Spring cleaning at Dunder-Mifflin reveals more than just old papers and dusty records. Jim spends the majority of his day at Michael’s side in hopes of containing his feelings towards Pam, a secret that Michael vows to protect for as long as he possibly can, which turns out to be not nearly as long as it should have been. Meanwhile, Dwight makes a discovery of his own about Oscar, but is too Dwight-ish to realize it.
After watching Michael run his karma into the dirt last week, we see him making amends during The Secret. Or attempting to, at least, which with Michael is all you can really hope for.
Michael : Jim and I are great friends. We hang out a ton… mostly at work. But the fact that told me his secret and no one else says everything about our friendship, and it is why I intend on keeping that secret… for as long as I possibly can.
A Michael Scott promise is no different than a Michael Scott lie.
I’ve always wondered what sort of selection process allows someone like Dwight to practice anything even remotely resembling law enforcement.
Dwight : As a volunteer sheriff’s deputy, I’ve been doing surveillance for years. One time, I suspected an ex-girlfriend of mine of cheating on me, so I tailed her for six nights straight. Turns out, she was… with a couple of guys, actually, so… [Takes a bite out of his sandwich]. Mystery solved.
Let’s hope Angela isn’t fooling around with anyone else right now.
If there ever were a showcase episode for Jim, this is most certainly it. I had a very difficult time watching him lie to himself.
Jim : Yeah, on the booze cruise I… told Michael about some feelings I used to have for Pam. I… had just broken up with Katy, and… had a couple of drinks, and I confided in the world’s worst confidant.
The funny thing is I’m not sure he had much of a choice. Although it’s been established that Jim is well-liked by just about everyone else in the office, he isn’t really that close to any of them except for Pam. Toby would have made a great go-to guy, but he conveniently misses out on the cruise. A conversation with Kevin, as entertaining as it might have been, probably would not have been all that emotionally fulfilling. Phyllis would have done some good, but I imagine Jim was looking to share his dilemma with a fellow guy. With that in mind, the selection diminishes considerably, leaving Michael, who despite his many failings, still represents an authority figure, albeit an incredibly poor one at times.
It’s good to see Dwight and Pam back at odds with one another.
Dwight : [Rummages through Pam’s jelly bean bowl] Who took all the black ones?
Pam : That’s a communal bowl.
Dwight : So, how did Oscar sound when he called in?
Pam : Sick. Like, lots of sniffling, I don’t know.
Dwight : Sniffling? How?
Pam : Um… how many different ways are there to sniffle?
Dwight : Three.
Pam : Ok, it was the second one.
Dwight : Ok, good, thank you. That wasn’t so hard now, was it?
Pam : Mmm-mm. [Waits for Dwight to leave, then empties the bowl into the trash]
The look of disgust on Pam’s face as she dumps the bowl into the trash is exactly the type of reaction you would expect from someone who had just had their jelly bean bowl violated.
At the risk of stating the obvious, when you really get down to it, there are two reasons why people watch this show: one is to laugh really, painfully hard, and the other is to see how things unfold between Jim and Pam. I used to assume that the people who insisted that they watched for the first reason alone were denying the appeal of the second to protect their own image. I mean, can anyone really watch the two of them and honestly not feel a thing? I’ve since then come to realize, however, that there are people who geuninely watch the show for the humor alone and couldn’t care less about what happens between Jim and Pam.
That said, I think it says a great deal about the credibility of this particular television relationship when you can rally support among both ladies and gentlemen as it has done so effectively. Most self-respecting guys wouldn’t be caught dead singing the praises of unrequited love, and, yet, it’s ok for them to admit that they want to see Jim and Pam together. And not just admit, but admit publicly. That’s a pretty hefty distinction and a sure sign that the people upstairs are doing something right.
With that out of the way, buckle up, because we’ve got a lot to get through.
Jim : Hey, uh, listen. Um… I… told Michael on the booze cruise–it’s so stupid. Um… I told Michael that I … had had a crush on you when you first started here.
Pam : Oh.
Jim : Well, I just thought that–I figured you should hear it from me… rather than, I mean, you know Michael.
Pam : Right…
Jim : And, seriously, it’s totally not a big deal, ok?
Pam : [Nods her head]
Jim : And when I found out that you were engaged, I mean..
Pam : No, I–I know, like I kind of… like I… I thought that maybe you did… when I first started.
Jim : Oh, you did?
Pam : No, I mean, just ’cause we, like, got along so well.
Jim : Oh, yeah. No… yeah, you saw through me. Great.
Notice how careful he is in delivering his confession. Every other sentence is an assurance meant to deflect her attention away from the real heart of the matter; he wants her to believe that it’s a thing of the past, and, more importantly, he needs to convince himself that he’s capable of moving on. Denial can only get you so far, however, and although it may have been enough to conceal the truth behind his words, the body language is a dead giveaway for those of us with access to a pause button.
Pam : [Laughs] So, are you gonna be like totally awkward around me now?
Jim : Oh, yeah.
Pam : [Laughs]
Jim : Yeah. Hope that’s ok.
Pam : Mm-hmm. [Walks away]
Jim : And Pam…
Pam : [Turns around]
Jim : It was like three years ago, so… I am totally over it.
Pam : Cool.
Jim : Ok.
This show is fantastically shot. Had it not been for that final glimpse of Jim filling his coffee mug in silence, this moment would have felt incomplete. The lingering shot gives the scene a touch of loneliness as we get the sense that the unfortunate truth is finally sinking in for Jim.
Pam : Are you ok?
Michael : Yeah, I’m fine. Look, about you and Jim, I–
Pam : Oh no, that’s–you don’t have to–
Michael : I, no, I just feel it’s my responsiblity as your boss-slash-friend…
Pam : No, it’s really–it’s ok. Um, I know that Jim, like, had a crush on me when he first started, but that was a long time ago, so…
Michael : It wasn’t that long ago. It was on the booze cruise.
Pam : Jim had a crush on me on the booze cruise, or he told you about it on the booze cruise?
Michael : Uh-uh. Ok… shut it, Michael. I’m done, that’s it. I’m out.
At first glance, Jim’s actions seem inconsistent, especially when prefaced with Michael’s words of encouragement after Jim reveals his secret. I do believe that there was hope for Jim after Booze Cruise, and had he been able to operate on his own terms, we would almost certainly be witnessing a completely different series of events; however, circumstances force him to concede a premature defeat. Jim strikes me as the type of person who thinks very deeply about the consequences of his actions. It isn’t simply a matter of risk, which I actually think he’s prepared to take; no, for him, it’s more about being in control of the situation and knowing what to expect. It is a philosophy that protects him from harm, and one that complicates these matters greatly. It’s why he pocketed the Christmas card at the last second after the unexpected Yankee Swap, and it’s why he chooses to withhold the truth from Pam now. Both were instinctive reactions to events that were no longer in his control.
If not for Michael, the chances of a happy ending for Jim and Pam would have fallen deeper out of the realm of possibility, but he emerges yet again as the unlikely hero. He comes dangerously close to disclosing Jim’s true feelings to Pam, and although he catches himself at the last second, he reveals just enough for her to infer the truth. Before, it was always up to Jim to do the heavy lifting. It was his move to make, his opportunity to lose. Pam had too much to lose to entertain an uncertain future with Jim, as compelling as it may have been. Now that she knows how Jim feels, part of the responsibility to act shifts to her. In fact, one could argue that we’ve witnessed a reversal of roles and that the onus is on her to act now, especially now that Jim has expended himself.
The optimist in me wants to rate the JP Index for The Secret at Even, but the realist in me knows that you don’t go through what Jim’s gone through without taking a few steps back. I am confident that Pam will come through, but there is significant work to be done here before we can safely put Jim back into the picture. Still, there is that scene in the elevator; that look she gives him is simply too loaded to ignore. I can’t do it.
The realist in me is a pansy. Even it is.
Creed has really made a name for himself over the past few episodes.
Kevin : Jim has got it bad for Pam.
Creed : Ahhh, which one is Pam?
I guess you can’t be expected to know everyone’s name in the office, but the receptionist? I mean, I know you’ve spent half of the past thirty years drugged up, but she’s practically at the front door. How can you not know her name?
Jim, who gives us no choice but to rally behind him. He is infallible over the course of this episode in every way except for the one that matters the most, but thanks to some unexpected help, it turns out to be just enough.
Jim : Is it me, or does it smell like updog in here?
Michael : What’s updog?
Jim : Nothing much, what’s up with you?
The aftermath of this as Michael attempts to duplicate Jim’s success is hilarious.
Michael : They say a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind. Well, I say an empty desk means an…
Dwight : … empty mind.
Michael : No, that’s not–no, that’s not what I was gonna say.
It may not have been what he was going to say, but I guarantee it was what he was thinking. At least he caught himself this time.
Dwight : Angela, kitchen. Oscar, dusting. Where is Oscar?
Angela : He’s out sick.
Dwight : That is unacceptable.
Angela : I agree, it’s unacceptable.
Dwight : [Gazes suggestively at Angela]
Angela : [Returns Dwight’s suggestive gaze with one of her own]
Kevin : What are guys doing?
Smoldering. I feel dirty just looking at them looking at each other.
Michael : Heard you were under the weather.
Oscar : Yeah, I think I came down with the flu.
Michael : Really? Oh, that is a shame. You know it’s cleaning day here today? Coulda used some of that famous Hispanic cleaning ethic.
Wow, what a mind-blowingly inappropriate thing to say. That, sir, is not what it means to be a hero.
Dwight : Listen, temp, I am conducting a little investigation, so I am no longer going to be able to head up spring cleaning. Do you think you can handle it?
Ryan : Yeah, I think I can handle it.
Dwight : Do you think, or do you know?
Ryan : I think.
Dwight : Oh God, here.
Perspective is something Dwight could use more of.
Michael : So, uh, what’s 411? Any updates on the, uh, the P situation?
Stanley : [Fiddles around with the vending machine]
Jim : I don’t know what you mean.
Michael : P-A-M.
Jim : Yeah, I know.
Michael : P-A…
Jim : Uh!
Michael : M…
Jim : Ok.
Michael : No, it’s ok, we’re talking code.
Contrary to popular opinion, spelling out someone’s name does not, in fact, protect their identity. Damn literates.
Michael : Fact, Jim and I talk all the time. We tell each other secrets.
Dwight : Ok, so what is the secret, Michael?
Jim : Um…
Michael : Well, I–
Jim : I had asked Michael if I could head up the Oscar investigation, and he said that only Dwight was capable of handling such sensitive material.
Dwight : Is that true?
Michael : Um… I–I dunno. Ye–uh…. yeah? Yeah, it is.
Dwight : Thank you, Michael. I know you’re telling the truth. I can tell. I won’t let you down.
This coming from the man who proclaims to know all there is to know about separating the lies from the truth.
Michael : I’m his boss, actually, and I treat him well. I’m taking out to lunch, because I can afford it, and he can have whatever he wants.
Jim : Can I just have the ham and cheese sandwich?
Dana : Great.
Jim : Thanks.
Dana : And for you?
Michael : Tell me Dana, how is your chicken breast?
Dana : Oh, it’s great. It’s served with our world famous wing sauce.
Jim : [Shakes his head, signaling Michael to stop]
Michael : Mmm… sounds yummy. I will have a chicken breast, hold the chicken.
Jim : Ugh…
I’m pretty sure jokes like this are illegal in 48 out of the 50 states.
Michael : What do you like best about Pam?
Jim : Uh, I really don’t want to talk about it.
Michael : Is it her legs? Her boobs? Her…
Jim : Um… she’s easy to talk to, I guess. And uh, she’s got a really good sense of humor.
Michael : Really?
Jim : M-hmm.
Michael : Never gets any of my jokes.
Jim : What about you?
Michael : Her boobs, definitely.
Jim : Wow, that’s not what I meant.
Whoever said honesty is the best policy obviously never met Michael Scott.
Ryan : If I had to, I could clean out my desk in five seconds, and nobody would ever know I had ever been here. And I’d forget, too. [Sighs]
Witness depression in its purest form.
Michael : Expenses.
Kevin : Michael, is that a wig?
Michael : No! It’s… I wear it like that sometimes. Is that a wig?
Kevin : [Looks up to his own head] No–
Angela : This is from Hooters!
Michael : Yeah, it’s a business lunch.
Angela : Did Toby approve this?
Michael : No, he did not. I don’t need his permission.
I literally could not stop laughing at this point. Oh man, it hurts so good.
Toby : I’m not processing this.
Michael : Look, Jim… needed a relaxing lunch. He has been depressed, and it has been affecting his productivity. How is that not work related?
Toby : He seems fine to me.
Michael : You’re not his friend, you don’t know. He is in love with a girl he works with who’s engaged, so cut me some slack, please.
Kelly : Pam?!
Could you be a little more specific?
Phyllis : Angela, who would you choose? Jim or Roy?
Angela : It’s nobody’s business, Phyllis… Roy.
I’m pretty sure Dwight would have something to say about this.
Dwight : Guess what I found out about Oscar tonight? He was lying about being sick. Should I have reported Oscar’s malfeasance? Hmm, probably, but now I know something he doesn’t want me to know, so I can use his malfeasance to establish leverage. Otherwise, it’s just malfeasance for malfeasance’s-s sake.
Dwight, Dwight, Dwight…
Jim : [Walks into Michael’s office] Hey.
Michael : I know. I know, I know.
Jim : Um… what happened?
Michael : I… ohhh, just, um… I was trying–just, the expense reports, and then… god, Toby, you know, he just… I know, I just… I just hope that… [Blubbers] I just hope that this doesn’t affect our friendship! Stupid.. this is so stupid.
Jim : Hey, hey, whoa. Whoa. Listen, man, it’s… you know what, it’s not a big deal.
Michael : Yeah, ok.
Jim : It’s gonna be fine.
Michael : I’m fine. Yeah, I know, I know, I’m good. It’s just…
Jim : Look… it’s one day, everything’s gonna be alright.
Michael : Yeah.
Jim : Big deal. You good? [Pats Michael on the back]
Michael : Yeah, I’m good. [Hugs Jim around the waist]
Jim : Ok.
Michael is every transcriber’s worst nightmare.
Ryan : Creed, did you organize the menu book?
Creed : Oh, I thought that was more on a volunteer basis.
Ryan : No… that was mandatory.
Creed : Oh, I thought it was a volunteer thing.
Devon couldn’t possibly have been any lazier than this.