Basically, my plan is to watch the episode first, then pen each chapter around it. It's not the most efficient way to write this story, but it'll be fun to see where the canon ends and the AU begins in real time. This will probably end up being my least favorite chapter, since it's all plot summary, but I wanted to characterize Pete and Clark a lot more, as well as try to humanize Andy a bit more. He's always been vindictive, but not heartless, and I really wanted to capture the Andy from S4-S8.
"It is a message. It is an inspiration. It is a source of beauty. And without paper… it could not have happened. Unless you had a camera." — Michael Scott
The doc crew is back, and not a moment too soon. Andy’s return will be one of the highlights of this final season. But, to be honest, the crew doesn’t understand why PBS wants another season. They feel as if the Sabre buyout was enough. And there's no way they will ever be able to top the pure insanity and sexual drive of Robert California’s stint as CEO of Sabre and practically burning the company to the ground.
But they’re just the doc crew, they don’t have a say in any of it.
In retrospect, however, they’re glad it was renewed for one more season.
Andy’s arrival is met with a hug from Erin, fear from Nellie and silence from the rest of the office. Andy is forever changed from his stint at summer camp.
“The things we think we need. Clocks! Yeah, right,” Andy states with conviction.
“It sounds amazing! Tell us all about it!” Nellie chirps up, aiming to gain some brownie points. She is promptly ignored.
“New guys! Clark, and…”
“Pete,” he answered
“Nah man, In Outward Bound was all about nicknames, they called me ‘The Iceman’.” He looks down at Jim and inspiration struck. “Hey, what’s your favorite sandwich?” he asks Pete.
“Um… I guess Italian?”
“Italian it is!”
Pete just stands there, dumbfounded.
Andy points to Clark. “And you will be ‘Fart’, because you fart all the time.”
Clark desperately wants to be liked by the boss. “I love it!”
“Actually, Andy, we call this one ‘Dwight Jr.’,” Darryl states amusingly.
He immediately hates it. He doesn’t want his inspiration to be associated with him, lest he’d write him off as some amateur, or worse, competition. It quickly becomes the latter.
“No, I prefer Fart.”
“No! Dwight Jr.!” Andy agrees, “Infinitely better! You guys look exactly alike! Dwight, go stand next to him!”
Dwight obeys, much to Clark’s embarrassment.
“I don’t see it,” Dwight states. Clark wants to be anywhere else at this moment.
“I don’t either,” Clark nervously agrees, “I-I don’t either.”
Andy analyzes them.
“Mind blown! It’s like you’re father and son!”
And that sentence gets Dwight thinking… despite his apathy towards Clark at first, he quickly takes notice of this comparison… and sees an opportunity.
He may not have a genetic legacy, but he could have a legacy nonetheless.
“Dwight, you cool if we call him Dwight Jr.?” Andy asks.
He is met with an emphatic “Yes” from Dwight, who proceeds to wrap his arm around him and attempts to give him a noogie. Clark is embarrassed, but in a way, flattered.
All the while, Angela just watches on in disgust, as with most everything she encounters in this office.
Andy then looks at Nellie and tells her “See me in my office later.” He doesn’t say it maliciously, so to her, that’s a good sign.
“Hey, New Jim,” Meredith shouted from across the room, “come sit on my face!” She’s the only one who calls him that.
“No, Pete is not the New Jim,” Jim tells the interviewer, “The only thing we have in common is that we don’t want to sit on Meredith’s face. And if that makes him the New Jim then every human being in the world is the New Jim.”
That wasn’t the only thing they have in common. Pete’s presence offers the opportunity for a new perspective, a new everyman.
That was Jim for years. The office consciousness. The one that sees beyond all the insanity and takes it in stride. He’s witty, charming, and the only one besides Pam and Oscar that seemed to be able to make sense of all this. And he still is. But, eventually… Jim just stopped commenting on all the insanity. It came with time, he just… got used to it. It became monotonous, a checklist.
Is Kevin gonna say something stupid? Yup.
Is Andy gonna sing a song so loudly that it could be heard from the break room, even though he’s in his office? Yup.
Is Dwight gonna annoy the hell out of everyone and possibly endanger them and himself in the process? Yup.
Creed’s existence? Yup.
And it makes sense, when one is exposed to enough crazy, it becomes normal. Besides, with a wife and two kids the last thing on his mind would be whatever any of those asylum patients would be doing. So someone new has to be exposed to the madhouse that is Dunder Mifflin Scranton.
That person, that New Jim, is Peter Miller.
“So this paper company needed a Customer Service Rep, I applied, got the job and now I’m here!” Pete nonchalantly tells the interviewer.
“What’re your first impressions of DM Scranton?” They asked.
“Well, it’s… just an office building. The people here seem friendly and the job pays decently enough, so I’m not sure this will have any “wacky misadventures” or whatever.”
Pete was not having the best day so far. After seeing his boss humiliate an innocent worker, trying to bond with another worker with sports and failing miserably, and then meeting with a woman trying to force her cat onto him, it was a weird series of unfortunate events.
At the end of the day, The doc crew manages to catch him before he gets in his car.
“Apparently, in this company that sells paper, one is allowed to makeshift a bike trapeze act. So this is what I signed up for.”
Nellie walks into Andy’s office, looking like a deer perpetually caught in headlights.
“Helen Bertram,” he begins.
“Andrew Bernard,” she returns.
There is an awkward pause for what feels like 30 minutes, even though it’s been three seconds.
“Look,” Nellie begins, “I know I messed up and I understand why you’re livid with me but I need this job to work, and I know I can offer—”
“I’m not firing you,” He interrupts.
She’s dumbfounded. “Really?”
“Oh, I hate you, loathe you in fact,” he emphasizes, “But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Adventure, it’s to give others a second chance, even when they’ve wronged you.”
All she can think is My God, how is he acting so reasonable? Is this really Andy?
“If this company is gonna survive, it needs new ideas. Better ideas. And I know you have what it takes. And, contrary to popular belief, I don’t want you to fail at your job.”
She gets up and reaches for his hand. “I won’t let you down, Andy, I promise.”
He, reluctantly, returns it. “Now, you have a job to do. Get the hell out of my office.”
“Yes, sir!” she states emphatically. As she walks back to her desk, he’s shooting daggers at her.
“I meant what I said,” he later tells the interviewer, “I don’t want to see her fail at her job. But I would like to see her fail at other things.” He then gives a sinister, toothy, Bernard grin.
In true Michael Scott fashion, Andy interrupts the entire work day just for them to do a dumb activity, only this time it’s outdoors. It was called ‘slack lining’, and although he never mentions anyone by name in his motivational introduction to the activity, she knows where this was going. After being motivated by her coworkers, doing it in heels no less, he just pushes her down with a proud “You suck!”
The others just watch her in mutual embarrassment. Pam has half a mind to chew him out (she kinda sees her as a friend, after all) but she knows someone else would eventually do it. Most likely Erin, who just looks at him in shock. She knows Nellie is not his favorite person, and for good reason. But why go out of his way to make her unhappy?
He plans to surround her desk with waste baskets, but Erin points out that it’ll distract her from doing her job. He begrudgingly concedes and puts them back in their place.
“Hello, I’m Clark, I’m 22 years young, and I’m the new temp here.” He shrugs. “And that’s it really.”
Clark Green is a bright young lad. He’s smart, driven, helpful, and creative. Many call him Dwight Jr. behind his back because, if you squint hard enough, he would resemble a Schrute.
But that’s not what makes him Dwight Jr.
What makes him Dwight Jr. is his passion for the paper-selling business. He was a sheltered child. He’s not very good with people skills, is quiet, and can be very awkward (not unlike Dwight himself). However, his reason for wanting to sell paper of all things is because he loves paper. To him, one can do anything with it. Computers can’t recreate a genuine hand-written message, or a beautiful painting, or a physical piece of sculpture. Paper is vital to all of that. And he wants to provide that experience to as many people as possible.
So when the temp agency sent him to Dunder Mifflin Scranton, the most prominent and best-running branch of the company, he hit the lottery. He now sits at the temp desk, looking forward to climbing up the ladder.
And, naturally, the one employee he aspires to be the most is Dwight himself. He’s the best salesman in the branch and has the same drive and enthusiasm he has.
Dwight thinks nothing of the temp… at first. Things shift after Andy’s return, as Dwight beams with pride after he was compared to the temp. Maybe he can have a son.
Dwight continually attempts to bond with Clark, leaving him awkward… mostly because he never realized just how more awkward Dwight is than him. Still, he’s his foot in the door, and someone he respected.
He’s so desperate to go into sales, to hit the ground running, so he accepts this weird paternal thing Dwight has going on. And then he mentions that he wants to take a look at the list of his clients. This is his his fatal mistake.
He goes from “Dwight Jr.” to “a shark hiding in that adorable little cherub” in a matter of seconds. Seconds! It doesn’t help that Jim is playing into his paranoia for a laugh.
So much for climbing that ladder.
His luck would change later that day, when Clark is next in the slack lining activity. Andy, not blinded by vengeance towards the new guy, actually supports him and sees him doing it, and Clark is met with a round of applause by his peers. (It helps that he has gigantic inner-ears.) It feels good.
“Go, Dwight Jr.!” he hears Darryl yell. Maybe it’s not such a bad nickname.
Until he remembers Dwight Sr. is right there, the only one booing him.
“Alright, let’s see you do it,” Clark dares, getting real sick of his attitude.
Dwight, in his attempt to one up the temp “trying to steal his job”, keeps failing miserably, to the point where the office is basically just watching him break his dignity, and eventually his mouth.
The man who Clark aspired to be like one day befriended him, betrayed him, and failed to humiliate him all in the same day. He thought this was about paper.
Later on, Pam gets a text, and climbs to the ceiling, only to see Dwight make the dumbest and most dangerous decision since the fire drill.
Dwight manages to get halfway through the tightrope on his trapeze bike, using a photocopier as the balance, and it suddenly turns the other way. It was not one of his better plans.
And Clark just stands there, looking up at a struggling Dwight, and wonders what the hell he ever saw in him.
The accountants go by their usual business, and — of course — Angela brings up her cats. She needs to find one of her precious furballs, Comstock, a new home. Kevin tries to take him, but is denied due to the turtle incident. So she then decides on her only gay friend (who she “prays for every night”), Oscar Martinez.
Oscar is proud of a lot of things. Of his job, of his heritage, of his homosexuality. They don’t define him as a person, but they are attributes he appreciates about himself.
But this? There is nothing to be proud of here. He’s in an affair. An affair with her husband, Senator Robert Lipton (R). And she’s none the wiser. Every time he sees him, he can’t help but repeat two statements in his head. Those are:
“How could you do this to her? To your own wife? The mother of your child?”
“Wow, he’s hot.”
Then he realizes… it takes two. How could you do this, Oscar? To your own friend? One who would give away a beloved pet to you, free of charge?
The guilt eats him so much that he had to come up with something to avoid looking at that adorable face and be riddled with even more guilt every time.
His response is simply “I’m a dog person.”
After seeing her constantly trying to give up her cat all day, pushing him into doing it, he relents and takes the cat in. She sadly admits that he and Lipton can’t say goodbye because of his “business dinner”.
That’s all it is. A business dinner.
Comstock will be happy to see both Oscar and Lipton during the business dinner.
Dwight is relying on Pam to be a “counterweight” for his bicycle trapeze plan, telling her she needs more excitement in her life. She shouts (while flaunting about her weight loss) that she intends to live her boring life and not risk losing it, because she just so happens to like it.
Oh, the difference five months will make.
At the start of the workday, everyone is interviewed about their summer. The interviews consist of Dwight’s new energy drink and finding out he’s not Phillip’s father, Erin’s excitement about Andy coming back today, Kevin’s dead turtle misadventures, Toby filling in on what happened to Kelly and Ryan and their replacements, and — of course — Jim and Pam’s going ons. They mention Athlead, and Mark was quite disappointed that he wouldn’t jump in, though he fully understood why. Mark is a bachelor, so he doesn’t understand the pressures of fatherhood. As recompense, he promised them both “An Altima or better”.
This statement Jim makes has him question his decision to back out of Athlead once he says it out loud:
“But watch this guy make a billion dollars off of my idea.”
But it isn’t his idea, he quickly reminds himself immediately after he says that, it’s theirs. Why would he not be happy for his friend building something amazing from the ground up? The only possible reason why he wouldn’t… is that he’s not involved. That he can’t be.
It doesn’t help that Mama Beesly steps in after the interview ended.
“Well… I don’t think anything’s gonna change in our lives now. With work and two kids… nothing interesting is gonna happen to us for a long long time.”
The camera makes sure to capture his regret.
Throughout the day Jim continues the monotony of his everyday work environment. He loves amping up Dwight’s paranoia, but again, it’s another check off the list. He sees Andy make an ass of himself towards Nellie, and all he thinks is “can we just go back to work now?”; this is a phrase he never thought he’d say, let alone think, but he does. He tries to bond with Pete, one of the new guys and fails, so he can’t even have a new friend. One thing he does enjoy watching is Clark’s slack lining attempt. The guy seems like a chill dude. Why he would be associated with Dwight is anyone’s guess. He hopes the office won’t get to Clark like it did him.
As Jim stands behind the copier, he overhears Pete list off his dreams and aspirations for a cat he doesn’t even want. The camera takes notice of this.
“Oh come on, Pete!”, Jim says to the interviewer, “God that’s just sad. If he doesn’t watch himself he’s gonna be here for years! Doing nothing!” He just sits there, fiddling with his hands, being crushed by the reality of those words. “Wow, maybe Pete is the New Jim.”
The day is over, and Pam is set to go, but Jim needs to make a “quick call” first. Pam doesn’t appear to be suspect.
He deep breathes, worried what would result from this. But he doesn’t care anymore, he needs out.
He dials the numbers.
“Have you given any more thought to the transfer?”
“I’m in love with you.”
“Jim I called off my wedding because of you. And now we’re not even friends.”
“There were a lot of reasons to call off my wedding. But the truth is I didn’t care about any of those reasons until I met you.”
His finger is hovering over the call button.
“Hey, I know where my priorities lie. And they’re not in Athlead.”
He hangs up the phone and puts his head in his hands, upset he would even consider it. He’s not doing this to her. Not again.
Mark goes with the other guy. At least they’ll get that Altima.
The work day ends with Creed talking about his time at the circus located in a dog food company.
So yup, that's where I'm going with this. The more this mess trudges on, the more it will evolve into a Jim and Pam story. It is one, I promise.
NEXT TIME: Jim and Roy have an amicable reunion, the new guys begin to bond, and the entire office follows Taliban law for the day.