The latest season draws to a close with the prospects of new jobs all around, promising increased pay and power for some and enhanced, um, attributes for others. It’s the latter for Jan, and just as well, since an ill-timed emotional collapse quickly ensures the loss of the former for both her and her newly-reunited ex-lover-ish. Meanwhile, the rest of the office copes with their new boss and the abolishment of all soft-minded dogoodedness. Jim gets enough of New York to realize that home is where the heart spends her day goofing around with Dwight, Ryan comes out of nowhere with one heck of a last word, and Creed’s blogging it all.
There’s jumping the gun, and then there’s taking off so fast that you’re crossing the finish line before the gun is even loaded.
Michael : You know what, it’s a done deal. I basically have the job already. There’s nothing she can do to stop it now. I already sold my condo.
Oscar : Michael.
Kevin : What?
Angela : Why?
Oscar : I’m sorry, that just doesn’t make sense.
Michael : Yes, I–
Angela : What? Why– who gave you that advice?
Kevin : Yeah, Michael, you should never sell your condo.
Michael : I have to buy another place…
Angela : But you said you were in debt.
Michael : I’m not in debt.
Oscar : You’re not sure that you have the job…
[Cut to interview]
Michael : I sold it on eBay. The buyer was very motivated, as was I. It went for 80% of what I paid. Sold in record time.
For someone without a wealth of wise council at his disposal, Michael should really pay more attention to a moderate amount of sound advice.
Michael : No. No no no no. I’ll tell you this. It is not because of the boob job. Excuse me. Boob enhancement. That would be shallow. And this is the opposite of shallow. This is… emotionally magnificent.
Yeah… no. There is an opposite of shallow, and that is not it.
David : [to Jan] You are clearly unstable.
Michael : Hey, you‘re unstable.
Jan : Yeah!
Michael : No… we’re all unstable.
Who would have thought there would be a relationship in which Michael was the bastion of sense– well, okay, maybe not that. Maybe just the one clinging to sanity the longest. The question is, has Michael been Jan’s downfall, or the meager buoy that’s kept her afloat for this long?
Dwight’s previous attempts to overthrow the appointed chain of command have been devious, underhanded, and utterly without the sanction of anyone but Angela. Turns out, that might be preferred. Because when it’s ceremoniously placed in his lap… well, it’s kind of gross.
Dwight : You wanted to see me?
Michael : Yes. The time has come to name my own replacement. So… please hand this letter of congratulations to Dwight K. Schrute.
Dwight : But that’s my name. [Rips open letter and reads aloud] “Dwight, congratulations, a-wipe. Don’t screw the pooch.”
[It sinks in and Dwight begins to gently sob]
Dwight : Thank you.
Michael : Okay. All right.
[Dwight cries harder]
Dwight : Thank you, Michael.
Michael : Okay.
[Dwight presses the letter to his chest and he’s really blubbering now]
Dwight : Thank you so much. Thank you.
Michael : Okay, stop crying.
The previous coup proved educational: when attempting to institute a militant regime of total office domination, it’s best to surround yourself with trustworthy allies. Namely yourself. And Pam, who is both trustworthy, and a woman.
Dwight : You showed great leadership potential at the coal walk, even if you did follow it with that embarrassing personal confession.
Pam : Thank you.
Dwight : I had to make Andy my number two. It’s political, complicated. You wouldn’t understand. I want you to be assistant regional manager.
Pam : Really?
Dwight : Well, in a sense… although publicly, I am going to retain the assistant regional manager position.
Pam : You will be your own assistant.
Dwight : Correct. I need someone I can trust. But I would also like the title to be secretly applied to you. Just stripped of its pomp and frills.
Pam : Okay. So you would be the regional manager, and the assistant regional manager, Andy is your number two, I would be the secret assistant regional manager.
Dwight : Mmm, let’s call it secret assistant to the regional manager.
Pam : Mm-hmm.
Dwight : Do you accept?
Pam : Absolutely I do.
Also, one must establish a seat of power to sufficiently strike fear in the hearts of all who would dare to enter.
Andy : It’s like I’m staring into my soul when I look at this wall.
Dwight : It’s like outer space without the stars, it’s so black!
Andy : This is going to look so awesome.
Dwight : And so intimidating! Anyone who comes in here is going to have to take me seriously. [Brandishes the paint roller and deepens his voice] Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
Andy : [laughing] Totally!
However, it’s best to ensure one actually has power before instituting such alienating radical reforms.
Michael : Everybody, may I have your attention please? It is with great honor and privilege that I announce to you that I have officially withdrawn my name for consideration from the corporate job. I know, I know, I know. “Michael, what are you thinking? You were a shoo-in.” Well, got down there. I nailed the interview. And the strangest thing happened. Why is my office black?
Dwight : To intimidate my subordinates.
Michael : That’s stupid.
Dwight : It was Andy’s idea.
Michael : You shouldn’t have taken it. Bad management. Good thing I’m back.
And last, but certainly not least, once all has crumbled around your feet, pay due honor to those who have served you well.
Dwight : Pam. Hello.
Pam : Dwight, hello.
Dwight : I wanted to thank you, for helping me when you held the title of secret assistant to the regional manager. You served the office with great dignity.
Pam : [solemnly salutes]
Dwight : [returns the salute with equal solemnity]
In the midst of whatever madness, there is just something about Pam that touches what is most human and even, endearing, in Dwight.
Unlike his boss, whom no one but Phyllis believes has a chance of snagging the corporate gig, Jim is the real shoo-in for the job. But how could he even consider it when this is what would be left behind?
Dwight : Jim, Jim, Jim. Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim, Jim.
Jim : Oh, hey, Dwight.
Dwight : I’m going to be your new boss. It is my greatest dream come true. Welcome to the Hotel Hell. Check-in time is now. Check-out time is never.
Jim : Does my room have cable?
Dwight : No. And the sheets are made of fire!
Jim : Can I change rooms?
Dwight : Sorry, we’re all booked up. Hell convention in town.
Jim : Can I have a late check-out?
Dwight : I’ll have to talk to the manager.
Jim : You’re not the manager? Even in your own fantasy?
Dwight : I’m the owner. The co-owner. With Satan.
Jim : Okay, just so I understand it. In your wildest fantasy, you are in hell. And you are co-running a bed and breakfast with the devil.
Dwight : Yeah, but I haven’t told you my salary yet.
Jim : Go.
Dwight : $80,000 a year.
At least in his absence, if only for a day, his legacy carries on.
Pam : I learned from Jim, if Dwight ever asks you if you accept something secret, you reply, “Absolutely I do.”
It’s a tribute to Jim, for sure, but just maybe Pam has her own secret reasons up her sleeve, like running interference between Dwight and the rest of the office none too thrilled to be under his iron rule. Actually, though, that would have been a side effect of Jim’s efforts as well, so well done to both.
Have you noticed that if interoffice initiatives are met with even marginal success, Pam is in some way significantly involved?
Andy : Class is canceled, everybody out!
Dwight : No, wait, what are you doing?!
Andy : I’m punishing them.
Dwight : No, no, no, wait! Class is not canceled.
[General commotion ensues]
Pam : Hey, c’mon! Let’s listen to Dwight’s presentation.
[Everyone quiets, Dwight winks at her]
Oscar : What are you winking for?
Dwight : Zip your lid.
And if met with utter failure, it is by fault of complete disregard.
Michael : So, I guess we’re getting back together.
Pam : What happened?
Michael : Your advice was good, but Jan’s was bigger.
Something tells me we’re in for an enormous treat next season as the new and improved Pam really starts to take hold.
A year removed from the heroics of last May finds us again fueled with anticipation for some crucial development with Jim and Pam. The bar is astronomically high; the main requirement is simply that it does justice to the weight of an added year of investment.
We pick up fairly close to where we left off last week, Pam flushed with confidence and owning the world. She said it, she did it, she’s content, unembarrassed, even enormously pleased. After all, as she points out herself, it only took her three years to summon the courage. And that is exactly what we have, three years of history rushing headlong into this one night.
Oscar : Hey, Pam? I’ve been meaning to say something to you. I really miss our friendship.
[Everyone laughs good-naturedly]
Pam : [smiles] Ha, ha, that’s very funny.
Stanley : I’ve never heard you talk that much. I thought it was Kelly.
Kelly : Are you kidding? I would never have done that. It was patheticville. No offense, Pam.
Meredith : You know what? Don’t even worry about it. Everyone was so drunk, I bet no one even remembers what you said.
Creed : I remember. I blogged the whole thing.
She’s in a really good place, arguably the best of her life. Her budding assertiveness is not limited only to interactions with Jim, but infiltrates every aspect of her day. On top of that is a great release and, no longer frustrated by self-restriction, she’s downright carefree.
Pam : I’m happy for him. I hope he gets the job. I really just want him to be happy. And I know that sounds cliche, and I know saying it sounds cliche sounds cliche. Maybe I’m being cliche, I don’t care. ‘Cause I am what I am. [Considers] That’s Popeye.
Not to say that she doesn’t care; absolutely she does. But she’s done all she can do and she’s at peace to let the present run its course.
Pam’s process of self-discovery this year has ever-so-subtly paralleled the opposite in Jim. What began as courageous attempt to expand his horizons now drifts rather aimlessly. The small, telling moments pile up throughout the rest of the episode– he has lived mere hours from New York presumably all his life and yet hasn’t ventured there outside of a middle school field trip; only under serious prodding and seeming duress does he change something as simple as a haircut. His current circumstances began as insurance against a further assault on his heart, but are now so evolved that he’s the cog in the wheel he would have once tried to stop.
Karen : So what’s going to happen to us when I get this job?
Jim : Oh, you mean when I get this job?
Karen : Well, if you get the job… then I’d move here for you. Would you move for me?
[Jim is silent]
Karen : I’m not stupid, okay? I was at the beach. We don’t have a future in Scranton. There’s one too many people there.
Jim : You mean Kevin?
Karen : Exactly. But you get it, right? We can’t stay there.
Jim : Yeah, I do.
There’s not much insight given into Jim’s thoughts at this point other than a surprising lack of conflict. Even “Dunder Mifflin, this is Grace,” only seems to stir a fond memory, nothing more. So what happens to spark the sudden change of heart? What breaks the stalemate and brings about the ending? At first I pointed to the obvious: Pam’s fateful note tumbling from the sales reports, don’t forget us when you’re famous!, her counterpart to the tinfoil trophy that he had once upon a time kept as treasure. And beyond that, the opportunity of the note was there because she had prepared the reports, a reminder in itself of how inexorably she is tied to even the most inconsequential details of his life.
But, after some consideration, I think the actual turning point snuck in and slipped by unnoticed. The moment surrounding Pam’s note is obviously the climax, but only for a decision unconsciously made long before. Fortunately, the all-seeing hypothetical documentarian chose to let us in on the whole truth.
[Flashing back to footage on beach day]
Jim : How are your feet?
Pam : Medium rare. Thanks.
Jim : The real reason that I went to Stamford was because I wanted to be… not here.
Pam : I know.
Jim : And even though I came back, I just feel like I’ve never really… come back.
Pam : [nods, pauses briefly] Well I wish you would.
I don’t know if it was the surroundings, the night, the water, or just my overactive imagination, but something about this scene immediately recalled the Booze Cruise and the pivotal moment of reigning silence with a hundred things dying to be said. And now, in contrast, for all who doubted their time apart was at least beneficial, if not downright necessary, Pam’s candid reply is triumph enough.
Suddenly, the person standing in front of Jim is the person he had always tried to push her to be– not out of any selfish intent to change her into someone who would love him, but out of his sincere wish to see her honest with herself, confident and untroubled, unafraid to stand on her own two feet. And though the brief exchange by the water may have been without immediate result, it’s almost assuredly the moment thrown into focus when the next ten years of his life demand to be accounted for.
Pam : No, I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m optimistic. And I had fun goofing around with Dwight today. Jim and I are just too similar. Maybe one day I’ll find my own Karen. But– you– that is a– um, you know, not… a man. A man version. But, uh, until then, I can hold my head up. I’m not gay.
It’s important to note that Pam’s satisfaction with the outcome comes long before she has any idea her life has changed forever a hundred miles away in New York. If she were to be asked at this moment if it was all worthwhile, I guarantee the answer would be an emphatic yes, every minute, even to go through it all again if it means getting here.
Pam : I haven’t heard anything. But I bet Jim got the job. I mean, why wouldn’t he? He’s totally qualified, and smart, everyone loves him. And if he never comes back again, that’s okay. We’re friends. And I’m sure we’ll stay friends. We just… we never got the timing right. You know? I shot him down, and then he did the same to me, but you know what? It’s okay. I am totally fine. Everything is going to be totally…
[The door opens hastily and the camera swings to catch Jim enter]
Jim : Pam. Sorry. Um, are you free for dinner tonight?
Pam : Yes.
Jim : All right, then… it’s a date.
[He exits and Pam returns to the camera, overcome with emotion]
Pam : I’m sorry, what was the question?
The culmination of three years in one simple little tap at the doorframe, slipping innocently into the middle of a sentence, a landslide without any commotion at all. I have yet to watch Pam’s response without mirroring it myself; tears and indescribable, inexpressible joy. I once declared nothing could top the spectacular Casino Night, and while they each belong to their season and really can’t even draw a fair comparison, I am thrilled to be so wholly wrong.
Once thing is certain; from here out, whatever the chosen direction will be uncharted territory. The road map of their British counterparts ends with such a moment and the proverbial ride into the sunset. Here there will be a morning after, and a year after, and a year after that.
The appropriate number of question marks are in the air, but at present, The Job soars unequivocally Up and all but obliterates the JP Index.
Jan completes her epic streak of self-destruction with a meltdown of cataclysmic proportions.
Jan : [sobbing, near hysterical] It’s just… I’m sorry. It’s just these painkillers that I started taking since the surgery. Ohhh! They make my moods totally unpredictable. Wow. What am I gonna do…?
Michael : Well, I guess you could come and stay at my condo. I think I could back out of the sale. Probably get some negative feedback on my eBay profile.
Jan : We can’t live together. Actually, wait a minute. This could be great. This could be perfect. You know, my full time job could be our relationship. I could wear stretch pants and wait for you to come home at 5:15. It could work! This could work, really!
Talk about coming full circle. Is this really the same woman who narrowly escaped Michael’s clutches on Casino Night?
Unequivocally, undeniably Pam.
Creed : www.creedthoughts.gov.www/creedthoughts. Check it out.
Ryan : Last year, Creed ask me how to set up a blog. Wanting to protect the world from being exposed to Creed’s brain, I opened up a Word document on his computer, and put an address at the top. I’ve read some of it. Even for the Internet, it’s… pretty shocking.
Better watch out, boy. That kind of quick thinking could take you straight to the top.
Michael : Pam, DEFCON 10, Houston, we have a problem.
Pam : What do you want me to do?
Michael : Uh, I may need some immediate assistance. If you would slowly and quietly gather the ladies in the conference room. Phyllis, Angela, Karen.
Pam : What about Meredith?
Michael : No. She’s an alternate.
It’s okay, Meredith. Blessed be those who sit and wait. And who will be too drunk to remember anyway.
Dwight : How would you like to spend the night with the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton?
Angela : No, Dwight, I don’t care if that’s how they consolidated power in ancient Rome…
Dwight : No no, not– not Michael. Me. I’m taking his job.
[Angela smiles, Dwight moves a little too close]
Angela : Not now. [Considers, then smiles to herself] Goodbye, Kelly Kapoor.
You know what they say, revenge is the sincerest form of flattery.
Dwight : Once I’m officially regional manager, my first order of business will be to demote Jim Halpert. So I will need a new number two. My ideal choice? Jack Bauer. But he is unavailable. Fictional. And overqualified.
Nothing says mid-level employee at a mid-sized Northeastern Pennsylvania based paper company like Jack Bauer.
Dwight : I am going to begin this process with a simple test of intelligence and mental dexterity. What is the best color?
Andy : White. Because it contains all other colors.
Dwight : Wrong. Black. It is the most dominant. How do you make a table?
Andy : You make a chair, but you don’t sit on it.
Dwight : What is the capital of Maine?
Andy : The capital of Maine is Montpelier, Vermont, which is near Ithaca, New York, where I went to Cornell.
Dwight : Okay. Also, moratorium on Cornell talk. Don’t want to hear about it. Forget your personal history, and learn the history of this company.
Andy : That should not be a problem, I minored in history in the ivy league school which I attended.
Dwight : You’re not off to a very good start, Bernard.
Andy : I agree. But, in another way, I am off to a very good start, wouldn’t you say?
The capital of Maine is Montpelier, Vermont?
Dwight : This is a Schrute buck. When you have done something good, you will receive one Schrute buck. One thousand Schrute bucks equals an extra five minutes for lunch.
Pam : [raises hand] What is the cash value of a Schrute buck?
Dwight : Excellent question, Pam. 1/100th of a cent.
Oscar : So 10,000 of your dollars is worth one real dollar?
Dwight : Just zip your lid.
Good thing Dwight’s reign of terror and elementary geology lectures lasts no longer than 24 hours, because Oscar is about one “zip your lid” away from Albany. Also, a little ironic that 24 hours is how long it takes Jack Bauer to save the world.
Michael : Let’s just run away together. Let’s just run away to Jamaica, live in a bungalow. You have some savings, right? You could pay off my debts, it would be fine. We’d have fun.
Jan : What’s– what’s the matter? What happened in there?
Michael : I can’t tell you.
Jan : Tell me what?
The time lapse between Michael saying he cannot tell until all gushes forth at an alarming rate averages at about 2/10ths of a second. Jan’s questioning isn’t even threatening and the look on his face is somewhere between severe constipation and violent internal combustion.
Michael : David, I did not tell her.
Oh, he most definitely told her. Though, as always, the fault of the escaped secret lies mostly with whomever entrusted Michael with it in the first place.
Dwight : Now let us discuss precipitation. Stanley, when rainfall occurs, does it usually fall in a liquid, solid, or gaseous state?
Stanley : Liquid.
Dwight : Very good. You have earned one Schrute buck.
Stanley : I don’t want it.
Dwight : Then you have been deducted fifty Schrute bucks.
Stanley : Make it a hundred.
Dwight : Don’t you want to earn Schrute bucks?
Stanley : No. In fact, I’ll give you a billion Stanley nickels if you never talk to me again.
Dwight : What’s the ratio of Stanley nickels to Schrute bucks?
Stanley : The same as the ratio of unicorns to leprechauns.
Rainfall in solid, liquid, or gaseous state? Sorry, Dwight, you had this one coming.
David : Oh hey, do you have your quarterly numbers?
Jim : Yes, absolutely.
David : And that questionnaire? Sorry to make you fill that thing out.
Jim : Oh, no, absolutely.
David : It’s just an HR formality. We have this very irritating HR guy here, he’s probably the only person you’re not going to like. Kendall. Ugh.
This was so completely overshadowed by the bombshell of the yogurt lid note that I didn’t even catch it until the third viewing. David has a Toby!
Michael : Ryan, coffee.
Ryan : I don’t do that stuff anymore.
Michael : No, it’s for me, bimbo. Kids.
Apparently some hotness, per se, can get you anywhere. However it came about, Ryan pulled the upset of the year with his tag scene shocker.
David : [on phone] We’re all very excited you’re going to be joining us. It’ll be nice to have another MBA around here.
Ryan : [on phone, smiling] I’m excited too. Okay. Bye.
Kelly : Who was that?
Ryan : Nobody. You and I are done.
Kelly : What?!
If any lessons were learned from the Michael Scott School of Business, let’s hope it’s only rule five that sticks– safety first, i.e., don’t burn the building down, Fire Guy.