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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.