I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out.
I actually have some parts already written like "Andy's Ancestry", "Work Bus" and even bits of "Junior Salesman" just to make sure I know where the heck this is going.
“… and you are gonna get the best sex of your life.” — Roy Anderson
“Wow, Newsweek, huh? This election. Crazy, right?” Clark says with a wink at Erin.
That’s another thing Clark and Dwight have in common: they have no understanding about how women work. It comes with being sheltered as a kid and not going to parties in high school. Not that he wasn’t invited, but his parents maintained that his studies were more important. What he gained in drive and business skills he’s had to sacrifice knowing how people, specifically women, work.
Pete just sees this and was just… embarrassed for him. Sure, there’s something about Erin that was attractive, captivating even, but he’s not wanting to pursue a relationship after how the last one ended. Besides, he knows she’s seeing someone.
It gets more embarrassing during their lunch break.
“Duncan, listen, I would love to help you out, but where I’m gonna find someone that’s pretty, smart, and well informed, huh?”
Pete knows where this was going. “What are you doing?”, he whispers.
“Shh,” Clark shushes, “Hold on. Erin.” He gets her attention, telling her that he knows a local news producer. She’s flattered at the opportunity, but she answers she’ll think about it. Clark pounds Pete’s arm in celebration.
“No, Clark’s not my friend,” Pete answers the interviewer, “He’s the guy I work with in the office. I think the best part about this whole plan of his is… I doubt he knows that Erin and Andy are a couple.”
The truth comes out when Erin stops by Andy’s office.
“Clark wants to film you in different outfits inside his apartment?” Andy asks.
“Yeah,” Erin confirms.
The next thing Clark knows Andy is at his desk.
“Clark! You and I need to have a little chat,” Andy announces to him, hiding his anger.
Clark freezes. He knows he’s screwed up somehow with what he’s doing. Was it that one spreadsheet he didn’t pay enough attention to?
“You’re aware that Erin and I are kinda like a thing?” Andy asks.
The phrase Oh, God is the only thing that Clark can conjure in his head.
“Like, we have been for a looong time,” Andy emphasizes with condemnation.
Clark struggles to formulate a coherent sentence “Listen I’m so sorry, I didn’t know—”
“Look, as the Nard Dog, my instinct was to eat your head off. But, hey, you’re the new guy and you didn’t know. You’re pretty chill. And might I say, you have a superrrb taste in women. But just… keep that in mind, alright?” he says, raising his eyebrows so he can get the picture.
“Yessir.” Clark immediately felt better.
Andy cordially nods and walks off, and sees Pete walking back to his desk with some copies. He greets him with an “Italiano!” and a pat on the shoulder. Pete returns it with a slight smile and nod.
Clark walks up to Pete. “Did you know?”
“In this case, I felt it was best that you learned from experience.”
“God, what is wrong with me?”
“You tell me.”
“I mean, you know about women, right?”
He pauses, “I guess.”
“Do you know anything about, you know,” Clark tries to find the right term, “the art of seduction?”
Pete just sighs in disbelief. “Clark, do you need a relationship right now? Like, need need?”
“Not really,” he answers, “but... look at her, man.”
Pete agreed in his head, but pressed on, “Clark, you told me when we first met that you want to be a full-time paper salesman instead of a temp. Do you still want that?”
“Just focus on that. Romance comes in your life when you least expect it, and you don’t have control over that. But this,” Pete emphasizes, pointing at the office floor, “this is something you do have control over. And it’s something you want. You get me?”
Clark smiles, “I do.” He stretches his hand out for a handshake, “Thanks, man.”
“No prob,” Pete says as he smiles and returns the handshake.
“Y’know,” Pete tells the interviewers, “Clark… he’s okay.”
When Erin finds out the whole news job was all a rouse, she still thinks it’ll be fun to at least try it out!
After getting back from his close friend Roy’s wedding, Darryl Philbin, the new A.R.M. (Andy’s “Consigliere”), is tasked with helping Erin pursue newscasting. He’s basically working under Andy, who seems to be more calm and collected after he came back. However, given the other employees, it’s still a juggling act.
Honestly, it’s extremely hard to watch. But seeing Andy supporting Erin was kinda sweet. Most of the office has to admit, after everything he’s gone through in the past year, Andy’s become much more stable, friendly and kind… well you know, for Andy Bernard. It helps that he’s a performer, so he can coach her on her presentation, even though he gives some very bad advice.
Erin sends the audition tape. She doesn’t get the job, but to be honest, it was fun while it lasted.
Nellie knows she has to impress Andy. He’s still mad at her, since he’s turned down all of her projects thus far. Didn’t he say he wanted her to be good at her job?
But Pam has an idea. As they were casually chatting in the break room, she advises her to find something he would refuse to say no to, lest he look bad. And at that moment, inspiration struck.
A charity initiative. Operation Give-Back. This way, the workers themselves can have a hand in the charities, with $4000 to give away. Stanley chooses the American Diabetes Association; Angela is shocked that he could be so selfish since he has diabetes, but of course it ends up being the only one that makes sense after hearing other suggestions.
Though Dwight is unwilling to participate, Andy pipes up with the charity he chooses to donate, and when Nellie compliments him on his choice, he simply nods and holds his tongue. As much as he wants to say that he’s not doing this for her and rather to preserve nautical flag signaling, he figures it would both demotivate Nellie from pursuing an admittedly novel idea… and upset Erin.
Dwight is forced to participate, and he chooses the Global Relief Foundation, a front for the Taliban as he reveals smugly. Everyone just yells at him disapprovingly that anyone would ever consider contributing to the Taliban (though they do provide great heroin, just ask Creed), and with that in mind he refuses to donate unless they agree on his suggestion.
Nellie’s stuck once again, but then she thinks of something. She’ll convince Dwight to switch charities if he is willing to live by Taliban Law in Dunder Mifflin. And, naturally, he says yes, and she thinks she’s one-upped him (the use of a silly font helped). And the moment she’s confident she’s succeeded is the moment she dares him to cut off her hand. But she doesn’t expect him to be so eager about it.
Darryl, knowing he has to stop these two nutcases from committing an HR nightmare, provides them with an inspirational movie to prevent this from happening, and he knew just the one: 127 Hours.
And, it actually works. Nellie might have just found another friend.
Angela rants about Dwight yet again. His stubbornness is the one thing she hates about him. Telling her he had to kill Sprinkles because that’s what he did with the barn animals, her clearly over him and him trying to get her back while she was with Andy (though she admits that was a mistake), everything involving their contract. She is much happier with Lipton, as she brags about him to Oscar while in the break room. He reads his newspaper, attempting to drown out her gushing.
“And you know? Despite being married over a year, we still have mystery. I’m always waiting to see what he’s gonna surprise me with next.”
This causes Oscar’s coffee to go down the wrong pipe, her sensing he’s clearly hiding something. She has a ridiculous idea of what it could be, but she knows in her heart of hearts it’s ludicrous. Because that would never happen.
And even if it is happening, she’ll keep up the facade anyway.
Pam’s Chore Wheel was her most ambitious project as office admin yet. Trying to motivate the entire staff to clean up the place was an uphill battle; she still blames Dwight for being too cheap to get a replacement janitor. To be fair, pitching in to help around and pick up after yourself is something that is taught in preschool. She attempted to make assigning duties more exciting with a wheel, and succeeded… in a way. Jim simply told her she had no choice than to embrace the madness and just make the wheel fun, because he knows the place like the back of his hand. They’re not gonna do anything requiring the slightest bit of effort. But then she had the idea of slipping in the “Tiny Wheel” to get the others to clean, and he complimented her on its brilliance.
Kevin was just happy Pam finally understands wheels.
Jim was shocked how into this little project Pam was. I mean, it’s a chore wheel, it’s not that exciting. And yet he saw the same face she makes when deep in one of her art pieces. The brainstorming, the concentration, the moment her face lights up when she succeeds. He loves seeing that from her, no matter how mundane the project may seem.
He relented that he made the right call. And he is more than happy with his choice. However, he can’t help but want that kind of motivation and drive Pam has for himself... and it could never be found in Dunder Mifflin.
Until the day he and Pam go to her ex-fiancé’s wedding on a weekday at 8 AM. Yes, Roy Anderson found the love of his life and is getting married this morning. After months of knowing about it he’s still weirded out by the whole thing. And the morning just gets weirder and weirder from there.
A luxurious house.
Butlers handing out free mimosas.
A $50,000 sports car.
How on God’s green earth is this Roy Anderson’s wedding?
The exchange with Roy isn’t as awkward as Jim was fearing, but it proves to be more cutting than anything. Roy has everything he’s ever wanted: his own gravel company, a beautiful wife who owns a restaurant, and, well, a $50,000 sports car.
“How about you, what’re you doing?” Roy asked curiously.
“Ah, you know, same old same old,” Jim answers.
“Wait, Dunder Mifflin?”
“Yup. Same desk and everything.”
“Wow. You know, I figured you’d be doing something in sports, like being an agent or something.” Jim, once again, wants to punch Roy; the worst part is it’s not even Roy’s fault.
“Well there is this company—”
Jim’s suddenly interrupted by Roy’s brother, Ken, who brags about his brother’s sports car like he’s been doing to all the other guests. Jim laments in his head that there isn’t a way to just vanish from existence until the wedding’s over.
Pam is just as shocked at what’s happening around her. She looks around at the amazing decor, the variety of hor d’oeuvres, the mimosa she’s still holding in her hand. And not a hot dog in sight.
She meets Laura Anderson and the exchange is, surprisingly, not awkward at all. She’s so pretty and accomplished, and is just so happy to have someone like Roy in her life. As beautiful and all-too-relatable as that sentiment is to Pam, it makes her think back to her relationship with Roy. They were both so unhappy, so drained of energy and motivation. He didn’t try and she didn’t expect him to. And this thought echoes in her mind: was it Roy holding her back… or the other way around?
And, of course, Roy plays the piano now too. And he’s singing. I mean, he’s not the next American Idol, but the fact that he’s been taking all these lessons… both Jim and Pam are witnessing some sort of Bizarro Roy. It doesn’t help that Phyllis and Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration are having a full-on make-out sesh not even a foot away from them.
Pam posits the running thoughts in her head as a question to Jim on their way to work. “Am I holding you back?”
Jim looks back at her, curious. “What?”
“I mean, for so long Roy and I kept each other from pursuing what we really needed, and… I was afraid that—”
“Is this about Athlead?”
She couldn’t lie to either him or herself. “A little.”
“Look,” he reassures, “we talked about this. I’m not doing it.” Right now. “And I don’t want to do it if you’re not one hundred percent behind it.” But one day you will be.
“Okay good,” she sighs in relief as he parked the car. She doesn’t want anything else, nor need anything else. And she’s glad he doesn’t either. “And I mean, we’re married, have two kids, stable careers… we have everything we always wanted.”
His mind goes back to calling Mark and begging him for the position. Yet again.
When they get inside, they just continue on as if everything is normal. As he sits at his desk, he looks at the various family photos he has, and even the picture of the two of them from around 3 months after they started dating, to remind himself why he had to say no.
Pam couldn’t help but ask, “Everything good?”
She’s perceptive like that. He has to reassure her, just like he’s reassuring himself. He does so through a wide smile, which was genuine but still a tad forced.
Both smile brightly at each other, then return to their work. But she still has her suspicions...
I took out the "surprises" subplot for two reasons: 1. there is no real "secret" Jim is keeping from Pam (in a way there is but that's addressed later) and 2. reincorporation.
I'll be taking a break to focus on other priorities, but this story will be finished at some point, hopefully during 2020.
NEXT TIME: Andy turns out to be an actual relative of Frederick Douglass, Nellie and Pam officially become friends, and Darryl gets fed up.