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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ryan, who took several steps towards earning his own section in the recaps.
Our receptionist gave a wonderfully nuanced performance tonight. Pam all the way.
[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?