“Over the course of nearly a decade, the camera crew filmed well over two years’ worth of raw footage, of which fewer than 100 hours was ever released as ‘The Office: An American Workplace.’ Little of what was left on the cutting room floor was preserved, and less has been made available for review. What does remain frequently reinforces the subjects’ complaints that nuance and accuracy were sacrificed for the sake of specific narratives, entertainment and commercial appeal.
“However, other clips offer support for some of the documentarians’ editing choices that seem less well-founded in what was ultimately produced – film that was for various reasons unusable but offers crucial context for why they portrayed their subjects as they did. A transcript of material shot in early May 2007, obtained in the course of my research and reproduced in its entirety for the first time with permission by its subjects, serves as an explanation for the direction of the documentary in the third ‘season,’ and also provides insight into the practical and ethical challenges the documentarians faced even when telling this ‘story’ honestly.” – Carl Schurz, “Like Your Own Co-Workers: Re-Examining The Office Phenomenon”
* * *
We open with a wide shot of the BULLPEN and RECEPTION. PAM is at her usual spot. JIM and DWIGHT are away from their desks. KAREN and ANDY are on the phone. PHYLLIS is filling out order forms. STANLEY is writing an email. RYAN is… clearly playing Minesweeper. He nods at the camera as they zoom in on him.
A YOUNG WOMAN enters the front door of the office. She is in her early 20s and wears hipster glasses, a beanie, a flannel shirt, jeans and what probably used to be running shoes back when it was still legal to call them “shoes.” She has a grey backpack hanging off one shoulder. She’s tall, with wavy, unruly brown hair spilling out from under her hat down to below surprisingly broad shoulders. She has eyes to die for, paired with an unfortunately large nose and ears and a frankly masculine-looking jawline. In other words, we recognize that this YOUNG WOMAN is a close relation of JIM HALPERT even before PAM glances away from her monitor, widens her eyes in surprise, brightens, rises, crosses in front of RECEPTION and says:
PAM (hey, a friend!):
LARISSA (stiffly, with a smile that does not reach her eyes and isn’t trying to):
Hi, Pam. How are you?
PAM’s smile fades a little, as she remembers that oh yeah, LARISSA probably isn’t all that happy to see her.
Good, good. I didn’t know you were in town.
LARISSA (of course you didn’t):
Yep. The big guy promised to take me out for lunch.
Great! Well, he’s out on a sales call, so…
If pained silences were poisonous, PHYLLIS would be calling 911 right about now. PHYLLIS is watching with rapt attention, by the way… as is the still-occupied KAREN, who is forced to ask her customer to repeat themselves.
PAM (decides to pretend that this isn’t as awkward as LARISSA is making it):
So are you hitting Hennessy’s?
LARISSA (a little more genuine):
Why else would I come back to Scranton? Jim can travel. The best corned beef in Lackawanna County can only be found right here.
Still, I’m surprised you can find the time. You graduate in what, a few weeks?
Yeah, that’s the real reason I’m here, honestly. Jim’s letting me crash at his place so I can finish my thesis in peace.
He’s a good brother.
Wrong thing to say. Close on LARISSA, who really doesn’t need commentary on her beloved big brother’s character from the girl in the periwinkle dress.
He is. And with the transfers and everything, I haven’t seen him much this year.
PAM… has no response to that. She opens her mouth to speak and quickly closes it again. Probably the smart move.
Cut to PAM talking head in the conference room.
Larissa is Jim’s little sister. She’s a physics major at the University of Pennsylvania, super smart, really funny. She takes after Jim a lot. The two of them are close, so I’ve hung out with her a bit. She always comes up for his birthday, and she’s back every summer. (Pam’s face falls.) I, uh… I haven’t talked to her in a while.
We return to the awkwardness already in progress by RECEPTION.
PAM (tries to recover):
Have you heard about grad school yet?
Yeah, I’m staying at Penn.
Under the next exchange, we cut to KAREN, who continues to keep a close and unhappy eye on this conversation – which isn’t helping her attempts to wrap up this call so she can join it.
PAM (excited for her):
That was your first choice, right?
Yeah. It’s a great program, and I really like the professors I’ve been working with.
Congrats, Riss. I’m happy for you.
LARISSA (pauses, decides to give her this one):
KAREN has finally finished her call and walks right in like everyone’s just been waiting for her to show up – which, to be fair, LARISSA in fact was.
Hi, Karen Filippelli. You must be Larissa! Nice to meet you.
LARISSA (shakes her hand):
Nice to meet you too. The famous Filippelli! I was beginning to wonder if Jim made you up.
Unfortunately, since PAM has come out from behind her desk to what used to be JIM’s standard spot, she is now caught between KAREN and LARISSA and would have to cut between them or nudge LARISSA out of the way to get back to her station. We watch her realize this as KAREN and LARISSA chat, and look straight to camera as if to ask for help.
Cut to KAREN talking head in the conference room.
Yeah, Jim’s close with his sister. I think he talks to her more than anybody. His parents are over on the West Side. He usually goes by there for dinner once a week.
We cut back to the conversation at RECEPTION… which is silent but we can see is now dominated by KAREN, and which PAM is still stuck in the middle of.
I hadn’t met any his family before. Which is fine, he’s never done the “introduce the girlfriend to the parents” thing. We’re headed towards that place. I’m happy with how things are going.
KAREN (in the shot):
Right? Such a guy.
LARISSA (politely – we have no idea what she thinks of KAREN, and PAM and KAREN don’t either):
The THREE WOMEN look towards the front door where a well put-together JIM has just entered and is taking in the scene – his girlfriend, his sister, and his… PAM all standing by RECEPTION waiting to greet him.
JIM (has had this exact nightmare):
LARISSA (is a happy girl!):
That’s the hello I get?
JIM (faux long-suffering):
Fine. Come here.
The siblings glomp each other. LARISSA pulls back and holds JIM at arm’s length to inspect him. JIM smiles fondly at her while she takes in his post-Stamford look… and immediately reaches up to muss his carefully-done sales call hair.
JIM (slapping her hands away):
PAM is trying and failing to hide how amused she is by this. KAREN is… nonplussed.
Do not start with me. Hey, can I take you shoe shopping while you’re here?
LARISSA (how dare you):
These are comfortable!
They can’t possibly be.
LARISSA sticks out her tongue at him.
So… I thought we were meeting at the diner?
LARISSA (this would totally be believable if she weren’t a HALPERT):
Oh, I got in a little early, figured I’d stop by. You know, see if Kelly’s single yet.
Camera zooms in on RYAN, who definitely doesn’t know what to make of that.
Plus, I got to meet your girlfriend! Now I can tell Tom and Pete you aren’t just pulling pictures off the Internet!
Zoom in on JIM, who is catching on that she is doing this on purpose.
Nope. She is very real.
KAREN (doesn’t know what’s going on and doesn’t like it):
So, where are you two headed?
Hennessy’s, over on Washington Ave.
Oh, I love that place! The Italian sub is to die for.
Another pause. JIM’S uncomfortable. PAM’s uncomfortable. KAREN is dying inside. LARISSA… might just be enjoying herself.
Well… we should get going.
It was nice to meet you, Karen.
KAREN (covering her disappointment):
Bye, Pam. Tell Kelly I said hey.
Camera zooms in on RYAN again, who turns towards the now-exiting LARISSA and JIM.
KAREN and PAM are left alone by RECEPTION. PAM smiles politely. KAREN curtly nods in acknowledgement, and does a 180 back to her DESK CLUSTER without saying a word. PAM watches her go, then turns towards the door and sighs, absent-mindedly popping a few jelly beans into her mouth.
Cut to KAREN talking head in the conference room.
KAREN (shattering the lie detector):
Sure, an invite to lunch would have been nice, but I know they haven’t seen each other in a while, they probably just want some time to catch up. I’m not reading anything into it.
Cut to PAM talking head in the conference room.
Look, I don’t have anything to add. But can I stay in here for a minute? I need a breather.
Cut to the PARKING LOT, where we are following JIM and LARISSA at a distance as they walk to JIM’S SAAB.
LARISSA (quieter, with distinctly lower sound quality than JIM):
No, you handled that real well, I thought. You are in no way in trouble with the missus.
I begged Mom and Dad to leave you at a fire station.
You adored me from the moment I was born, and I have home movies to prove it. (JIM laughs.) Seriously, if she knew how to blink “invite me to come with” in Morse code, she would’ve been doing it. You couldn’t throw the girl a bone?
JIM mutters something under his breath as they split up and walk to their respective car doors.
JIM (opens the driver’s side door and glares at LARISSA over the top of the car):
I actually wanted to get in some quality time with you, although I’ve now totally forgotten why. And I knew she’d want to join us, which is why I said for you to meet me at Hennessy’s, so that we could avoid exactly what just happened.
Yeah, I figured, which is why I showed up at the office.
Not too late for me to tell Mom you’re in town.
He gets into the CAR.
Dude! Too far!
LARISSA climbs in herself. The SAAB pulls out of the parking lot.
The camera view suddenly drops, as if the OPERATOR had taken it off their shoulder. The view begins to bounce up and down as the OPERATOR hurries across the PARKING LOT towards a non-descript VAN.
MALE VOICE #1:
Come on! Hustle, hustle, hustle.
MALE VOICE #2 (CAMERAMAN MIKE KELLER):
Relax, we know where we’re going.