Oscar discovers a $4300 surplus in the budget and Michael must decide between a new copier and new chairs for the entire office.  Of course, he can’t make any decisions by himself, so it takes all day.  Meanwhile, Jim and Pam have a little bit of a fun tiff over the copier/chair debate, and Angela, Andy, and Dwight tour Schrute farms in preparation for the wedding.

Episode 9: The Surplus
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Life gives you lemons, make lemonade
Oscar happily informs Michael that they have a $4300 surplus in the budget that must be used by the end of the day, or it will be taken out of the next year’s.  When Michael doesn’t quite get it, he asks Oscar to treat him like a five year old, so Oscar uses the analogy of a lemonade stand to show Michael that they have extra money they need to spend right now.

The 2008 Office Equipment Campaign
Michael comes out of his office to be good (for once, which was an interesting choice) and announce that the money will be used for the copier, but the office quickly becomes divided between people who want new chairs and people who want the copier – with Pam and Jim right in the middle disagreeing – Pam insists on the brand spankin new chairs while Jim, feeling weird asking his fiancée to make copies for him, has resorted to making copies himself, and cannot stand making copies on the sucky machine. Michael takes in all their suggestions, and, smiling, says, “I’ve swallowed all your suggestions.  I’m going to digest them and see what comes out the other end.”

Beet Farm of Love
Andy and Angela work together with Dwight in the lunchroom on directions to Schrute Farms, where the wedding will take place. It’s nice that they’ve started up this storyline again – the love triangle with these three is much more interesting when the writers don’t just focus on Dwight and Angela.  As Andy complains to Dwight about his directions (which Dwight has deliberately made complex), Angela sides with Andy and agrees that Dwight’s directions are too confusing, moving on to the subject of there only being one bathroom.  Dwight’s solution?  A trench, downhill from the well, of course, but as Angela puts it, “Nana Mimmi cannot squat over some trench.”  Andy, though, has a solution.  “Let’s three way this little issue, and come up with a solution by the time we get to Schrute Farms.”  Once arrived, they negotiate over minor details like when the animals will be slaughtered and if the smell of manure can be covered.  As Angela and Dwight argue over the butter sculpture, Andy steps in to stop and also literally steps on some manure.  “Why is that in the kitchen??”  Outside, Angela, Andy, and Dwight practice the ceremony with a pastor who only speaks German as Dwight explains away.  Outside, as Andy plays with Mose in the background, when they’re alone, Angela confesses to Dwight that she believes she made a mistake choosing Andy – but crafty Dwight has actually orchestrated the practice ceremony to be a real one – including having Andy sign their marriage license as a witness, believing it was a receipt.  Okay, now this is just ridiculous.  I miss the good old days when Dwight wasn’t so devious – in everything in relation to Angela he’s willing to go the most selfish lengths to get what he wants – he’s losing his likeability the farther we go along.  Angela, of course, is pissed, so she haughtily stomps off. Back in the office, Andy eats a tuna sandwich while grinning at Jim, until Angela stalks across the office and plants a long and passionate kiss on Andy’s cheek, right in front of Dwight.

The Courtship of Mr. Scott
Pam comes into the lunchroom to try to convince Jim to reconsider, which she says repeatedly.  Jim laughs.  “Are you threatening me, Beasly?”  “Jim, Jim, Jim, I’m not threatening you….but you should know, you’re on very dangerous ground.”  Well, that was an interesting Pam/Jim moment – instant classic, I’d say.  Pam them goes into Michael’s office to badger Michael further about the chairs – before she’s interrupted by Oscar inviting a dumfounded but happy Michael to lunch – and then Jim walks in and asks if he can join – Michael’s  happy as a clam, of course, while a talking head of Pam says, “So  I guess that’s how they’re gonna play this.  It is on.  It is so on.” So she splashes on some sexy dark red lipstick and curls her hair around her shoulders and speaks in a seductively low voice.  After lunch, Michael, Jim, and Oscar walk into the office laughing hysterically, stopping at reception for about thirty seconds, laughing the entire time, before heading off their separate ways.  Smugly, Jim hands Pam some tiramisu.  “No hard feelings.” Pam smells it, then says, “Good stuff,” before casually letting it fall out on the box into a waiting trash can.  Ouch.  It’s easy to tell now why Michael was acting not as outrageous as he usually is – because this episode is more about people messing with him that it is about the boss himself – not a very in depth episode, but still a hell of a lot of fun.

This town ain’t big enough for the two of us
Pam, all snazzed up, saunters into Michael’s office, happily greeting him with a peppy and vivacious (vivacious? Are we in 1980?) “Hey, Michael! Did I tell you you look good today?”  Michael, already on a bit of a “friend” high from Oscar and Jim, happily obliges Pam and explains how he bought his tie at TJ Maxx for four dollars – Pam is practically ecstatic, of course, so Michael then does a little dance in his nine dollar pants for her, and there was some ass shaking going on too.  Wow. Who would have ever thought we’d see Pam laughing hysterically at Michael’s ass?  Pam tells Michael her side of the story, defending he chairs, and Michael nods solemnly.  “Valid point.” Pam laughs softly and says, “See ya later, hot tie guy!” Outside of Michael’s office, Pam has some trouble making copies and Jim eyes her from his desk, smirking the whole time.  “You know, we could really use you.”  Pam grabs her shredded lop-sided copies and says, “I got my copies, so suck it.”  From the other side of the office, Michael starts to head back to his own, greeted everywhere by opened doors and cheerful smiles, a high five from Jim and a compliment on his ass from Pam. Desperate for help on his decision, Michael gets Hank the security guard from downstairs, who comes up and solemnly examines the copier, moving on to sit in Pam’s chair to test its squeakiness.  He fails to come up with a decision quickly enough, though, so Michael sends him off and then later on calls up David Wallace for advice on the surplus.  On the phone, Michael accidentally discovers that he can get 15% of the surplus if he just turns it into corporate.  Michael smiles and in a talking head says, “When you walk into Burlington Coat Factory with $645, you are a king.”  He goes out of his office to try to convince the troops that the chairs and the copiers are useless and they should just be grateful for what they have – until Oscar guesses what Michael is doing and tells the entire office.  Michael retreats back into his office under a volley of criticism, and near the end of the day when everyone confronts him, he gives them an ultimatum: either they make the decision on their own, or he keeps the bonus.  Michael, in the kitchen, proudly explains to the camera this expert management tactic of putting two groups in a room who have no chance of agreeing with each other, enabling him to keep the bonus – interrupted by Pam and Oscar informing him that they’ve chosen the chairs.  In a scene in his office we find that Michael had already purchased the coat, and, walking out of the store, had fake blood splattered onto the expensive jacket.  The final scene shows Jim walking up, defeated, to Pam’s desk, asking for a truce, because, as Pam points out, she won.  Jim smiles, agrees, then places some papers calmly on her desk.  “I’m gonna need three copies of these stapled and collated.”  Pam is aghast.  Jim breaks the silence with easy laughter.  “Just kidding.”  He leans over the desk and plants a soft kiss on her lips.  “I’m gonna need four.”

First of all, we haven’t seen an epic Jim/Pam moment like this for awhile, so the episode deserves some serious applause for that.  They’re managing to keep the relationship interesting by adding different layers to it without succumbing to cheap tricks like having a fight or almost breaking up or getting back together.  As I said before, Dwight’s pissy attitude is getting kind of weird – though it looks like it came to a head in this episode, so we’ll see if the writers are gonna drag on the love triangle any further – though they’ve been pretty sensitive to keeping love triangles on the show not too long in the past – aside from the Jim/Pam/Roy thing, which was acceptable because it’s been part of the entire dynamic of the office from the very beginning.  It was nice to see that Michael suffered the consequences of his actions at the end, too – while making Michael more of a mean boss than he was in the first three seasons the writers are also making sure that there are real world consequences for his actions.  All in a all a pretty funny episode – as far as I’m concerned The Office is on a winning streak this season, so let’s hope it continues.

-Thomas Anderson
aka MBRD. Check out his blog here.