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Thank god for Dwight's latest evil plan to take down Jim. I know The Office is known for creating uncomfortable situations with Michael Scott in the middle of it, but this one may have just taken the cake. Once you involve kids in the mix, and ten years of hopes and dreams. I found myself pausing my DVR because I wasn't ready to face the music either.
The writing in this episode was simply top-notch. There was a perfect balance between Michael's disastrous final check-up with "Scott's Tots" and the new "Employee of the Month" initiative that Dwight -- I mean Andy -- came up with. I'm going to give Dwight his props on this one, too. It may be one of the most brilliant plans he's ever come up with, and it was perfectly poised to work, too.
The idea was simple enough. Convince Andy to propose the "Employee of the Month" idea to Jim as a way to boost morale. Then, come up with an anonymous spreadsheet that can tally people's scores in various performance-related categories. Make sure the figures are stacked so the clear leader is Jim, so he'll pick himself without even knowing it. Also make sure his wife has the second most impressive scores. Then, behind Jim's back, collect money for the winner from everyone in the office and say it was Jim's suggestion. Then, when he announces the winner by number, reveal that he just picked himself. Of course, he'll eliminate himself from the competition, and turn around and reward the prize to his wife. At this point, the office is loathing every bit of him. Finally, have a pre-ordered cake arrive with Jim's face plastered on it as congratulations to seal his fate. Then, call up Jim's boss and pretend to be various people in the office complaining about Jim's obviously self-congratulatory "Employee of the Moth" plan. Simple, right?
And it would have, nay, should have worked, if not for the fact that apparently somewhere along the way David Wallace and Jim had become friends. All of this was great, and much appreciated diversions from the heartache happening across town.
Michael is all heart. In fact, his heart may be so big that it pushed out his brain. Why else would he offer to pay for college for an entire classroom full of third grade kids. Stanley's reaction upon realizing that it was now ten years since Michael had done this was priceless. Sheer, joyous laughter.
When he was finally convinced to go, it became even more disconcerting upon realizing that he'd been keeping up with these kids in the interim, as if he still believed that he'd be able to fulfill the promise he'd made. Of course, ever the optimist, he probably did. The build-up to his inevitable admission that he can't put any of them through college just got worse and worse.
The kids made up a song and dance for him, they proceeded to give speeches and heap praise upon him, and then they called him up to speak. I honestly don't know who was more uncomfortable at that moment: him or me. But he finally got the admission out, and received the expected response from the kids and teachers present.
It was a sweet gesture at the end, when he agreed to pay for the books for one kid, but that's just one kid. Props to Erin, though, for realizing what I kept wanting Michael to say to the kids. The promise alone was enough to show them that they could persevere through high school, resisting the temptations of the easy way out. He did give them a valuable lesson about their strength within, but it was one that Erin and we at home could see.
Erin's growing on me. Her innocence is a great addition to the bitterness and anger that permeates throughout the office. It's a sweet innocence that I hope the others don't destroy completely. I was glad to see her get some validation from Michael this week.