Love is in the air in Scranton, but mainly just around Phyllis’ desk. The flood of gifts from Vance Refrigeration puts the neglected women of the office in a foul mood, leading some to consume vast amounts of liquor and others to reconsider their choice of suitors. Meanwhile, Michael heads off to New York to deliver a financial presentation devoid of financial information and is rewarded for his efforts with a Valentine’s Day surprise.
Music takes on a whole new meaning for me when it’s played to moving pictures. I can listen to a song dozens of times and think I have it all figured out, and then hear it in the context of a memorable scene and emerge with a completely different take on it. As you might expect, the best results are had when great music is combined with great television: Teardrop + House = Awesome.
With or Without You needs no introduction given its place in one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s poetic, it’s got a terrific bassline, and it will now forever be linked to the words “A Michael Scott Joint.” I’m not sure how I feel about that. Please, please stay away from Where the Streets Have No Name.
Michael [Voice-over] : Life moves a little slower in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and that’s the way we like it. ‘Cause at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton, we’re not just in the paper business, we’re in the people business.
Nothing like a little slow motion to up the kitsch factor. And by the way, the above statement… yeah, it doesn’t make any sense to me either.
Michael [Voice-over] : This is Stanley Hudson, one of our talented salesmen. An African-American father of two, Stanley’s dedication is no doubt one of the hallmarks of the foundation of the business we’re hoping to build our basis on.
Thanks to that fantastic close-up, I now know more about the physical complexion of Stanley’s head than I ever wanted to.
Michael [Voice-over] : And finally, Pam Beesly. Look at her. Look how cute. Not bad at all. As the receptionist, Pam is truly the gateway to our world.
As if the first couple minutes weren’t enough to send you into a squirming fit, this part was just plain weird and a little bit creepy. Ok, a whole lot of creepy.
Michael [Voice-over] : Well, I hope this gave you a little taste of what life is like here at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton. What it’s like to walk a mile in Oscar’s shoes. Or try on Phyllis’ pants. Next time you’re in town, give us a call. Stop on by. I’m sure you’ll be greeted by a big smile and a “How you doing, pal?” Maybe even one of Angela’s famous brownies. And you’ll know that you’re home.
I’m not sure where trying on Phyllis’ pants came from, but it sounds kind of inappropriate. And good luck scoring one of Angela’s famous brownies if your name isn’t Dwight.
I question Dwight’s sanity every week, but the man produces results with the ladies in his life. Take Angela, for instance. I see her as a the human equivalent of a wood shredder: healthy men come in one end and pulverized souls exit through the other. And yet, Dwight has her in the palm of his hand.
Dwight : Women are like wolves. If you want a wolf, you have to trap it. You have to snare it. And then you have to tame it. Keep it happy. Care for it. Feed it. Lovingly, the way an animal deserves to be loved. And my animal deserves a lot of loving.
This is raising all sorts of strange imagery. I’m going to repress it before it gets out of hand.
Those of you who were distressing over the possiblity of a Jim and Brenda pairing can now rest easy.
Jim : So I broke up with Katy and I haven’t been dating anybody else, so this year I don’t have to worry about Valentine’s Day. It’s gonna be good. I invited a couple friends over. We’re gonna play some cards, and I’ll end up winning a lot of money… because… they’re idiots. It’s gonna be great.
Being single isn’t so bad. It leaves you free to worry about other things, like how to best capitalize on your other single friends’ misfortunes.
Concussions and Valentine’s Day: the only two things capable of producing civil conversation between Dwight and Pam.
Pam : Ok, well, sometimes the gift is really about the gesture, you know, like what it means instead of what it is.
Dwight : You mean… like a ham?
Pam : No. Not like a ham. It’s about doing something so that the person knows that you really care about her. That you remember her.
Dwight : Ok, I get it. That’s great. Ok, shut up. I know exactly what to do.
A ham? Huh? Sorry, Dwight, but I don’t think you have the right to tell anyone to shut up after that demonstration of unspeakable weirdness.
The interaction between Jim and Pam was pretty limited in Valentine’s Day. Surprising, perhaps, given the occasion, but not so much when you consider how things have been going over the past few episodes.
It didn’t occur to me until recently, but the two of them are spending significantly less time together. Obviously, there is a lot that goes on during the day that we don’t see, but I get the sense that Jim and Pam simply don’t hang out as much as they used to. There are no lunches in the breakroom, no secret conferences at the reception desk to plot against Dwight, no playful quips back and forth… there really isn’t much at all.
Pam : I really like Valentine’s Day in this office. It’s kind of like grade school. Everybody gives out little presents and stuff. Like last year, Jim gave me this card with Dwight’s head on it. It was horrifying and funny.
Nice setup, writers. Nothing tugs at heartstrings like revisiting fond memories. This is what you’re missing out on, Pam.
Kelly : It’s frustrating ’cause we’d be so perfect together.
Jim : You know what? Here’s the deal, Kelly. It would be really nice if he was into you, right? It would be great. But he isn’t.
Kelly : Yeah, but it would be so great if he was.
Jim : Well, he’s not though. So you just gotta suck it up. You just gotta move on. Try to have some fun. Come to my poker game tonight.
Kelly : Ok, cool. Is it ok if I invite Ryan?
Jim : [Sighs]
Opportunities for character development be damned, this is one case where I want to see a one-dimensional character. Everything Jim does should in some way be related to his eroding relationship with Pam. People get hung up on other people in real life; it consumes them, and although the more resilient ones are capable of moving on, it generally involves a considerable amount of sacrifice. We need to believe that the only thing keeping Jim here is a hope, however faint it might be, that Pam will eventually come around, simply because we haven’t been given any reason to think otherwise. Although it is possible that he enjoys his work to some extent, I cannot accept that he would be willing to remain at his current job after she’s tied the knot. It doesn’t make any sense, especially given his potential for a more fulfilling line of work. I recognize that there are other sides to Jim’s character, but in my opinion, they cannot be explored until Pam regains her eligible status.
Pam : Heading out?
Jim : Yeah. Alright, Beesly. Hey, happy Valentine’s Day.
Pam : Bye.
The way her goodbye trails off, I can feel her turning… but it’s not enough. This relationship is going to remain in limbo until words with real substance are exchanged. We have the luxury of the ever-observant camera on our side, catching all of those pensive looks, but Jim has nothing to work with. You all are absolutely correct: despite whatever reservations Pam might have towards this wedding, she’s been able to justify it on this implicit expectation that Jim would always be around to give her the attention that she wasn’t receiving from her marriage. And now, with her realizing that she may not even have that to count on after barely making it through a miserable Valentine’s Day, I’ve got to believe that she’s having doubts. Until she musters the courage to act on them, however, they’ll just be doubts and nothing else.
Even or Down, I could really go either way here. Jim is quickly becoming a non-factor; he still cares about her, but he’s not willing to fight for her anymore. I honestly believe that if the wedding were to happen right now, he would not object. Sure, he’d probably kick himself in a few months for letting it happen, but as of this very moment, I think he’s convinced himself that he has no chance with her. Knowing what’s in store for us in a few weeks, I’m especially tempted to rate it negatively, regardless of whatever regret or uncertainty I’m able to read in Pam’s eyes. She may be this close to speaking up, but to Jim, it’s all the same.
I’m going to stick to my guns, though, and maintain things at Even. Pam has at least suggested that she’s wavering, and as Nathan astutely pointed out, any misstep that Roy takes is a good thing for the Jim/Pam camp. Jim may be running on empty, but there’s still the possibility that Pam and Roy will self-destruct before vows are exchanged.
Watching Meredith get blitzed in the middle of a work day was more than enough to earn her a decisive victory here. So much for that New Year’s resolution.
Michael, who stuns us with an excruciatingly ill-conceived video montage, nearly gets his boss fired, and somehow manages to come out on top.
Dwight : Question. Will you be seeing Jan when you’re in New York?
Michael : I probably will. Why do you ask?
Dwight : Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, and you guys, you know…
Michael : Yeah…
Dwight : … screwed.
Michael : What is your problem?
Dwight lives in a magical place called Dwightland where silly things such as tact and common sense don’t exist.
Michael : This is a business trip. I would have to be a raving lunatic to try to talk to Jan about what happened between us. Her words, not mine. She sent me an e-mail this morning. But… it is Valentine’s Day. It’s New York, city of love.
New York? City of love? We must be thinking of different New Yorks.
Dwight : What’s this? What is this?
Jim : I don’t know. It’s on your desk.
Dwight : Yeah, but who put it here and for what purpose?
Jim : It was there when I sat down.
Dwight : [Opens the package and reads the enclosed card] Happy Valentine’s Day. It’s me. I’m the bobble-head. Yes!
Most people would call this a bobble-head modeled after Dwight, but I say it’s a person modeled after a bobble-head.
Jim : Hey, Kelly. What’s up?
Kelly : Nothing. Oh, except, oh my God, Jim. Last night, Ryan and I totally finally hooked up. It was awesome.
Jim : Oh, that’s great. I’m really happy for you.
Kelly : I know, and it was so funny, ’cause we were at this bar with his friends, and I was sitting next to him the whole night, and he wasn’t making a move, so in my head, I was like, Ryan, what’s taking you so long? And then he kissed me, and I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Ryan, what took you so long?” I mean, I just said it to him. Can you believe that?
Jim : Wow.
Kelly : Oh my God, Jim. Is that embarrassing? I’m embarrassed.
Jim : No, don’t be.
Kelly : Oh, thank God.
Jim : No. Alright–
Kelly : Because I was nervous, Jim. You will not believe.
Jim : I bet.
Kelly : I was so nervous. But now–now I have a boyfriend.
Kelly’s voice can kill the average human adult in three minutes. Children are lucky to make it past the half-minute mark.
Ryan : I hooked up with her on February 13th.
This is the only lesson Ryan has learned since he started working here, and what a lesson it is.
Michael : This is the world-famous Rockefeller Center. Founded, of course, by Theodore Rockefeller. This is the skating rink. And I think the Rangers, uh, practice there sometimes.
Not really sure who this Theodore guy is, but maybe John knows him.
Dwight : Hello, Angela. Did you hear? Somebody totally rocked the house and got me the best present I’ve ever gotten.
Angela : Really? I wouldn’t know anything about that, but I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Dwight : Oh, I did. I did.
Angela : I didn’t get anything for Valentine’s Day.
Dwight : Oh, I bet you will before the day is over.
Angela : Really? Well, I hope I do.
Several of you brought this up, and I agree wholeheartedly: Dwight plus Angela has proven to be a great and surprisingly healthy, as far as these two are concerned, combination.
Michael : Scranton is great, but… New York is like Scranton on acid. No, on speed. Nah. On… steroids.
Hell, why not all three? New York is like Scranton on acid, speed, and steroids.
Michael : There is a lot of pressure on me right now. It’s like Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals, or… like Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf. And this presentation is Desert Storm. And as soon as it’s over, we will not have to deal with those Iraqis anymore. Let’s do it.
Because, you know, running a paper office is just like running a war.
Kevin : Whoa, whoa.
Delivery Man : Phyllis Lapin?
Pam : Holy God.
Delivery Man : It’s from Bob.
Kevin : Man, that thing’s bigger than I am.
Delivery Man : No, it’s not.
Kevin : Oh, zip it.
Jim better make a move on Kevin quick before the delivery man steals him away.
Jan : Nervous? No, I’m not nervous. Well, I mean, I guess I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous. Um, the new CFO is judging me on this, too, and, well, it is Michael. So… yeah, I’m very nervous.
What we didn’t see were the four packs of cigarettes Jan smoked prior to this interview.
Delivery Man : Can you sign?
Pam : Yeah. [Delivers flowers to Oscar] Oscar.
Angela : Nothing for me?
Pam : Join the club.
Kevin : Who’s it from?
Oscar : My mom.
Nice cover, Oscar, though receiving flowers from anyone (your mom included) is a strict no-no if you want to keep your secret under wraps.
Jan : Ok. Craig.
Craig : Yeah, here’s the deal. [Clears throat] I did not understand this was supposed to be a full on, like, report or whatnot.
Jan : I’m sorry, what did you think “financial presentation” meant?
Craig : I was under the impression this was more of like a meet-and-greet type deal.
David : So… does that mean that you don’t have the numbers on your branch?
Craig : That is correct. Yes.
Anytime someone whips out “whatnot” in a conversation, you can safely assume that they have no idea what they’re talking about.
Jan : Michael, it was months ago. It was once. It’s over. Do you understand?
Michael : Yes. I’m sorry. I’ll… fix this. I’ll talk to him. I’ll talk to David.
Jan : Surely, you cannot be serious.
Michael : I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley. Airplane.
I’m pretty sure that reference flew right over Jan’s head. That is the only pun you will ever see on Northern Attack, I promise.
Pam : I mean, I know that we said no big gifts, but I was kind of hoping you’d get me something for Valentine’s Day.
Roy : Well, Valentine’s Day isn’t over. Let’s get you home, and you are gonna get the best sex of your life.
Pam : [Looks awkwardly at the camera]
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Jan : Uh, Michael. Thank you again for that, really. It was very nice.
Michael : Oh, no big deal. Really. Sorry again.
Jan : Oh, no. It’s–it’s–it’s ok. So, uh… happy Valentine’s Day.
Michael : Yeah, happy Valentine’s Day.
Jan : [Kisses Michael]
Michael : [Rendered speechless, looks towards the camera]
Jan : [Follows Michael’s eyes to the camera] Oh…
Jan needs to come up with less incriminating ways of showing her gratitude.