• Season 4 : Episode 7
  • First aired on November 8, 2007
  • Written by Steve Carell / Directed by Paul Feig
  • Recap by Karin
  • Discuss this episode at The Watercooler, and remember to submit your vote at OfficeTally.

No food, no shelter, no fresh water, no tools… no camera crew. Well, two out of five ain’t bad. Michael strikes out into the deep dark Pennsylvanian forest armed only with his business suit, a roll of duct tape, a video camera, and a knife after being passed over for a corporate wilderness retreat in favor of Toby, his arch-nemesis. While he performs feats of tailoring sorrow, Jim makes an interesting management decision that has the office confusing him with someone no one should ever aspire to be.

The Michael Scott School of Hard Knocks

The way it works with Michael Scott is that if you deny him something, he only wants it more.

Michael : I want to get out of here! All the cliques, and the office politics, fluorescent lights, the asbestos-
Jim : I thought we had that looked at.
Michael : I’m sick of it. I’m sick of this place.

Given that only a few episodes ago Michael was prepared to live out the rest of his days at Dunder Mifflin, you’d think it’d be surprising that he would have such a violent reaction in the other direction. Of course, if you thought that, you wouldn’t be here because you’d be the type of person who didn’t actually pay attention to anything that happened in The Office, ever. Michael is a 5 year old child who wants what everyone else has, and if he has to say something that is completely untrue to get it, god willing he will say that thing and not bat an eyelash. Just like my 5 year old niece.

Michael : When Jan and I had satellite, we used to watch this show called Survivorman, and it was interesting, because it was about a guy who would go out in the middle of nowhere and just try not to die. Try not to get eaten by an animal, or be overexposed.

Note the “when” and “used to”. Hooray for starting to get a hold on your debt! I am glad, however, that Michael watched “Survivorman” and not “Man vs. Wild”. More on that in a moment.

Michael : Now, everything I brought with me can be used. My sport coat here can be fashioned into a backpack of sorts. I’m going to wear what was once one of my pant legs. [Michael sticks his head into the wider part of the cut leg, making it into a tube-hat.]

See, in “Man vs. Wild”, our hero is at one point stuck in a Southwestern desert, and in order to keep cool he urinates on a bandana, wrapping it around his head. I invite you to imagine how this episode might have gone if that was the show Michael had watched instead of “Survivorman”.

Fun, eh? Aaaanyway.

Michael : I am totally alone right now, with only my thoughts. I love it. I’m lovin’ it. I can literally say anything I want. No one is going to hear me. WISH I COULD’VE GONE WITH RYAN ON THAT COOL RETREAT! JAN HAS PLASTIC BOOOOBS! IIIII HAAAVE HEMOOORRHOOOOIIIIDS! Doesn’t even matter.

I get the feeling that, silly as this exercise in “How Inept Can Michael Be” is, he might actually benefit from having a place where he feels he is alone and where he can say any dang thing that comes into his head. If anything, it might get it out of his system so he doesn’t say it at the office, where one day you just know he’s going to say it in front of the wrong person who just does not get the joke. Or really anyone, for that matter. Dude has issues.

Michael : Well, if you take a look at this, I tented my pants.

I… I wanted to include this because it made me giggle, but there’s really not much I can say about it that’s terribly appropriate. Suffice it to say most people in his general circumstances do not need duct tape to accomplish this.

Dwight Being Dwight

We always knew Dwight was as prepared as a Boy Scout (albeit with a much darker intent). However, most Boy Scouts don’t have bladed weapons hidden around their places of employment (Question to Boy Scouts: do you?).

Dwight : I keep various weaponry strategically placed around the office. [Camera shows Dwight revealing hidden sais, a file named “Mr. A. Knife”, a sword in the ceiling, and a blowgun in the toilet] I saved Jim’s life with a can of pepper spray I had velcroed under my desk. People say, oh, it’s dangerous to keep weapons in the home or in the workplace. Well, I say, it’s better to be hurt by someone you know accidentally than by a stranger on purpose.

Given that this is the same dude who felt that better a thousand innocent men should be locked up than one guilty man roam free, one should not feel too shocked. He’s a special boy, our Dwight.

Dwight : No, I would never leave you for dead, you would never escape.
Michael : Well, yes I would, and I would survive.
Dwight : I would make sure that you were dead, believe me, and then I would remove your teeth and cut off your fingertips so you could not be identified. And they would call me the Overkill Killer.
Michael : You are as creepy as a real serial killer. For real.

Michael is the one who is right here. Then again, I wouldn’t condemn someone as creepy when they’re just being practical, so. Of course, in eighth grade drug awareness class I was the one who suggested that one of the punishments for disrupting the group should be duct-taping the guilty party to the wall and giving them rug burns, so, I might not be the best judge of Dwight in this instance.

Dwight : I lied to Michael. I said that I would leave him alone but I will not. I will remain close by to provide unseen moral support, but I will never help him. I will let harm befall him. I will even let him die. But I will never let him lose his dignity.

Because butchered slacks have no bearing on a man’s dignity. Once again, aren’t you glad Michael didn’t watch “Man vs. Wild”?

Oh, and I can’t imagine those eggs of Dwight’s taking more than two minutes to cook. They’re tiny! But then again, I am not the wilderness expert that Dwight appears to be, nor am I someone who can cook eggs with any degree of accuracy. My cooking talents lie more along the lines of calling my mom and asking her once again how long it takes to bake a potato.

The Many Faces of Jim

What happens when Jim stops being the office clown and starts being the boss? Besides pissing off Angela, of course.

Jim : You know, I have an idea. Why don’t we just do one shared party?
Angela : What?
Jim : We can just have one big fun party, and everybody’s happy, and nobody wastes their time.
Angela : I don’t like it. [Leaves in a huff]
Pam : Wow. You’re shaking things up a bit, huh.
Jim : It’s a pretty good idea, don’t you think?
Pam : Do you think it’s a good idea?
Jim : No, I don’t. I think it’s a great idea.
Pam : Hmm. [Looks at the camera, and walks away with a smile on her face]

As Andy could tell you, if he hasn’t repressed it in the name of Operation Fallen Angel, it is not a good idea to piss off Angela. Granted, Michael’s done it a thousand times and hasn’t yet suffered her true wrath, but Jim is not Michael (yet) and is thus fair game. We shall see.

Jim : There are 13 people working in this office. So, 13 times a year, Michael gets a cake, and balloons, and some sort of joke gift, and makes a toast. And there are two types of toasts. One is a joke about how old you are, and the other is something inappropriate, or horrible, or both. What else… he only sings the high harmony to Happy Birthday, and he is a very big believer in surprise parties. Maybe even arguably, possibly, to a fault. So, I think, yeah, I think getting these out of the way might be productive.

Jim has a good point. The parties can be embarrassing, tedious, sexually explicit, and eardrum-splitting. However, my main reason in pointing out this little talking-head is so that you, the reader, can remember all the little bits of video going on during it – Dwight being beaten with a blow-up doll, Michael scaring the bejeesus out of Kelly (and Oscar, and Phyllis), and giggle.

Jim : Toby’s great. He’s great. But sometimes he can be a little bit much. [Imitating Toby] “I don’t see the harm in that.” Well, it’s a cake, Toby, so, come on.

Ohhhhhhhh, boy. Jim has started down a dark path, one that seems just fine but is in reality fraught with peril, isolation, and redundant trips to the conference room. Also, possibly a fear of snakes.

Jim : Yup. Phyllis called me Michael. And I will always and forever be haunted by that fact.

Phyllis probably did more good with that slip of the tongue than anything else in this episode (with the possible exception of Michael’s confession at the end). Jim has seen the enemy, and it is him.

Confessions of a Receptionist

Pam doesn’t get much screentime in this episode. Her main occupation this time seems to be quietly laughing at Jim’s descent into madness and making “helpful” suggestions which he fortunately recognizes for what they are.

Jim : Hey, everybody, hi, how you doing. Can I have your attention please? Because we have to talk about this birthday thing.
Pam : [Raises her hand] Conference room?
Jim : Yes! Conference room, 5 minutes!… Nnnno, no. We’re going to solve it right here, we’re actually going to talk about it out here.

You naughty girl! Don’t encourage Bad Jim! He will remember this and you will be punished!

…at least, that would be my plan, and we’ve already established I don’t make the most reasonable plans. Suffice it to say, Fancy New Beesley is here to stay, and she is most definitely a tricksy one indeed.

The Jim/Pam Index

Jim makes poor choices, Pam lets him. Under the circumstances, it is probably a wise decision on her part that she lets him set up his own downfall, because there’s no way he would’ve listened to her otherwise – he had to fail first before he could learn. And that’s fine.

Survivor Man rates a new branch has grown on the fascinating tree of love on the JP Index.

Supporting Nod

Creed. I had no idea a peach cobbler could mean so much to a man, but then I dislike peaches. Some days, I wish we had a crazy old dude like that in my office, and then I remember we have, like, 5. Well, 2. Still.

The Superstar

Welcome, Mr. Survivorman. You had the patter down cold and you weren’t afraid to butcher your suit to do it. If you didn’t actually look at him you could almost believe he wasn’t doomed to die in any other forest. Thank you, Michael Scott. You earned it (just stay away from my closet next time you go on an excursion).

Transmissions from the Office

  • Pam : Ryan invited some of the branch managers and Toby into the woods for a “get to know you” weekend. Michael wasn’t invited. Apparently they already knew everything they needed to know about him. 
    Phyllis : Michael wasn’t invited on Ryan’s camping trip. Toby went, but Michael didn’t go. He wasn’t invited. [Smiles]

    Toby : Ryan invited me to go on his wilderness adventure retreat. It was this amazing, beautiful-
    Michael : Hey! Nobody cares. Nobody cares. I need that room at some point, so, just wrap it up.
    Toby : Michael wasn’t invited.

    So, I gather Michael wasn’t invited, then, yeah?

  • Pam : Did you sleep in cabins?
    Toby : Under the stars. It was really beautiful. You should have come.

    I am sure Toby and Ryan and probably every other dude (Dan from Buffalo, Mark Chisholm, and Jeff from Albany) would’ve liked that too. Men. I wonder what’ll happen when Toby finally grows a pair and tells Pam how he feels… I have a feeling it will be far more anticlimactic than when Jim did it, oddly enough.

  • Toby : We had so many s’mores, I finally had to say, “No more s’mores, no more s’mores!”

    S’mores have a special place in Michael’s heart, so I feel a little bad for Michael. But not all that bad. Dude has made Toby’s life a pain and a half, he can deal with missing out on a bunch of dudes studiously not reenacting “Broken Mountain”.

  • Jim : Oh, can’t go today, because, donating blood.
    Michael : How often can you actually donate blood?
    Jim : Is there a limit? I don’t…
    Michael : Your body only has a certain amount.
    Jim : Well. Is that it, or…?

    According to the Mayo Clinic, you can donate whole blood every two months. I’m guessing it hasn’t been two months since Jim “donated blood”.

  • Dwight : Do I believe that Michael possesses the skills to survive in a hostile environment? Let’s put it this way - no, I do not.

    Do I believe that Michael possesses the skills to survive in a friendly environment? Let’s put it this way – no, I do not.

  • Michael : Hey, buddy, what’s up.
    Jim : Hey. Sure glad you’re back.
    Michael : You are relieved.
    Jim : You have no idea.
    Michael : So, what’d I miss?
    Jim : Well, I tried to put all the birthdays together at once. So, terrible idea.
    Michael : Yeah, ok, I did that. Rookie mistake.
    Jim : You did do it?
    Michael : Uh huh. Yeah. Just wait. Ten years, you’ll figure it out.
    Jim : Well, I don’t think I’ll be here in ten years.
    Michael : That’s what I said. That’s what she said.
    Jim : That’s what who said?
    Michael : I never know. I just say it. I say stuff like that, you know, to lighten the tension. When things sort of get hard.
    Jim : That’s what she said.
    Michael : Hey! Nice. Really good. Bravo, my young ward.

This was one of the best tag scenes (or whatever those ending bits are called) I can recall. I really like it when Michael’s lucid enough to communicate like a normal person, and it seems like that happens more often with Jim than with anyone else. I also sincerely believe and hope it wouldn’t take Jim 10 dang years to be as good a manager as Michael Scott. Seriously. At the very least Jim has a head start in that he was probably talking by the time he was 5.

Odds and Ends

  • Those little magic party elves seem to have been able to arrange for a Fudgey the Whale cake on short notice, along with mushroom caps, and I don’t think it was entirely based on Jim’s recommendations, either. I smell favoritism in the air.
  • Michael is way too into futons. I’d suggest that perhaps he had a very good time on a futon a long time ago, but on the other hand, given Dwight’s admittedly out-of-date knowledge of Michael’s body count I would instead suggest perhaps there was a particularly memorable episode of “Confessions of a Call Girl” that involved a futon. Who knows.
  • I did not know Stanley was a diabetic! Did you?
  • Every day I like Oscar more.
  • Even though the point of this episode was to fit in with the whole NBC Green is Universal thing, it didn’t feel like a sell-out episode to me. I’m happy about that, because usually when there are theme weeks like that, it’s forced and kinda lame and far too self-referential. Kudos for skipping that here and doing the whole character-advancement thing instead.

The Story in Pictures

Gallery Image

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First comment? lol.

Can't wait to see what happens!

1Posted by Philip on November 8, 2007

REALLY REALLY dnt like this ep.....ughhh want the old office back

2Posted by bob on November 8, 2007

Wow, Jim is kind of an asshole.
It was sorta nice to see his face after Michael said "That's what I said". I really hate what they are turning Jim into this season. He used to be someone I looked up to in a way. Maybe I just pitied him because of the Pam situation, but he seemed like a really kind person previously, esp. in season 2. Perhaps this episode just showed him in a bad light.
Can't wait to see Jim handle the prospect that he may one day become Michael if he doesn't decide to look for what he really wants to do in life (besides Pam....wait that came out wrong).
Michaels surprise party montage: hilarious
Dwight's Hidden Weaponry: Also hilarious.
Yes I think I would rather be killed by a friend on accident than a stranger on purpose.

3Posted by Hank on November 8, 2007

ok first of all...... MAJOR blooper with the birthday theme..... in season one (the aliance) Michael wanted a morale booster, and had Pam pull the list of birthdays, Pam said there were none and the next one was Merediths next month....yet in this episode, there were like 2 or 3 before Merediths which they said was 'at the end of the month'.
Ok with that out of the way LOL...
Anyone notice Toby make a comment to Pam that 'she' should have gone on the camping retreat?
His sunburned head was funny, but I wanted to comb that bit of hair on his forehead. (ps i think balding men are sexy..but..)
I don't care for the camera angles this season. They jump all over the place and it's lost the feeling of a lone camera man lurking.
This episode did nothing for me.

I'm sure I'll have other comments, but I wanted to write this while it was still fresh on my mind.

4Posted by Denise on November 8, 2007

Well, I really liked this one. Although I will say it was kind of weak to see Michael leaving the office to be a "survivorman"...HOWEVER, most of it was really funny to watch. He's not exactly Bear Grylls. (Since "Man Vs. Wild" is my second favorite show next to "The Office," I guess I could appreciate the humor here).

But...I dunno, the whole idea of Michael leaving to strand himself in the wilderness just wasn't that clever. They can do better. Or since they're on strike, maybe not?

On the other hand, the stuff back at the office was BRILLIANT. It was really fun to watch Jim try to be a cool manager and come up with what he thought was a great idea...and then see the rest of the employees putting up such a fight over it. It looks like his worst nightmare may be coming true before his very eyes...slowly growing into the mold of Michael Scott.

Ironically, the best part of the episode was the very end, when Michael returns. All of a sudden, seeing Michael return makes everyone perk up (is this Bizarro world or what?). Poor Jim. The high point was his credits-rolling conversation with Michael. Michael's statement of "that's what I said ten years ago" and the resulting look on Jim's face was like a quiet, deadly punch line.

One major problem I had with this episode, though...how come Pam was kept out of things? She wasn't allowed to do anything and was mostly shunted to the background. I mean, she could have at least done something to cheer Jim up like last week. I dunno, I get the weird feeling that even though Jim and Pam are together now...the writers aren't taking advantage of a lot of potential there.

Sadly, while I've been enjoying a lot of episodes this season, I'm starting to get the feeling that most "Office" fans are really being let down. Clearly this is not the best season so far. Me personally, I wouldn't proclaim the show "dead" or say that it's "jumped the shark," because that would be a GROTESQUE overreaction (apologies to those who said so last week), but it's clear to me that season 4 will not be the most remembered of this series. But look at the bright side--even the best shows have their weaker moments.

5Posted by Philip on November 8, 2007

I love that the knife Dwight hid in the file cabinet was in a folder labeled: Mr. A. Knife

6Posted by Lexie on November 8, 2007

Not one of my favorites, except for when Michael tried to go shrooming. ;-)

Even Creed's scene seemed forced, and it wasnt really funny at all.

7Posted by Pat D. on November 8, 2007

Oh my gosh. It was horrible. Jim was Michael, down to the hatred of Toby, which was absolutely ridiculous, and everything else felt out of whack and completely stupid. I felt like I was watching an alternate Office that was unfunny and lame.

Huge disappointment.

8Posted by liesl on November 8, 2007

I really enjoyed this episode. I like seeing Jim reduced from supercool status, I thought Michael's stunt this week was thankfully not too outrageous, and the return to the old theme of Jim's future was powerful. Plus, I always appreciate non-romance-fueled plots.

All in all, it reminded me of Office Olympics, except in an opposite way. This episode was the yin to Office Olympic's yang.

Honestly, it was surprising to me so few have liked it so far. I suppose there's no accounting for taste.

Looking forward to the recap...

9Posted by Grass Roots on November 9, 2007

Good episode. Vastly better than last week's, to the point that I'd be breathing a sigh of relief if I actually thought the season was going to continue. I felt Jim's storyline was a strong return of a kind of storytelling that this show has gotten away from in the last little while, multilayered but simultaneously economical. Jim learned a number of things in this episode, including: 1) That the job and the boss are not independent but interrelated; ie, Michael isn't just Michael because he's a weirdo, but because of the role that his job forces him into; 2) that even Michael has dreams, and that complacency is not an option; and 3) that he has the potential to turn into much less than what he could be.

Some people seem to loathe the idea that Jim could be Michael, but the fact of the matter is that, unless we take action, we as humans have less agency in who we are and how we are perceived than we like to think. Jim has in common with Michael the personality of the class clown, and I think this episode illustrated deftly the ways he could turn into a man he kind of loathes. That's something we all grapple with, I think, at least the 99% of us who are unfortunate enough to have to learn to make compromises. I think that it's one of the strengths of this show that it's willing to show us someone realistically in such a dilemma.

This felt much more like "The Office" the way I remember it at its best than really any episode of this season has yet. That's not to say it was my favorite episode of the season, not by any means, but it certainly felt like "The Office" a hell of a lot more than, oh, say, "Branch Wars" did. Michael's storyline was a little silly, but it wasn't as completely ridiculous as some of the show's worst episodes have been, and really it was a sidelight anyway. The ending was probably the strongest moment this show has seen since . . . well, I can't really remember when, but in a long time. It was subtle but strong at the same time.

As for the revelation that Jim is . . . kind of a bitch? I don't really think that's true. I think part of the point of the storyline was that anybody who serves in that position is going to be resented; another part is that life as the boss isn't so easy as the employees imagine. That's my interpretation, anyway.

10Posted by Linus on November 9, 2007

Wow, that was an excellent thought, Linus! Who needs a recap now? We don't need no stinkin' recap!

(Just kidding, Karin, you know we love you). ;-)

11Posted by Philip on November 9, 2007

Did anyone else notice that Michael was wearing the same "Battlestar Galactica" sweater that Dwight was wearing from "The Return?"

Well, obviously, since he had already cut his own clothes to ribbons...

12Posted by Philip on November 9, 2007

Wow...I'm surprised that many of you on here didn't like this episode. It kind of makes me wonder which Office you are subscribing to? The sitcomy, over-the-top kind that was exemplified by the Moustache Brigade last week? Or Michael driving his car into a lake? Or the way the show was originally intended to be and actually was for the first two seasons, people in a claustrophobic setting, who are slightly high-strung and a little full of themselves, dealing with the day-to-day survival of simply not killing each other? Before the multiple romances and the wacky plot devices, that was the core of the show. And another thing - I absolutely hate hate HATE that so many people out there started to idolize Pam and Jim and demonized Dwight and Michael. They bought into the stereotype that beautiful, charismatic people are necessarily good people, or, at least let's say, infallible. Big no on that. I prefer to see characters with multiple layers - in the past we've seen that used to prime effect - Pam having a bad week and becoming something of a stuttering fool around Jim, Dwight having a good week and doing something incredible noble, Michael having a good week and showing leadership and courtesy, Jim having a bad week and being grumpy with Pam, or Michael, or Karen, or Dwight. These are not out of character moments, people. Jim and Pam are not perfect, and for every time we feel like we are on their side, laughing at the "absurdity" of their co-workers, we should also get some moments where we realize they are being kind of mean, or selfish, or hypocritical. You can still like Jim, you can still look up to him, but you should also realize he's as human as the next guy. Jim, Pam, Ryan, and Dwight have at one point or another assumed they could easily do the job Michael does, and they have all pretty much been proven wrong in one way or another. I think it's hillarious that people on here assume that Jim would get along with Toby...Yes, Toby is someone to be pitied, he is dumped on constantly...but he's also kind of a whiny tattletale. I, personally, found it amusing to see perfect Jim trying to be economical and precise (ala Ryan), misunderstanding his own annoyance at the multiple birthdays as meaning everyone else hated them too. We are not in Bizarro World, guys. We are in Office World.

13Posted by critterfur on November 9, 2007

Just one final thought. They have been two moments this season that really stuck out to me, and they were little, subtle events. One was in last week's episode, during the final minutes, when we saw Toby being extremely snarky towards Jim, and doing his best to embarass him in front of Pam. Second, this week, when during one of the Talking Heads Jim almost literally turned into Michael for a moment, imitating Toby's whiny voice almost perfectly after Toby had come in to complain. These are the things that make the show real...if this show takes place in real time, as I assume it does (i.e. each week that passes for us, a week passes for the characters), then Jim would most likely still be a little sore at Toby for making fun of him last week, and Toby, of course, has decided to do his best to undermine Pam and Jim's relationship. It all actually makes sense. Do you guys really want to see episode after episode of someone in the Office screwing up, and Jim turning to the camera, smirking, and sort of saying, "Oh well...at least I'm not one of THOSE guys"? Or do you, like me, want to see some weeks where Jim realizes something, or makes a mistake, or sees something in a different light, where we get the Jim-as-a-deer-in-headlights look? Those are the funniest moments to me, as they are with all the characters...that real moment when you literally have no comeback, no witty repartee, but just sort of sit there, stunned. The British version of the Office was dripping with those moments, the casual embarassments that happen to everyone, and I don't want the American version to lose those for the sake of those viewers who only want a cookie-cutter sitcom.

14Posted by critterfur on November 9, 2007

One more little addition (sorry). I noticed that last weeks episode was directed by Joss Whedon, returning from his excellent episode last year, and written by the great Mindy Kaling. This is surprising to me, because I didn't notice it until just now, and I've been particularly harsh on that particular episode, but I guess it was more of a reaction to it where I was second-guessing the writers and producers and assuming that they might be trying to turn the show into something that was likable to everyone instead of those of us with a wry, slightly dark sense of humor. And for all of those who don't like this week's episode, it was actually penned by Steve Carell himself, so...I don't know. I have noticed that some people have questioned whether this season has been suffering because of the impending (now full blown) writer's strike, and I hadn't thought about it before, but it's probably pretty accurate. I've noticed that a lot of shows (pretty much every single one I like) have seemed somewhat out of whack this year, and I couldn't figure out why. Then, in the last few weeks, I learn that production companies were asking their writers to basically start churning out scripts like crazy, and stockpiling them like there was no tomorrow. To be in a situation like that, and knowing what was most likely going to happen in a few weeks or months...I think that the writers of television in general were suffering, and therefore their work suffered, too. Maybe, once all of this strike business is over (and the writers will probably just continue with what will be considered Season Five) we'll get a purer sense of story and character, and maybe go back to some of the basics that made the show unique in the first place.

15Posted by critterfur on November 9, 2007

" Jim has in common with Michael the personality of the class clown, and I think this episode illustrated deftly the ways he could turn into a man he kind of loathes. "

That's a good point, Linus. It helps me understand a line from last season that I didn't get at the time. In "Beach Games," Stanley said that he was competing because he didn't want anyone else in the office to get the job other than himself. I thought, "What about Jim? Why would Stanley not want Jim in charge?" Maybe because he foresaw that Jim would be another class-clown-turned-boss?

Then there was the guitar-playing, Philadelphia sportswriter avatar. In fifteen years will this fantasy character morph into another Michael Scarn? (Just a thought . . .)

16Posted by Moratorium on Cornell Talk on November 9, 2007

Okay, maybe that last part was a stretch. Still, we found out in the episode "Money" that Michael doesn't see himself actually becoming Michael Scarn, just as a scriptwriter of "Die Hard"-like movies. So Michael wants to become a scriptwriter, Jim a sportswriter. Those "avatars" are not so far apart.

17Posted by Moratorium on Cornell Talk on November 9, 2007

I personally did not like this episode not because it wasnt "sitcomish" and "romancy" but because the best Office episodes, in my opinion, had a mix of laugh out loud absurdity, uncomfortable moments, character development, etc. This episode did not have all of those things....the scenes were often unfunny that were intended to be (i.e. Creed with Jim or most of Michael's adventure in the woods)., and like somebody else mentioned, the somewhat irrational hatred towards Toby. I mean, if Jimbo hadnt gotten pissed at the Tobster for what he did in the Finer Things club or when Jim and Pam came to report their romance, I didnt see anything Toby did this week to inspire such hatred. I just consider that less than phenomenal writing.

For example, who can forget the hilarious scenes of Andy slowly losing it trying to find his cellphone, and then the uncomfortable-ness (not a word, i know) that ensued as he exploded and punched the drywall? Or how about the great episode "Cocktails" which had me rolling until the end when Roy exploded and decided to kill Jimbo? There just isnt much of that balance this season it seems.

For the record, I thought Michael driving into the lake and going off on that former client was not funny at all, and seemed rather contrived to me.

18Posted by Pat D. on November 9, 2007

I loved the episode, largely because of the Jim character development.

I wanted to say this: Whenever someone talks about the show getting too sitcom-y or to crazy, remember "The Injury." That episode is way out there (think of all the logistical leaps you have to make during Michael's "I like bacon in the morning speech) and it's from Season 2, which a lot of us consider to be the height of the show's brilliance.

Sometimes, the show gets a little wacky. That's OK. In this case, it was Michael cutting up his clothes in the woods or Dwight hiding a sword in the ceiling. There's nothing wrong with funny.

19Posted by R.J. on November 9, 2007
20Posted by Denise on November 9, 2007

There are basically two types of The Office episodes: contiguous and discontiguous. A contiguous episode is one which serves to advance the various plots, romances and breakups which have been in development since S1, while a discontiguous episode is more like an isolated snapshot of a day at the typical office; a show which is more or less independent of the story arc(s) and to some extent even the established characterizations. Survivor Man was the latter. You didn't have to be up to the minute on Jam or Dwangela to enjoy it. The only requirement for relating to and enjoying this episode is at one time having worked in an office with other humans and possibly even having endured a clueless and maladjusted boss. This type of episode always ranks up there with my favorites because, for me, it is usually a breath of fresh air; a fun detour from the usual Office highway, if you will. I feel the show works best this way, and is perhaps more along the lines of how it was originally intended when the UK series was first conceived. I really enjoyed this one. Clips of Michael's past birthday pranks were the outstanding moments for me.

P.S. Whatever happened to Todd Packer? Was he laid off?

21Posted by emstevens on November 9, 2007

Well, it took Todd a long time between eps last time he showed up, so I wouldnt be shocked if he didnt even appear this season. I'm with you: we need more Packer! Lol.

22Posted by Pat D. on November 9, 2007

Well, if Mr. Packer did indeed leave his post as sales rep of DM Scranton, his departure was a very quick and quiet one which I obviously somehow missed.

23Posted by emstevens on November 9, 2007

Most of this season's episodes have left me in a kind of limbo. The really good scenes have been balanced out by the some not-so-good scenes and weak plot lines. It is kind of frustrating because I can't write off the whole episode (and season) yet they have never left me completely satisfied.

24Posted by Hank on November 9, 2007

I feel like this episode will make more sense further down the road in the arc of Jim's storyline. I did not like Jim coming across as a jerk, but I think his reaction to the birthday situation was normal. The fact is, most people in the office (Creed, Meredith, Toby, Phyllis) are just as screwed up and wacky as Michael is, which is why a normal, rational person (like Jim) would clash with them when he assumes a leadership position in the office.

Now that he is personally happy with Pam, he has to look at being professionally happy, and if he doesn't grow as a human being, he'll probably be stuck at DM for 10+ years like Michael did.

Unfortunately, this WGA strike might put off that Jim character development for awhile..:)

25Posted by BabyBear on November 9, 2007

p.s. that was supposed to be a :( not a :)

26Posted by BabyBear on November 9, 2007

The Office this season has been a bit of a hit and miss. These things happen, though, you can't expect the writers to always be at the top of their game. This episode, however, really hinted at the fact as to why Michael is still the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton.

After seeing the ensuing moments of Jim running the office, it was easy to realize just why Michael hasn't yet been fired. The employees of the Scranton branch are all kind of nuts. And how exactly do you run a bunch of irrational people? You put an even nuttier person in charge.

I mean, it all kind of just makes sense this way. Sure, all the employees think Michael is dumb an stupid, but what they don't realize is that without him, the office dynamics would all fall apart.

27Posted by Rebecca on November 9, 2007

Thanks, Linus, for doing the analysis for me! Now I can focus on Michael's duct taping skills.

(no worries, man! :D)

28Posted by Karin on November 9, 2007

Sigh...for those of you who still think Jim is the "rational" one amongst all of the Officites...this is a guy who dumped two beautiful women on the spur of the moment, who had used them as a replacement for the woman he couldn't get...a guy who waited until his desk buddy was getting married to actually do something about it...a guy who really has no problem setting up elaborate and sometimes cruel pranks on others, but when others do the same and drag him along with them, is suddenly the voice of sensibility. I really don't want to come off as a Jim-hater, because I love Jim, but I love Human-Jim, not Hero-Jim...Hero-Jim doesn't actually exist (well, Jim in general doesn't actually exist, but nonetheless). I think that's probably one of the characteristics that separate the American version of the character (Jim) from the British (Tim)...Tim, as far as I could see, never evolved to a point beyond being the straight-man, the tormentor of Gareth, the wooer of Dawn. The show just didn't last that long, wasn't constructor to be that long, for movement beyond that form of the character. The American version is different. Again, I feel it's absolutely in character for Jim to be a jerk sometimes...you guys accept that he would have an ongoing battle with Dwight, but that he wouldn't end up targeting anyone else in the Office? Toby and Jim, for a long time, have been part of the formula that states, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend"...Michael as the fool made Jim and Toby sympathetic towards each other. However, remove Michael from the picture, add in a healthy dose of resentment from Toby for once again missing his chance with Pam, and it's totally believable that Jim would lash out at Toby just this once. To be honest, he does it behind Toby's back and he's not really that cruel, but Jim does seem to recognize one of Toby's faults (being whiny) and Toby seems to recognize one of Jim's (his inability to take some things seriously). So they've got each others number, so to speak.

29Posted by critterfur on November 9, 2007

Oh, and the reason Jim was clashing with most of the Office people wasn't necessarily that he was being rational while they were being irrational (although some of them were absolutely being irrational)...I saw the reason as being that Jim didn't know how to compromise once he actually got into a leadership position. He probably believed that if he ever got into that position as the leader, he would be universally loved, but in most offices, especially that of Dunder-Mifflin, it isn't the role of the boss to be loved, but hated. Michael's annoying traits, his child-like nature - those are the things which the rest of the Office rebels against, and is what really unites them. Michael, poor guy, wants to be liked, but also has to be the boss, and because Michael can't seem to commit to being the straightforward leader who people won't like, he tries to find the middle ground, which is impossible, and ends up making people hate him even more. Oh, and I also enjoyed the fact that Jim thought he was being pretty innovative by combining the parties, and Michael basically stated, "Yep, tried that, didn't work". Is Michael perhaps a little wiser than we give him credit for?

30Posted by critterfur on November 9, 2007

Oh, critterfur, sometimes you say the craziest things!

No, but seriously, I enjoyed that little bit at the end. It's always interesting to see Michael's infrequent lucid moments, because it gives you more insight into a guy who, on the face, seems like a total immature manchild that begs for a slapping most of the time.

31Posted by Karin on November 9, 2007

I think I will stand by my opinion that Jim IS a rational person that succumbs to irrational moments... What do you think all those countless smarmy glances at the camera are? It's a rational person's response to the crazy antics of Michael Scott.

I also don't think Jim's response was necessarily just a matter of "compromise." Jim is an easy going guy that likes to please people. He naturally thought he was doing the best thing, the most sensible thing that would please the most people, and he got in over his head with the birthday add-ins, various cake requests, etc.

I think this Office episode really showed the Scrantonites major flaws and how those flaws can actually be strengths, due to the overall air of dysfunction in Dunder-Mifflin Scranton:

Angela: She and her Nazi-ish, overbearing tendencies in party planning, which we have painfully/comically witnessed for years, actually turns out to be quite competent (and inadvertently schrute--i mean shrewd)in dealing with her fellow Office-mates' birthday desires. Her sixth sense as Queen of PPC actually turns out to be right on the ball.

Michael: His flaws and embarrassing incidents they incur are too numerous to list as we know; however, that last 5 minute cold closing revealed at how perfectly suitable he is for running Dunder-Mifflin Scranton. His irrationality, flaws, quirks and heart are ultimately what qualifies him to run this branch, filled with people quite possibly as wacky, flawed and dysfunctional as he is.

All I'm saying is that Jim is fast-approaching a professional crossroads, at which he must decide once and for all if he will move on from the dysfunctionality or forever succumb to it. And if he chooses the latter, surely he may not be as "rational" as I first that.

And that may be exactly WHY he fits in at Dunder-Mifflin Scranton, a truth he will have to eventually wrestle with.

Sorry, critterfur, I politely disagree...;)

32Posted by BabyBear on November 9, 2007

My point was not that Jim shouldn't lash out at Toby, but that what finally "set him off" to snipe at Toby to the camera didnt really seem to exist. If anything, he should have said something nasty either after the "romance reporting" or the "non book reading" confrontations with Toby. Whereas in this case, it seemed rather contrived that Jim would simply complain about Toby to the cameras simply because thats what Michael would do in the slightest confrontation.

33Posted by Pat D. on November 9, 2007

Did I say that Jim was being irrational? If I did, I was mistaken. I guess what I was trying to say is, all those, as you put it so well, smarmy looks at the camera, were from a guy who THOUGHT he was quite a bit better than those around him, and it got to the point where I was just tired of the idea of Jim being the only normal person in the insane asylum, shaking his head at all of the wackiness, and therefore putting himself above it. But he isn't above it...he, like anyone else, can do pretty dumb things, selfish things, etc...nowhere near the scale that someone like Michael does, so Jim's little "sins" seem petty in perspective...but they're there. I just feel that Jim and Ryan are both young career-minded guys who believe that they're actually pretty cool, and to a degree that's true. But even they have things to learn, and, in fact, things to learn from people that they don't necessarily like or admire. It's all about the idea of humility. I hope that Jim and Pam get together, and Pam becomes a world-famous artist, and Jim become a hip sportswriter, and they have lots of beautiful babies together...but it might not happen. People get stuck sometimes in life, through no fault of their own...I seriously doubt that Michael aspired to be in the position he is now...in crippling debt, with limited social skills, and a job where warehouse workers get paid more than he does. I just think that Jim, as likable as he is, needed to learn that little bit of humility...that bit at the end, where Michael and Jim were talking, was not just the cautionary tale that many of the viewers seemed to take it as...it wasn't just about Jim's look of horror that he might wind up like Michael, or they would have faded to black right then and there. Instead, Jim looks over at Michael, and just like they did during the Christmas party episode last year, they share a laugh...at that moment, Jim doesn't look down on Michael...in fact, he actually kind of admires him.

34Posted by critterfur on November 9, 2007

Oh, and Pat D., you're absolutely right in pointing out that Jim's snide attitude towards Toby kind of came out of nowhere, and that there wasn't anything specific about Toby that set Jim off. Jim likes to think he's a more easygoing, casual guy, who won't let little things get to him (unlike Michael, who seems to revel in blowing the little things completely out of proportion)...but Jim does take in the little comment from Oscar here, the little comment from Stanley there...we seem to think that Jim only has problems with Michael and Dwight, and I don't think that's the case. Jim took out his anger at Toby partly because he was simply distressed with all the little requests he was getting for the party, and Toby just seems to pop out of the woodwork when someone is the most frustrated and says something like, "Yeah...we really shouldn't do that"..."That's not corporate policy"...Jim saw what it was like to be on the other side of one of Toby's little lectures, and he sort of snapped. In the same way that Michael takes his anger out on Toby when he's really mad at Jim or Pam, but would never dream of hurting them, people that in his heart I think he wants to be like. The same way that Michael took out his frustrations on a pizza boy when he was actually ticked off at Ryan, who has been just as callously cruel towards Michael as Michael has inadvertantly been towards Ryan, but there's the difference...Michael is not trying to hurt anyone.

35Posted by critterfur on November 9, 2007

Anyways, fellow fans, I've posted way more than I should have and taken up way too much space regarding my narrow-minded opinion, so I'll just leave it at that. Sorry for being so long-winded.

36Posted by critterfur on November 9, 2007

critterfur..... i've always enjoyed your posts. :)

37Posted by Denise on November 9, 2007

I think one of the reasons this episode felt a little off-kilter was because that's exactly how Jim is feeling. He is (as I am at the moment too) flailing around, trying to figure out what the hell he is doing with his life - looking for something, anything to grab on to. Michael throws him the bone of temporary Regional Manager duties and he tries to give it a go and take it seriously. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending how you look at it), Jim doesn't do too well and I think he has now come to the essential but painful realisation that he must actively look for Something Else.

Just getting to that point is something so many of us don't ever achieve as we continue our daily grind and end up being 40, in a job we don't care for and never having achieved anything we really wanted. Jim needed this episode's experience to get there - and I'm happy to be along for the ride. Hope we both figure it out.

38Posted by Memory Loss Drug on November 10, 2007

I neither loved nor hated this episode, but it did make me realize just how much chemistry Steve and John have together. That last conversation between Michael and Jim was perfect. These two always have the best scenes together (on the Booze Cruise, at last year's Christmas party...)

39Posted by Carly on November 10, 2007

Phyllis always wears such great necklaces. I bet she makes them herself.

40Posted by Yeppers on November 11, 2007

Haven't read all the comments yet but just want to say that I think this was a very strong episode. Last week's thing was ridiculous. I agree with those who say that this week's Jim storyline was very strong. What was good and distinctive about the show is the subtext, people not saying all that is going on with them, distance between what A thinks & feels and what B thinks A thinks & feels, while the camera (and the viewers) know. Last week it was obvious and spelled out to all exactly what Jim thought about the escapade to Utica. This time it was back to a bit of that tension between the surface and the underlying reality.

41Posted by appreciative on November 12, 2007

As someone who also loathes the always awkward office birthday celebrations that seem to happen with annoying regularity where I work I can totally identify with Jim's desire to do what he did. Maybe its due to me not liking cake, maybe its due to me not liking my coworkers...dunno...but I like to come to work, do my job and leave.

So with that I can see where Jim was coming from, maybe he just needs to resort to doing what I do which is schedule doctors appointments, vacation time to miss them or just our right hide.

42Posted by Sean on November 12, 2007

"I guess what I was trying to say is, all those, as you put it so well, smarmy looks at the camera, were from a guy who THOUGHT he was quite a bit better than those around him, and it got to the point where I was just tired of the idea of Jim being the only normal person in the insane asylum, shaking his head at all of the wackiness, and therefore putting himself above it."

I heartily agree with you there, critterfur! Honestly, I'm realizing, at the end of the day I think we're saying ultimately the same thing, just using different words. Semantics. bleh.

Also, great point, Sean about the awkward birthday celebrations. I would've been all about consolidating them. This is where I think Jim is doing his best to try to bring a sense of order and normalcy, but he's realizing the only way to handle this branch is to be Michael Scott-esque, bringing about this twisted combination of admiration of Mike and inexplicable discomfort with himself and where he's headed professionally.

43Posted by BabyBear on November 12, 2007

I think also we tend to forget that while most tend to focus on Michael and how poor of a boss he is, a fair amount of the employees at Scranton are really bad employees. Just like how Michael would not be a manager at most other branches of DM let alone another company, many of the employees at Scranton would not still have a job if they worked elsewhere.

And seeing how more effort and time seems to be devoted to parties and the such Jim should have seen that consolidating parties would, even though it makes good sound sense, never work at Scranton.

44Posted by Sean on November 12, 2007

I just wanted to throw this comment out about the birthdays...

Until recently I worked in an office where we decided to change the birthday policy due to budget reasons. We had to be really careful about the way we explained the changes and people still freaked out. When so much of your life is spent in a depersonalized job where they ("The Man") try to limit your involvement so they can keep, get rid of you or replace you as they please, there is something about acknowledging a birthday that makes it a little more bareable. For that brief period of time (or 2 minutes if you're Toby...) it's not just about the job or the company, it's wholly about you.

Just try and change things at a place where people are used to recognition on their birthdays and see what happens. I bet The Office is a lot more realistic than you think on that.

45Posted by Emily on November 12, 2007

Actually that happened here and no one was really all that bent out of shape. Mostly due to the birthday party thing would always be not just your department but all the departments in the company (Not a huge company so this would be maybe 40 people) But still basically making you sit and be nice to people you did not really know as upper management blew smoke up our butts about how vital we are blah blah blah. My whole department had a sigh of relief when they stopped doing the birthday thing. We literally would make work to do so we could be off the hook for it, and had people that flat out said they did not want it done for their birthday.

Or we are just way more jaded to faux praise then most, could be that too.

46Posted by Sean on November 13, 2007

Response to critterfur:
And I, to you, in addition, feel the same feelings that you are as well. (In other words, I totally agree with your assessment of the Jim story. Very well said.)

But the Michael-survivorman storyline was just plain bad TV. Wow, this season has had almost all of the show's worst moments. In particular, I feel like the writers have totally lost touch with Michael and have no idea what to do with him.

I almost kinda wish they'd fire Michael and put Jim in charge, because Jim's authority issues are one thing the writers still seem to enjoy writing about. That and Dwight's despair, which is still funny. But all the fun has gone out of Michael's antics.

47Posted by Escape Goat on November 13, 2007

I love how everyone's agreeing and no one is agreeing. It's a completely Office conversation!

To the birthday party madness - I too work in a company where the birthday cake party dilemma is massive. And picket lines are drawn so firmly in the for/against, it's like the WGA. This is why episodes like this are completely relatable and cringe worthy. A comedy, sitcom, laugh your behind off it might not be. But a realistic, uncomfortable mockumentary style show it is.

Also Jim as a saint/sinner. I totally agree with whoever mentioned the ill advised annointing of Jim as a saint. (Firstly, I'll put my hand up and say I'm totally guilty of many a dreamy Jim/John moment.) However, Jim as a character is a fantastic shade of grey. A typical male in the late twenties. Heading towards their final personality either good, bad or insane but still prone to bad decisions, ill timed snaps and just general (sorry fellas) male moments. If you were to pretend to know Jim as a third person friend and describe some of his actions to another friend - they'd think he was from time to time a real jerk! Seriously, try and describe his dumping of Katy and Karen without mentioning 'But he loves Pam, and when he confessed his love to her, awwh'. This is however what makes him completely and utterly human and a real character as opposed to the stereotype saintly stud or moustache twitching evil maniac.

He's identifying with Michael as a boss is also a direct result of the closer to the top you are the easier it is to see their problems. It's easy to mock those up there but try doing the job, as Jim realises, it is so harder than it looks.

And finally, if Jim were to be this perfect, amazing, GOD then A) he immediately loses his Everyman status B) He would be on another TV program and C) He actually would run screaming from the building because of his coworkers.

48Posted by Floss on November 14, 2007

I'm not positive but I think I remember something from an earlier episode where it was somehow mentioned that Stanley had diabetes.

49Posted by steve on November 14, 2007

I think Jim's idea was great and anyone who was actually subjected to the horrific awkwardness of one of Michael's parties would whole heartedly agree.

Oh and I hate Toby more every day. (even on days I don't watch The Office.)

50Posted by Black Pepper Snake on November 14, 2007

When they were doing a montage of all of Michael's inappropriate birthday celebration moments, there was a clip of a blow-up doll, and Michael forcing it onto/beating people up with it. You know what surprised me? There was Angela, laughing along! I don't buy that she would find that acceptable!

51Posted by Tami on November 14, 2007

I'm guessing, Tami, that they were hoping you wouldn't notice she was in the frame giggling like a madwoman (or they didn't notice it) (though that's unlikely). Maybe she's laughing because she's still mad at Dwight? Or maybe there was some more of that very good sparkling cider.

But yeah, probably not. Whoops!

52Posted by Karin on November 14, 2007

I'm guessing Angela broke character that moment.

53Posted by Kyle on November 14, 2007

hmmm so since Stanley is a diabetic, I wonder what he orders on his pretzel during Pretzel Day.

The world may never know.

54Posted by BabyBear on November 15, 2007

"I think also we tend to forget that while most tend to focus on Michael and how poor of a boss he is, a fair amount of the employees at Scranton are really bad employees. Just like how Michael would not be a manager at most other branches of DM let alone another company, many of the employees at Scranton would not still have a job if they worked elsewhere.

And seeing how more effort and time seems to be devoted to parties and the such Jim should have seen that consolidating parties would, even though it makes good sound sense, never work at Scranton."


You worded it much better than my sorry attempt, Sean. Right on:D

55Posted by BabyBear on November 15, 2007

Honestly, I think blogs and posts are one of the many, many, daggers that are quickly killing our society and with that thought, I post:

LOVED THIS EPISODE. Very entertaining and funny! LOVED Michael and Jims conversation at the very end; so much depth there. Rock on THE OFFICE

56Posted by Monday Morning. on November 15, 2007

I like the small return of Pam hair in the birthday flashbacks.

57Posted by Wedding Belle on November 15, 2007

critterfur, I in addition as well love your posts. They're very interesting and you make very good points.

58Posted by Wesley on November 16, 2007

[...] Survivor Man Survivor Man Summary courtesy of NBC. INTO THE WOODS-SPECIAL GREEN WEEK EPISODE–After Ryan (B.J. Novak) excludes Michael (Golden Globe winner Steve Carell) from a corporate wilderness retreat, Michael heads into the woods for his own survival adventure with nothing but the suit on his back. Back at work, Jim (J… Read the full post from Northern Attack via Blogdigger blog search for creed+bratton. [...]

59Posted by Survivor Man on December 24, 2007