Saturday, November 7, 2009

THe Office - Double Date, or Lessons for the Kids

It's Helene's birthday, so Michael, still oblivious to the fact that he is not helping, organizes a birthday lunch with Pam, Jim, Helene, and himself. After trying to scam her way out of lunch, Pam starts playing psychological games, making her mother less appealing to Michael. Her tactic? Age. Turns out Helene is turning 58 this year. Upon learning this, Michael is sufficiently weirded out, but will it be enough to end the relationship? Pam hopes so.

It starts to look that way, as Michael starts visibly pulling away from Helene, making awkward comments about a generational gap, and trying to keep his birthday gift to her secret. It turns out he made her a scrapbook of their first memories together, and wrote her a poem. But the sentiment isn't ringing quite as true now that he knows she's not really turning 49. The kicker is that the scrapbook/poem combo, as well as her mom's obvious happiness, have finally swayed Pam to the pro-Michael camp.

Meanwhile, back at the office, Dwight and Andy engage in a strange politeness-off. Dwight brought in bagels for breakfast as a favor, so that his coworkers would someday have to repay the favor to him by getting Jim fired (yes, it's a stretch, just accept it). But, Andy, with his constant congeniality, must return the favor to Dwight immediately, so they constantly one up each other with favors, advice, and gifts all afternoon. Eventually, Dwight gives up trying to have everyone owe him, and Andy's niceness prevails, which is a nice lesson for the kids.

During cake, Michael confesses that he wants to break up with Helene, and cites Pam's feelings of disgust as the reason. It's a clever ploy, hiding his real motives with other, equally plausible explanations - a first for Michael Scott. Sadly, it doesn't work, as Pam protests that she's fine with the relationship, and wants her mom to be happy. Then, Michael reveals that Helene is just too old for him, and he has a lot of life still to live, and she can't accompany him on that journey. Ouch.

Back at the office, Michael tries to bribe Pam by offering her a raise. A bribe in exchange for what? It's unclear, but has to do with her having a better attitude. She says she'll take it, then reneges. What she really wants is to hit Michael. In the parking lot. In front of everybody. After work. Looks like school is back in session at Dunder Mifflin!

Hold up - can we talk about Pam for a second? While she's getting increasingly interesting as a character, something I can never fault, she seems to be manifesting only negative emotions and motivations. She hated Michael dating her mother and acted horribly, and now she's reverting to schoolyard rules of engagement to get back at him for breaking up with her? Are the writers consciously doing this to show a shift in Pam as her life changes, or can it be explained away with hormones? Other suggestions. Comments definitely welcome, because I'm having trouble connecting with this new, bitter Pam that's emerging.

ANYWAY, the rest of the afternoon passes with Toby giving Pam punching lessons (oh, how he wishes it were him doing the hitting) and excitement gathering. Michael goes to Jim to try and stop it, and Jim waffles. He doesn't agree with Pam's decision to hit Michael, but there's nothing he can really do to stop her.

Everyone gathers outside, and Pam winds up. Just as she's about to hit him, Michael apologizes for both dating Pam's mom, then dumping her on her birthday. He promises never to date a member of Pam's family again. All is resolved? No, of course, Michael finds a way to ruin the situation, saying, "For the record, she came on to me." Pam whips back around and delivers a hearty slap to Michael's cheek. He cries, but she doesn't feel better. Another lesson for the kids this week: violence doesn't make you feel better.

Wow. So, I guess this storyline is over, but we'll see if Pam continues on her road to anger, or if this was all brought on by the Mom episode. All in all, we received some good life lessons, and that slap was badass.

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