The Office: Diwali

Diwali! My new favorite of all the holidays I don't observe for all the religions I don't belong to. (Fact: religions I belong to? Officially none.) Also the episode in which we learn the most about other actual things, only not in an ABC Afterschool Special kind of way (oh dear; am I dating myself?). We know right away this is a special day at the office, since Kelly is buttoning Ryan up to the chin in a long silky gray tunic while Pam watches. He looks both adorable and thoroughly emasculated, but that's mostly due to Kelly's motherly fussing and his own overwhelming weenieness, and not on account of the costume, which is, we soon learn, a kurta ("a traditional item of clothing worn in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by both men and women."). And not, as Michael teases, a dress.

"Tonight," he tells the camera, "one of our most ethnic co-workers, Kelly, has invited us all to a Diwali celebration put on by her community. What is Diwali, you may ask? Well, to have Kelly explain it—" he pitches his voice up to an approximate ear-grating Kelly level "—it's ah dah blah blah blah, it's so super fun and it's going to be great." He shakes himself out of it and returns to his normal voice. "Lot of gods with unpronounceable names. Twenty minutes later you find out that is essentially a Hindu Halloween." Which isn't exactly the case, but Michael likes painting in broad strokes and bright shiny colors.

Kelly ignores the dress crack and tells Ryan he looks so handsome. Pam and I agree: totally hot! The two of them continue to peck away at him like twelve-year-olds playing with the nearest Ken doll. "I love the material," Pam says, which probably isn't the kind of thing Ryan is wanting to hear, either. But Michael is sold: "How come you didn't get me one?" he asks Kelly. Who for once can think of nothing to say.

Act I.

Diwali car pool! Pam, Ryan, Meredith and Angela are seated at the conference table while Phyllis maps out riding assignments on the easel. They'll be heading over to the Diwali celebration tonight in Bob Vance's Yukon and Meredith's minivan. I'd say the smart ones will hitch their wagons to that Yukon. Nice that Kelly invited Darryl and Lonny from the warehouse, though; she's all about sharing. Then Pam mentions, sort of off the cuff, that she might not be going, because she's tired. Meaning she doesn't want to go alone. Meredith asks if she wants to make appletinis and watch Sex and the City at her place instead, which sounds even worse than attending an ethnic celebration with Michael Scott. Pam is now on the horns of a severe dilemma, so she stalls: "Oh, I don't know. I haven't decided yet."

Kelly takes this news personally. "I don't get why you won't go, did I do something wrong? I mean, I thought we were really close friends?" You mean because you asked once if you could be in her wedding? Dwight, standing nearby, suggests that perhaps Pam has mono. Pam actually sounds hopeful when she says maybe, which I have to disagree with just right off the bat. Mono is the fucking worst, especially when you're a grown-up and have to do things like go to work and not fall asleep in Woodman's while you shop for your own cereal. Plus did you know the after-effects can linger for like six months and you're not supposed to drink during that time? Alcohol, I mean. I lost a ton of weight, though, and the boyfriend who kissed someone else and gave it to me, so I guess things evened out in the end.

At any rate. Pam finally admits to Kelly that she doesn't want to go alone. So naturally Kelly zooms in on the nearest available man: Pam should go with Dwight! Dear Lord. Is she so intent on matchmaking that she's willing to hook Pam up with any old bears-and-beets-loving fruitcake? "You're single, right?" she asks him. "Yeah, totally single. Hundred percent available," Dwight says a little too quickly and like a robot. Cut to Angela, who does not like what she just heard. Not one bit. Kelly Kapoor, you'd better watch your back.

Later. Stanley, Kevin, Roy, and Angela are breaking in the break room. Kevin asks if they're going to "this Indian thing" tonight. Pan to Roy, who says, "I don't know, who's going?" while trying to act all cool and nonchalant. Nice try, Roy! Kevin turns on the tease: "Oh, you mean like, is Pam going?" Kevin mentally got held back in the fifth grade. Angela tells them not to go; "They eat monkey brains," she says, which is, according to Mindy Kaling, a stereotypical falsehood perpetuated by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Michael, who's buying a beverage at the vending machine, agrees that this is not right. Kind of. "Hey. Hey. Stop that. That is offensive. Indians do not eat monkey brains. And if they do... sign me up! Because I am sure that they are very tasty and nutritional." And then he decides it's time to teach us a lesson in tolerance, because the camera is watching. "It's important that this company celebrates its diversity. And you know what, Stanley? Come Kwanzaa time, I have got you covered, baby." But Stanley doesn't celebrate Kwanzaa. Michael can hardly believe what he's hearing: "Wha— Really? You should! It's fun!" I love him so much in this episode, because he tries so hard and fails so badly, every single time he opens his mouth.

Talking head in his office: "I love the people here. And if there is one thing I don't really care for is that they can be terribly, terribly ignorant about other cultures. And I don't want them embarrassing me in front of my girlfriend, Carol." See? Now that's not something I would worry about if I were you. I mean, he's heading towards the general area of the right concept here, but placing the burden on all the wrong people.

Nor is he finished with tolerance training: he has lots more wisdom to impart, so he gathers everyone in the conference room. (Sidenote: how do they get that table out of here so quickly, and where do they stash it? Sidenote to self: you're watching television.) "Diwali is a very important holiday for the Hindus," he announces. "But, frankly, I'm a little appalled that none of you know very much about Indian culture. So, without further ado,  Kelly! You are on."

I mean, Kelly's always on and everything, but she wasn't expecting to be "on" on. She shoots the camera a deer in the headlights look, then stands and does her best to rise to the occasion. "Um...Diwali is awesome. And there's food, and there's gonna be dancing, and— Oh! I got the raddest outfit. It has, um, sparkles—"

Michael interrupts her. "Um, why don't you tell us a little bit about the origins of the holiday." Fair enough, but she shakes her head. Nobody cares about that stuff. She was talking sparkles! "Oh, um, I don't know. It's really old, I think." Angela asks how many gods they have. Kelly says it's like hundreds, maybe more, but she's not sure. Then Angela points to an illustration that someone—Michael—has taped to the wall. "And that blue busty gal? What's her story?" Oh, Angela, you prickly pear. Kevin says it looks like Pam from the neck down. Dwight says "Pam wishes," and Pam shoots the camera a WTF?! while the men all giggle like the dickheads they are. Funny how those boob jokes just never get old.

Dwight steps up to center stage; he tells Kelly he'll field this one. "Diwali is a Celebration of the Coronation of the God-King Rama. After his epic battle with Ravana, the Demon King of Lanka. It symbolizes the battle between good and evil..." The best part is he's right about all of this, but Michael cuts him off. "All right, all right, all right, all right. This isn't Lord of the Rings."

Ooh! Time to visit Jim in Stamford—and we're lucky, because this happens to be the one Stamford episode I love, mostly because John Krasinski just rocks through the whole thing. First we see him wheeling his bike clumsily through the office door, dressed in his usual nondescript officewear and tie. And then we see, from his talking head, that he's also worked up quite a pits-and-collar-stained lather: "I started biking to work. Josh does it, and he lives a lot farther away than I do." Cut to a quick clip of Josh, all granite jaw and buzzcut, rolling in with his bike, wearing one of those too-matchy biker nerd costumes complete with tight spandex shorts and fingerless gloves. He hasn't broken a sweat, and clearly knows how to handle his ride. Asshole. Back to Jim: "And also it saves gas money, keeps me in shape, helps the environment. And now I know it makes me really sweaty for work." He sits at his desk, probably smelling very manly. "Nice basket," Karen says, ostensibly referring to the bike, but we all know what she's really thinking.

Back in Scranton, the lights in the conference room have been dimmed for Michael's slide show, subtitled Five Indian People Who Are Famous (Who He Knows Of). He starts by mentioning that Kelly is both one in a million and not, which seems to hit Kelly hard. She wants to be one! He continues: "Because, frankly, there are literally billions of people just like Kelly in the world. Here are some famous Indians." Cue slideshow: "Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. He is a Nobel prize-winning physicist. Impressive." What's really impressive is him pronouncing both "Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar" and "physicist." Next: Apu from The Simpsons. "Hilarious! Indian." Kevin smiles in agreement; he and Michael have very similar tastes in entertainment and female anatomy. Michael: "M. Night Shyamalan. The Village, Unbreakable, Sixth Sense, Si—"

Dwight turns to the camera, as of course he must: "I see dead people." This concerns Michael, who finds it necessary to tag that with "Spoiler alert." Which might be smart; people really do get pissy about that stuff, even if they're living ten years behind the curve. Except this isn't actually a spoiler, but rather the tagline used to market the film to audiences worldwide. ("He was dead the whole time," says Dwight, which is technically a spoiler. Alert!)

Michael flips to the next slide: it's a close-up shot of him kissing his "girlfriend" Carol as awkwardly as humanly possible. Both of them have their eyes open, and she's glaring at the camera, so what I'm going to assume is that he just planted one on her in the middle of a sentence and  then snapped a self-portrait, probably hoping she wouldn't notice. He laughs to the crowd and says, "Oh, wow, where did that come from?" He pauses just long enough to make sure the cameras get a good look.

Up in Stamford, a large man named Tony is telling Karen his chips got stuck in the vending machine again. Is this a euphemism for something sinister? No, he just needs her "skinny little arms" to rescue his snack food. She asks if he shook it; he says yes, "I shook it, I shook it." I guess all of that could've been a euphemism.

Andy watches them go, then turns to Jim and says he and Karen have such a roller coaster thing going on. Jim is understandably perplexed. "Roller coastery friendship," Andy says. "Hot and cold, on again off again, sexual tension-filled type of deal." That's funny; I don't think we've even seen them speak to each other yet. But we'll honor him with one pity shrug. As does Jim when Andy says, "It's very 'Sam and Diane." You know, from Cheers."

In Scranton, Michael has launched into the sexual tension-filled portion of his presentation. "And another thing about the Indian people"¦they love sex positions. I present to you the Kama Sutra." He has passed out full-color bound copies to everyone, with the naughty bits pixelated for innocent American eyes. "I mean look at that. Who's seen that before?" Creed: "I have. That's the 'Union of the Monkey.'" Meredith is relieved to know this particular position actually has a name, and Kevin says, "This is the best meeting we've ever had." Are you kidding? This might be the best meeting anyone's ever had, in the whole history of meetings. Michael thanks him.

Angela, however? Not so sure. "You know, I find this incredibly offensive," she says. Michael thinks it's beautiful. Angela: "Well, whatever Kelly wants to do in her own house is fine, but we shouldn't all be subjected to it." The camera cuts to Kelly, who is now representing the billions of her people, for right or wrong. Toby, who is quite frankly a little slow on the uptake today, says, "Actually, she's right. This isn't appropriate. Why don't I take these." Michael says no; Toby says yes. Michael says, "This is delightful, charming culture." And I think we can all be grateful Michael Scott didn't want to be an elementary school teacher when he grew up.

His talking head: "My Indian Culture Seminar was going great until Toby decided that he was too immature to deal with culturally explicit images. It's just sex. People...everybody does it. I'm doing it...with Carol! Probably tonight." Yeah, but probably not. Really almost definitely not.

Back to Stamford, where it's the end of the day. Most workers, including Josh, are leaving; he's wearing his little bike shorts again. Karen, Jim, and Andy are still at their desks. On his way out, Josh hands Karen the corporate card for dinner and tells her to keep it to 20 bucks a person this time. Jim tells the camera that "Once a quarter, the sales staff at this branch has to stay late to do order form consolidation...which, amazingly, is even less interesting than it sounds." Not when Andy's packing a bottle of hard liquor in his desk drawer! He turns and asks Jim if he and Karen are READY TO PARTY!! Man, I can't even believe how much I like Andy the second time around.

Diwali time! Yay! I know some people get all nervous and proprietary when we leave the confines of the office, but I love seeing these characters interact with other people; it only reinforces both their innate normalcy and complete fucking lunacy, which is like every real person I know. None of them gets all glammed up like those sitcom moms who go from frumpy to glossy with a third season pick-up (Patricia Heaton, I'm looking at you). Those who are carpooling haven't even changed their clothes, which is the kind of touch obsessives like me really appreciate, because it both reinforces and feeds the obsession.

Anyway. We see the hallway of what we'll presume is a high school, where people are removing and stacking their shoes. Angela, Phyllis, Meredith, and Kevin walk into the gymnasium; Angela is the only one not wearing a lei. (Is this considered a lei? I have no idea. "Flowerful garland," perhaps.) Phyllis says it's fun not wearing shoes! I don't know; I'm not that wild about being exposed to other people's feet, but then I live in New York City, where there's not much of a choice. Feet everywhere. Angela concurs with her own patented brand of haughty disdain: "I wish some of us still had our shoes on." Kevin says, "Stop it. It's a disease! I told you." I think Angela leaves home every morning just determined to loathe everything and everyone who crosses her path. I know lots of people like that, too.

The gym is decorated brightly, with strings of twinkle lights and vivid oranges and pinks. I'm such a sucker for this color scheme. Michael arrives with Carol; he's wearing his other head and she's dressed as a cheerleader. Hindu Halloween, remember? Carol is horrified. "I thought you said this was a costume party!" He looks around and points at a woman standing nearby: "What does that look like to you?" She says it looks like a woman wearing a sari, which it is. He tells her no one will even notice, as he slyly rips his own head off his shoulder. Kevin saunters past and says, "Nice outfit!" Michael tells him it's a costume and he should cool it. Carol tries to walk away, but he's hot on her trail. Or something. I hate to say it, but doesn't she kind of deserve this for not doing some detailed fact checking when he invites her to a party, or just for being dumb enough to date him more than once?

Act II.

Yum: Diwali buffet. Ugh: there's nothing grosser than a buffet, regardless of the ethnicity of the food. You'll agree with this if you've ever worked in a restaurant, or eaten at a buffet. Michael and Carol are making their way down the line, plates loaded. He's pointing out various exotic foods to her as he goes, like limes and onions. Angela steps up and tells the young server person she's a vegetarian: what can she eat? And she either thinks he's not speaking English or doesn't believe him when he tells her it's all vegetarian. "I'll just have some bread," she says, determined to hate that, too. He places a piece of naan on her plate and she grimaces: "You used your hands."

Cut to Michael and Carol eating at a table with various random Indians. He takes a bite of something and immediately spits it back out onto his plate. "Oh, yuck." She asks him if it's too spicy. We can see now that she's wearing five cute little butterfly clips in her hair that match her cheerleading outfit; Carol likes details, too! He says, no, these are horrible s'mores. "They're not s'mores," she tells him. "They're samosas." He considers this for a moment, then asks, "Do you think they have any s'mores?" Always hopeful! Always wrong. Carol, honestly, run for your life. Leave him to crazy Jan, who's crazy anyway.

His talking head: "All they are is chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow. How difficult would that have been?"

Next we see three young girls talking to Ryan: Kelly's sisters. They're teasing him in Indian—something comparing him, perhaps not favorably, to Zach Braff, although that possibly depends on your opinion of Zach Braff—and laughing at him in a tween way. Kelly, all sparkly and jeweled and bedazzled, busts in to break it up: "Rupa, Nipa, Tiffany, stop acting like such little losers and just be cool. Come on, Ryan. Come on. Leave him alone. I hate you guys." Tiffany? I can't even believe how good Mindy Kaling is; she's my new favorite writer/actress.

Out in the hallway, Pam is getting her hand stamped for admission. She went home and changed her clothes, which means she wisely chose to not carpool. Again, though: still Pam, and decidedly not glam, although she's wearing her hair down. She tells the camera: "I decided to come. I feel a little under-dressed...but at least I'm not dressed like a slutty cheerleader, right? Is that mean?" Hee! Only a little.

Cue the mandatory Bollywood dance sequence, which is awesome, even as Michael and Carol watch from the sidelines. I love dance sequences! Even awesomer: Dwight strolls in alone, dressed in his very own kurta and matching flowerful garland. Yes, he would so be that guy. He wanders innocently in Angela's direction, without seeing her, then bristles and heads in the opposite direction when they make eye contact. They're supposed to be allergic to each other in public! And then Dwight quickly kills all our previous goodwill thoughts by grabbing Ryan from behind and shouting "Temp! Temp!" while mock kicking him in the gut. Well played, Dwight.

Meanwhile, Michael has joined the dance-along, and let me say that there are few things better in this world than Steve Carell dancing. Carol is still watching from the sidelines, growing ever more concerned, but she's probably a little touched by his childlike enthusiasm, too. I just don't understand how you couldn't be. The thing about Michael Scott is that he makes no small efforts; when he's in, he's all in, and he's excited most about those things he doesn't understand, which of course is just about everything.

Kelly is off in another part of the gym arguing with her parents about Ryan. (These are Mindy Kaling's real-life parents, by the way, which is smart, because there's nobody easier to argue with convincingly about boys than your own parents.) "I don't even want to hear it. Okay? I didn't come to this Diwali to get yelled at!" Her mom tells her to stop it. "Ryan is a temporary worker, makes no money. Vali (thanks Kamala!) is a whole doctor. So handsome." You said it, Mom! "He's a perfect match." But Kelly loves The Temp.

Back to Stamford, where they seem to have ordered in grocery store sushi. Nice. They're also getting plastered, one shot at a time. Andy asks Big Tuna if he's ready, then counts to three: he, Jim and Karen all hold up their shot glasses for the camera. He and Jim drink, while Karen dumps hers into the trash can. She plays along, though, when Jim turns to her and says "Holy mother of God" (Andy: "Ooh, that burns!"). Smart girl. Karen knows how to run with the big dogs, all right.

At Diwali, Pam is dancing to Beyonce with Vali—who is the very same doctor Kelly's mom wanted for Kelly—when Roy appears in the doorway. Looking cuter than we've ever seen him, and he's always been cute. He scans the room for Pam and sees her dancing with a stranger, then realizes he doesn't belong here. She's not his girl anymore. He turns to leave, and if your heart doesn't stop for him, I don't even know what to tell you. With every step forward he's taking another step back.

Carol is on the floor dancing now, and smiling, which I'll give her a lot of credit for: she's accepted that this is her evening. Michael is sitting, talking to Kelly's parents. Big huge enormous mistake for all parties involved.

Michael: "Wow, thirty years? And you two only met once before the wedding night?"
Kelly's dad: "Yes."
Michael: "Wow."
Kelly's dad: "How long have you been married to the cheerleader?"
Michael: "Oh! She's not a cheerleader. She thought this was a costume party! Um. No, we're not married...yet!"

I like how he always makes sure to leave out the details that might reflect badly on him, although he's probably already forgotten them. Kelly's mom tells him Carol is "very fair." He looks at Carol and smiles sweetly. "She is very fair. Very fair and very kind." He turns back to Kelly's dad. "So, um, tell me, is your marriage the kind of thing where when you die she has to throw herself on a fire?" Kelly's mom shakes her head, thinking "Who is this fucking moron?" Michael says, "No? Okay, well. It's still very cool. Ok. Thanks!" Self-immolation! Cool! Carol dances up to him and leads him away by the hand. Kelly's mom is now even more concerned about Kelly's idiot boss than she is about Kelly's temporary boyfriend.

Stamford: still shooting.

Scranton: Michael is dancing with Carol while keeping his eyes on Kelly's parents. Formulating a bad, bad, horrible half-baked plan in his mind. Like the bad plan to end all bad plans. And he's got such a dumb look on his face that finally Carol asks him if he's okay. "I'm gonna be," he tells her, and he walks right off the dance floor, heading for the deejay booth. Bad plan fully half baked!

He grabs the deejay's microphone, while we at home all scream Don't do it, Michael! and try to avert our eyes. He calls everyone to attention. "Hi. Sorry. I just have an announcement to make. Um...okay. I have learned a lot about Indian culture tonight. But I have learned even more about love. And I know you're all thinking 'who is this crazy gringo and what is he talking about?' Well, I'm not crazy. Maybe I'm crazy in love." Quick cut to Carol, who has maybe an inkling but no real solid idea of who she's dealing with here, and exactly what he's capable of when he starts to improvise in front of a crowd. Which is maybe even worse than when he's just improvising in front of a camera.

"So, without further ado"¦Carol? Carol Stills?" She looks beseechingly at Ryan, hoping that what's coming isn't really going to come. But oh, it is, even as we scream louder, DON'T DO IT MICHAEL!! He does it: "I would like you to do me the honor of making me your husband."

The audience, clearly not understanding who they're rooting for, lets out a collective "Awww!" while Carol, looking sad, says, "Oh, Michael." I think she's sad for both of them. "What do you say?" he asks hopefully. "Can we talk about this in private?" she asks. Her voice has gone very small; she doesn't want to embarrass him. Because he'll do that just fine on his own. "I didn't hear you," he laughs. She repeats it, louder. And his face falls; he realizes what he's hearing and the air goes flat around him, and the hope, all his ill-conceived, fantasy-based cinematic notions of big moments and grand gestures and great romance. "Oh, you gotta be kidding me," he whispers as he lowers the microphone and drops it to the floor, and my heart along with it. Just, Jesus, that was painful.

Act III.

Michael is following Carol out to her car. "You know, I get it," he tells her. "I get it, you're not ready. We'll wait." Aw. Still hopeful: god bless the boomerang that is his heart. She reminds him this is only their ninth date, which, according to the timeline established in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, means only eleven dates to go till they can sleep together. Woo hoo! He tells her he feels like he's known her for many lifetimes. "Maybe I'm Hindu after all." She isn't finding this amusing. "Okay, I'm not Hindu," he says. "But"¦Carol, Carol. I just, I feel like, I just like you so much." Oh my God. I've watched this episode at least 14 times and I'm still getting teary when I watch this scene. How many Emmys can we give him this year, anyway? Because in my mind he's earned six at a minimum. I've just so seldom seen anyone who inhabits and understands their character so clearly on so many different levels—particularly a character this contradictory and complicated. He hits every nuance in every scene—the comedy and the drama—and makes it all look effortless.

Oops: and this scene isn't even over yet! She tells him, not unkindly, that she'd better go, and he'll have to find another ride home. But he still isn't quite ready to give up: "Hey, you know what? Why don't I come with you. 'Cuz I've got this book called the Kama Sutra." Always rolling with the punches, turning on a dime, never saying die. She says good night and leaves him to wander by his lonesome back to the party.

Inside, Ryan is being interrogated by Kelly's parents, who are obviously trying to find at least one redeeming quality about him. Which isn't so easy, because he's both immature and shallow. When he tells them he's been promoted to full-time, Mom assumes that means he's saving money. He says yes; only it's not, as she hopes, to start a family and buy a home, it's to travel. "And, um, buy an Xbox." Kelly's parents look confused, and disappointed. But her father gives it one more go: "Is there anything you wanted to ask us tonight?" Ryan's face: nope! Not a thing!

Elsewhere in the gym, Pam is asking Doctor Vali if he can believe her boss proposed to his girlfriend in public. Implying, obviously, oh so lame! But Vali thinks it's righteous: "He's really outgoing, huh?" Pam makes up an excuse, and a hasty getaway. Doctor Vali's nuts!

She walks out into the hallway, typing away at her phone. Angela's standing out there, still gnawing on her naan. Pam says she should come dance with them, and have some fun, but Angela's busy making sure their shoes don't get stolen. She asks Pam who she was texting, and Pam says no one.

It's not no one, though, it's Jim! I love how great their need is to share moments with each other—it's like something isn't really happening unless they can laugh about it together. Too bad Jim is passed out at his desk—on his keyboard—when his phone starts to vibrate. Get a fucking audible alert, Jim! We need to get in touch with you! Andy, who we can't see because he's lying on the floor, starts to sing "Closer to Fine." Absolutely he would be a huge Indigo Girls fan, because together they're all about harmony. We get a quick shot of his legs as he sings, and Karen says, "Andy, no a cappella." He's quiet for half a beat, then starts up again. Jim raises his head and joins in, all drunk and mumbly. ""¦there's more than one answer to these questions / pointing me in a crooked line / and the less I seek my source / the closer I am to fine / the closer I am to fine." Karen's not happy with this course of dorkly events; Andy could not be more thrilled. "TUNA!" he shouts. "Are you kidding me?!" He just cannot believe how much Jim suddenly rocks.

Back to Scranton, where Michael is sitting alone on the steps outside the school, struggling to choke down yet another plate full of food that does not ethnically agree with his palate. Pam walks up from behind and hands him a glass of something as he starts to cough: "Wow! That's so spicy!" he says. She checks her phone; still no answer from her one true love. Michael asks if she's waiting for a call. She says no, and sits beside him. Good; they're so good together, just so lightly in step, you know? The way they converse and the way she handles him.

He downs her whole drink and turns to her. "Pam. When Carol said 'no' tonight, I think I finally realized how you must be feeling. We are both the victims of broken engagements." Yeah, but not really. Pam points out that he was never actually engaged, and he says, "I was in that marriage arena, though." If you mean that marriage arena that consists of being human and breathing, then yes, I suppose you were. Pam nods, just to get him to move on. Then, quietly, she says, "I kind of thought something would happen tonight too." Funny how he's the one both she and Jim let their guard down around, and confess to. "We're so alike," he says. "So alike."

And then, while she lets her thoughts drift back to Jim, Michael decides—as if things couldn't possibly be bad enough already—that this might be just the right time, cinematically speaking, to lean in and kiss her. Because in the romantic comedy that is his imaginary life, the hero must get the girl before the credits roll; which girl that might be doesn't matter in the least. He's just lucky Angela didn't stumble out here instead. Not that Pam takes it very well, either. She turns to see him just as his face is coming in for the kill, and says "What are you doing?" His eyes pop open: "What are you doing?" Good thinking; throw her off balance with your circular logic! To no avail. They talk over each other for a moment. Pam: "I'm rejecting your..." Michael: "I'm, I'm...what?" Pam: "...kiss." Michael: "I didn't"¦" He tries to laugh it all away and fails miserably. He can't believe what a lousy night this turned out to be, but still he manages to ask her if he can have a ride home. That's my good boy! She looks freaked out, and wary. "If you sit in the back," she says. Luckily she's fully aware of who actually holds all the power in this relationship.

Stamford: Jim, Karen and Andy are packing it in for the night. Jim asks Andy if he can have a ride home; he rode his bike to work today. Poor planning, Jim! Andy can't help; he bought himself an inflatable bed for nights like this. "You're welcome to share it, though; it's a roomy twin." Ew. Who wants to get that close to Andy? Not Jim, that's for sure. He wheels his bike clumsily back out. You can see the lights of the harbor through the windows as he goes, which is also a nice touch.

Outside, he climbs unsteadily onto his bike and tries—and fails—to pedal in a straight line down a straight sidewalk. He ends up falling to the ground beside some bushes. Oh, Jim. Will your cuteness never cease? He picks himself up and drunkenly contemplates his next move. Lucky for him Karen is pulling up to the street at just this precise moment, and she's driving an enormous SUV. Oh, the magical/evil coincidences that are conspiring to bring them together! It's okay; I'll buy it, because she rolls down the window and says, "Dummy! Get in the car." He says he's a drunk driver, and she agrees. She takes the bike and he says, "You can really hold your liquor, Billabelli." See? Also cute. He opens the backseat door and crawls in. She tosses his bag in after him and tells him not to puke on anything.

Cut to Pam driving Michael home. He is indeed sitting in the back, but he's positioned himself in the center, with his head sticking up between the seats (neat how his storylines still sometimes parallel Jim's, isn't it?). Neither of them speaks, and then he looks down at the floor. "These are not my shoes," he says simply, and he sighs. Really, this might be #2 of my favorite episodes from the whole season ("Back from Vacation" being #1, and "Business School" #3). Pam says nothing. He leans forward and stares at himself in the rearview mirror: "This is just like that show, Taxicab Confessions," he says, smiling. But Pam has obviously seen that show, and she's already had more than enough for one night: "If you say one more word, I'm stopping the car." He says "Sorry" and sits back.

Tag.

A Steve Carell/Rainn Wilson duet (lyrics kindly transcribed by officequotes.us, because the Youtube clip has been removed):

This is going out to Indians everywhere. It's a tribute to one of the greats...Mr. Adam Sandler. [sings] Diwali is a festival of lights. Let me tell you something. Tonight has been one crazy night. So put on your saris, it's time to celebrate Diwali. Everybody looks so jolly. But it's not Christmas, it's Diwali. The goddess of destruction Kali stopped by to celebrate Diwali. Don't invite any zombies to a celebration of Diwali. Along came Polly to have some fun at Diwali. If you're Indian and you love to party, have a happy, happy, happy, happy Diwali. Happy Diwali!