Stress Relief

Dwight: It’s very unusual for Michael not to show up to work. My guess? He’s either deeply depressed, or an icicle has snapped off his roof and impaled his brain. He has this terrible habit of standing directly underneath them and staring up at them. And I always say Michael, take two steps back, and stare at the icicle from the side. And he’s like no, I like the way they look from standing directly underneath them. It was only a matter of time.

The Office recap: On Fire?

Happy Super Bowl, binder clips! It’s so nice to be back here with you on the Office TV Watch. I’d like to start by thanking Alynda Wheat for subbing while I was at Sundance, then send my congratulations to the National Champions More Times Than Anyone Ever Pittsburgh Steelers: I was rooting for the underdog Cardinals tonight, but there was some nice Pennsylvania cross-platform marketing in their win being followed by our scrappers from Scranton. Still, can’t help but think NBC squandered a chance to catch the casual viewer with this ep, which started strong (thanks to a fire drill that was only slightly less organized than Kurt Warner’s final attempt at a pass play) before tapering off into a disjointed plot involving workplace stress, a Comedy Central-style warehouse roast, and a pirated movie starring Jack Black, Cloris Leachman, and Jessica Alba. Like almost every hour-long episode of The Office, tonight’s didn’t really hold its ink, and if I’d been shotgunning beers and burying my face in guacamole for six hours like the rest of America, it’s hard to say if I would have stuck around for the whole thing.

Of course, my opinion doesn’t come anywhere near what I presume to be Andy’s idea of TV criticism (“That show was bad”) — a lot of the episode’s humor was engaging and smart. I guess it’s just the extension of every joke past the point of snap and into meandering randomness that kills the momentum whenever this show tries to run long. Bits like Dwight’s commentary on Michael staring at icicles and the “Stayin’ Alive” singalong felt like riffing, the kind of filler I used to put into college term papers after bringing in the margins and spacing everything at double-and-a-half still left me two pages short of the assigned length. And much like the big game itself, if things hadn’t picked up towards the end, I fear this would have amounted to a massive disappointment. Note: I wouldn’t have been livid, just disappointed.

But the cold open…the cold open was awesome. We opened on Dwight setting a trashcan on fire with a cigarette to teach everyone a lesson about fire safety, since no one was listening when he gave his boring PowerPoint presentation on the topic. “Today, smoking is going to save lives,” he said, with a menacing confidence. The room slowly filled with smoke; chaos ensued. “What’s the procedure?” Dwight repeated to his frantic colleagues, along with less-helpful comments like “Have you ever seen a burn victim?” Meanwhile, Michael yelled things like, “Stay f—ing calm!” and “We’re trapped! Everyone for himself!” while everyone stampeded around, knocking over cameramen. Angela grabbed one of the cats Dwight did not kill out of her file cabinet, and threw it up into the suspended ceiling where Oscar had crawled to get help; kitty obeyed laws of gravity, as did Oscar. Michael tried to throw a chair through a window, but unlike the overhead projector he tried next, it bounced hilariously back. Jim used the hated copier as a battering ram, Kevin took the evacuation as an opportunity to raid the snack machine, and when Dwight inexplicably set off fireworks, Andy yelled, “The fire is shooting at us!!”

You can imagine everyone’s surprise, then, when Dwight blew an air horn and announced it was just a drill. No one was quite as shocked as Stanley, who collapsed on the floor. Michael tried to revive him by screaming, “Barack is President! You are black, Stanley!” and then shoving a wallet in his mouth, but on the other side of the all-new, all-inclusive credits, we learned it was no use: Stanley had suffered a heart attack. (Alternatives: “Stanley was attacked by his own heart,” his “heart went berserk,” and/or it “disappeared to be working.”) Michael and Dwight were hauled in front of David Wallace, and though they didn’t hed Dave’s scolding, Michael did seem appropriately cowed. “Nobody should have to go to work thinking, ‘Oh, this is the place that I might die today,’” he said. “That’s what a hospital is for.”

To that end, he planned a nice quiet welcome back party for Stanley, complete with wheelchair, and brought in a nice Red Cross lady with a dummy to teach CPR, which seemed like a good idea until everyone got caught up in the logic of giving CPR to something that had no arms or legs. Dwight declared the dummy dead, attempted to harvest its organs (probably should have confiscated that hunting knife with the rest of the weapons, Jim), and then cut off its face, Hannibal Lecter-style. This got Michael and Dwight hauled back into David Wallace’s office, and got us two great lines: “$5,300 for a dummy?” and “Now Dwight knows not to cut the face off a real person.” These would be the highlights of the episode, in my opinion, for about the next half hour.

The next big plan was for Michael to host a relaxation and mediation session. After Michael asked everyone to visualize what kind of ice cream they would like to eat after they wandered through a meadow to a castle where barefoot men gave them pot to smoke, Stanley said “Chocolate.” “Racism is dead, Stanley,” Michael responded. “You can have any kind of ice cream you want.” At this, Stanley’s biofeedback monitor started beeping, indicating that any time Michael came near the guy, his stress levels rocketed. (Absolutely terrific beat here, with Jim and Oscar glaring at Michael in unison to step away.) Michael asked Oscar to touch the thing — “That’s what he said! Right, guys? Cause of gay?” — and it started beeping when Michael came near Oscar, too. “Michael, I think you’re what’s stressing everyone out,” said Kevin. The boss was aghast. “You never expect that you’re the killer,” he said. “Great twist.”

Deleted scenes

  • Michael congratulates Darryl, Stanley, and maybe Kelly on the inauguration of President Obama. Michael tells Darryl that black people have to be responsible and Darryl jokingly rebuts that Public Radio will become private, NASCAR is over, and Morgan Freeman movies will be cancelled.
  • Andy gives Stanley a mix of his songs.
  • Kevin offers Stanley to go to the bathroom with him. Stanley looks confused.
  • Phyllis explains that it was hard for her when Stanley was gone.
  • Michael shows Stanley that he got a defibrillator. People disagree on the pronunciation of “defibrillator”, but Kelly spells it for them.
  • In a talking head interview, Kelly explains that she came in seventeenth in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and then she gained 40 pounds.
  • Michael treats the defibrillator like a toy, turning it on and threatening to shock people with it.
  • In a talking head interview, Dwight explains that Michael would be a terrible safety officer.
  • In a talking head interview, Michael looks forward to shaking someone’s hand and shocking them with the defibrillator. He shares his new catch phrase: “You’ve been defibrillated!”
  • Michael tries to trick Toby into shaking his hand with the defibrillator pad. He eventually succeeds, but Toby isn’t shocked because Michael forgot to turn it on.
  • Michael thinks that Stanley is dead, shocks him, and realizes that he was just sleeping. He then puts a sign on Stanley saying, “NOT DEAD.” Watch these scenes.
  • An alternate extended scene of the Rose/CPR scene.
  • The office lists things that are stressful.
  • The office tries to find things that stop stress.
  • Dwight gets Stanley to sign the sheet, however, he fails to get Phyllis to. Dwight angrily tells her to sign it.
  • Stanley eats a wheel of brie as his reward for “letting go of [his] anger” by signing Dwight’s apology letter.
  • Angela and Kevin mess up Meredith’s hair using the defibrillator. Clip.
  • Michael wakes up from sleeping and says that beaches aren’t stressful.
  • Dwight receives a text message and tells the office the Albany Branch is closing during Michael’s relaxation seminar. Angrily, Michael confiscates everyone’s cellphone and places them in a plastic garbage bag. Later the bag is seen placed on his desk but the vibration of the many phones causes them to fall off the desk.
  • Michael is angry that the mayonnaise is gone as he has the habit of eating a spoonful of mayonnaise during tough situations.
  • Dwight tries to get Jim’s signature and Jim asks him whether or not he thinks he’s part of the problem, which Dwight scoffs at, but then asks hypothetically what he could do to improve. Jim tells Dwight to smile more often and instructs him on twisting his face into a creepy leer. Jim then takes a photo of Dwight with his cellphone and happily signs the sheet.
  • Extension of the roast. Kelly says that Michael dyes his hair and that she saw him at a screening of Twilight, with his mother. Oscar rants to Michael in English – in a talking head, he says he came up with the material simply by writing down a typical drive-home rant. Jan calls and is placed on speakerphone, saying how Michael destroyed her life. Michael then rebuts with a crack about her breast augmentation.
  • This is the only episode in which Leslie David Baker (Stanley Hudson), Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone), Creed Bratton (actor) (Creed Bratton), Kate Flannery (Meredith Palmer), Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor), Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin), Paul Lieberstein (Toby Flenderson), Oscar Nunez (Oscar Martinez), Craig Robinson (Darryl Philbin), and Phyllis Smith (Phyllis Vance) are credited during the opening theme.
  • Dwight is likely not fired because of the ongoing major recession in the United States at the time, as he brings in a large amount of money to the company.
  • During the fire scare at the beginning of the episode, it is established that the phones have been disconnected by Dwight. However, when the scare escalates, Dwight calmly suggests that they call 911, perhaps by using a cell phone. (Ryan Howard) appears in this episode only via archive footage.
  • Oscar’s rant in Spanish translates as “You give me an ulcer every time I wake up and I have to come to work. I have to come to work for you. For you!”
  • Jim saying to Michael, “Multiple times a day Michael says things that are way beyond my vocabulary,” is a reference to the ongoing joke of Michael often confusing words and common phrases.
  • Michael does not roast Toby, Kelly, or Phyllis. Neither Toby nor Phyllis mock Michael at the roast.
  • The lyrics to Andy’s song, which is a parody of “What I like About You” by The Romantics:
    • ♪ What I hate about you, you really suck as a boss. you’re the losiest, jerkiest, and you’re dumber than apple sauce! We’re stuck listening to you all day, Stanley tried to die just to get away, well it’s true, that’s what I hate about you! That’s what l hate about you [holds note] Yeah! ♪

    Stress Relief Quotes

    Dwight: Last week I gave a fire safety talk. And nobody paid any attention. It’s my own fault for using PowerPoint. PowerPoint is boring. People learn in a lot of different ways, but experience is the best teacher. Today, smoking is gonna save lives.

    David Wallace: Michael, you have to take responsibility here. One of your employees had a heart attack. He could have died, because of the way that you are allowing your office to run. Do you want that on your conscious?

    Michael: Nobody should have to go to work thinking, “Oh, this is the place that I might die today.” That’s what a hospital is for. An office is for not dying. An office is a place to live life to the fullest, to the max, to… An office is a place where dreams come true.

    Michael: We found ourselves on the less prepared side of things when Stanley had his… when his heart went berserk. And I knew exactly what to do, but in a much more real sense I had no idea what to do. So I thought we should have CPR training class and of course you can’t get the practice dummy unless the instructor comes along with it. Red Cross, you know, racket.

    Andy: Oh you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk. Music loud, women warm, been kicked around since I was born. Oh, it’s alright, it’s okay, [Michael and Kelly join in] you can look the other way. Loo do do!

    Michael: Hi, everyone. Corporate has given Dwight two strikes. They are very, very upset with him. So, as a disciplinary measure he is going to have to issue a formal apology. Dwight, have you prepared your statement of regret?

    Dwight: I could not, because I do not feel it. Okay, everyone. I am going to need you to sign this statement of regret as an acknowledgement that you heard it. Okay? Everyone come on up here. It’s not a big deal.

    Dwight: Yeah, right. I filled him full of butter and sugar for 50 years and forced him not to exercise. Now, take a lesson from Stanley and jog on up here and sign this, okay? Make a line. Just form a line right here. Sign it! Sign it now!

    Michael: [in a monk-impression tone] Ohmmm… Ohmmm… Everybody sit on the floor Indian style like me. [Meredtih sits Indian style in a dress exposing herself right in front of Michael] Ohmmm my God if you’re wearing a dress please keep your knees together nobody wants to see that ohmmm… ohmmm…

    Michael: My goal is to make this office as peaceful a place for Stanley Hudson as I can. I think sounds have a lot to do with that. Here are some downloaded peaceful sounds. [a couple of sounds play on the computer] That one makes me think… of death. It’s kinda nice…

    Michael: And you walk up toward the castle, and inside the castle are 4 men, and each of them, none of them have shoes, and they give you a funny cigarette, and you feel even more relaxed, and then you want ice cream. You want a big bowl of ice cream. What kind do you want? Shout it out.

    Michael: Remember when people used to say boss, when they were describing something that was really cool like, those shoulder pads are really boss man… Look at that perm, that perm is so boss. It’s what made me want to become a boss. And I looked so good in a perm and shoulder pads. But now, boss is just slang for jerk in charge.

    Michael: It’s not! It’s not offensive during a roast! Anything goes! I want you guys to really get crackin on this. I want you to take me down. Don’t hold back. I want you to really make fun of anything about me. It could be my race, could be the fact that I’m so fit, or I’m a womanizer… fair game. Whatever. I don’t want to write your stuff for you, but I just want it to be good.

    Michael: Whoo!! Welcome welcome welcome welcome welcome. You are all jerks. Just kidding, not yet anyway. Welcome to the roast of Mr. Michael Scott. If you’re here for the Grabowski wedding, it is the second door on the left. [Creed looks around] So, we all know how these work, needs to get crazy, take your best shot. I am going to sit right here on my chair and… ah… whoever wants to come up and roast me, you may. [Angela jumps up] Ok… lower the mic for the midget.

    Kelly: I have made a list of people that I would make out with before I would make out with Michael Scott. A turtle, a fridge, anybody from the warehouse, a woodchipper, Kevin, a candle, and Lord Voldemort. Anyway, Happy Birthday Michael.

    Pam: Well I just want to take a minute to talk to you all about something very serious. Once every hour, someone is involved in an internet scam. That man is Michael Scott. [laughter] He’s supporting about 20 Nigerian princesses.

    Pam: Well, ya know, Michael is a great delegator. He never does any work himself. Ever. And one time, I walked in on him naked, and his thing is so small. [quickly walks off stage] If it were an iPod it would be a shuffle! [clapping, laughter]