Looking to expand their markets, Corporate has decided to buy some air time, hire an ad agency, and broadcast their existence unto the ether. Michael, of course, has his own idea of how things should be done, and isn’t afraid to risk it all on his dreams. Speaking of dreams, Dwight escapes further into his Second Life, Pam gets a gold star on her first steps away from receptionistdom, and Andy finally gets somewhere with Angela (or does he?).
What is this episode about? Well, you know those demand videos he made? And the video upon which this very website is based? This episode is about the granddaddy of all those videos. Except it comes after all of them. So really it is about temporal paradoxes and killing your own father. Except not.
Michael : Little girl in a field, holding a flower. We zoom back to find she’s in the desert, and the field is an oasis. We zoom back further, the desert is a sandbox in the world’s largest resort. Zoom back further, and the hotel is actually the playground of the world’s largest prison. Now, we zoom back further-
Ad Guy #1 : Ok, I can tell your that time is valuable.
Michael : Actually, I don’t get paid by the hour anymore, but thank you. I get paid by the year. So.
Obviously Michael’s time is valuable. Did you not hear that concept he just graced you with? Never mind the fact it has nothing to do with paper; what ad is totally on-point nowadays, anyway? Just the other day I saw an ad for a washing machine that featured dancing flowers and a rousing ballet soundtrack.
Receptionist : You have a call from Eddie Murphy.
Ryan : Hello?
Michael : Shrek! Shrek! I’m a donkey! I’m a donkey, Shrek! Ha ha, I’m just kidding, it’s me, hello, Ry.
Ryan : What.
Michael : Ok, calm down, just have a small problem.
Ryan : I told you not to call about small problems.
Michael : Yeah, well, when I call about big problems, you don’t like that either, so, make up your mind, kiddo. Here is the deal. The ad guys that you sent are locking me in a creative box, and sort of ignoring my ideas.
Ryan : That’s good. They’re creative, you’re not.
Michael : I’m creative, Ryan.
Ryan : It’s not part of your job. Like, maybe you can cook, but that doesn’t mean you should start a restaurant.
Michael : Well, actually I can’t cook, and I am starting a restaurant. Mike’s Cereal Shack. I’m thinking we’ll have as many varieties as you can buy in the store.
Ryan : Ok, I’m not really interested in that right now. I am delegating creativity to creative professionals. It’s a different skillset. Look, I wasn’t good at sales, right?
Michael : Yeeeah.
Ryan : But I’m good at managing people who do sales.
Michael : Are you? I don’t think you’re doing such a great job here, suppressing ideas and creativity.
There are two questions that come to my mind, after hearing this exchange. First, Michael’s theme this season appears to be cereal; is that on purpose or is he just subliminally trying to emphasize the importance of a good start to a day? Second, is Ryan really all that good at managing salespeople? Sure, he won’t always take Michael’s crap, but neither would Jan, and look where she ended up. Of course, it’d be really weird if liar-liar Ryan freaked out about not having babies and got some boob enhancements, but stranger things have (probably) happened.
Michael : Has anyone ever come up to you and said, “You’re not creative.”
Dwight : Yes. [nodding]
Michael : Well, they’re wrong. You are creative. You are damn creative. Each and every one of you. You are so much more creative than all the other dry boring morons that you work with.
Jim : Who are you talking to, specifically.
As usual, Michael is working out his own problems by inflicting them on everyone else. Also, as usual, he manages to insult everyone at the same time. Of course you’re creative, Michael, you’ve just got the mental and emotional age of a 7 year old boy who hasn’t really gone outside… ever. It’s ok.
Michael : [voiceover] It all starts with an idea. But you can never tell where an idea will end up. Because ideas spread. They change, and grow. They connect us with the world. And in a fast-moving world, where good news moves at the speed of time, and bad news isn’t always what it seems, because when push comes to shove, we all deserve a second chance to score. Dunder-Mifflin. Limitless paper in a paperless world.
I have to say, I was impressed with this. If you don’t actually listen to what he’s really saying, then it sounds pretty awesome and kinda deep and somewhat moving. Vangelis’s theme music for Chariots of Fire certainly helps here. However, if you do actually pay attention to his words, then you see just what a giant amalgamation of cliches the thing is, not to mention that it doesn’t actually make any sense. Let’s not even go into how it’s really an ad for something like, say, the internet. Let’s just appreciate it for the (hilarious) thing of beauty it is. Thank you, Michael Scott.
Dwight, while still possessing of his own unique brand of arrogance, has retreated into Second Life, a game that is not really a game, apparently.
Dwight : I signed up for Second Life about a year ago. Back then, my life was so great that I literally wanted a second one. In my second life, I was also a paper salesman, and I was also named Dwight. Absolutely everything was the same. Except I could fly.
Good for Dwight! He’s got a pasttime, it doesn’t involve roadkill, everyone’s happy (except for the fact he’s at work and not selling paper while he’s hooked up). Me being a nerd, I’m remembering my own brief foray into Second Life, and how I got frustrated after about an hour, partly because the dang thing had a difficult interface that wasn’t really intuitive at all. Also, all the skanky dudes. I think I’ll stick with World of Warcraft, where at least we’ve got winners among the losers.
And what’s he doing playing that on a work computer, seriously! Dwight, your malfeasance is being noted.
Also: where did “Shelford” come from? I know they make you choose from a certain number of names, but it’s not Angela’s last name… is it his mother’s maiden name? We can be somewhat certain she’s not a Nazi, but then again we haven’t heard much about her. Anyway.
I’d like to focus here on pretty much one aspect of Jim right here: the part of him that lives in Second Life. Bear with me.
Jim : Hey.
Pam : Huh. No talk. I’m animating.
Jim : Why don’t we take a quick ten-second break from that so I can show you what’s going on here. Ok. This is Dwight’s Second life. He’s on it all the time. So much so that his little guy here has created his own world. It’s called Second Second Life, for those people who want to be removed even further from reality.
Pam : Are you serious?
Jim : Yeah.
Pam : Oh my god, he’s really in pain. [Pam sees something on the screen] Who’s that?
Jim : Oh, that’s just my avatar guy whatever.
Pam : He looks a lot like you! [Jim makes noncommittal noises] How much time did you spend on that?
Jim : Not much. It’s just for tracking Dwight, so.
Pam : Right. [pause] You’re a sportswriter in Philadelphia? Nice build, too. [Jim looks at the camera]
Jim : Yup.
Pam : You have a guitar slung on your back! I did not know you played guitar.
Jim : I– Why don’t we go back to the animation-
Pam : No no no! I want to see more of Philly Jim! I want Philly Jim!
Jim : No, show me how this works.
Pam : Oh boy.
Philly Jim. He’s got a guitar, he’s a sportswriter, and for better or worse he is a spy. What I find interesting is not that Jim’s got a Second Life toon; it makes sense, given how much his life has sucked up until a few months ago, that he would also dive into a world that, despite crappy (to me) interfaces, doesn’t have anyone tugging at his heartstrings or reminding him of opportunities lost. Far from it; I would think the mountains of furries and crazy blinking ads and spooky blowing wind would be enough of a distraction for anyone.
No, what I find interesting is that Pam doesn’t know Jim plays guitar, or harbors a secret dream of being a sportswriter. Granted, that second one might not be true, or it might be true and he just hasn’t told her (because those kind of dreams are often kept secret; I know I have some myself), but that guitar thing… there’s a guitar visible in his room in The Party, which Pam walks right by and sits right in front of. Sure, it’s a couple years ago, but still! Did he give up the guitar? What? I must know.
And I’m sorry to rag on Second Life. It’s actually really neat how you can customize the toons, and really an anthropologist would have a field day with how people interact, and why they interact at all, in it. It’s just not the game - I’m sorry, multiuser virtual environment - for me.
Oh, and hey - remember Meredith and her cast? I’m assuming not much has changed.
Jim : Pam’s staying late tonight to achieve her dreams. So, pretty proud of her. unfortunately, she was my ride-
Meredith : You coming?
Jim : I, uhh-
Meredith : Piss or get off the pot!
Pam is moving forward on her dreams! Go, Fancy New Beesly, go!
Pam : I’m taking a computer animation class, so I can try and do a logo.
Michael : Look at that! Even the receptionist is getting in on the creativity.
Dude, she totally gets in on the creativity…
Jim : I hope you’re not killing yourself on this, because I’m sure it’s good enough for Michael’s ad, that probably will be seen by no one.
Pam : Maybe, but it’s not good enough for me.
Jim : Ok. Do you want me to stay?
Pam : No, no, you can go home. I’m good.
… So much so that she burns the midnight oil getting it done. Talk about dedication.
Pam : [Waking up from a keyboard faceplant] Dunder-Mifflin, this is Pam.
Jim : Good morning.
[Pam realizes the situation.]
Jim : Yeah, I’m sorry, I looked away for a second and Creed snatched your hashbrowns.
Pam : Thank you.
Jim : You’re welcome.
Pam : [In interview] I worked until about 2:45 a.m., and then I had to decide if I wanted to spend the night with Michael, editing in his office, and Dwight, watching Michael edit in his office, or drive home and probably fall asleep at the wheel and die in a fiery car wreck. I passed out on my keyboard trying to decide.
I can’t say I’ve done this for anything - falling asleep at the desk and waking up to a phone call, or a coworker, or a family member - but I can say that I admire that kind of single-minded determination. Also, I’m glad she “decided” to stay at work, because another car accident is the last thing that this show needs, not to mention the fact that Jim needs at least a few more episodes of break from angst to really bounce back to Good. And we want good. Ok, I want good. Sue me (don’t).
A brief word about Jim and Pam, and then we’re on to the fun(ny) stuff.
Jim : Animation? All her, by the way.
Bartender : Really?
Jim : Yeah, just thought you should-
Bartender : The animation was cool! Hey, listen, you ever been on a motorcycle? Because-
Jim : Awww [wraps his arm around Pam’s shoulders]
It’s clear to me that Jim is supportive of Pam’s arty ambitions. Since she’s Fancy New Beesly who stands up for herself, she’s been clear about her intentions and while she might not have taken the internship from Corporate she is still obviously not letting go of her dreams. Jim is supportive of this, because he is proud of her and wants her to succeed. This is kind of a duh; Jim’s always adored her and supported her ambitions when others would not.
As for his not telling her his own hopes and dreams? I’m not surprised. The relationship isn’t necessarily about her need for him (even though she does kinda need him), but rather about his need for her. She doesn’t really need his go-ahead to get her goals done, but oddly enough he isn’t as assertive, in some ways, as she has become, and so he (1) hasn’t acted on his own goals, notably because they might take him far away from her, and (2) doesn’t tell her about them, for various reasons I could detail but I’d be presuming on his own feelings more than I already have and I also am having a hard time articulating the reasons why someone wouldn’t do that. Suffice it to say that one day, he might tell her what he wants, but she’ll probably have to prod him so he feels comfortable “burdening her” with those things.
But enough of that! Some people are getting some action around here, and it’s time we recognized that. What’s up, Andy?
Andy : I need some advice. I’ve been spending a lot of time making out with Angela lately, and we’ve been necking, but ONLY necking, right? Not actually kissing our mouths, just a neck on neck. It’s just like, rubbing-slash-nuzzling our necks together. It’s hot, I’m not going to lie to you, but it’s a little weird. But you seem like a guy with answers. So, how do I fast track this? Get to first base!
Dwight : We cannot talk about this… because…someone might hear us.
Andy : [snaps fingers] We’ll use code names.
Dwight : Angela can stay the same, but we’ll change Andy to Dwight.
Andy : That’s not different enough.
Dwight : …Dwike?
You know how Jim claimed he’d picked the world’s worst confidant? At least Jim knew why. Andy has no idea at this point that he’s basically become a Spanish Inquisitor for all the torture he’s doing to Dwight, but at the same time, there’s a silver lining here. Now Dwight knows exactly what’s going on, and while that is a horrible thing, it’s also good because now he can subvert it from the inside.
Andy : Let me pour you some bubbly, because somebody got to a whole new level last night.
Dwight : Andy, I can’t hear this right now.
Andy : No no no, this is good. You know how we haven’t really gotten anywhere that i want to get to physically yet? Well, last night, that changed. We’re making out, I’m kissing her neck, and her cheek, and her earlobe, and she’s not really kissing me back, but she closes her eyes and she’s like, “Oh, D. Oh, D.”
Dwight : She called you… D?
Andy : Yeah. D for Andy.
Dwight : Oh, D.
Andy : Oh, D.
Dwight : Oh, D.
Andy : Oh, D.
[together] Oh, D! [laughing] Oh, D! [more laughing]
Oh, D! There is a light at the end of a tunnel for Dwight, it seems.
On a related note, do people really say the other person’s name during intimate moments? Or is that yet another creation of the popular media? I have no idea.
I would rank this episode’s Dwangela S&P (Sad & Pathetic) at a 2% grade, or not quite legal under the ADA but still not so bad considering.
Yeah, I like Phyllis. I hope that’s ok; she just keeps delivering the genius, even if it’s only one scene.
Michael : This is a pivotal scene in the ad, and if we don’t get this, if we don’t nail it, we’re gonna lose the whole triumph of the moment. The triumph of the will. Now- god, what? What, Phyllis?
Phyllis : [Blubbering] Well, I got in line to buy Sue Grafton’s book, and when it came to my turn I asked her if she wanted to be in the ad and she said no thank you but I wasn’t supposed to take no for an answer-
Michael : Atta girl.
Phyllis : And so I kept asking and they finally threw me out of the store in front of all my friends. [whimpering]
Michael : Did you or did you not get Sue Grafton.
Phyllis : [Moaning] No.
Michael : Oh. … Could somebody get her a tissue? [walks away, disgusted. Kevin breaks off a piece of tape and offers it to a weeping Phyllis]
This is a painful thing to watch, but also impressive. The wubbles! The sniffles! Oh, Phyllis. The only reason she’s not the superstar is because she only did it once. How embarrassing.
Michael, you made this a true triumph of the will. You are the superstar. Just don’t let it go to your head - “limitless paper in a paperless world” would’ve come back to haunt you, big time.
Michael : These are our accountants, and as you can see, they are very different sizes. What you might want to do is kind of a Papa Bear, Momma Bear, Baby Bear thing. That might be kind of fun.
Kevin : Momma Bear!
Yet another indignity in a long line of indignities.
Jim : I think it’s great that the company is making a commercial, because very many people have heard of us. I mean, when I tell people I work at Dunder-Mifflin, they think that we sell mufflers. Or muffins. Or mittens. And frankly, all of those sound better than paper, so I let it slide.
Personally, when I heard Dunder-Mifflin I thought of textbooks, but that’s because when I was a kid a lot of our books came from Houghton-Mifflin. Mufflers makes sense, I suppose.
Michael : All right, let me ask you this, tell me if you think this is creative. When I was five, I imagined that there was such a thing as a unicorn, and this is before i had even heard of one, or seen one. I just drew a picture of a horse that could fly over rainbows and had a huge spike in its head. I was five! Five years old. Couldn’t even talk yet.
I’d say he made some impressive improvements, if he couldn’t talk at five but eventually aced second grade. Then again, he is a self-described people person, so I suppose he really worked hard on those verbal skills (to a point).
Darryl et al : Out of paper, out of stock/Friendly faces around the block/Break loose from the chains/that are causing you pain/Call Michael and Stanley/Jim, Dwight, Creed/Call Andy and Kelly for your business paper needs/Dunder-Mifflin/The people person’s paper people/Dunder-Mifflin/The people person’s paper people!
I enjoyed both versions of this entertaining little ditty, and while it wouldn’t really fit in Michael’s final vision, it is still a pretty great little number. Yes, I’ve gotten it stuck in my head a lot these past few days. Yes, it’s much better as a jingle-thing than “Limitless paper in a paperless world”, too.
Michael : Pam, please clear my phone lines.
Pam : Certainly. Beep boop beep beep beep beep beep beep beep boop. Ok, clear.
Michael : They could call any second now. [sighs, looks at his watch, fiddles a moment] I’d better call.
Does Dunder-Mifflin even have that many incoming/outgoing lines? Like, the entire corporation, including the branches and corporate?
Kevin : I kinda know what it’s like to be in commercials. My nickname in high school used to be Kool-Aid Man. [mugs]
Oscar : When I was younger I always wanted to be an actor in commercials. Then I realized I had a brain.
Meredith : I’m excited about doing the ad, but I’m not really used to doing videos with so many people around.
Kevin is a simple person, Oscar is a smart person, and Meredith is a person who gets around in terrifying-to-imagine ways.
Andy : Best ad ever. “Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that… I am totally blanking. What is the thing?
Jim : Nobody tell him!
Andy : What? No! Why?
Jim : You got it! You’re so close!
Andy : Break me off a piece of that nah nah nah… Break me off a piece of that applesauce!
Jim : Break me off a piece of that applesauce? I don’t think…
Andy : Piece of that Chrysler car?
Jim : Nope.
Andy : Football cream? NYYEAAGH
Break me off a piece of that lumber tar. Snickers bar.
Break me off a piece of that Grey Poupon.
[Mumbling] Hair for men. Poison gas. Nutrasweet. [cut] It’s gotta rhyme with “piece”- Fancy Feast! Break me off a piece of that Fancy Feast! It’s a cat food.
How did no one just tell him and how did he not know this anyway? Seriously. Shameful, Andy, shameful.