The Office: Safety Training


Andy's back. Carrying a box loaded with pencils (does he not remember he works in an office, and that supplies are provided?) and a whole bunch of tin foil. Most likely encasing some kind of non-angry poultry lunch; red meat would be too aggressive. Pam greets him by name, only to be corrected (non-angrily): "Drew. I'm Drew now." Yay! Let's all wash away past sins by assigning different names to the better side of our personalities. Mine will be "Julia." 

Pam frowns, Pam-style, and apologizes, Pam-style. He waves it off: "Apology not accepted— (pause)—because it wasn't even necessary in the first place!" He's obviously trying very hard to seem normal, but it's that pause that freaks Pam out. She looks wary: five weeks of intense anger management training have managed to erase (suppress) "the grumpies" while leaving all the crazy intact. Andy also seems physically smaller now, only with bigger, angrier teeth. I can't wait to watch him blow.

We're toeing that line already when Jim welcomes him back.  He's not having any of this "Drew" business, which seems kind of mean since Andy looks so small and eager and sincerely repentant, and yet it's perfectly in line with the new and not really improved Jim we've come to know and not really like in Season 3 (the mop on his head that's acting as a wig is not helping any of this). 

Dwight refuses to acknowledge Andy at all. In a nod to his proud Amish heritage, he informs the camera that he will be shunning Andy Bernard for the next three years (approximately the same amount of time he himself was shunned as a small boy for wasting precious tuna oil), which is like "slapping someone with silence." Which is brilliant. So he lobs verbal shunning instructions at Jim, whom he should certainly know by now is the last person who will ever carry out his explicit orders. 

Dwight: "Jim, could you please inform Andy Bernard that he is being shunned?"
Jim: "Andy, Dwight says welcome back, and he could use a hug."
Dwight:  "Okay, tell him that that's not true."
Jim, in a direct blow to Dwight's soft underbelly: "Dwight says that he actually doesn't know one single fact about bear attacks."
Dwight:  "Okay, no, Jim, tell him bears can climb faster than they can run."
Andy nods and smiles and slinks away. This is probably not going the way he hoped it would. 
Dwight, still desperate to prove his bear attack fact credentials: "Jim! Tell him!"
I love that in the laws of Dwight's universe, the power of his shun is absolute over the power of Andy's hearing. 

Opening credits. What's so great about this theme song is how well it captures the essence of the show: bleak, buoyant, then bleak again. There can be no funny without the sad.

Act I.

It's safety training day in the office. Toby is busy preparing what will undoubtedly be a somber sermon, so Michael leads everyone down to the warehouse first to see how Real Men Do Safety. Which is a little hard to understand, considering how much abuse he suffered at Darryl's hands last week, but he's sure "it gonna be zoppity." He likes getting all that sand kicked up in his face, I guess.

In the warehouse, Darryl (on crutches) introduces them to various dangerous warehouse implements. First the forklift, which we've already seen Michael employ as a weapon of destruction in "Boys and Girls." Again he's drawn to it like a magnet (it's that genetic four-year-old fascination with big bright shiny mechanical objects of death), so Darryl slaps him away with a crutch and a quiz.

Darryl:  "Mike, should you drive the forklift?"
Michael, eager to show he's a Real Man among men, steps right up: "I can and I have."
Darryl and Lonny take a moment to argue the point, vehemently.
Michael: "Guys, I'm not the only one who's driven the forklift." (He points at a Stocky Female Warehouse Worker we've seen before.) "Pudge has driven the forklift."
Pudge:  "Madge."
Michael, genuinely confused: "I thought your name was Pudge." 
(Really? Pudge? I love you, Michael.)
Pudge: "No, it's always been Madge."

Michael shakes his head and rolls his eyes. She'll always be Pudge to him.:  "Oh—kay." 
Eventually Darryl gets Michael to agree that he won't operate any of the dangerous warehouse implements, but they both know this is merely a formality: Michael can't resist a toy! Of course it also turns out he's the reason Darryl is on crutches; he kicked the ladder away while Darryl was reaching for something on a shelf just so he could shout, "Hey Darryl, how's it hangin'?!" Comedy gold! Steve Carell's red, sweaty, gleeful face as he admits this to the camera only reinforces how, in Michael's Itchy & Scratchy world, bodily harm and serious injury are totally worth it as long they're performed in service to the almighty, albeit obvious, joke.

Next up in the warehouse chamber of horrors: the baler! Which intrigues Dwight, as well. He pumps a fist when Darryl tells them it can "cut off your arm and crush your entire body without skipping a beat." Woo hoo! Andy, standing next to Dwight, mimes a cheer: apparently, having failed to win Michael's heart with his suck-up-itude, he's transferring his affections to Dwight. Carefully working his way down the ladder. Dwight's not impressed.

But Darryl is ready with another quiz: "How many people a year get their arms cut off in a baler?"

Kevin, who has a lot of time on his hands since the culmination of March Madness(TM) (seriously, it's trademarked) and can never pass up a good opportunity to lose money, turns to Jim. "Five bucks says it's over fifty." Jim agrees, since he knows Kevin sucks at gambling, and we are all rewarded with instant gratification as Darryl answers his own question: it's ten people. Kevin starts handing over bills but Jim tells him they can go double or nothing on—something to be named later. At Dunder-Mifflin Scranton, the possibilities are infinity times a million billion.

Back to more bickering between Darryl and Lonny and Michael about whether Michael going anywhere near the baler would be the worst thing in the world. To Michael, it's nothing more than a "big red trash compactor," which in and of itself would be enough to scare most people off. Not Dwight, of course, who steps right up and sticks his head inside. But he's probably got one of these on the farm. For hay or whatever. (I may have grown up in Wisconsin, but the only time I've ever set foot on a real farm was in the 11th grade, when Frau Freitag took us on a tour of a dairy farm with a group of German exchange students who didn't get the point, either. Like they don't have cows in Germany?) Anyway, over Darryl's emphatic protests, Michael manages to leave the whole debate kind of open ended. He's a big fan of self-imposed loopholes.

Abrupt cut to the office version of safety training, led by Toby with a mean-spirited introduction by Michael that seems to make even him feel a little guilty, although I can't figure out why. It's like part of him is still flattened by his horrible negotiation day fiasco and he's learned to imagine, just a little, just as much as his wee brain can handle, what it feels like to be Toby; i.e., completely emasculated. That ladies' suit really did a number on him.

But in fact it's all about competition: Michael just wants this to be as cool and scary as Darryl's presentation, which is why he has invited the warehouse guys to listen in on the dangers of carpal tunnel, poor circulation, and eye strain, all of which can be alleviated, says Toby, by stepping away from your computer for ten minutes every hour. Michael verbally miscalculates by adding ten and ten and ten while the warehouse guys grow restless and cagey. You can feel the temperatures rising, along with Michael (displaying uncharacteristic perceptiveness), who tells Toby to skip ahead "to the really dangerous stuff," like computers that explode. Toby shakes his head no, shamefully overlooking the great Sony lithium-ion battery recall of '06. 

Next up on the list of office nightmares: a drafty workspace! Toby mentions they should all keep sweaters or cardigans at their desks, and Ryan chips in with "What about a long-sleeve tee?" followed by "long johns" and "shawl" from the peanut gallery while Michael dies a little in the background. "You know, anything that warms you," Toby clarifies. We see Pudge yawning while she flips through a magazine. (No fooling, though, she should probably pay attention, since this one can be pretty bad and isn't confined strictly to an office space. A cardigan is probably the smartest option regardless of where one works, since it can be donned or discarded at will.)

By now Michael has deduced that his own team is losing, and badly, so he summarily relieves Toby of his duty and takes matters into his own hands before everybody "vomit[s] due to boredom." Frankly I'm surprised he held out this long. He grabs the safety pamphlet from Toby's hands and starts to recite the hazards of "seasonal affective disorder" and a "sedimentary" lifestyle. Toby, reading over his shoulder, corrects him: "Sedentary." Michael shrugs; dude, it's all the same to him. 

Not to Lonny, though. When Michael claims—truthfully for once, although he looks like he's guessing—that more people die every year from heart disease than from balers, Lonny tells him "that's fat butt disease" and accuses Michael of suffering from it. Which for some reason ruffles Kelly's soft, pretty, pale pink feathers (Kelly! of all people, having Michael's back). She cocks some vintage Kelly disbelief and says, "Excuse me, Sea Monster, you weigh like a thousand pounds." Assuming Ryan is going to defend her ass when he's inevitably drawn into the battle, knowing full well Ryan's a huge weenie (and props to BJ Novak for playing up the weenie factor in a script of his own writing).

It doesn't matter; Darryl has had enough. He stands, struggling to his crutches to punctuate his point, and tells Michael that, unlike the office atmosphere, "it's serious down there" in the warehouse. "We do dangerous stuff, man, this is shenanigans. Foolishness. Nerf ball. You lead a sweet, little, Nerfy life. Sittin' on your biscuit, never having to risk it." I don't know; for a super tough guy warehouse boss, Darryl's always quick to flash some rhyme scheme.

Still, gauntlet thrown. And the damage is done; Michael is thoroughly, visibly deflated. "What, so Nerf isn't cool anymore?" he asks the air. Then, to the camera, he boasts that he used to work in a warehouse, too. "Men's Wearhouse. I was a greeter." Isn't that just the saddest thing? God, I love him so much. 

Continuing, because he can't see yet where this is going: "I'd like to see Darryl greet people. Probably make 'em feel like wimps. Not me—I—" And then Steve Carell does one of those priceless, genius takes, where thirteen conflicting emotions (rage, disappointment, disgust, self-loathing, self-pity, etc.) rush across his face simultaneously while he tries in vain to fight them all back. Finally he shakes it off and stares straight into the camera: "Hello. I'm Michael, welcome to Men's Wearhouse. We have a special on khaki pants today." Michael, Michael, Michael: don't you know by now that your defense of yourself is never, ever, ever a good offense?

Act II.

Back to "In Lieu of March Madness(TM)." At reception, Pam is playing Vanna White with her stash of jelly beans while Kevin, Jim, and Oscar look on. "Ten," Kevin says. Jim shakes his head. "Really?" says Oscar. "Ten. That's your guess. You're a professional accountant." Kevin's an accountant? Sometimes you forget they actually have jobs to do here. Jim mentions there are probably at least ten green ones in the container, and Kevin looks instantly regretful: it's tough when every move you make makes you an even bigger loser. Especially when you try so hard and so often. Oscar guesses 42; Jim goes for 50. And then Karen, who's somehow been hiding behind both Pam and Oscar the whole time, says 51. They all stare at her: it's a strategy, she says, and I suppose it is. For cutting everybody else off at the knees. Pam throws her a bone, though: "It's called being smart." Or ruthless; the New Pam must be taking notes.

She dumps the cache onto the desk and starts counting (I hope she's not going to stuff them back into the container after this). Kevin, as expected, is out immediately, although he still seems surprised by his loss. The mark of an eternal optimist! Also a madman. Pam reaches 49—Jim wins! Jim wins!—and Kevin complains it's not fair, since Jim has spent hours and hours standing up at this desk ("No, constantly, like, for years."). Both Jim and Karen shift uncomfortably as he goes on and on being Kevin. I don't know; maybe he really thinks Jim has been up here counting the jelly beans all this time.

Later, in his office, Michael is staring at his computer monitor: "Pam, depression is as scary as a baler, right?" Pam, with the infinite patience and everlasting hope of one who still believes escape is possible, says, sincerely, "I don't understand the question." 

"Working in an office can lead to depression, which can lead to suicide," Michael informs her. "Nobody commits suicide because they work with a baler! And yet those guys are making fun of me, calling me a Nerf." He seems pretty pleased with himself: on the sliding scale of workplace peril, suicide trumps all! He's already forgotten how much trouble Wikipedia got him (and Wikipedia) into last week.

And then Pam makes her one big mistake: "It's really hard to demonstrate depression," she says. "Their safety training had visuals."

Wow. What did she think she was going to accomplish by pointing that out, out loud? She must be tired today or something, because she doesn't even realize what she's done. Michael's face lights up like a Christmas tree and he flits off on some tangent about the science museum, and metal balls, and hair, and science, but Pam is hardly listening. "So you're okay?" she asks. She's just glad she could raise his spirits, which is at least 95% of her job, because that means she's done her job. "Indubitably," he enunciates, carefully, and she makes a grateful exit while visions of sugarplums dance in his head.

Now we're in the hallway, just outside the main door to the office. Michael is brainstorming depression tactics with Dwight. Nothing but bad (the good kind) can come of this. And, indeed, Dwight helps talk him right into the corner, shaking his head balefully while Michael recaps the depths of their shame: "They used props, they used visual aids, and they just made us look like dopes." 

"Idiots!" Dwight agrees. "God! What are we gonna do!?" As usual, his enthusiasm for the solution—whatever that might be—eclipses the fundamental nature of the problem. "I don't know," Michael answers, "because you know what our killer is?" To which Dwight, nodding confidently—because he is Dwight, and because all of the best humor in this show comes simply from knowing who these characters are—replies, "Wolves," just as Michael says, "Depression." 

Oh my. It's not just that they're so perfectly dumb together, it's the blind, willful, almost magisterial faith that they have in the pursuit of their own dumbness, which thus far has almost always ended in abject failure. Luckily neither of them can really recognize failure, which means the pursuit is all, and always successful. You know? 

Anyway, Dwight also brings up the necessity of visual aids. "A quilt," he suggests, apropos of nothing but AIDS. "A depression quilt."

Michael, pacing back and forth, actually entertains this for a moment, then sighs quietly. "I can't—No time to sew a quilt." He thinks for another moment, and suddenly, a lightbulb: "I got it. Get me the number for the giant big box toy store." This is it, this is why he's the boss, this is why he makes the big bucks, why he got the 12%. Dwight asks no questions, just takes off like a shot, happy to help in the pursuit of the dumbness.

Act III.

Dumbness achieved! Michael's in the parking lot, bouncing on a trampoline. Talking as he bounces, expositing his foolproof plan: he'll "bounce here for a while, relieve some stress, then move on with my day. NOT!" Oh dear; as if that wouldn't be bad enough. Actually, what he's going to do is have Dwight corral the workers out here while he heads up to the roof. And here's his visual aid: he's going to jump off the roof, in full view of everyone—"And then I say, Hey! You ever seen a suicide?"—only instead of killing himself, he will naturally land on this here trampoline, "take a few extra bounces for fun, I climb off, walk around the corner, ta-freakin'-da!" Super fun! And, as a nice side note, he side notes, while they're busy thinking he's dead, everyone will realize they should have been nicer to Michael. Which is all that ever really matters to Michael. The scene ends with Dwight nodding in full agreement that this is probably the best stratagem ever. There's just no way it can go wrong.

Inside, Kelly is explaining the guiding principles of Netflix to Ryan, who keeps glancing at his watch as she explains and explains and explains: top of the queue, sequential order, Love Actually, Uptown Girls, click click click—"Oh no, what do I do?"—Love Actually again, etc., etc. It goes on for quite a while; Netflix could probably use this in an ad or something. It makes total sense in a totally Kelly way.

While she talks, we see Karen and Jim checking their watches in the background; everyone else hovers. Then, one by one, Karen, Phyllis, Creed, Pam, and finally Jim all lay down money on the desk in front of Ryan. Naturally Kelly is oblivious to everything but the sound of her own voice and the face of her beloved. She ends her story with an incredulous "It's so easy, Ryan. Do you really not know how Netflix works?" Ryan beams, then stands and kisses her on the forehead. "I guess I forgot," he says. Proud of his girl. I'm really taking a shine to these two lately, and I used to kind of hate them both, or at least find them expendable. Like all the couplings on this show, they just make each other better. Kelly smiles sweetly and says, "You're such a ditz," before she walks away. 

"Ryan, well done," Kevin says when she's out of earshot. He's counting the bills. "Two minutes, forty-two seconds. Additionally, Pam, you win $10 because she said 'awesome' twelve times—Jenna Fischer gives a kick-ass little cheer here—"and Jim, you win $5 because she mentioned six romantic comedies." Jim clenches his fist in solidarity with himself.

I mean, come on: it's like a two-minute, diamond-encrusted capsule of brilliant writing and inspired acting, and it's presented as a total throwaway. Win-win-win.

Meanwhile, Michael and Dwight have made it to the roof. Dwight couldn't be more excited; he must smell the blood in the air. Michael's having second thoughts. "Maybe we should test this first," he says, squinting against the sun. "Letterman style." Oh yeah. And he goes straight for the good stuff: "Go buy some watermelons," he tells Dwight, and Dwight replies, "Seedless?" Does it matter? I guess it matters if you're Dwight, but Michael just shakes his head. He sure looks cute out here in the natural light.

Back to the betting: Creed sits at his computer, playing solitaire as he takes a huge bite from an apple and places it back on his desk. Everybody else is lined up behind him—at some distance, but still. Anybody but Creed would feel the stare of twenty eyes crawling up the back of their neck. Toby turns to the camera, and explains, sotte voce: "Creed is eating an apple. I found a potato." (Note: This may be my favorite Office quote ever. Ever.) He says it like this is something he does every day: finds potatoes. 

Pam—ever the eager caper enabler—walks over to Creed and distracts him with an easy "Hey," while Jim replaces the apple with the potato. Smooth. When Pam walks away, Creed picks up the potato and takes a big bite, sets it down again, and goes back to his game, none the wiser. Or is he? With Creed you're never sure. He's the type of guy who would just say to himself, "What the fuck? I thought that was an apple," and move on, and eat the whole potato just because it's there, or maybe without even realizing it's now a potato, or think somehow the apple actually turned into a potato. It can hardly be the weirdest thing he's ever eaten.

In the background, Kevin is smiling, doling out more money. Everyone looks happy but Karen, who admits, "I don't know this place as well as I thought I did. I'm getting cleaned out." Yeah. I applaud her willingness to play along, though. It's never easy being the new girl who dates the cute boy the office sweetheart is in love with. 

Up on the roof, Dwight and Michael are ready for their big test. Dwight holds a watermelon at chest level, then pitches it over the side, where it takes one flawless bounce off the trampoline and onto the hood of a perfectly pristine pretty white car, smashing into a thousand pink, juicy, sticky pieces. I've watched this clip about forty times now, and I can't wait for the DVD commentary on this episode; you gotta wonder how many tries it took before they got that shot, which looks like one continuous take. It's like one in a million. 

Michael watches all this in horror ("Bingo! Oh, crap"), then shifts back into boss gear at impressive speed: "Deactivate the car alarm, clean up the mess, find out whose car that is. If it's Stanley's, call the offices of James P. Albini, see if he handles hate crimes. Also, take apart the trampoline, stick it in the baler."

Dwight: "We're not allowed to use the baler."
Michael: "Have P—adge do it, or the Sea Monster."

Damn. Even Jan would high-five him on that. And I like how he trips over both "Pudge" and "Madge" here, settling on the compromise that makes just enough sense to him. He bluffs a smile at the camera, beginning to sense the holes around the edges of his plot, while Dwight takes off like a superhero. He lives for this stuff enough to entrust the next phase to his arch nemesis. Standing behind Andy while he flips through a binder for "cover," he launches into the following exchange, for which Rainn Wilson and BJ Novak have got to win some kind of award someday: 

Dwight: "I'm temporarily lifting the shun."
Andy: "Thank you."
Dwight: "Means nothing. I need you to do something for me." 
Andy, whispering obediently: "Anything." 
Dwight: "Okay, calm down. I need you to acquire an inflatable house and/or castle." 
Andy: "You mean a moon bounce?"
Dwight: "What do you think? You've got an hour."
Andy: "I'm gonna need petty cash."
Dwight slices one hand through the air: "Shunning resumed."
Andy: "Do you—do you want a drawbridge?"
A drawbridge?
Dwight, with another karate chop: "Unshun. Yeah, that sounds good." (another chop) "Reshun."

Fabulous! Andy can't believe his luck. He is now Dwight to Dwight's Michael.

Cut to a billowing purple castle hidden behind some bushes to the side of the parking lot; the trampoline has apparently been dispensed with. Pudge must be earning her keep. Dwight leans over the side of the building, telling Michael this is much safer, an "excellent decision." Michael says "Yes," while inside somewhere, very deep down, the one peapod-sized part of his animal brain that can sense danger tries to scream, "Nooooooo!" But Dwight has already confirmed the rightness of his first decision—the jumping—so he clamps down hard on his fear, like a Real Man would. Even when Dwight says he should try to "land like an eight-year-old. These castles are not designed for adults." 

Michael balks again, and Dwight tells him they can do another test, he's got plenty of watermelons in his trunk. But Michael says no, and this time he sucks it up for good: "This is about doing, not thinking." Which is the precise reason why Michael Scott is Michael Scott in the first place: a thinker he is not.

Dwight takes this opportunity to launch into one of his patented air guitar jam sessions while Michael hoots along: "Michael is awesome! Jumpin' off the roof! Bouncing on a bouncy bounce! Show 'em who's boss! Rip a hole in the sun!" Now that's what I call inspiration.

"Let's do this! I'm ready to make a point!" Michael shouts. Boy, is he ever.

Dwight rushes inside to rally the troops: "Guys, listen up! Michael is up on the roof, and acting strange!" His diction is exaggerated, completely false, so no one makes a move. He's maybe not who you'd elect to be your top rally guy, but he's all Michael has. And Andy dutifully plays along, asking "What's the situation?" Dwight unshuns him only long enough to say "I think he's suffering from depression." Gosh, I think so, too.

Dwight: "I think he wants you all to come out to the parking lot and watch him die."
Blank looks all around.
Stanley: "Is it nice outside?"
Dwight: "It's gorgeous, let's go."
Stanley: "Do I need my jacket?"
Dwight: "No, it really is, it's very nice. Come on!"
Ryan:  "Will I be too warm in a long-sleeve tee?" 

Oh, the beautiful symmetry of that! BJ is slight and far too young for me, but I'd marry him anyway.

Dwight: Everyone's gonna be fine in exactly what they're wearing! Let's go!

Everyone files slowly outside, knowing this is what they think it is: they're remembering the whole ice cream sandwich letdown from "Health Care." Michael waits, eager to launch into his routine. Luckily Dwight is armed with a megaphone, so as to enhance the effectiveness of their communication, which is completely rehearsed although we didn't actually get to see them rehearse it. 

Dwight: "Michael, what's wrong?"
Michael: "Everything's wrong! The stress of my modern office has caused me to go into a depression!"
Dwight: "Depression? Isn't that just a fancy word for feeling 'bummed out'?"
Michael: "Dwight, you ignorant slut! Depression is a very serious illness! Over 32,000 people commit suicide every year, according to a 2004 study!"
Dwight: "Is that the last year that data was available?"
Michael: "Yes. My head is in such pain! And turmoil!"

He's very committed to his part here; he must still be attending improv class. 

Everyone else stands quietly by, bored, staring up into the sun, until Michael realizes the warehouse guys aren't with them. So he's just wasting his time with this performance, which pisses him off. None of this matters if he isn't demonstrating his Real Manhood to those who (most recently) impugned it.

As Dwight dashes off, Pam asks Jim what the odds are that this is real. Jim gives her 10,000 to one, which Kevin for sure wants a piece of: "If someone gives you 10,000 to one on anything, you take it. If John Mellencamp ever wins an Oscar, I am going to be a very rich dude." He smiles that sly, lazy, lopsided smile. Kevin's like a cross between Rain Man and Hannibal Lecter. And Cookie Monster.

Dwight reappears with the warehouse guys, and he and Michael take it from the top, which is worth it just to hear Michael call him an ignorant slut once more. That's been missing from our collective national vocabulary for far too long.

Next we see Creed appear from behind the same bushes that are half-concealing the castle. He's zipping up his trousers, which I for one don't want to spend too much time thinking about, especially when Jim and Pam retrace his path without a second thought. Pam looks at the castle, then up at Michael. "Oh God. Oh my God, he's gonna jump." Jim, looking at her, knows she's right—and he realizes it only because she's the one who says it. Because this season, Pam has spent most of her time being Jim, and she's gotten pretty good at it. Now it's time for him to stop pouting and step into his own shoes again. "He's gonna kill himself pretending to kill himself," he says. Swoon: meta flirting!

Together (just like old times!) they run back to the parking lot, and Jim yells up to Michael, in kind of a small voice, so as not to alarm him with too hard a slap of reality: "Hey, uh, Michael! Don't jump on the bouncy castle. You can't do that because you're going to get horribly, horribly injured." I wonder if John Krasinski made this line up on the fly, or if it was written as a plea to Michael in his own ass-backward language, because it's weird and awkward to the ear.

Pam nods, then grabs the megaphone and shouts "Hey Michael!" with a cute little Pam wave. Michael waves back, just as cute. Aww. Just when I think I've settled on my favorite pair, I switch to another. She tells him he has to come down because she has a present for him. She's so, so good. How often do you get to see a really good, decent character on television? She knows, probably without wanting to know, that she's the one he trusts more than anybody else. She also knows that what he loves best is presents. 

Only hold on: this is suddenly getting real. Or looking real, or seeming real, or something in between. The longer Michael stays up there, the more likely he is to accidentally—without actually at all meaning to—jump off the roof and kill himself, just to prove a point. That's his idea of Real Manhood, and we've seen this before: Michael Scott is true to his word. Also, something in Michael's head has started asking questions he doesn't have answers for, and it's freaking him out in a very tangible way. Not that he's actually considering suicide—he's way too self-involved and naively, blindly hopeful for that—but he's realizing what his life is, or at least looks like (small and meaningless) while he happens to be standing on the roof of a building. And you know at least one small voice inside is saying, Well, why not? So the idea that he might do it—could do it, might have a reason to do it—has at least the air of plausibility to it, which makes it terribly sad and even funnier at the same time. There can be no funny without the sad. Also, it's just a TV show.

But for now he's fixating on the present, and his present. He asks Pam what it is and she says he'll have to come down and see for himself. For once he doesn't trust her. He asks Dwight what it is and Dwight says he doesn't see a present, she might be bluffing. At which point both Pam and Jim mentally punch him in the face, which, amazingly, gets through. When even Dwight comes around, you know it's serious. Only he tells Michael his present is a female Japanese robot, and no way is Michael going to believe Pam bought him a robot.

But Michael is still on the hook, because he'd also never believe Pam would lie to him: "Pam, really, what is it?"

And it's now that the one true hero steps forth—stumbles forth—out of the pack. Darryl takes the megaphone. "Mike, this is the opposite of safety. You jump, you gonna seriously hurt yourself."

Michael: "You told me that I lead a cushy, wimpy Nerf life."
Darryl: "Yeah, but I never said you had nothing to live for."
Michael: "What do I have to live for?"

Darryl looks around, stumped. Who's the super tough guy warehouse boss now? Nobody seems able to help him with this one, not even Dwight. Which is the saddest thing of all, because Dwight is always armed with a ready defense for Michael, in any situation. When you've lost Dwight, you've really lost. Finally, Darryl lands on "a lot of things." Only nobody's buying it: if you're Michael, you need something concrete, something simple and real and black and white.

Darryl:  "What about Jan? Lovely, lovely, lovely Jan, man. It's goin' good, right?"
Michael:  "It's complicated with Jan. And I don't know where I stand or what I want. The sex isn't nearly as good as it used to be."

Sigh. Poor Jan. Poor Michael. Growing weary of being the bull's-eye at the center of her special blend of condescension and consternation, not only in the professional sphere now but on an up-close, intimate, purely sexual level. I guess that was inevitable.

Darryl: "Mike, you're a very brave man. I mean, it takes courage just to be you. To get out of bed every single day knowing full well you gotta be you."
Michael:  "You really mean that?"
Darryl:  "I couldn't do it. I ain't that strong and I ain't that brave."
Michael:  "I'm braver than you?"
Darryl:  "Way braver! You Braveheart, man."
Michael: "I Braveheart. I am."
Darryl:  "Come on down, okay?"
Michael:  "Okay." 

He turns to the camera, turns to leave, and then—let's say it again: Steve Carell, I adore you—he peers over the edge of the building once more, down at the ground, and says, "Pam, I'm coming down to get my present."

He descends to cheers. "An office is as safe as the people in it. And sometimes those people can drive you to do crazy things to show the dangers of the office." He gives a hero's salute, taking the bow he believes he's earned. In Michael's head, there can never be enough bows, or enough clapping, for all he gives of himself to these people. His family: after all, he was only keeping them safe. "That's the danger I found myself in today. I saved a life—my own. Am I a hero? I really can't say. But, yes."


Stanley, in the parking lot, stares with mouth agape at the thousand pink, juicy, sticky pieces of watermelon that cover his otherwise perfectly pristine pretty white car.