A limo ride, a recycling mythical beast-turned-robot, a former senator, and a serious lack of line-management skills: “Shareholders Meeting” brought us back to the nitty gritty of actual corporate life, and it wasn’t pretty. The life I mean. The episode was…okay. Is it bad that I missed Jan for a little bit? Anyway, forget the town car and hop in.
We opened with Dwight resuming his “Recyclops” character, who encourages everyone to recycle, and Jim walked us through the evolution of said character, from mere bandana-and-t-shirt to full on robot costume complete with scrolling LED sign. It’s a funny bit, particularly the mythology about his rival beast “Polluticorn,” but I’m surprised to see the show claim there’s a years-long running gag that we don’t already know about. If Dwight’s done this every year, how come we’ve never seen it before? (Speaking of, how come we’ve never seen another Pretzel Day? Or another Dundies? Hell, I want refresher sexual harassment seminar.) We’ve been immersed in this office’s goings on for years now — I’m almost a little sad to think they have rituals and rites we’ve never seen. Last week’s martial arts demonstration seemed like less of a deal, I guess, than Dwight’s full-on costuming and rampage.
Michael, in a garishly shiny suit, practiced his crowd-approval gestures for an upcoming shareholders meeting where he believed he’d be greeted with elation. Dunder-Mifflin’s bigwigs sent a limo to pick Michael up — the kind, per Erin, that rich kids take to the prom on TV — and even though Oscar deemed the company’s management “boobs” for such an extravagance, there’s no way around the festiveness of a limo. Michael too was so taken that he invited everyone who wanted to join him, which somehow resulted in Andy, Dwight, and Oscar going along. Talk about thwarted (subverted?) expectations: I thought this was going to be a straight ride to Shenanigan-town, particularly given Andy and Oscar’s away-from-the-office past: Beer me dos Long Island iced teas, anyone? Dwight and Andy’s budding relationship didn’t get any special attention either. I’m hoping the deleted scenes from this episode dive into the unique dynamic and level of hell-raising these and only these three could create.
At the convention-size meeting, things go from bad (Dwight not being able to line up for a question) to worse: Michael was resoundingly booed as part of the leadership panel on the dais. We knew things were going to go terribly at this meeting, just given the level of enthusiasm and planning we saw from Michael, but I was sure this was going to be like, nuclear-winter bad. I had braced myself for something so much worse than this; just booing, and Michael slowly realizing that the management side is widely reviled, didn’t seem so bad.
Back in Scranton, Jim couldn’t make Ryan, whose douchiness is now at Dane Cook levels, do simple tasks, and it turned out that no one (including Pam) thought he had any managerial power. Given what we know about managerial power from the shareholders meeting, it’s definitely be-careful-what-you-wish-for territory. But that’s sort of the tagline for Jim’s entire ascent: Is this really what you want? Because it’s thankless, sometimes humiliating, and a lot less fun and thrilling than it maybe sounded like it was going to be. Eventually, tired of Ryan’s bad attitude and constant Tetris-playing, Jim made him sit in the closet by the bathroom instead of a desk. It was a funny moment of triumph (sort of) for Jim, and a secluded space where you’re forced to do that which you despite just screamed “Harmony Hut” from Addams Family Values to me, so win/win.
The meeting continued to tank as the management folk fielded irate questions from a grumpy crowd, and in a moment of desperation, Michael suddenly emerged as a business hero, promising (with zero backup or reason, but still) to assemble a 45-day, 45-point plan to get Dunder-Mifflin back on track. It was exactly what the crowd wanted to hear, and of course, once fueled by the energy of people even briefly liking, accepting, or respecting him, Michael just couldn’t stop. When he then tried to get management actually to make a plan, even calling on Oscar to speak truth to this perceived power, no one went for it, and Michael was left only with the option to call them names and hightail it back to the comped limo.
Plotwise, I’m curious how the decline of Dunder-Mifflin affects the branch, but I don’t know that this episode brought out the best, funniest parts of any of our characters. Dwight admonishing the woman in line that “If onlys and justs were candies and nuts, then everyday would be Erntedankfest” was hilarious, but it paled for me compared to “Dwight’s Speech” from season two. Michael’s had a contentious relationship with David Wallace and his higher-ups in the past; did we really get something new from this interaction? I didn’t.
++ Dwight saying that he’s less into boobs and more into calves was so perfect
++ Erntedankfest is apparently German thanksgiving, which is lovely except that I heard “donkfest,” thought it had to do with donkeys, and was more than a little disappointed to find out otherwise.
++ Wait, Andy got into Cornell with only a 1220 on his SATs? I thought he’d have scored higher than that.
++ Oh, what I wouldn’t have given for more of that scene between Ryan and Creed
So, PopWatchers, what did you think of “The Shareholders Meeting”? Has it personally won 17 Dundies, or are you revoking its Internet access and making it sit in a closet?