Threats of terminal illness and birthday celebrations don’t mix well, a lesson that is made all too apparent during this week’s episode. Michael spends the day recounting sad tales from his childhood and subjecting the office to ill-advised festivities in an attempt to make up for lost time. People are hardly in the mood to celebrate, however, as Kevin anxiously awaits potentially grim test results. Meanwhile, a concerned Jim and Pam head out to pick up some things to lift his spirits and end up repairing a few other things along the way.
Michael’s birthday isn’t so much a celebration as it is a production of suffocating proportions. Having to resort to clever ploys like the following in order to remind others of your birthday is basically an invitation for disappointment.
Pam [On the phone] : Michael, I have Jan on the line.
Michael : Oh, great. Put her through.
Jan : Hello, Michael.
Michael : Hey, you.
Jan : I’m returning your call. You said it was urgent.
Michael : It is urgent. I just wanted to call and wish you a happy birthday.
Jan : Well, today’s not my birthday, so…
Michael : Really? ‘Cause I thought we had the same birthday.
[A brief moment of silence]
Jan : Happy birthday, Michael.
Michael : Thanks.
Jan : Am I on camera?
Michael : Nope. Totally private. You can say whatever is in your heart.
Jan : [Hangs up]
Such a tease, that Jan. Notice Ryan shaking his head in the foreground. I’d be shaking my head, too.
Michael’s birthday might actually be a bigger deal for Dwight than it is for Michael, which is extraordinary given how much admiration Michael has for himself.
Dwight : Why tip someone for a job I’m capable of doing myself? I can deliver food. I can drive a taxi. I can and do cut my own hair. I did, however, tip my urologist, because… I am unable to pulverize my own kidney stones.
This sort of logic is bound to get you into all sorts of trouble.
Another week, another skillfully delivered jab from Jim. Michael’s authority, what little of it he has, inevitably takes a dive whenever Jim is around.
Jim : Um, how is this not a pyramid scheme?
Michael : Alright, let me explain again.
[Michael begins to draw a diagram]
Michael : Phil has recruited me and another guy. Now, we are getting three people each. The more people that get involved, the more people who are investing, the more money we’re all gonna make. It’s not a pyramid scheme. It is a–it’s not even a scheme, per se, it’s…
Jim : [Draws a triangle around Michael’s diagram]
Michael : I have to go make a call.
Of all the characters on this show, no one makes better use of the camera than Jim. I’ve started making a habit of looking for him in scenes where he’s been relegated to the background; nine times out of ten something worth watching is happening back there.
The caged bird analogy sees plenty of usage, but I think it’s warranted in Pam’s case.
Pam : If I knew I had a week to live, I would probably go to Europe. And South America. And the Grand Canyon. And I would want to see the Pacific Ocean. It would be a pretty busy week.
A busy week for Pam, and a very sad week for millions of viewers around the world.
Michael’s Birthday saw a return to the Jim and Pam of old: loose, relaxed, and taking frivolous potshots at one another.
Jim : So, we got Kev some stuff. Um, party pack of M&Ms, his favorite candy. A DVD of American Pie 2, which is his favorite movie, and he lent it to Creed, so I can guarantee you he won’t get that back.
Pam : 69 Cup of Noodles.
Jim : Which we realize sounds crass, but it is his favorite number.
Pam : And his favorite lunch.
Removing these two from the stuffy confines of the office does seem to bring out the best in them.
Jim : [Pulls fabric softener off the shelf and places it in the cart]
Pam : [Gives Jim a surprised look]
Jim : What?
Pam : You use fabric softener?
Jim : Yeah, you don’t?
Pam : No, I do.
Jim : Ok. [Laughs]
Brilliant move, Jim. Absolutely brilliant, even if it was inadvertent. Forget deer jerky — fabric softener is the real aphrodisiac.
Pam : [Checks her watch] We should probably head back.
Jim : Yeah, ok. Oh, I dare you to make an announcement.
Pam : You dare me? How old are you?
Jim : Just quit stalling.
Pam [echoing over the P.A.] : Luke, this is your father. Come set the table for dinner.
Jim : Such a dork.
Pam : Jim Halpert, price check on fabric softener. The kind that–
Rite Aid Attendant : Ma’am, please don’t touch that. That is not a toy.
Pam : I’m sorry. Sorry.
Jim : How old are you?
Pam : I hate you.
Well, I’d say that just about solidified Pam’s desirable status with pretty much every guy on the planet. I don’t see how anyone could resist her after witnessing that little stunt.
Pam : Michael’s birthday was actually pretty cool. It was a good day. I don’t know. [Fidgets] It was a good day.
Longtime Office fans will notice the reference to the closing minutes of Diversity Day. Pam’s happiness is lethally contagious, more so than your typical brand of joy. If only she and Jim could see themselves on camera, we’d be all set.
Speaking of Jim, he appears to be recovering nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I’m beginning to wonder if I was horribly off the mark in discounting the possibility of him remaining at the office with a married Pam. I detected nary a hint of anguish or anything even remotely resembling desperation from him throughout this episode. His interactions with Pam were all completely natural, certainly not the type of behavior you’d expect from someone in his difficult position. Then again, he has to get over her sometime; more power to him if he’s able to do it with her standing right in front of him.
Pam, on the other hand, continues to keep this relationship alive, albeit in ways that do not implicate her directly, though I suspect the cameraman would beg to differ. The closer it gets to June 10th, the harder it becomes to hide all those years of pent-up emotions. Go, Pam, go.
Michael’s Birthday rates a solid Up on the JP Index.
Definitely, definitely Ryan. He didn’t even have to say a single word.
Dwight : [Holding Michael’s birthday cake]
Angela : Thank you.
Dwight : Oh, I got it.
Angela : What do you–it’s… the party planning committee…
Dwight : This is the most important day of the year. I can’t risk anything.
Angela : Fine.
Dwight : What about that meeting later to discuss finances?
Angela : Yes.
[Dwight and Angela notice Ryan off to the side and begin whispering rather ineffectively to one another]
Angela : But don’t expect any cookie.
Dwight : But what if I’m hungry?
Angela : No cookie.
[Cut to interview]
Ryan : [Stares at the camera, at a complete loss for words]
Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe the quality of this scene.
It may have been Michael’s birthday, but I have to hand it to Pam for resurrecting the hopes of Jim/Pam followers everywhere.
Michael : Ok, calling cards are the wave of the future. These things sell themselves.
Ryan : Who uses calling cards anymore?
Michael : You know what, that’s a nice attitude, Ryan. I’m just helping you invest in your future, my friend.
Oscar : It sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme.
Michael : Yes! Thank you! You will get rich quick. We all will!
Another idiom wasted on Michael.
Dwight : Birthday hug.
Michael : No, no, no. No. New suit. Please.
Dwight : That suit is amazing.
Michael : Thank you very much. It is from Italy. Actually, no… Bulgaria.
Dwight : Mm. Maybe I should get one.
Michael : Good luck. One of a kind.
Dwight : eBay.
Watching the two of them raise the roof at the end of this scene ranks as one of the funniest moments on this show.
Dwight : Here’s a list of things that Michael would like to be surprised by.
[Dwight hands the list to Pam]
Pam : Michael wants a strippergram?
Michael : Yes, but he doesn’t want to know when or whom.
Angela : No. This is a closed door meeting.
[Dwight and Angela glare at one another]
Dwight and Angela’s secret relationship has all the subtleties of a public one.
Toby : Who brought in donuts?
Michael : Somebody got donuts for my birthday.
Toby : Happy birthday!
Michael : You didn’t know it was my birthday.
Toby : I… guess I forgot.
Michael : Well, I guess I forgot to give you a donut.
Toby : You serious?
Michael : Mm-hmm.
So much hostility.
Oscar : Skin cancer is treatable.
Kevin : Right.
Oscar : It’s gonna be ok.
Angela : You don’t know it’s going to be ok. Don’t give him false hope.
Kevin : [Looks at Angela]
Angela : It’s probably nothing, though.
There’s a heart in there somewhere if you look deep enough.
Michael : My birthday blows. Nobody even signed my birthday poster. Apparently my mother is the only one who cares enough to send me anything.
Dwight : I probably care more than she does.
Michael : You’re making it worse. [Points to a poster of James Dean] I bet Luke Perry’s friends don’t treat him like this.
Dwight speaks the truth. I honestly believe he cares more about Michael’s birthday than his mother does.
Dwight [Speaking to a customer on the phone] : Uh, that’s a list price of $4.50. Unfortunately, this item is on…
[Dwight’s watch alarm goes off]
Dwight : Back… [Checks his watch] Order. [Hangs up] Michael! Michael! Michael, Michael, Michael! Come here, come here, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere.
Michael : What?
Dwight : Listen up, everyone. [Laughs excitedly] It is 11:23 exactly. The exact moment when you emerged from your mother’s vaginal canal.
Notice how Dwight has absolutely no problem ditching his customer mid-call without an explanation. TMI, my friend. TMI.
Dwight : Ok, that is not an eight-foot sub.
Delivery Guy : Uh, we don’t make an eight-foot sub. This is eight one-foot subs.
Dwight : F.
Way to whip that foul mouth into shape, Angela.
Michael : When I was 16, I was supposed to go out on a date with a girl named Julie. But there was another Michael in the class that she apparently thought the date was with, so she went out with him on my birthday. And she got him a cake at the restaurant, and it wasn’t even his birthday. But I heard about it the next day in school, so… that was the worst birthday I think I ever had.
The fact that Michael made it through his traumatic childhood is utterly amazing.
Dwight : Hey, temp, you know, uh, we still got five feet of sandwich left.
Ryan : Someone ate three feet of that thing?
Dwight : Hell, yeah. Save room for ice cream cake.
My money’s on Creed. He’ll eat anything.
Meredith : [Hugs Kevin in an attempt to console him]
Michael : Hello? What about the birthday boy? Haven’t had a hug all day.
Angela : No one cares about your birthday. Kevin’s waiting to hear if he has skin cancer.
Angela was never one to mince words.
Toby [Speaking to Kevin] : Honestly, is there any way you can get on your fiancee’s plan? Our health plan is–it’s just–it’s terrible.
Michael : Did some research. It turns out that 98% of people with skin cancer fully recover.
Kevin : Still scary.
Michael : Yeah, but it’s not brain cancer, and it shouldn’t stop us from having fun. You know what they say the best medicine is.
Kevin : Well, the doctor said a combination of interferon and dicarbazine.
Michael : And laughter… also.
Toby : I don’t really think people are in the laughing mood.
Michael : Why are you here? I didn’t even invite you to my birthday party.
Toby : I work here.
Toby is thinking about slashing those Sebring tires.
Dwight : Where have you been? And don’t say the bathroom, ’cause I kicked in all the stalls.
Jim : Well, that’s an invasion of privacy, so I’m going to tell Michael.
Dwight : Please don’t.
Jim : You owe me.
I bet he learned how to kick down bathroom stalls during his sheriff’s deputy training course.
Michael : Yeah, I’ve been pretty much skating my whole life. I thought about playing in the NHL, but you’re on the road so much. Get no time to spend with your wife and kids. And I really want a wife and kids.
Man, look at him move. Surely, he should be able to score a wife and kids with talent like that.
Michael : Hey, Pam. All the stuff with Kevin, um, it’s pretty scary. And I’m thinking that next time you’re in the shower, you should check yourself out. You know, give yourself an exam. [Makes a suggestive motion around his chest] Those things are like ticking time bags. Alright? Think about it.
Pam : [Turns to Jim]
Jim : Something to think about.
Uh…. scratch that whole wife and kids thing.
Michael : Well, apparently, in the medicine community, negative means good, which makes absolutely no sense. In the real world community, you’d–that would be chaos.
How Michael made it this far in life without picking up on this is beyond me.