Big Q-Mart. Mike and Tracy hang a huge banner that proclaims, "Big Q's Annual Sidewalk Sale! Fun for the Whole Family!" Bunches of red, white, and blue balloons hang from all the racks. Mike groans that he can't wait for it to be over: "Fun for the Whole Family. More like, 'Here's your balloon, kid, now shut up and let me shop!'" Tracy giggles. Mike asks who this year's "victim" is. Tracy says it's Sally, the new cashier. Mike shrugs, "She's sweet. At least she was until today. Today we drain her of her soul, her dignity." The Asshole walks up holding a clown costume. He says that Sally called in sick, and tries to hand the outfit to Mike. Andrew says it's all Mike's, since the newest employee gets the "honor." Tracy protests that Michael isn't the new employee, but technically he is, since he quit and then came back. Mike's not doing it.
The next shot features Mike all clowned up, holding a bunch of balloons. Kids circle around him and try and grab at the balloons. Mike hands a white one to a small boy, who pouts, "I wanted a red one." Mike snarls, "Life sucks, kid!" Oh, but it gets better. Mel and L. have just walked in, pushing Gus in a stroller. What they're doing there in the middle of a work day is anyone's guess. Lindsay peers at the clown and tells Melanie that she thinks that's Michael. The two walk over slowly, as Melanie mutters, "What would he be doing in a clown suit? He's a manager, they don't make managers clowns." That one's too easy. Let's move on. Mike spots them and tries to hide behind his balloons. Too late. Lindsay asks for a balloon for Gus. Mike tries to hand Lindsay all of them, so that he can still hide. Mel reminds him that they only need one. Lindsay asks if he knows Michael Novotny? Then, she's like, hey, you are Michael Novotny! Melanie's mortified for him, but can't keep from laughing. Mike growls, "Don't ask. And don't tell, especially Brian!" Because God forbid Brian should be tempted to think any less of Mike. Lindsay laughs, "There have been some great clowns! Bozo, Emmett Kelly --" Don't forget Debbie! Mike walks away in disgust.
Brian's advertising agency. Have they ever given this place a name? Brian walks down the hall with a colleague as Ted passes by. Ted breaks his promise by yelling across the hallway, "Hey, guys, how's it going?" Brian pretends that he has no idea who Ted is. Snicker. The two men walk into what seems to be the graphic-design room. They go over to a guy at one of the computer terminals, who's designing an ad mockup by moving the stylus over the screen to create, dare I say it, ART. Shep makes red poppies, green leaves, point and click, bigger seeds, whatever he thinks Brian wants. A big lightbulb goes off over Brian's head with an almost audible click.