I know, it wasn't it a typical episode on Thursday. But it was also both extremely funny -- and a meaningful moment in the Jim-Pam relationship. ...
Can't remember all the hilarious parts. The eye/groin comparison. Oscar's The Colin Powell line. Dwight with the can in the car. The mustaches. Yes, it was very "Three Stooges" in its way, but I also laughed at the Three Stooges. And I think the extreme absurdity of it was part of a larger point -- that Michael defines himself, first and foremost, through his job.
Didn't he buy the greatest-boss mug for himself? Isn't his one continuous male-female relationship with a woman he used to work with? It was bad enough for him when Karen tried to steal one of his people. It was worse by far when, playing turnabout, he was told what a terrible reputation he and Scranton had -- hitting Meredith, the disatrous branch merger. So, when he threatened to burn Utica, it wasn't the sheer lunacy of Dwight unleashed. It was his own, angry, innermost, mama-bear impulse to protect himself and his own from an intruder.
But as wildly over the top as his reaction was, it was counterbalanced by the latest sad installlment in the Jim saga. I've mentioned here before that we're seeing some more unlikable aspects of Jim since he settled into his relationship with Pam, and there was more of that tonight. Not entirely unlikable, of course. His discomfort over seeing Karen again demonstrated how much he knew he had hurt her -- but he still went on to hurt her more in his inept and spiraling declaration that he had not come to Utica to see her.
Then there was the Finer Things Club, and Pam's keeping him out of it because "some people think that you monopolize the conversation by trying to be funny." Which, of course, is precisely what he does once he gets invited. And then adds to the insult by not having read "Angela's Ashes."
And his actions are made worse because we've already seen Kevin, Phyllis and Andy's moves to either be a part of the club or to disrupt it. (Another great line: Phyllis's not wanting to make popcorn in the other microwave because it smells too much like popcorn.) Jim gets a seat at the table and doesn't appreciate the honor. Like his bulldozing Pam's work on her computer to show something he is interested in, Jim is once again putting himself ahead of Pam. And I think this may be the first time we've seen Oscar (that is, "some people") with a real dislike for Jim, which of course suggests that other people in the office feel the same way.
In the early going, we were so focused on Jim in the context of (a) his adoration of Pam and (b) his tweaking of Michael and Dwight that it was easy to think that other people in the office liked him the way the audience did. Now, not so much. Even Phyllis's earlier warning to Pam not to give sales calls to Jim takes on an extra layer of meaning; was it just Pam that Phyllis was irked at, or was it also about Jim?