The Office
Branch Closing

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Branch Closing

One of my favorite Jim vs. Dwight gags ever: he's in early at the Stamford office, once again using some stationery he stole from Dwight to send Dwight a fax. "From himself," Jim explains. "From the future." This morning, FutureDwight's message to PresentDwight is that someone poisons the coffee this morning. PresentDwight is still absorbing this when he sees Stanley exit the break room, about to enjoy a hot cup of joe. So PresentDwight dashes over, howling, "Noooo!" and knocks the cup out of Stanley's hand. "You'll thank me later," he assures Stanley, who doesn't seem convinced. Maybe Dwight should send Stanley a fax from FutureStanley.

Jan enters Michael's office and sits through even less of his grating greetings than she usually does, because she's breaking the news that the Scranton branch is closing. Pull the other one, Jan. We might have believed that earlier in the show's run, but not now. But Jan continues the pretense, saying that some people will be transferred to Stamford, and the rest will be getting severance packages, i.e. fired. Michael, who is going K├╝bler-Ross right before our eyes, asks which group he falls into. Jan says final decisions haven't been made, but Michael's getting severance. So Michael was a no-brainer, in other words. He starts wailing, loudly enough for people out in the bullpen to notice despite his closed office door. Kevin comes up to reception, trying to be the first to know anything from Pam by bonding geekily with her. Pam humors him, not very convincingly. Which is not to say that Kevin is not convinced. Back in Michael's office, he's losing it, and Jan isn't helping by saying that it's not about Scranton's numbers, but about talent. By whom she means Josh, giving Michael a new reason to hate Jim's current boss. As she gets up to leave, she says this has to stay on the QT until it's all finalized. She asks Michael to use discretion, as if he had one. Fighting tears, Michael begs Jan not to punish him for his personal transgressions against her, because somehow he thinks this is Jan's retribution for their abortive affair, which clearly hasn't even occurred to her (or so she wants us to think). Jan doesn't bother dignifying that with a response as she heads out, drawing a lot of curious looks from the folks in the bullpen.

As Michael THs about the specialness of his people (while Kevin plays with a mini football, Creed eats his mung beans, Phyllis knits at her desk, and Stanley does his crosswords), he hangs in the doorway, staring sadly out at everyone. They seem to have lost interest in his office since Jan's departure. So then he exercises discretion by going out into the bullpen and getting all maudlin. Dwight asks him what's up, and Michael tells him, "Just do your work...while you still can." And with that, Michael returns to his doorway while Dwight THs about how he can read Michael's moods like a book. Which in Michael's case is "Something Weird Is Going On. Colon. What Did Jan Say? The Michael Scott Story. By Michael Scott. With Dwight Schrute." Man, it's really hard to make fun of non-fiction book titles these days, isn't it?

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