-winded analysis of the scene. Great scene, good but not great ep. Overall, I'd give the episode a B.

- Wayne

29Posted by Wayne on October 20, 2006

I wonder how much of the writers' decison to send Jim to Stamford owes to not really knowing how to handle him and Pam? They probably realize that too many "near-misses" and typical television twists will turn people off, but that's really what they'd have been left with if Jim was still in Scranton and he and Pam weren't (a) together or (b) done for good, neither of which is a good option.

Sending him away looks to me like a classic run out the clock situation, to borrow a phrase. That's actually not knocking the folks that run the show (they're getting paid a lot of money to write it, and I'm sitting here on Friday night writing ABOUT it, so who am I?). It just reflects the dilemma they faced in the off-season after deciding to have Jim lay it on the line.

30Posted by Clarence on October 20, 2006

i heart Karen!
Jim + Pam's conversation was really nice, REALLY well cut.
Dwight was awesome this episode and of coursE: the amazing Steve Carell

31Posted by Jay K. Cagatay on October 20, 2006

1. Does anybody else see a Karen/Pam fight coming?
2. Ed Helms killed me singing "Lovefool."
3. I like the Ryan-heavy episodes. He might be the show's best writer, and his character (an outsider to the office) is probably the closest to those of us watching the show.
4. Nobody takes more crap than Phyllis.
5. Where has Oscar been?
6. Stanley high-fiving Michael was classic. As was Michael's sugar high.

Look, this season has been a little different. But that's a good thing. You've got to create tension to create payoffs in comedy, and they keep coming up with great new ones each week.

32Posted by Bill on October 20, 2006

More Ryan More Ryan!

33Posted by kathee on October 20, 2006

Bravo James. Another great recap. And how sweet it is to see the JPI go UP for a change. I couldn't agree with you more with regards to the sheer level of acting talent that was present in the Jim/Pam phone call...or "THE Call" as it has been dubbed around the 'net. A whole other conversation was being acted out in the pauses and it was brilliant. Here's to hoping that the ice has sufficiently been broken and these two kids will be talking or at least texting (LOL) every day until.....

34Posted by GMMR on October 21, 2006

Sorry, not digging the beet farm (no pun intended). Michael/Jan/Pam thing was funny and realistic. "The Call" was, to me, the absolute season highlight. Could these two actors be in better sync? Wow. Just wow.

35Posted by Routesixtysixer on October 21, 2006

Bill - Oscar is presumably still on his 3-month vacation from GWH (while the real-life Oscar is making his new show for Comedy Central).

36Posted by Ambrose Chapel on October 21, 2006

ok, mose shrute is possible the funniest new character introduced into a show ever....is it his name? his FEAR shirt? his beard?? I think it's all of them combined that make him awesome!!!!!
and i'm loving ryan more and more

37Posted by kelly on October 21, 2006

Bill, Oscar is on a 3 month vacation with Gill in Europe, remember from Gay Witch Hunt?

38Posted by Becky on October 21, 2006

Jim and Pam's phone call was done very well. Nice nods to real-life things such as John and Kevin's football obsession and Jenna and scary movies.
I think that call was way longer than three minutes, though, James. I had too much time on my hands, so if you look at about the 18:16 mark (at least, on the iTunes version), it's still somewhat light out, reflecting, say, 5:20-25 on an October day in Stamford. When they're talking about the movie later, though, you can see it's completely dark outside at Jim's office, meaning it's at least 6, but possibly closer to 6:30.
Which...may help explain Pam's reaction when Dwight and Ryan come in. She's caught, essentially, way after quitting time but doesn't want to say, oh hey, I'm giggling with Jim here, that's why.

39Posted by James d. on October 21, 2006

James, the following is brilliant!
"This show is no stranger to moments of realism, and although its trueness to life may be overexposed as its crowning virtue, you really can’t argue against such praise given the tremendous performances by John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer in this exchange. The accuracy with which they’ve duplicated the swirl of panic and joy that accompanies such a conversation, one that you’ve recited in your head many times but which arrives at a moment when you are wholly unprepared for it, is nothing short of amazing."

What Wayne said about Jim calling Pam "Beesly" is a great catch. I think Jim uses it to create distance, a kind of defense mechanism for him when he's trying to treat Pam as a buddy rather than a romantic interest. He addresses her the same way in "Valentine's Day" when he says Happy Valentine's Day to her at the end of that episode.

The call was wonderfully scripted and acted. It's great that they can fall into that comfortable banter again, even though it does seem that Jim is the one who has power now, since Pam is the one who longingly gazes where Jim used to sit. The audience is given a great deal of optimism for Jim and Pam, Ryan distraction aside.

Why can't every day be pretzel day? The hot pretzel is the Seinfeldian equivalent to the Black and White cookie, as this is the only thing I've ever seen that united a quasi-racist Michael Scott and a quasi-crabassed Stanley Hudson.

Oh, and what's up with the casket at the beet farm, now? I think we're getting our own "Lost" with all of these pieces of Dwight's grandfather's death, exhumation, and reinterrment in an oil can.

40Posted by Jillian on October 21, 2006

FYI, New England is the six states east of New York. Pennsylvania is not in New England.

41Posted by Terry on October 21, 2006

I think that's a great observation about the way that Jim uses "Pam" vs. Beesly, Jillian (and Wayne). The job this show is doing of depicting the awkwardness and embarrassment in the aftermath of "the kiss" is just pitch-perfect. I've been that guy, trying to be all casual but mainly feeling sheepish even talking to someone after being shot down, but still wanting to talk to her.... brutal.

42Posted by DJR on October 21, 2006

Clarence, I really like your take on the double meaning of the episode title - very clever. I look forward to seeing what exactly Jim and Pam initiate...

Although, as much as I would love to see JAM happily together, it's their awkward and heartbreaking interactions that keep me glued to the screen. In real life unrequited love sucks, but on tv its gold. Interesting that the unrequited lover now appears to be Pam. I will continue to boo at the screen when Karen comes on, but ultimately the angst of the whole situation is what keeps me intrigued...that and the pure hilarity of the rest of the plotlines.

Sidenote: I love BJ's frequent but subtle use of pop culture references in his writing (ala Lazy Sunday). I'm not actually sure they're always his, but the episodes that have random, usually outdated references seem like BJ's style of writing. I guess it brings out the Gilmore Girl fan in me.

43Posted by Megan on October 21, 2006

Thanks, GMMR and Jillian. I have to admit that I find these recaps a little easier to write when there's a Jim/Pam angle to the story.

You're absolutely right, James d. I should have clarified in my recap that I meant three minutes of onscreen time. I have no doubt the actual conversation lasted much longer.

Terry, thank you for enlightening me on my misuse of New England. I've made the correction.

44Posted by James on October 21, 2006

Ryan, after being stranded in the beet field: “Aw, f—course”… Mose’s sculpture is a knockoff of the 25,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf, a Stone-Age fertility goddess (see p. 29 of Janson’s “History of Art”)…Have we all underestimated Angela? After seeing Dwight at his absolute worst—begging for his life—I mean job—at the end of “The Coup,” she is still in love with the little freak…Dwight can be a surprisingly astute observer of people (aside from his defective gaydar and belief in Michael Scott’s omnipotence)—he certainly has Ryan pegged when he warns him about thinking he’s better than everybody else.

I don’t get all the negativity about Schrute Farm. It was not overdone, it advanced the plot, and it was strange to see Dwight in surroundings where he almost fit in. It’s also nice to see a sitcom leave suburbia for once and get out into the country (“There’s Uncle Joe, he’s a-movin’ kinda slow, at the Junction—Petticoat Junction”).

Finally, the Call, which James described perfectly. I’ve had that conversation myself (I’m sure a lot of us have); for days afterward, you feel incredibly happy and incredibly sad at the same time.

45Posted by Cornelius on October 21, 2006

I agree with Cornelius that the beet farm was OK-- we've heard enough about the damn beet farm, and there it is, complete with anachronistic amish-looking cousin Mose. btw, if I see Michael Schur at the grocery store, I am going to declare my undying love for him, for appearing onscreen with that energetic judo stance and wearing thermal underwear with the word FEAR written on it in red electrical tape. I actually like that Dwight's efficacy as a salesman is finally revealed, and Ryan realizes he should take note.

In my next life, I hope I come back as Creed, because I want to say his lines.

My question is, when I am going to get the call to appear as Jim's college roommate's little sister all grown up, who gives Jim a call because she's in town for business and they go out to dinner get boozed up and smooch a little? Jim needs a no-strings-attached ego-boosting hookup before he asks Karen out on an official date. I am happy to take one for the team.

IMHO, of course

46Posted by Mung Beans on October 22, 2006

YES! THANK YOU! it made me kinda sad inside when Andy said..."whatever happened to those guys?"

the cardigans having put out one of my favorite albums (long gone before daylight) long after the great catchy lovefool "one hit wonder" i lowered my head and just said "they are still around and still making good music, damn it!...:("

thank you for acknowledging that they are still putting out good albums...thank you.

47Posted by Melody on October 23, 2006

I have been wondering about Pam's not taking the intiative and calling Jim after she broke up with Roy. This would all have been before the season started. Why didn't she call him right away??

I like that she seems to have broken off her engagement because of ROY and not in order to just switch to another man. I imagine she needs space now to recover. She is a very "blowing in the wind" kind of person and probably breaking up with Roy was the first independent thing she has ever done.

I think she must believe that she blew it with Jim, hurt him too much and he's gone and has already moved on. She MUST beleive that she does not have a chance with him, right? Because otherwise she could have at least talked to him and said, "I called off the wedding, I heard everything you said, I just need a little time." Wouldn't you think Jim would be okay with that? He's in it for the long haul, I think he'd be okay with that.

Also she may be afraid of how strongly she feels for Jim. That feeling has been piushed down and unacknowledged for so long, then there was the kiss, now she is there at work by herself and he is gone and she is kind of breathless and afraid of moving forward into THAT. I assume she never felt THAT strongly about Roy, so maybe she's scared?

In the end I think she doesn't have the confidence to start something with Jim because she doesn't trust herself not to get swept away, and right now she needs to recover and have an emotional break.

I'm not saying that she's right to do that, but I am trying to find a sympathetic reason for her non-actions.

I agree with everyone that she knew she was playing with fire and could not have been all THAT surprised when Jim said he was in love with her. Surprised he said it, maybe, not surprised he felt it. She knew. She wasn't going to cross the line and actually cheat on Roy, but she was definitely giving herself permission to have that adrenaline rush from flirting with Jim. Clearly at Jim's expense. Neither one of them could bear to stop even though they knew it was wrong.

Now it's not wrong. So what's up, Pam?

I think she's gonna take the passive role and wait for him to do or say something. And he's done that twice and thinks he has no chance.

ASK HER TO DINNER JIM! YOU CAN DRIVE DOWN SATURDAY AND TAKE HER TO DINNER. I'm sure Mark will lend you his couch if it comes to that.

She's scared. That's gotta be it.

Get them in a room togehter and they will have no choice but to end up together.

Karen's fine. She is more of the annoying sister to be picked on type for Jim, though. Better match than Katie, but not a chance over Pam.

48Posted by JimPamFan on October 23, 2006

Ahh, the phone call. My favorite part- Pam saying "It felt far." Which obviously means, SHE'S THINKING ABOUT HIM.

Dwight is awesome. And so is Ryan. I love seeing Ryan break out of his protective little "I-don't-work-here-I'm-not-a-freak" shell.

I think the Superstar was definitely Ryan.

Oh, and Michael's sugar high was hilarious.

49Posted by Spud Gun on October 23, 2006

I think Pam is doing exactly the right thing, waiting to get her act together on her own before she approaches Jim. She needs the time to emotionally extricate herself from a very long, serious relationship. She needs to stand on her own two feet for a while, maybe for the first time, before she gets involved with anyone, especially Jim. Jim, as has been said, totally laid it on the line "...twice." Pam has to be 100% sure and 100% ready for the The Real Thing, not just some flirting and dating, before she hooks up with Jim again. And because he has already put it all out there and gotten shot down, he can't "initiate" again, other than with a supposedly accidental phone call. That call was a perfect non-committal re-introduction of JAM. And to repeat what others have said, it was SOOOO well-done, so spontaneous and awkward and intimate. I wonder how much of it was written and how much improvised. Great acting either way.

I think the jury is still out on Karen. We really don't know that much about her because we have not seen her interact with anybody other than Jim. I could see her eventually saying something snotty about Jim having had a crush on 'just a receptionist,' for example. That would be one way for Jim to ditch her which we know he will eventually have to do if they get involved.

50Posted by Cleo on October 23, 2006

To all the Ryan bashers - watch the first show again. It's about him and his first day, almost like we are following him around. I hate to say it, but the whole show is really from Ryan's point of view. Something to think about.

51Posted by Rick on October 24, 2006

The whole show is most definately not from Ryan's point of view.
He was in the first episode because the U.S. version copied about 90% of the plot of the first episode of the U.K. version, in which a temp had his first day under David Brent, so mmm.

52Posted by Jay K. Cagatay on October 24, 2006

yeah, good episode I think.
My take on the whole "Beesly" thing is that they've reverted back to friendship, she used to call him Halpert a lot. Although the romantic side of me wants him to enjoy calling her "Beesly" over and over because he can...she still has her last name...she's not married.
What i want to know is how did Jim find out about her not getting married?

53Posted by icecreamsandwiches!!! on October 24, 2006

James, I just want to say that I look forward to these recaps as much as the real show! You ALWAYS have some great insight or point out some little, significant detail that I missed. Not exactly a cure for my "Office" obsession, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

54Posted by Emily on October 24, 2006

"One of these days, Michael will realize that Pam is the most loyal employee that he's ever had."

Maybe, but come on, she wrote down "Cosby Impression" for his hourly status when he was clearly making a sales call. Maybe a goofy, overly-familiar sales call, of course, but it ended up working...

55Posted by Drew on October 24, 2006

I have to say, I agree with the majority of people who've said that Pam needs time to figure things out on her own. Would she really be a character we could all love if she jumped from one man to the next with no thought to herself at all? She's been with Roy for ten years and she deserves a break, to figure out who she is.

Yeah, the show has lost the Jim/Pam component that made it so amazing in the past two seasons. But have patience. The writers know what they're doing. Or at least I hope they do.

56Posted by Kat on October 24, 2006

I JUST NOTICED SOMETHING!

When the voiceover comes on to announce the free pretzels, its the voice of the guy in the wheelchair from Season 2!
I vaguely remember him saying he was in charge of the business park or something like that..
Now that is attention to detail.

57Posted by Jay K. Cagatay on October 25, 2006

THE DHARMA INITIATIVE: (courtesy of http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/dharma-initiative.htm :p) (also, i think it has something to do with lost, because it came with pictures)

"For such a secretive organization, the DHARMA Initiative has left lots of evidence of its activities. Not only has it populated an island with territorial polar bears and sharks, it has defended its territory with a menacing monster that looks deceptively like black smoke.

Details about the group are a little sketchy. But it's pretty clear that members of the DHARMA Initiative -- or perhaps a group of its test subjects -- have made a habit of kidnapping and murder. This group, known as the Others, has threatened, intimidated and killed survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, which went down en route to Los Angeles, California from Sydney, Australia. For whatever reason, no one thought to ask the Others who they are or what they want.

So, who are the Others, and what do they want? How are they related to the DHARMA Initiative? What do they have to do with the black smoke, the polar bears and the bunkers scattered around the island? In this article, you'll learn about the DHARMA Initiative, its history and what might be going on at its island research center.

One-Eyed, One-Armed
Much of the available information about the DHARMA Initiative and Alvar Hanso comes from an orientation video. Doctor Marvin Candle narrates the video, and his lab coat and tie change during the film. The most logical explanation is that filming took place on more than one day. Something more sinister could be afoot. Dr. Candle's prosthetic left hand adds to people's suspicion. Some believe that Dr. Candle has a glass eye -- the same eye the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 found in an abandoned bunker.

DHARMA Initiative Basics
The DHARMA Initiative started as an ambitious science project in the 1970s. Its founders, Gerald and Karen DeGroot, aspired to create a large island research compound. They planned the construction of six underground and underwater research stations.

The stipends of two PhD students, even if used wisely, couldn't possibly cover the cost of building and maintaining such a large facility. So the DeGroots turned to Alvar Hanso and the Hanso Foundation. Since the 1960s, the Foundation "has offered grants to worthy experiments designed to further the evolution of the human race and provide technological solutions to the most pressing problems of our time."

Hanso has funded research on: Hatori Hanzo,
or Han Solo?
Alvar Hanso is of no relation to famed sword maker Hatori Hanzo -- his name really bears more resemblance to Han Solo's. The HowStuffWorks staff prefers to believe this is a coincidence, not an indication that the DHARMA Initiative has anything to do with midi-chlorians.

Life extension
Electromagnetism
Extra-terrestrial intelligence
Mathematical forecasting
Cryogenics
Juxtapositional eugenics
Psychic remote viewing
Some of these experiments have been successful. In 2005, the Foundation celebrated the 105th birthday of an orangutan called Joop. Joop had been the subject of life-extension experiments. Orangutans typically live to be only 60 years old, so the Foundation declared the experiment a success. It did not disclose whether the orangutan acquired other skills, such as the ability to read or run a library.
Not long after, though, the Global Health Organization (GHO) reported an outbreak of meningococcal disease in villages near the Foundation's Zanzibar research center. According to classified documents retrieved from the GHO, tests suggested that the disease originated in monkeys. The GHO theorized that it jumped the simian/human barrier and ordered the Foundation to terminate its operations. Although the GHO later reversed its decision, the event made Joop's longevity controversial. The Foundation's sizeable contribution to the GHO's defense fund also may have affected this reversal. It is still unclear whether Hanso Foundation experiments created or led to the spread of the disease.
Hanso's donation to the GHO and his research funding came from money from weapon sales. During World War II, he provided munitions to various European resistance groups. After the war, he provided high-tech armaments to NATO.

The DHARMA Initiative's distinctive name and logo seem to be at odds with funding from arms dealer. "

thats only part of it, but i was really confused :p. i think suffice to say it has something to do with lost......

58Posted by Word. on October 25, 2006

I think you guys might have missed a couple things. First of all, when Andy says "whatever happened to those guys," I really doubt he's talking about The Cardigans. He was singing (a little dramatically) which reminded him of Here Comes Treble. (I always think of Here Comes Treble when I see Andy because I'm actually a Cornell student who's in an a cappella group. For real. I couldn't believe it when Andy introduced himself.) If he were talking about The Cardigans, would he have said "guys"?

Second, the "initiation" ceremony that Dwight threw together was a dead-on spoof of a fraternity (or sorority) initiation ritual. (Rather, how Dwight would imagine a fraternity initiation ritual to be after hearing little bits of conversation about it.) Any fraternity brother who watched that episode would have been in tears, but I guess if you hadn't been through that or known people who had, it might have left you a little cold. The overblown dramatic metaphors, the casket, the questions, it's all classic stuff you hear walking around campus. Especially since Ryan mentioned fraternities in the first place, I'd be shocked if that weren't what that scene was about.

Speaking of Ryan... clearly the superstar. What did Pam do to deserve it? Chat on the phone?

59Posted by Ken on October 28, 2006

dude LOL, I live in Australia and i CLEARLY knew the whole fraternity / sorority hazing joke. I mean, the fact that Ryan even said it himself made it pretty obvious. People who didn't see that don't know how to follow a narrative

60Posted by Jay K. Cagatay on October 29, 2006

I'd guess the phone call was at least a half an hour or more, even though it was only 3 minutes to us. You can see the Jim's window behind him shows nighttime when the scene is cut to the 28 Days vs. 28 Days Later thing. It was daylight when they started. Plenty of time for Pam to officially fill in Jim about her new situation, and for Jim to not-so-subtly emphasize the fact that her name is still Beesly.

61Posted by Darryl M. on October 30, 2006

Hey Everyone,

You can watch this and all of this seasons episodes online in case you missed it.

http://theusoffice.blogspot.com

62Posted by Jarod on October 31, 2006