Hidden agendas abound as the Dunder Mifflin sales team sets out to proselytize the Electric City on the merits of all things paper. Andy bends Michael’s ear in an elaborate vendetta against his arch-nemesis while Phyllis just sees what needs to be done and does it. Dwight’s good deed gets punished and he finds his place in a long history of men brought to ruin for the sake of true love, but it’s Stanley that gets the last laugh and then some.
Look up subdued, competent, responsible in the dictionary, and you will not find Michael Scott as reference. Usually he is the living antonym of each of those words. And yet, apart from a few characteristic moments such as his new friend Harvey, the talking computer, this week has Michael playing all three.
He acts with the air of someone who has faced an event of cataclysmic proportions and by no account of his own escaped with his life, and must now reconcile himself to the world forever altered. In other words, he’s so shell-shocked from what went down last week he doesn’t know what to do with himself.
Andy : Ohh, man. Talk about your classic lame-dash-o. Do we even want that guy buying our paper?
Michael : Yes.
Michael? Seriously? He fends off much of Andy’s flattery and even has a serious, strictly business call with Jan. A red letter day all around.
I have no delusions that the reborn Michael Scott has any chance at survival, but it’s heartening every once in a while to see him earn the management title and remind that, after all, he’s a heck of a good salesman and sometimes, even a good boss.
It’s an age old story: gallant knight saves fair lady, proving the depth of their love, only for his actions to be mistaken as traitorous and placing him in the gravest of peril.
Dwight : It’s gonna be okay.
Angela : How is it going to be okay, Dwight? Everyone will know our business.
Dwight : That’s not the worst thing in the world. I’ll just stand up in front of the office and reveal our true love.
Dwight : It won’t be that bad. Look at Kelly and Ryan.
Angela : I hate those two people more than anything in the entire world.
Dwight : Well, I don’t have a lot of choices.
You know you’re in a bad way when you look at Kelly and Ryan to set the precedent. And something about Dwight’s line of revealing their true love evokes both a sigh and a shudder. Their love is not love unless a little creepy.
Dwight : One of my life goals was to die right here, in my desk chair. And today, that dream shattered.
As far as life goals go, there are the more ambitious, the more adventurous, the more noble, and none taken more seriously than this. End scene with Dwight heroically renouncing his post, presumably forever, and yet, I guarantee, absolutely not. This is so far from over, it’s hardly just begun.
Pairing Jim with Dwight for any mission is the default for premium entertainment value.
Jim : Seriously, you’re gonna sit in the back?
Dwight : Uh, yeah. It’s the safest part of a car. In the event of a crash, the driver always protects his side first.
[Jim hits the brakes and Dwight slams his head into the back of the seat]
A few warm-up power jams later– in the absence of a stairwell, all Dwight needs is a back seat and some Motley Crue– it’s time for Jim to strike again.
Jim : After you, sir.
Dwight : No thank you, I never let anyone walk behind me. 7 out of 10 attacks are from the rear.
Jim : Okay, but that still leaves a 30 percent chance that I’ll attack you from the front.
Dwight : Uh, yeah, but it will be easier to stop. I can always block the blow. Or I can counter it with–
[Jim slaps him and Dwight is left stunned]
Still, Jim and Dwight could never be classified as outright enemies– instead, their bond lends to some kind of unorthodox brotherhood. Watching them double-team a client is a thing of beauty, and at the end of the day, when Dwight has said his farewell with bobbleheads in tow, it’s Jim that gets the final emotional embrace, and Jim that might miss him most of all, if for the worst kind of reasons.
It’s fairly well known that Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey share a close friendship in real life, which makes the off-kilter antagonism between Pam and Angela within the show all the more amusing, and now, an extension of their friendship all the more gratifying.
Pam : Angela, you seem so happy. I bet you wish you were like this all the time.
Angela : This friend of mine– let’s call her, Noelle– she missed this deadline turning something in to corporate in New York. But then this gallant gentleman– we’ll call him Kurt– he drove all the way to New York and handed it in for her! Because– I don’t know– I guess he just really likes her a lot.
Pam : Well, that’s great.
Angela : [beams] Yes, it is.
It’s fun to see them get to share a little girl time on screen– and about time, since if Pam were the least bit spiteful, Angela’s secret would have never been a secret to start.
I’ve heard many theories floated as to how Karen would learn pieces of the past, and Phyllis, previously responsible for nudging Pam towards Jim and well known for her support of the two, has been a recurring theme. And what do you know, Phyllis it is.
Karen : Thanks, that was fun.
Phyllis : Yeah, I really enjoy spending time with you. You’re a very nice person.
Karen : Thank you.
Phyllis : And I’m so glad you’re with Jim. He was hung up on Pam for such a long time… I didn’t think he’d ever get over her.
My bet is that Phyllis knew exactly what she was doing from the moment she selected Karen as her sales partner, and watching her pull it off without so much as a hint of malice is all kinds of awesome. I like Karen far too much to wish her harm, and it is time she knew the odds and nobody else is telling. Once the truth is out there, she makes a good move by going straight to the source.
Karen : Did you ever have a thing for Pam?
Jim : [taken aback] Pam? Did I ever have a thing for her? No. …Why, did she say something?
Unfortunately for Karen– cue rejoicing in the camp of Pam– that kind of response does not exactly inspire confidence. Watching Jim try so hard to make nothing of it even borders on the painful.
Karen : I moved here from Connecticut…
Jim : Yeah– okay, here’s the– I… had a crush on her before I left, and I told her about it, and she didn’t feel the same way. So it didn’t amount to anything, and I left.
[Karen is unsure]
Jim : I’m really glad you’re here. Okay?
Karen : [smiles] Okay.
Sincere, yes. Deflective, likely. The whole truth? Far from it. For one thing, there’s a huge difference between a crush and what drives you to a fervent “I’m in love with you” speech within weeks of her marrying another guy. But for the time being, the distinction is negligible and easily glossed over. The question of Pam’s attachment and their current relationship also remains untouched, and thus Karen is appeased, Jim is relieved, and only Pam has the side of the story that could correct the omission. After the tumult of last week, Pam is not yet to be found.
And thus, Traveling Salesmen draws the JPI Down, though it remains to be seen how having Karen in the know, at least of the partial truth, will affect the ongoing dynamic. I doubt she will let the matter fully rest, if only pursuing it in observation, and her no-nonsense approach surely promises some drama down the road. Bring it on.
The glamorous Phyllis Lapin for telling it like it is.
No coin toss this week. Dwight, Dwight, and Dwight.
Andy : Five of us transferred from Stamford. There’s two of us left. Me, and Karen. It’s like we’re touring Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and dropping off one by one. Well, guess what. I‘m not falling in a chocolate river.
I get a vague impression of Michael channeling Willy Wonka, and it’s just as disturbing as you might think.
[Dwight and Angela meet over the reception desk. He reads messages, she takes some candies from the bowl]
Angela : Everything okay?
Dwight : Just fine. You are in the clear.
Angela : Thank you. [She dumps the candies in front of Pam] I don’t want those.
Pam must check herself in the mirror from time to time just to make sure she hasn’t turned invisible.
Michael : Okay, now going by seniority, Phyllis, our resident senior.
Phyllis : We’re the same age.
Phyllis never fails to remind, and Michael never fails to forget.
Michael : Next up, the Super Fly himself, Stanley.
Stanley : Pass.
Michael : You can’t pass, you gotta pick somebody.
Stanley : [sighs] I’ll take the kid.
[Cut to interview]
Ryan : I’m very flattered. I was his second choice, after “pass.”
Stanley isn’t going to make you symbolically sow beets into the fertile earth of Schrute Farm. I wouldn’t complain.
Karen : Why are we turning in here? This is a beauty salon.
Cue theme from Working Girl.
Stanley : [near hysterical with laughter] And you just said, “Hi. Hi. Hi.” You sounded like… my niece… and she’s six months old!
Poor Ryan. Driving Stanley to fits of glee is an achievement indeed, but not exactly one you can flaunt at business school.
Michael : You know what they say. Fool me once, strike one. But fool me twice… strike three.
When Michael begins a sentence with, “you know what they say,” it is absolutely guaranteed to be nothing anyone has ever said before.
[Demonstrating their customer service to a client]
Jim : And this, [holds up his phone and dials] is Dunder Mifflin.
Kelly : Dunder Mifflin customer service, this is Kelly.
Jim : Hi Kelly, this is Jim.
Kelly : Omigod, Jim, how are you?! I wanted to tell you– [he snaps phone shut]
That’s a very effective sales tack that Ryan will never, ever use.
Dwight : I like Karen. She’s pretty. Appears intelligent.
Jim : Well, I like pretty women who have the appearance of intelligence.
Dwight : My girlfriend is also beautiful and smart. She could be a model. Or a college professor. Which is intimidating to a lot of guys.
Jim : We should go on a double date.
Dwight : [scoffs] No thank you.
Jan : Dwight’s name is on the security sign-in sheet, but I don’t know who he met with, and where it asks you to state your business he wrote, “Beeswax Not Yours, Inc.”
Clever, perhaps, even witty, yet nothing but suspicious. Also calls into question the security protocol of the corporate office.
Dwight : I overslept. Damn rooster didn’t crow.
Angela’s sudden invitation, the secret lives of Noelle and Kurt, and now this rounds out a trifecta of priceless reactions from Pam.
Michael : Okay, you know what, I want you to think about your future at this company. I want you to think about it long and hard.
Dwight : That’s what she said.
Michael : Don’t you dare.
Wow. This goes down in the books as one of the greatest Michael/Dwight moments ever.
Dwight : Ahem. May I have your attention, please? This will only take a moment of your time. [Unfolds paper and reads] Although I love this company more than almost anything in the world, I have decided to step down from my post and spend more time with my family.
Not really a viable excuse when you’re known to reside in an eight bedroom farmhouse with Cousin Mose.
Dwight : I do not fear the unknown. I will meet my new challenges head on, and I will succeed, and I will laugh in the faces of those who doubt me. It’s been a pleasure working with some of you, and I will not forget those of you soon. But remember… while today it is me, we all shall fall.
Proportionately dramatic, no doubt due to the militant seeds Jim planted back in Dwight’s Speech.
Angela : [close to tears] Dwight? From sales? Was one of the most honorable and efficient employees this company has ever had.
Andy is officially classified as meat, Dead. With a capital D. Because the only thing more terrifying than crossing Dwight is crossing Dwight and bringing Angela to tears.