The Office: The Coup

Teaser.

Extreme radiation close-up of a lone popcorn bag spinning in a microwave oven. Pam and Michael stand guard, watching. He's fidgety and anxious; she's bored. Finally he turns to the camera and mock-whispers, "I'm hungry!" then smiles nonsensically at her. She's both bored and unmoved.

Cut to Michael's office, where he's breaking into his own safe. It's Movie Monday! he announces as he cracks the door open. His cure for the Monday blues? Varsity Blues! "In small-town Texas, high school football is a religion." Really? How novel! And so's this: "In the small town of West Canaan, Texas, football is a way of life, and losing is not an option." That's funny; I grew up in the small town of Portage, Wisconsin, where losing was always an option, and a way of life. So already I can't really relate. (Also in that cabinet behind his desk: a stack of clothes, two major award plaques, a tube of deodorant, Pepto-Bismol, a shot glass, a book, and a can of Pringles. On the inside of the door hangs a mirror—to keep an eye on the cuteness!—and what appears to be an official Dunder-Mifflin headshot of Jan. He's such a good fake boyfriend.) Wise to keep those DVDs safe: in my office, workers will steal anything.

These office workers are gathering in the conference room. The chairs are arranged in rows, with Ryan, Michael and Kevin in front. Michael's yelling for everybody to hurry up, and Dwight is stationed at the door, assigning seats as they file slowly in. Stanley's armed with his crossword puzzle. Pam enters last, carrying an enormous tray loaded with microwaved popcorn bags. Michael's the only taker (which he does in a voice of such childish utter dependence that even I'm icked out), so she drops into a side chair to watch the film with a full tray of popcorn in her lap.

"Movie Monday started with training videos," she tells the camera. "But we went through those pretty fast. Then we watched a medical video." Long pause, from which we'll infer that the content was of an explicitly sexual nature. "Since then, it's been half-hour installments of various movies—" The camera cuts back to the conference room, where Michael is trying to forcefeed popcorn to Ryan straight from the bag. B.J. Novak is clearly laughing here.

Pam continues: "—with the exception of an episode of Entourage which Michael made us watch six times." Which I can understand; Entourage is a really good show. And while I'm sure Michael identifies with Vince, we all know he is Johnny Drama without the finesse and cheekbones. Cut to Michael in his office, saying "Entourage" to the camera with one of those dumbass manly hand gestures that men always insist on using when they say "Leave the gun, take the cannolis," or "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." Don't ask me; it's stamped in the genetic code or something.

Act I.

Still Movie Monday. Michael asks Kevin to recap the cinematic events of last week, and Kevin eagerly agrees. Finally somebody calls on Kevin! I love it when losers start to win. "Why him?" says Dwight, who never seems to win. Michael tells him not to whine; he should get the windows instead. Dwight's all, Window duty sucks, but he knows how to suck it up and carry out an order. So while Kevin brings us up to speed on Billy Bob's head injury, Dwight pulls the blinds closed just as Jan makes her way across the parking lot.

Jan! She enters a deserted office and shoots a disapproving glare at the camera. Uh oh; somebody's not in the mood for an R-rated noontime flick (strong language, sexuality, nudity, and some substance abuse) starring Angelina's quasi-father figure and that kid from the Crick.

Dwight's talking head: "Not everyone approves of Movie Monday. I won't say who." Which can only mean it's either him or"¦cut to Angela, who tells the camera, "I don't approve. I don't!" She would if they were showing Hope Floats, I'll bet. But right now she's busy ratting everybody out to Jan by pointing to the conference room.

Michael is shoveling popcorn into his mouth when Jan opens the door. He gives her a bright smile: "Hi Jan! Hope you brought some Milk Duds!" Fully expecting she'll just pull up a chair and roll with the punches; maybe they can make out in the back. Oh, Michael, it's like you've never even met your imaginary girlfriend! I'd say out of all the not happy with him she's ever been, this might be the not happiest. But I'm going out on quite a limb there.

Cut to the two of them in his office. Guess who's doing the hollering and who's looking both cowed and sheepish?

Jan: "How would a movie increase productivity Michael? How on earth would it do that?"
Michael: "People work faster after..."
Jan: "Magically?"
Michael: "No, they have to. To make up for the time they lost watching the movie."
Jan: "No."

I don't know; somehow I get the feeling it's not the movie she's mad about, it's the fact that she's in love with a moron and can't do anything about it. She's also pretty mad about the movie, though.

Dwight is hard at work at his desk when Angela strides past. "Kitchen," she harshes, without breaking her stride. We can still hear Jan yelling in Michael's office, something about hiring a 14-year-old girl to babysit him. Hee! They'd probably just end up taking off their shoes and lying on their stomachs on the floor to play "Fashion Plates" while they dish about Ryan.

In the kitchen, Angela tells Dwight that Michael's going to get them all fired. Is that news to anybody? Dwight does his Eagle Scout best to defend his master: it's not Michael's fault! And we see his talking head: "Ever since Michael dumped Jan for Carol, Jan's been bitching out on him. Reject a woman and she will never let it go. One of the many defects of their kind. Also weak arms." I'd like to bitch out and slap him right across his chipmunk cheek for that, but I can't lift my fucking arm.

And then Lady Macbeth lays out the scenario for today's bloody scheme: "Dwight! You should be running this office." Interesting, isn't it? Unlike Jan, Angela has the utmost faith in her man: she truly believes he's capable of anything. When actually he's capable of not much at all, at least not without explicit direction from either her or Michael, or some uniformed authority with a badge and/or crossbow. He's got perhaps a smidge more common sense than Michael, but he's got less than zero people skills, and unfortunately people are who he'd be managing. He's also too attached to the formality of rules and hierarchies to be an improviser, you know? And sometimes managers have to think on their feet, even if their feet always end up in their mouths. At any rate. He's intrigued enough by Angela's suggestion to almost turn around and look at her, but all he can actually do is whisper, "Michael would never let me." This is not a man who should be king.

Angela tells him it's up to Jan, not Michael: he should talk to Jan! Dwight says he could never betray Michael (that's a good boy) and Angela huffs, "Fine! Sit back and do nothing and let us all get fired!" She then tells the camera that Dwight needs to grow a pair. I love Angela; she's such a scrappy little rat terrier.

Ooh, pretty harbor view! Jim's in Stamford, remember, and it looks like his scenery got a big promotion, too, as their building overlooks a sunny blue marina. But of course Pam's not there, so we'd better not like it too much. The only place they should be is together. Loyalty first! But right now he's busy talking to the camera: the Stamford branch is spending part of its Movie Monday on a team building exercise that is actually a WWII video game called "Call of Duty." Only it's less of a team building exercise than a way to waste time at work. Which would be fine, probably, if Jim were the kind of guy who played video games. But he is a lover, not a fighter. "We didn't play many video games in Scranton," he says. "Instead we'd do stuff like, Pam and I would sometimes hum the same high-pitched note, and try to get Dwight to make an appointment with an ear doctor. And Pam called it...'pretendinnitus.'"

Back to Scranton, where Pam is multitasking: signing for a package while telling Kelly over the phone that she's signing for a package. Holy meta! She has to yank the phone away from her ear when Kelly starts to shriek. Nobody has to bother with pretendinnitus when Kelly's around. In a talking head, Pam explains that she ordered a bunch of new clothes online, because she felt like she needed a bunch of new clothes. She spends a few awkward minutes trying to justify this to the camera without actually coming right out and saying what we all know: she's trying to remake a life from the outside in. A not-uncommon practice for the Suddenly Single Woman, only that's not the sort of thing a Suddenly Single Woman wants to acknowledge out loud to anybody, much less an omnipresent camera crew, and much, much less the pack of nutbars she calls coworkers. Nobody likes being watched while they try to make fundamental changes to the core of their person; they just want to be changed.

Next we see her at Kelly's desk, pulling a magenta blouse from her box of online shopping. Low-cut v-neck with short sleeves, a ruffled collar and empire waist. Kelly LOVES it, because it looks exactly like something Kelly would wear, but Pam—who is accustomed to hiding in plain sight in her standard uniform of striped button-down and librarian skirt—isn't so sure. Kelly cheers her on: "Fashion show! Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch!" I'm not sure it's possible to be more of a girl than Kelly, which is why I love Kelly.

Stamford. Nobody can see the pretty harbor view today because all the blinds are closed. They're still playing games. Jim shoots at somebody and Andy turns around to ask him what the frak he's doing! Because apparently Jim just shot at Andy, who is his partner on the German team. Maybe the reason Jim doesn't play a lot of videogames is because who wants to be on the German team? Nobody. So he's understandably perplexed, and turns to ask Karen if they're really playing teams. She laughs at him, not unkindly. Uh oh. Cute girls can't resist cute boys whose asses they can kick in "Call of Duty"!

Meanwhile, Dwight is in the parking lot trying to grow a pair by giving himself a one-on-one pep talk. He's in quite a quandary here, both mentally and emotionally: is it conceivable that he could turn on his de facto master/mentor, even if his girlfriend told him to? If only he had his boom box and air guitar to guide the way. He paces the concrete, breathing heavily, then turns and breaks into a sprint. He stops when he reaches a puddle. He turns again, clutches his head in his hands, tips his head back to the sky. Conflicted! Macbeth, meet Hamlet. Or Anakin Skywalker.

At last. This dark intervention of the soul is followed by a duplicitous phone call to Jan, who should definitely share more screen time with Dwight.

Jan: "Hello?"
Dwight: "Is this Jan?"
Jan: "Who is this?'
Dwight: "This is Dwight Schrute. I am calling about an extremely sensitive matter."
Jan: "You should talk to Michael, and he'll talk to me, and that way we don't have to speak to each other."
Dwight: "It's about Michael."
Jan: "What about him?"
Dwight: "I can't talk here. It's too sensitive."
Jan: "It's not about a surprise party is it?"
Dwight: "No, but we should discuss that another time."
Jan: "Look, I'm already an hour outside of Scranton, Dwight, I'm not coming back."
Dwight: "Pull over at Exit 40. There is a Liz Claiborne outlet. I know you like that store. Go inside and shop until I can meet you."
Jan: "How do you know I like that store?"
Dwight: "Many of your blouses are Claiborne's."
Jan: "How do you know that?"
Dwight: "Part of my job."
Jan: "No it's not. It's officially not."
Dwight: "Noted."

I like how they thrust and parry conversationally, that's all.

Um, next we cut to Michael, who is humming to himself in his office, something grand and sufficiently tuneful. He endlessly amuses me. Dwight appears in the doorway to announce he is going to the dentist. Michael says okay, only Dwight's not finished lying: he has to have an emergency crown put in. Michael says "Ouchie!" but still isn't caring, or really listening. Dwight tells him it's a new dentist: "He's far, I might be gone"¦three hours." It's like he's begging to get caught. But Michael's brain is busy riding the teacups at Disneyworld, so he just says, "Three hours, wow! Have fun!" Dwight peeks nervously through the window as he slinks away.

Act II.

Parking lot, Liz Claiborne. Dwight follows Jan to her car, where she deposits several bags in the trunk. He's asks if she got anything good: "New blouse? Halter top? Camisole? Teddy?" She doesn't answer, so he keeps trying. They both know Michael too well.

Bland suburban restaurant interior. Dwight tells Jan he could save the branch if she let him run it. She's both amused and curious: "Okay," she says. "Okay I can run it?" he asks. Damn, easiest coup ever! She blinks slowly, rewinds. "What would you do differently?" she clarifies. She must drink a lot on her off time. Dwight says he would get rid of waste, "which is half the people there." So he's a fighter, not a lover. A waitress arrives with two plates of waffles, all for Dwight. Jan says he must feel pretty strongly to go behind Michael's back and turn on his coworkers. Then she watches him douse his waffles in 8,000 calories of syrup. No wonder he's always so wide awake, yet stupid.

"The decision to turn on Michael was difficult," he says. "But once I did it, I didn't look back. And mostly I feel that Michael would approve. It's really what's best for the branch." I think what Michael thinks is best for the branch is Michael, running the whole shebang and playing backup on tambourine. But Dwight continues singing his own praises: "And I could care less about my coworkers." He digs into his massive carb overload with relish. "So. Here we are. It's all on the table. I want the branch. And I await your decision." He slops forkfuls of waffle into his mouth while Jan watches. Nice! All this time she's been thinking Michael was the bottom of the barrel, and here it turns out that barrel had a false bottom. Thank God he's already got a girlfriend. As Dwight chews, he tells her there's a new Ann Taylor outlet close by; he knows she likes their earrings. She considers this for a moment, then asks, "Where is it?" Already we're starting to see the cracks in her bossy façade, aren't we? She loves shopping as much as Kelly does! Because she's a girl, obviously.

Now we're back with Michael in his office, getting yelled at again, only this time via speakerphone: "Michael! I had a very interesting conversation with one of your employees." He thinks that's nice. Jan thinks otherwise. She tells him about Dwight's devilish plot to overthrow him. Before this can begin to sink in for Michael, he trips over the semantics: "What? You were at the dentist?" Oh, dear. I gift him five mental Emmys for the delivery of that line alone, and it only gets better from here. Jan tells him to get control of his branch, stat!

Michael's talking head: "What was Dwight thinking? That he could turn Jan against me? She's my ex-lover— ish."

Fashion show at lunch! Kelly, Phyllis, and Meredith all "Wow" Pam when she enters the break room in her ruffly new top. "It is so sexy, you look so hot," Kelly tells her. It is cute, too, very flattering and not Pam. She says it's too much: she's not comfortable out here in the open like this, with her bare arms and bare neckline. Nothing to hide inside! She's going to return it. Kelly says she should wear it for the rest of the day, see how she feels. Now I want to go shopping with Kelly—she could probably help me solve my persistent preppy problem.

OMG: enter Roy! To do some under-the-radar scamming on the girl he lost and decided he desperately wants back. Not a chance, Roy! Only I kind of like Roy. And he likes Pam's ruffly new top, too, and tells her she looks nice, trying to sound all cool and nonchalant, till Kelly says, "Isn't that like your third soda today?" See? It's hard to do any personality overhauling in front of people who know you.

Stamford. Jim is on the phone, doing actual business, when Random Office Worker kills the lights: "Call of Duty" time! Wow, these people waste way more of their Monday than they do in Scranton. Where the hell is Jan during all this? Still shopping, I guess. "Again?" Jim asks Karen, who says, "Scared?" Then Rashida Jones gets her cutest moment ever, flashing a little "rock on!" hand signal at the camera while she says "Call of Duty!" with all of her teeth. Which totally reminds me of my friend Beth, by the way.

In the midst of much shooting and killing, Josh exits his office and flips the lights back on. He needs to see Jim and Andy in the conference room, where he takes a few precious minutes of game time to bust their chops about their losing German strategy. Andy blames it all on Jim. Then they have the best conversation anybody's ever had in Connecticut, which makes Jim fear he might be working with aliens:

Andy: "It's the new guy."
Jim: "Oh, I'm sorry I don't know"¦what we're talking about."
Andy: "See what I mean?"
Josh: "We just need a strategy, okay? We're gonna set up a trap in the gun room. All right Jim, are you using the MP-40 or the 44?"
Jim: "Um, sniper rifle?"
Josh: "Snipe—"
Andy: "What?"
Josh: "Jim!"
Andy: "Are you playing for the other team?!"
Josh: "You don't snipe in Carrington, okay?"
Andy: "Saboteur! Saboteur!"
Josh: "Andy, it's not—"
Andy: "I'm going to kill you for real. This game, the game is over. I'm really going to shoot you."

Andy's officially a loon, and I officially love him, which is a very long way from how much I hated him when I saw this episode the first time around. Open minds, people! Except for Josh. I have no use for Josh.

Back in Scranton, Dwight's Trans Am wheels into the parking lot. Michael's waiting at his desk. Waiting to snare him, that is, with a plan so masterful in its audacity and brilliance it's hard to even recount. "Hey Dwight, you want an M&M?" he says when Dwight walks in. Dwight says no, thanks, he's stuffed, which is actually true. Michael insists, pouring M&Ms into Dwight's palm and watching closely as chews them before they melt in his hand. They eye each other warily, like Russell Crowe and that lion in Gladiator. "Good, huh?" Michael asks. Dwight agrees, stepping gingerly around Michael to get to his desk.

"Hey!" Michael says. Still ensnaring. "I thought you weren't supposed to eat anything for a couple of hours after you've had a crown put in." Dwight looks nervous; he is not a liar by trade, so he's on slippery ground here. He tells Michael they have a new quick-drying bonding at the dentist, which is all well and good until Michael asks for the guy's name. They stare at each other for a moment, former compatriots now locked in a battle for the crown. "Crentist," says Dwight. Oh, bravo! But Michael doesn't bat an eye: "Your dentist's name is Crentist," he says flatly. "Hah"¦sounds a lot like "˜dentist.'" I love this: it's like a massive brain-off, only nobody has any brains. But Dwight tells him, "Maybe that's why he became a dentist." Score!

Too bad Michael wants to inspect Dwight's teeth. Bad for all of us. "I want to see "˜em. Let me see "˜em," he says. His voice is getting a little ferocious. Dwight's jaw slowly widens. Michael grabs him by the hair and forces his head back, and I am forced to close my eyes because there are some things I just don't want to see up close. Michael grimaces, too: "You should floss," says the man with the Ultra Brite smile. Dwight agrees. He thinks he's safe; he thinks he passed this test. Michael retreats to his office. Ryan is just confused.

Michael's talking head: "Business is like a jungle. And I am like a tiger. And Dwight is like a monkey that stabs the tiger in the back with a stick. Does the tiger fire the monkey? Does the tiger transfer the monkey to another branch?" He smiles at his own wicked wit. "Pun. There is no way of knowing what goes on inside the tiger's head. We don't have the technology." Or the brains, as has already been stated.

He steps out of his office again, tells Dwight he needs to talk to him. Then he turns back, his whole body one stiff movement, and shoots the camera with a look that's the best cross between mastermind and moron—somehow both wide-eyed and half-lidded—I've ever seen. What a mad, mad man.

Cut to the two of them sitting in the side chairs in Michael's office. Michael does a hard exhale and then, after much overwrought hemming and hawing, hits Dwight right between the eyes, metaphorically:

Michael, improvising failure: "Well, I just got off the phone with Jan. And, um...she demoted me."
Dwight, improvising outrage: "No."
Michael, improvising disbelief: "Yeah. You know what the craziest part of this is? She demoted me to your job!"
Dwight, continued fake outrage: "God!"
Michael starts to pick up steam: "And she said that you should be expecting a call later from corporate, and that um, I guess that means that you are going to be acting manager of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton."
Dwight, trying to conceal his glee: "I can't believe this news. That"¦wow."
Michael, reeling him in mentally: "I know. I told her I didn't know whether you'd wanna do it...because you've always been so loyal to me. You've been my most trusted ally."
Dwight: "You said that?"
Michael: "Yep, I did. I did." (Long pause while he waits for Dwight to confess his sins.) "But I think...you should do it."
Dwight: "Well. Gosh, if you think I should. Then I will."
Not what Michael was expecting. He turns and gives the camera a "Can you believe the nerve of this fucker?" look and goes with it. Ready to rumble!
Michael, suddenly in a hurry: "Perfect! Well, we're settled."
Dwight: "All right."
Michael: "All right. Well then, you are now acting manager of Dunder-Mifflin Scranton Branch, and I...am assistant regional manager."
Dwight, as king: "Assistant to the regional manager. Thank you Michael, for staying on. I really appreciate it."
Michael: "Ohh."

It's the fact that the actors are so good and that the characters as actors are so bad that makes it all such pure gold.

Now Dwight actually leans in and places his hands on both sides of Michael's head, and just like that, the color and feigned amusement drain from Steve Carell's face. It's a little scary to watch someone so typically light go so dark so quickly. Dwight says, "Hey...I can't imagine this place without you." Michael: "Can't you?" He pauses to break into the freakiest grin imaginable, looking just like that demon-possessed dummy in Magic. "That's so nice!" he hisses through bared fangs. Yow.

He says they should go share the news. "Yeah, when I'm ready, Mike," Dwight tells him. Michael can't even believe what an idiot this guy is, and he's known him for years. Dwight sighs, then says it's time. Michael stares into the camera again, ready to rain all manner of havoc and misery on Dwight's poor unsuspecting head.

Act III.

Together they step out into the office, where Michael makes a jolly announcement: "Hey, hi, hello. Everybody, I have some good news, and I have some bad news. I am being replaced as your leader by Dwight!" Nobody believes it but Angela. "Congratulations, Dwight!" "Thank you, Angela," he says. Stanley goes for the obvious: "But"¦why Dwight?" he asks. "Because Dwight never lies," says Michael. Stanley asks how that qualifies him to run a branch? "Because that's all it takes," Michael says. And in his eyes, that's probably true.

Next he asks Dwight to say a few words about loyalty. Slam! Dwight: "Thank you Michael. I just want to say, to the few of you who will remain under my employ, that I intend to lead you into the black! With ferocity!" I don't know; I think he accidentally grew two pairs out in that parking lot. Michael surveys the crew like a master magician with plenty of tricks left up his sleeve. Phyllis is concerned on his behalf, though. "Michael? What will you do?" she asks, so sweetly and sincerely. He says he'll be fine, and Kevin asks if he has any savings. Nope! Kevin says he might lose his condo. Michael bats this away, as well. He knows something they don't!

Pam's talking head: "I have this little vacuum cleaner that's broken. If Dwight doesn't work out, maybe that could be manager." Then Phyllis: "Maybe I'll quit."

Dwight and Angela are in the break room. "It's really happening," she says with stars in her eyes. "We can make a difference here." All of her dreams have been realized. Except Dwight says, "I will make a difference here." All emphasis on Dwight. She bristles. "You alone? Because I thought together we could—" He cuts her off and tells her not to be naïve. She starts rethinking her taste in men, until he throws her a bone and tells her she can be in charge of the women. Woo hoo! That's all she really wanted anyway.

Back to Stamford, and the game. Karen is watching Onscreen "Call of Duty" Jim as he scrambles to climb a corner. "Look how cute he is! He's trying to shoot with a smoke grenade." Real Jim wants to know what she's whispering about. He's so tired of Not-Movie Monday: it's like one whole long day of being Dwight. Or Toby. Or Michael. Exhausting! She tells him to concentrate on turning his game self around, then gives him a couple keyboard pointers. It works. But Karen is pointing a gun right at Onscreen Jim's head when he turns, and she asks Real Jim if he has any last words. He's got nothing. She shoots, and "You killed Jim Halpert" appears on her monitor. She laughs. He's both impressed and alarmed. "Psychopath"¦" he tells the camera. She smiles: she likes him! I guess we all knew this day had to come.

In Scranton, Creed steps up to the reception desk. Pam says "What?" and he tells her he's just looking. Ew. A million times yuck. She asks him to please go back to his desk, and he says, "In a minute." She pulls on her sweater, then tells the camera she remembers why she dresses the way she does at work. "But I'm gonna keep the clothes. I mean, it'll be cool to just have some after work clothes that aren't pajamas." Good for you! But that was really a far-out nasty little scene. This whole episode tilts more toward the cringe than the comedy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, only it takes some internal adjusting.

On to Dwight, who is unpacking all his worldly goods in Michael's office. Unceremoniously piling Michael's toys in his in-box while Michael looks on. Michael can't believe the multiple crimes against his person that are being committed here, right before his eyes. And then we reach our defining moment. Dwight sits in Michael's chair, behind Michael's desk, and begins pecking away at Michael's keyboard. And Michael circles in for the kill.

"Well, I guess it's time that I turn over the keys to the famous Sebring!" he says, dangling them in Dwight's face. Dwight says thanks but no thanks. Michael reminds him it's a corporate lease—Dwight has earned the corporate car! The greatest symbol of Michael's power; his talisman, if you will. Whosoever shall hold the keys to the Sebring shall hold the keys to the world. But Dwight doesn't want them. "Not my style," he says. Michael literally cannot believe what he is hearing. "But you said you liked it. You've always admired it." He's starting to sweat: his entire character is now in question. Who is he without his Sebring? Dwight, that's who. Dwight shrugs. "Well that was before. I'm thinking about getting something German, something with decent gas mileage. Plus, that convertible, it's a ridiculous choice for this climate." See? Loads of common sense that makes no sense in this context at all; Dwight just has no feel for timing or audience.

Michael has officially reached his limit: nobody craps on his ride! "Take it back," he seethes. Dwight can't see what's coming, so he simply says "No." Oh, Dwight, you're about to lose everything, man! Everything! "That's my car," Michael reminds him, and then he barks, "That's my car!" But it's still not sinking in. "Yes," Dwight answers, placidly. The fool.

And then Michael explodes all over him: "I know, Dwight! I know, I know, I know!" "You know what?" says Dwight. Dwight's a little thick, huh? Michael tells him Jan let the cat out of the bag, and Dwight's animal instinct finally kicks in. That took way longer than it should have for a man with such an affinity for wildlife. He tries to backpedal by assuring Michael the Sebring's cool! Michael doesn't care: "I know what you did. I made the whole thing up, Dwight!" He's off the charts pissed, but he's pretty impressed with himself, too, because Dwight fell right into his man-sized bear trap. And now he's screaming like a girl (I'm sorry, but he really is): "How dare you!? How dare you, Dwight?"

Now it's Dwight's turn to break down, and he drops to his knees as everyone outside watches. From royalty to supplicant in one fell swoop, left begging for mercy. Except Michael isn't done screaming. He squats at Dwight's level and scolds, "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't fire you right here on the spot!" Really, he needs to win an Emmy for this, and they can throw in a retroactive one for last year, too.

Dwight is beside himself, desperate to atone. "I have excellent sales numbers!" he shouts, and Michael says, "Not good enough!" Even Stanley looks scared. Dwight is crying. He offers to do Michael's laundry for a month. But Michael has a laundry machine! Angela cringes as she looks on: this is not the happy ending she had in mind. Finally she has to turn away, because Dwight's got his head wrapped in his hands and is whimpering on the floor. Wow. I don't think anybody is surprised by where this went, but still. It's surprising.

Michael tells Dwight he doesn't know if he can trust him anymore, and Dwight admits that he can't. Interesting choice! "But I promise I'll never betray you again! What can I do, Michael? What can I do?" Phyllis looks sad; Ryan might vomit. Dwight lies prostrate at Michael's feet while Michael preens before the camera. He's won! Mission accomplished. Now he can afford to be benevolent: "You can get up," he says. Dwight stumbles to his feet, his face wet with tears and drool. Awesome! I mean, it's totally gross and all, but I love how Rainn Wilson commits with his fluids. Then Michael says, "And you can hug it out, bitch." Ah! Sorry. He's both Ari and Vince. Dwight squeezes both eyes shut and dives at Michael, pulling him into the most tenderly masculine male bear hug ever. Whew. Friends again! Michael eyes the camera. All is cool, if not forgiven.

His talking head: "Hug it out, bitch. That is what men say to each other, after a fight. They hug it out, and doing so, they just let it go"¦." A quick cut to the two of them sitting in the conference room watching TV. Sharing a bag of microwave popcorn like a couple of girlfriends. I'm sorry, but it's true. They're both smiling like girls. Angela sees them through the window and scowls. She's a different kind of girl, that's all. It's not a judgment. Michael's voiceover continues: ""¦and walk away. And they're done. Not a good idea to say that to a woman however. I have found. Doesn't translate."

In Stamford, Jim is packing up after his miserable day of defeat. The office is almost empty. He is out of his element here, among strangers. At the door he turns back to Karen, pulls a pin from an imaginary grenade and tosses it to her. It imaginarily lands on her desk, and she throws a handful of paperclips into the air with a grin. She watches him leave. Aw, she's in love!! Stamford Karen rocks.

Tag.

Michael at his desk. "Yeah. Yep, we hugged it out. But it turns out I was still a little angry. So I felt I needed to punish him just a little bit more." We see Dwight standing in the middle of the office on a box, head hanging low, wearing a sign around his neck that says "LIAR" in big fucking letters. Michael sits at his desk with his feet up, peering out the window at his own amazing management style in action, and says, "And I'm making him do my laundry for a year." Oh, it's good to be king.