The Office: Back from Vacation

Teaser.

Close-up on an Uncle Sam statuette in an empty office. Or is it George Washington? I can never tell. (Note: I kid.) In the background we see the conference room, where Jim is flanked by his crackerjack sales staff: Dwight, Karen, Ryan, Stanley, Phyllis, and Andy. He is informing them that they have to push cardstock this week. No one wastes any time pretending to care about this directive, which is how meetings usually go in my office, too. "Cardstock" is just one of those keywords that means you chose the wrong major in college.

Dwight takes a moment to place a small voice recorder on the table in front of him, telling Jim that it's "for recording." In exactly the tone of voice you're hearing in your head right now. He reminds us all that Michael is on vacation (in sunny Sandals, Jamaica, cats!), and says that in his absence Michael has asked Dwight to record all meetings and type up the transcripts. I'd say there's about an 8% chance Michael actually made that request. Although if he did, it would only be so he could know how much time they spent in each of their meetings talking about Michael.

Jim shrugs it all off and turns to ask Karen a serious sales question, to which she responds, and then—still looking at Karen—he suddenly says, in a stern, louder-than-normal voice, "Oh my God, Dwight, what are you doing?" Dwight looks up, all, Um, just focusing on my task, thanks, while Jim tells him "You're not allowed to take off your pants in the middle of the office!" Dwight is perplexed by this. "I'm not," he says, sounding more guarded than confident, as if he suspects that somehow, without intending to, he actually might be removing his pants. Jim tells him to back off and accuses him of committing sexual harassment (maybe not for the first time), when finally Dwight's eyes light upon the recorder: bingo! It's all coming together now.

"Oh my God!" Jim yells next. "He's got a knife!" "I do not have a knife," Dwight explains to the recorder. He's getting nervous, though, because he's going to have to transcribe all this later, letter for letter, and Michael might actually think this part is true. By the time Jim accuses him of standing naked with a plastic knife to Stanley's throat, Dwight has really had it, and he shouts, "Let the record show that Jim Halpert is a liar!" Everyone else (except Stanley, who doesn't glance up from his notepad) is smiling by now, ready to pitch in with the fun. Wait—did I say crackerjack before, or crackpot? Actually, what the notes from this meeting will show is that all manner of shenanigans can erupt even when Michael isn't around to facilitate it, the thought of which would probably make him cry.

Now Jim grabs the recorder and speaks directly into it: Dwight is wearing a baby's bonnet! Then Phyllis steps up to the plate: "Jim Carrey just walked in, Dwight, get his autograph for Michael!" Also something Michael would believe. Dwight disputes this, as well, but not without turning to check the door behind him. Next Karen asks if that's a Muppet Babies tattoo on his stomach, and Dwight glances down at his shirtfront. This is getting a little sad: he's defenseless against his own strict moral code of conduct and transcribing. What to do?

Luckily there's a secret weapon sitting directly across the table from him: buzz kill, thy name is Andy. Andy, whose crazy eyes flit crazily back and forth as he waits for his moment in the sun. Like a buzzard. Finally it's time, and he delivers with a massive misread of team spirit:  "I am now chopping off Phyllis's head with a chainsaw!" he bellows. Which shuts them all up fast, especially when he follows that up with a couple of impromptu chainsaw noises. They stare at him, then down at the table. And it's back to cardstock.

Act I.

Michael's back from vacation! Michael's back from vacation! After getting lots of good hot lovin', one would hope. He certainly looks vacated: he enters wearing his suit and overcoat and three rasta beads braided into a lock of his hair. Oh, dear, he got no lovin' at all! Unless he paid for it, although he seems a little too scared of sex to go around hiring professionals. He's carrying his briefcase, a big box, and about fourteen bags"”which look to be filled with leis. Sigh. There's so very little about him that makes any sense at all, and yet it all just makes me squeal with delight. I can't even tell you. Plus he looks tan and happy and super sexy. He stops for a moment in front of reception and scans the far horizons of his little fiefdom: Daddy's home!

Nobody notices, or cares to. Not even Pam, who looks up only when he greets her with a loud "Hey, mon!" She's got to look up sometime. "Hey!" she says, and then she launches right into her counterattack: "You have a bunch of messages." Trying not to notice the beaded hair he's waving in her face. She throws him a quick "That's nice," and just keeps on talking. Guess what? she says. Hannah the breast feeder quit! And is suing the company, undoubtedly because of Michael, so Michael might (will definitely) have to be deposed.

But he's hearing none of this: "Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah," he tells her. Which must sound like everything else he says to her: it's all one long blur of blah. He tells her to relax; he'll get to it all later, and she says, mostly to herself, "It's kind of serious." But serious and Michael Scott no longer exist on the same plane. Did they ever? It's hard to remember. "Aren't you going to ask me how Jamaica was?" he says, and then he leans in and whispers, "Say it! Ask me." He's just about ready to pee in his pants, he wants this so badly. A good time is a total waste of time unless he can share it with his public. So Pam takes a deep, cleansing breath and starts the whole conversation over, complete with the kind of enthusiasm she can't possibly be compensated for: "How was Jamaica?"

"It was so good!" he cries. So good even he can't believe it! Guess he got that sweet, sweet lovin' after all. And this is all he needs to attack the rest of the office with his joy, this one small note of permission. "Hey mon!" he yells to the others, who again neglect to respond. He sallies forth: "At Sandals, Jamaica, when somebody says "˜Hey mon,' everybody says "˜Hey mon' back!" I think he really believes Sandals is a city in Jamaica.

The only person who approaches, though, is Stanley, and it's not with a "Hey mon" back, it's with a bitch about his bonus check being a hundred bucks short. Honestly, Stanley, semantics at a time like this? Michael tells him to bother payroll; they told Stanley to bother Michael, and he's not doing "a lick more work" until he gets his full bonus check. I like that Stanley talks like Andy Griffith sometimes. Michael accuses him of not being as much fun as his Jamaican "bruddas." For this he gets Stanley's pursed lips and Stanley's eye roll, and the back of Stanley's head. I also like that Stanley looks a little like Bleeding Gums Murphy.

Next we see Karen and Jim in the breakroom, where unease and nonromance chill the air. She's pouring herself a cup of coffee and he's leaning against the counter, all nine shaggy-haired, blue-shirted, nice guy feet of him. It's obvious she's mad even before he says, "You wanna talk about it?" What a nice guy thing to say. God; nice guy boyfriends are the worst. Seriously. Because even when they're behaving like total dicks, it's impossible to hate them because you know, deep down, they're so nice. Bastards: just let us hate you! Karen stalks out, leaving him to grimace alone.

She enlightens the camera: two months in a Scranton hotel isn't quite the Four Seasons she'd hoped for, and just yesterday she found an apartment two blocks from Jim. Which is every young girl's dream, right? And some old ones, too. Only Jim naturally finds this unnaturally close: what if sometime Pam wants to come over? is what he (and we) are thinking. What I'm thinking is Karen needs to do something with her hair. A saucy little bob like Kelly's would be cute, something bouncy and chin length with layers. Just an idea.

But I digress. It's back to the grindstone for everyone but Michael, who has no intention of doing any work at work today. He came in to learn how to play the steel drum while forcing Pam to watch. She doesn't even bother smiling, although she works her way up to a not-discouraging shrug. Now there's your team spirit. They make some steel drum small talk, and he informs her he's never been out of the country before. This fails to surprise her. Jamaicans have it pretty good, he thinks—"they just relax and party all the time, which of course doesn't jibe with Pam's reality check that "it's kind of an impoverished country." But he skips a mental rock right over that one and tells her to "make a note: I want us all to start having pina coladas every day at three." Hot dog! I'll bring the teeny tiny paper umbrellas.

But Pam immediately craps all over his mellow: they can't have inter-office cocktails today because they have to do inventory. Michael pouts. He specifically went to Jamaica in December so he could miss inventory! She tells him they postponed it until he got back. That must have been Toby's Christmas present, to make up for the whole robe-stealing thing.

"Inventory is boring," Michael tells the camera. "In the islands, they don't make you do stuff like take inventory. Why do you think so many businesses move to the Caymans?" I'm not sure; maybe they thought the Love Boat docked there.

But eventually he settles on today's master plan, one that allows him to be the boss and the Jamaican King at the same time: he'll throw an Inventory Luau!

Michael: "I want to bring a little slice of paradise back to the Dunder Mifflin warehouse inventory. So, party planning committee, get on it."
Angela: "By the end of the day? That's impossible!"
Michael: "The Jamaicans don't have a word for impossible."
Jim: "Yep. It's English. It's "˜impossible.' "

No comment from Michael—if he doesn't respond, it's like it was never said.

Angela: "Michael, there's no way we can do it in time."

Michael (talking head): "How hard is a luau? All you need are some grass skirts, pineapple, poi, tiki torches, suckling pig, some fire dancers— That's all you need."

Well then: done and done!

Still, he can see they're in need of a more hands-on lesson in the art of soaking up the island vibe, so he gathers everyone in the conference room for show and tell. Karen slips in last, passing up the empty chair next to Jim in favor of a spot in the back between Creed and Kelly. Poor Jim. Will the course of not-true love ever run smooth?

Michael queues up his Jamaica slideshow on the TV, and we see a picture of him on the beach, holding a frothy drink in one hand and giving a thumbs up with the other, standing beside a thatch-roofed bar and a sign that says "No shirt, no shoes, no problem." I can maybe see him wanting people to show up at work shirtless, but without shoes? Did he forget Kevin has that foot thing? Yick. Let's keep that stuff under wraps, people.

Thankfully it's only the Jamaican laissez-faire attitude he's aspiring to, not the wardrobe free-for-all. "So what if we have to stay late and do inventory?" he says. "No problem!" Forgetting, I guess, that he was the one who had a problem with it not five minutes ago.

Pam is staring at him with a blank expression (this might be just to the left of cardstock on the boredom spectrum) until she sees, on the TV screen—oh my God!...is it?...could it be?... "Oh my God, is that Jan?"

Oh my God! It's Jan. Wearing a bikini. In Jamaica. With Michael! Oh, will you bless my dear little shipper heart: if there's anything I love more than each of them separately, it's both of them together. This stuff never happens; the couples I want to couple never actually couple, so it's sort of the culmination of a lifelong dream. I don't know. Something about so much mutual professional hostility mixed with twisting gender stereotypes, major physical chemistry, a sort of quietly held affection, and the fact that he's the only one who can ever get her to let loose with a genuine smile. They're irresistible.

But Michael goes ahead and tries to resist it anyway, and badly; no, that's a German woman named Urkelgru, he tells them, all regretful/happy his plan turned out exactly the way he subconsciously hoped it would. Still, please don't ever let him name a child.

Cut to a talking head in his office: "Jan told me to play it cool and not tell anybody because it could get us both into trouble." (He must think "playing it cool" means something else.) "So, officially, I did not see her— But I did see Jan there. In our room. At night. And in the morning. That's all I'm gonna say." Trying in vain to hide that naughty little smile. Then, starting under his breath and growing to full volume, he continues: "Sex. Sex. We had sex. I had sex with her. I had sex with Jan." And he's smiling. Oh, how he's smiling: life has never been better than this for Michael Scott. Partly it all comes across as a pathetic adolescent boast, and partly as if he's still trying to convince himself it really happened. No wonder he needed photographic evidence.

Next he places—what else—a phone call to Todd "Two Thumbs" Packer. Oh, Michael. Not only do you have no real friends, the friends you think you have are people nobody else wants as friends. And what sort of a life is that? No life at all, my friend. When he says he just got back from Jamaica, Packer tries to one-up him with a tale from his trip to "Hotlanta," but Michael cuts him off. For once he actually has a real story to tell"”one guaranteed to impress even an asshat tool like Packer.

Michael: "Yeah, that sounds amazing, but you know what? The lady Jan Levinson wanted to go to Montego Bay."
Packer: "You took the ice queen? I don't buy it."
Michael: "Well, I'm looking at a photo right now, and, I'm tellin' ya, could be in Maxim."

On his monitor we see a photo of Jan lying on a beach chair in a black bikini, sprawled out on her stomach with the straps of her top untied, so you can see the full side of one breast. Her eyes are closed. What a mistake, to fall asleep with Michael Scott around. Not the first but potentially the most serious in what I'm sure will be many, many, many lapses of judgment on her part. He's kneeling next to her wearing a Sandals t-shirt, yet another frothy drink in one hand and the other arm spread wide and proud: hey, look at the babe I bagged, mon!

Packer: "They wouldn't give you a subscription to Maxim."
Michael: "Oh no? Okay. Well—check this out. I'm sending you some email."

Oh. Please don't. But before you can scream, Please don't!...he does. And doesn't: naturally the email goes not to "Packer@dundermifflin.com," but "Packaging@dundermifflin.com." "Uh-oh," he mumbles, and five seconds later, Packer says, "Wait. I just got it from somebody else. Wow. This is hot! Damn! How do I get you out of this picture?" We know immediately that Michael is distressed by this turn of events because he passes up the opportunity to give Packer a Photoshop tutorial and instead goes tearing down the hallway towards the warehouse as fast he can, only to burst into Darryl's office and find him—staring at a photo of half-naked Jan on his computer screen.

[Let's pause for today's "Steve Carell Swoon" and appreciate his physical commitment to character here. Uncle Frank in Little Miss Sunshine ran just exactly the way you would expect him to run, and so does Michael Scott: with short steps and arms out at the elbows and quick horizontal cuts through doorways, the flaps of his jacket flying in the breeze behind him. Sigh.] 

Act II.

Anyway. Darryl sits back in his chair, feet propped up on his desk, gnawing on a chicken wing as he stares at a photo of half-naked Jan on his computer screen. Oh, Jan. Jan Jan Jan. Nothing you've ever done in your whole entire lifetime could be deserving of such a sad, cruel fate as this.

Darryl: "What's up, Mike?"
Michael: "That's great!" (eyes on the photo) "Okay, um, so did you get an email from me?"
Darryl (eyes on the photo):  "Yep."
Michael: "Okay. Well, that was supposed to go to Packer, not packaging. Did you already, um, forward it to a whole bunch of people?"
Are you kidding me? You bet your sweet ass he did! Darryl knows a good thing when he sees it.
Darryl: "Uh-huh."
Michael: "Okay. Um, well. Did you get the second email that I sent? Explaining that the first email was a mistake and that you should delete it?"
Darryl:  "Yep."
Michael:  "And you sent that out to everyone?"
Darryl (eyes on the photo): "Mike, I'm very busy down here." (gnaws on chicken wing)

Up in the office, Jim, Meredith, and Andy are gathered around Kevin's computer. "Yikes," Jim says. "Already sent it to you, my friend," Kevin tells him. You just knew Kevin would be front and center on this one. Andy tells them to wake him when she rolls over; he seems like a hardcore kind of guy, or at least the kind of guy who would lie about being hardcore. Which is really worse, if you think about it.

Pam walks in on Jim sitting alone in the breakroom, looking all mellow and reflective. Probably enjoying a soothing afternoon cup of Tension Tamer tea. Keep on walking, Pam. But she can't. She pours herself some coffee and asks if he's okay. He says yeah and she asks if he's sure. Dammit, Pam! One day soon she's going to regret this X-ray vision she has into people's souls, especially when she asks him if he wants to talk about it. Especially when he does.

Michael sits perched on the edge of Dwight's desk. "I have a special assignment for you," he whispers. Yay! Another meeting of the brain trust. Dwight couldn't be happier: he lives for special assignments, and code names. Michael reels him in with both: "A sensitive email has been released to the office. It contains a file, a picture. The file name is "JamaicanJanSunPrincess." "What's it of?" Dwight asks. This is the reason he'll never get that callback from the CIA: he has no shortage of will or initiative, but his wildly overactive imagination is always taking the wrong U-turn. "Not important," Michael says, and Dwight replies that he won't do it unless Michael tells him everything. Still such a sheriff's boy! Michael says "Forget it" and starts to walk away, so Dwight caves. Such a Michael's boy.

Back to the breakroom. "So, I don't know, I just feel like, we've been dating a month. Right?" Jim says. I don't know, man, why are you asking us? "Same street? I think that might be a little close. Little bit much." Pam just sits and listens, practical Pam in her sensible shoes, and then"”tearing the hole in her own heart a little wider, and ignoring the pain"”tells him, essentially, that he's being a horse's ass. Isn't Karen living just ten minutes away now? she reminds him. Maybe he should give her a break. And she says it so generously, thinking she's actually being helpful, and you can see how proud it makes her to be this big person, to do this much for him. To let them both believe they're over each other. "I didn't mind helping Jim with his problem," she tells the camera. "That's what friends do." Not when they're this generation's Joanie and Chachi, they don't. I think what she's going to learn is being the nice girl sometimes takes a pretty heavy toll.

Creed is sitting in front of his computer, chin in hand, staring at half-naked Jan. This just gets worse and worse.

And worse: Toby enters Michael's office and closes the door. "I need to talk to you," he says, and Michael tells him, "Not now. Not ever." Toby says it looks from the photo like Michael and Jan have entered into an intimate relationship. You think? Michael glimpses a small ray of hope: "That photo is my personal property, and if you are telling me you went on my computer and stole that photo, then I am going to call the cops."  He picks up the receiver, but no dice: "Michael, nine different people emailed me that photo, including my ex-wife. And we don't talk, you know." "Then this is probably the ice breaker you need," Michael says. There you go: always thinking of others.

"For your own protection, you should disclose this to HR," Toby says. But to formalize this according to corporate mandates would take the romance out of the whole thing for Michael, who is actually, in his heart of hearts, a teenage girl who still believes in true love.

Michael: "I bet you would love all the details, wouldn't you? You skeevy little perv."
Toby: "All right, if you're having a relationship with your superior, you must disclose it."
Michael: "No, no, no. I'm not dating Jan, she was very clear about that. Just two like souls having a romantic time in the most romantic place on earth."

Huh. I always thought that was Las Vegas, or the Mall of America.

Conference room: Angela is shouting orders as she shreds sheets of green paper. Her nerves are a little jangled. More than usual, I mean. "We only have three hours, people, to plan a whole luau! And you're not helping!" Karen asks what the ingredients are in poi (answer: nothing you want to know about), and Phyllis is having trouble tracking down a whole pig. "Did you try the petting zoo?" barks Angela. Angela rocks; she really is a female Dwight who's been stuffed into a miniaturizing machine and blondified. Same rigid ethics, same devout, militaristic attention to detail, same careless disregard for the horrification she inspires in others. It's all good.

At reception, Pam answers the phone. Oh my God, it's Jan! For Michael! "Oh God! No, no," he hisses. His greatest dream is turning into his greatest nightmare, and he'll avoid it as long as he can. He tells Pam to hang up. No, tell Jan he's not here. No, tell her he's run out of gas. No, tell her he hit a deer with his car. No, he hit a cat. (A cat? Is that better or worse than a deer?) Pam patiently endures his back-and-forth improv and tells Jan he'll call her back. "Do you think she bought it?" he asks, and Pam gives him a reassuring nod. Disaster averted. He steps gingerly into his office as Dwight asks, "Michael hit a deer?"

We see Michael sitting at his desk, eyes closed. Hoping to beam himself to some far, safe moment in the future, probably. Dwight for some reason elects to bypass the office door, which is ajar, and slides open the window instead, poking his head in through the blinds. Because that's what a secret agent would do. He's definitely devoted to his job: there's been an emergency in the warehouse involving a photograph, he reports. Michael chucks something at the camera as he leaps from his chair and tears out of his office screaming "No, no, no, no, no—" That oft-repeated refrain. He and Dwight race to the warehouse to find a larger-than-life-sized full-color poster of half-naked napping Jan—and smiling Michael!—pasted to the wall.

The warehouse guys give him a standing ovation. Roy calls him a rock star and Darryl shouts, "Got that corporate booty!" Oh, Michael:  first Packer, and now this! Another dream. What can he do? Immediately sacrifice the long-sought respect he's finally just earned, or risk losing the woman he loves? Another nightmare. It hurts, doesn't it, flying so close to the sun? When you're Michael Scott, winning is just as hard as losing. He gives them a victory wave and files back out. Denial and procrastination are a refuge: his turtle brain is winning.

He and Dwight sprint back to the office, where he calls everyone to attention. "Apparently there is an email circulating around that contains a very PG-13-rated picture of me and a woman." Kevin: "Jan." "No, Kevin, a woman. Maybe Jan, maybe—" "Urkelgru," Jim offers. Michael disregards this and asks them all to delete the email if they get it, sight unseen. "Let's be professional," he says. Totally, let's! I'll bring the teeny tiny paper umbrellas.

Cut to Michael standing alone outside in the frosty air, singing "Feelin' hot hot hot" while accompanying himself half-heartedly on his steel drum. Pam sticks her head out the door. "Hey! What are you doing out here?" she asks. Looks cold. "Island living," he tells her, trying and failing to sound as if the island life hasn't already been sucked right out of him. "You know." It must have been nice for a while.

"Jan called," Pam says. "She's coming in later to talk to you." "Did she say what it's about?" he asks, and Pam shakes her head. Retreats. He puts his head down, taps once more"”softly, plaintively"”on the drum. His own private dirge. Here we are, a boy and his drum and his dream, all slipping away.

Act III.

On to the warehouse: Inventory Luau! Major props to Angela for pulling this one together, inflatable palm trees and all. I think she's wearing a grass skirt, as she slices Spam. That's my vegetarian girl! Andy has taken up the steel drum, and the song, and he's pounding to the beat of his own insaniac drummer. Kevin looks on, feeling co-opted. Scrantonicity, man! This is like watching a crime being committed right before his very sad, half-lidded eyes.

Karen is busying inventorying (yo, spellcheck approved!) a shelf when Jim approaches with a sheet of paper in hand. A lease. "I think you dropped this," he tells her. She looks, she smiles. "You sure?" "Definitely," he says, in that gentle Jim voice we all know and love and want to hear directed at someone else. Either us or Pam, take your pick. Karen smiles again. Rats.

Michael enters for a quick Dwight update: "I have disconnected the office T-1 line, I have ordered that that be taken down""”pointing at the poster on the warehouse wall"”"and destroyed all printouts from the bathroom." "There were copies in the bathroom?" Michael asks. "There were. A lot of them," Dwight reports. Kevin or Creed, you think? Michael tries to scurry away, eager to avoid the cameras. If you can't see him, it's like he's not even there. It's like magic, or being a big fat fraidy-cat chicken.

Pam is inventorying her own shelf when Karen steps up to thank her. "I think I owe you one," Karen says. Pam plays it all sweet and innocent. "For talking sense into Halpert," Karen explains. Blech. I've worked with several women who operate on the last-name-only basis with close friends and/or lovers and I've never understood it. Is it some sort of power thing, or inverted laziness? Please enlighten. Pam shrugs it off and tells her, "Don't worry about it. I mean, he was being ridiculous." Pam! Do you never tire of being such a selfless giver? Take something! Take! Karen thanks her again and walks away, and then it hits her: what she's done. The heaviness of this toll. Her face falls. What did I tell you? Too much giving.

[I'm skipping over the Darryl-finds-his-iPod scene. Perhaps it will make sense one day, but tragically that day has not yet arrived.]

Oh dear. Dear, dear. Pam sits alone on a bench in a hallway. Crying. It's hitting too hard, now—nobody wants to see Pam cry. Not even—maybe especially—Dwight. Who stumbles upon her and immediately asks, "Who did this to you? Where is he?" Ready—nay, eager—to kick somebody's ass. "It's nothing," she tells him. But it's not nothing; even Dwight can see that. He stands still for a moment, then slowly removes his suit coat. Pam looks up, expectant, and watches him tie the coat around his own waist. "It's hot in here," he says. That's it; how to handle a woman, my boy. But he reaches into a pocket and pulls out a hankie, and hands it to her. A hankie! I always thought Dwight had a lot in common with my grandma. He looks away awkwardly, then sits beside her. "You don't need to stay here," she says, and he nods. "I know." And we all fall just a little bit in love with Dwight. Who puts one arm around Pam's shoulders as she begins to weep again. Who looks like he's going to cry himself. Who asks, with such sympathy and tenderness and so little understanding: "Guess you're PMSing pretty bad, huh?" Amazing. [Dear Rainn Wilson: You'll always be my hero. Love, Trix.]

Back to the warehouse, where someone drives the forklift across the floor, crushing Michael's drum. He watches, expressionless. One more dream—. He's not even surprised anymore; he's forgotten Jamaica, what it felt like to feel that happy. Nothing but gray skies ahead.

Cue Jan's footsteps on the stairs. He looks up, shrinks back into himself as she enters, head held high and haughty. Ice queen, indeed. He looks away, down at the ground, closes his eyes. Turtle brain: chin tucked into his neck, hoping to disappear. She stalks across the floor, a powerful woman surrounded by men who have now all seen her almost topless. They watch, smirks concealed, if badly. They're not fools. Well, not all of them. Okay, most of them. Interesting, too, that the other women have been mostly edited out of these shots. But Jan seems not to notice any of it, just glides on by, ignoring them all; she's accustomed to being stared at by large groups of smug, dirty-minded boneheads.

"Hello everyone," she announces. "Hello Michael." This she delivers in that patented Jan-speak she always directs at him, rising at the end into something that sounds like a half-order, half-surprise. "Uh," he spits out. Dear God, man, save yourself! She's going to eat you alive!

And then Kevin decides to have some fun. "Hi Jan," he says. "You look—tan." Smiling. She narrows her eyes at him. "I was in Scottsdale. Visiting my sister." Eyes back to Michael. "Yeah? How was it?" Kevin asks. This is the second most fun he's had all day, and he owes it all to Jan. "Very sunny," she says. Eyes back to Michael. "Family's important." Indeed it is.

"Michael," she says suddenly. All business. "I would like to speak with you in your office." Then she turns and saunters off again, leaving him to follow. Arguing would be futile, and she would catch him if he tried to run. He passes Dwight, who looks like he's going to cry; when he reaches the first landing of the steps, he turns slowly to survey the room. To bid his fiefdom goodbye: they all know he won't be coming back with his head, or his balls. Andy looks stoic. Kevin gives him a small wave that's half solidarity, half pity. Michael turns and continues on his sad march of doom, arms hanging limply at his sides. Somewhere in the background, the death knell of a steel drum sounds.

In his office, Jan waits. In his chair. I like that: blatant power play! To remind herself who's the boss, I suppose, which means she's in danger of forgetting. Leave it to Michael to muddy a girl's head. I wonder what she thinks of the doodles on his desk calendar; I wonder if she finds her name there, circled in hearts. He sits and he sighs; this is just like being called to the principal's office. She's not smiling. He looks like he's going to vomit, but he's ready to accept his fate. He's been here so many times before, only this will be worse than before because he finally made it this far with the girl of his dreams and hasn't all of this happened, really, because he adores her so much and wants everybody to know it? Who could blame a guy for that?

"Why am I here, Michael?" she says finally. He opens his mouth, but he's got nothing. Does she really not know? Luckily she's not expecting an answer.

"In the last year I've gone through a divorce, an identity theft, a husband who would not—communicate. This is neither here nor there. My psychiatrist thinks I have some self-destructive tendencies"—really?—"and that for once I should indulge them. You following me?"

Hell no! Not him, not me. He mumbles out a "Yes," though, because that's what she seems to want him to say, and for once he reads her right. He keeps glancing at the camera, beseeching. He's not actually hearing anything she's saying, because he's only listening for the parts that come right before and right after "you fucking moron," which for some reason she hasn't gotten to yet. In the meantime he's just holding on for dear life.

She keeps going: "I think I owe it to myself to find some kind of happiness. You know? I mean, even if it means lowering my expectations, or, or— redefining the word itself." (Oh my God! I like what I'm hearing. All thumbs up on the brilliance of this plan!)

"Okay, yeah—" he tries to break in, but he doesn't get this part either, not really, and she barrels on through. She planned this ahead of time, you can tell, and goddamn if she isn't going to get it all out. Even if it kills her. "This is the thing, you know: I am attracted to you. I don't know why"—God, they're so good here, she's all flushed and flustered and tired, and so, so pretty, and his eyes go wide with disbelief and awe and an internal high five—"but I am, and I need to follow my instincts. At least that's what Dr. Perry thinks." She clings to this; it makes it more palatable, somehow, if she can blame it all on her doctor later.

"Who's Dr. Perry?" Michael asks, and again she pushes him aside. Turns out he's sort of incidental to this whole "conversation," for which he should thank his lucky stars.

"Here's the point," she says. "Okay? You're wrong for me. In—in—every way. But I still find myself wanting to—be with you." She says this last part like she's trying to swallow the words, but they land anyway. On him: in the gladdest, most grateful way. Not only did she not kill him, she didn't even break up with him! And he gets to keep his balls.

What can he give her in return? A smile, and a whole lot of nonsense: "And I, to you, in addition, feel the same feelings that you are, as well." How awesome is that: so close to almost being half a coherent sentence. He's so happy—with her, with himself—he purses his lips and glances up at the ceiling, like he's just presented her with the greatest gift a man can bestow.

She looks confused, and a little resigned, but at least she got through it. "Good. Good," she says. This was exhausting, handing him this, as much of her heart as she's able to.

Michael does a quick head shake and says, "So, um. Thanks for comin' by." Dismissed! He seems eager to get her out of his office, as if he's afraid she'll change her mind if she stays. But he smiles. And then she smiles. And it's awkward, being caught here now, stepping back into their "professional" roles, back to manager and managed; neither of them quite knows what to do with it. How to break through. He wants her to go, she wants to go, and yet— as he steps into the doorway to see her out, she wraps her arms around him and plants her lips on his. Pushes him up against the door, hands raking through his hair—hey lady! watch the beads! But she owes herself this. Again he's surprised; his head has done at least two 180 degree turns today, and it isn't even bedtime yet! Or is it?

"Wait fifteen minutes," she whispers. "Find an excuse, meet me at your condo, okay?" What the hell? She's already been to his condo? Damn. I guess we're making up for over a year of lost time here.

She turns to leave, picking up her coat at reception. But wait: "Jan," he calls. She turns back. "You...complete...me," he says, pointing at her, drawing a heart in the air with two fingers. Aw, I knew he was a doodler! She turns her head, trying to shake this away. This silly, silly, lovely man. "Oh God," she says. And she leaves.

And that's the price you pay in dignity for a piece of Michael Scott, girls.

Tag.

Back to the warehouse. Still Inventory Luau! Things have gone quiet: Kevin is making drinks, Phyllis sits alone. Pam sits with Roy. "Hey," he says. "Remember when we were planning our honeymoon?" Hah! I don't remember you planning anything, jack. "You wanted to go to Hawaii, and I wanted to go to Mexico? I was definitely right." She laughs. He laughs. I frown. I don't get it.

We end with Kevin, folding up the half-naked Jan poster. "What am I gonna do? I'm gonna hang it up at home. I don't have a lot of art." Ew. Okay. But don't you have a fiancée?