Remember all the scary downsizing rumors from the first couple of seasons? It's nothing compared to the bankruptcy rumors that come down the pike today. With no information coming in other than rumor, conjecture and bad omens, Jim tries to help everyone cope by concentrating on their work. But Michael insists on distracting everyone with one of those murder party games. Now, in addition to bankruptcy rumors, everyone is also having to listen to each other's Southern accents of varying terribleness. Jim tries to keep things on track, but after Wallace gives him a bit of news that would seem to confirm the worst, he joins right in with the game. "For the kids," as he puts it. Meanwhile, Andy finally asks Erin out, but since there's some confusion as to whether one or more of them was in character for either the invitation or the acceptance, it ends up falling through. So I guess the moral is that murder party games are good for just about any situation aside from asking someone out.
Phyllis comes at Dwight with some kind of screaming karate move that looks like a double eye-poke, but Dwight seizes her arm and subjects her to a flurry of punishing counterattacks. All fake, of course. From his office door, Jim just wearily points to a flyer reading: "TODAY ONLY: Dwight Schrute presents THIS YEAR IN MARTIAL ARTS: Updates, advancements, and etc." "Because as we all know," Jim talking-heads, "the one thing that thousand-year-old martial arts do all the time is change." Dwight demonstrates a throat-punch on Meredith, so Jim responds by getting him bogged down in how Dwight would defend against a throat-punch by Dwight. "Oh, my God, he's making you look like such a fool," Jim sympathizes. He keeps egging Dwight on until Dwight finally sucker-cockpunches himself. Yes, that fight had a clear winner, but I don't think it was either of the Dwights.
Andy's telling Michael about his past in stand-up when Dwight asks the meaning of a mass e-mail from David Wallace, downplaying a current article in the Journal as "conjecture." Michael asks Erin about the journal. "Your feelings journal? You told me to put it in the time capsule," she says. Meanwhile, Oscar has found the first part of the article on WSJ online, so everyone gathers around his desk. But there's not much to the article before they run up against the 1.99 access fee, which Jim quickly covers somehow, only to have Phyllis read that Dunder Mifflin is rumored to be ready to declare bankruptcy. Everyone frets about that, even as Dwight offers them all jobs at Schrute Farms as human scarecrows. "It doesn't pay much and you can't unionize," he warns.
In his office, Michael tries to get Wallace on the phone, then acts all nonchalant upon hearing that he's in a meeting. But then Kevin just about catches Michael throwing up in the bathroom, although Michael downplays by claiming he was only pooping. Way to play it cool.
In the break room, Kelly wonders if this is the last time they'll all see each other. Andy takes a wistful look at Erin, then THs that he likes her, as though we hadn't gotten that memo. He was hoping she'd ask him out, but now, "It is time for the Nard-Dog to take matters into his own paws."
Jim sees that everyone is clustered around the bullpen talking, and somewhere "Lullaby" by Shawn Mullins is playing loudly. You know, the "Everything's gonna be all right" song. Jim walks into Michael's office, turns down the song on Michael's computer, and says they have to do something. Michael suggests finding a distraction, but Jim naively assumes they can lead by example and get back to work -- starting with the monthly staff meeting.
Jim leads the meeting, trying to stay chipper and upbeat (with a little TH interlude in which he says doing work will make them all feel better: "I only slack off when things are good."). He's trying to keep everyone distracted until Michael wanders out, looking stressed, then comes back on his cell phone, acting panicked. Everyone wonders what's going on, and he announces, "There's been a murder!" General confusion. "There's been a murder in Savannah!" he clarifies. Then he bops back into his office to raid a whole shelf of games and TH about how they can help with stressful situations. So then he presents everyone with one of those murder party games that I will admit to playing all the time in the 1990s, this one called "Belles, Bourbon, and Bullets." Jim quietly whispers to Michael, "Hey, I'm wondering if this is a, um, terrible idea." Michael forces Jim to give in by reminding him, "Tube City. You owe me one."
Wait, what's that about? Jim THs about how co-managing is all about giving and taking, and picking your battles. "One of the battles that I picked was to stop Michael from running plastic tubes all over the office and placing hamsters inside of them. We even see Michael doing this, complete with at least one live hamster. "He was gonna call it Tube City. So yes, I do owe him one..."
Michael's playing the game's intro tape for everyone, and prevents Stanley and Angela from leaving by promising them a sandwich platter and baby carrots, respectively. While Jim looks nervous enough about whatever's happening outside this conference room that, one might think the Jimmy-leg was named after him, Michael passes out the character cards with everyone's names and alibis and tells them to use their imaginations for everything else. Andy is not thrilled to have a character who is the brother of Erin's character. Angela tries to object to having to be "Voodoo Mama Juju, the witch doctor of the Savannah swamps," which Michael blows off in his usual way. Michael gets into character as "Caleb Crawdad," complete with accent, to confiscate Oscar's Blackberry, and then there's a digression from Ryan and Jim about how he doesn't have to say "I do declare" every time he says something. Pam gets things started by going first. She stands up and uses a cheesy southern accent to read her alibi card. "You sound like Forrest Gump," Meredith observes. When Pam protests, Andy gives a mini-seminar on different southern accents, so Kevin tells him to do the Swedish Chef. Showing off, Andy asks what province he lives in. "He lives on Sesame Street, dumbass," Kevin clarifies. Phyllis uses an even worse accent to tell Pam she overheard her asking the butler where the pistol was. Dwight, the butler, takes offense on behalf of the entire servant class. "I will poison your food," he hisses. Andy takes a turn, and Michael THs that people are really getting into it. Kevin simply says, "Y'all."
Creed comes in late and asks what's going on. Michael uses his southern accent to tell Creed he's a suspect in a murder. Creed pleasantly says he'll be right back, then runs back outside and tears ass out of the parking lot. Wow, I really hope this wasn't his last episode.
In the kitchen, Andy asks Erin out, and she says yes. Except it's in character and awkward and weird, because their characters are siblings, and because they're doing those accents, and because it's Erin, and because it's Andy.
Dwight quizzes Angela about her dabblings in the dark arts. "It's not my fault, I was exposed to Harry Potter," Angela drawls. Over a montage of himself pointing accusing fingers at everyone, Dwight says it's never the person you most suspect or the person you least suspect, so he knows it's Phyllis, "The person I most medium suspect."
Back in the conference room, Kevin asks Erin out in character (except his character's a lot less courtly than Andy's character, and she accepts. And she also accepts Meredith's offer of a threesome. After seeing this, Andy nervously THs, "I'm a little worried I might have asked out Naughty Nellie and not Erin. Which would be a whole lot less appealing because Nellie says yes to everyone...and she might be a murderer."
Oscar walks in with an announcement that he just got an e-mail from Corporate, instructing Accounting to stop all payments to vendors. Michael makes Oscar speak in an accent, and Oscar gamely attempts to, making absolutely no sense and speaking in a falsetto voice before going back to his normal inflection to say it's "unprecedented" and "cause for concern." Which, coming from a careful speaker like Oscar, is like hollering, "Everybody panic!" Jim says he's going back to work, so Michael tries to stop everyone from following him by skipping ahead. Except he accidently ends up playing the part of the tape that says Phyllis's character was the killer. So he's left standing in the doorway, desperately drawling out everyone's character names as they go back to work.
Everyone's congregated in the break room, while Jim reports that Corporate is still in their meeting, which Kevin thinks is a good sign. Angela rips on him, and Jim suggests they all get back to work. Kevin thinks that's a good sign too. "Don't just say things," Angela orders him. Michael enters, and he's still in character. In a rather out-of-place TH, Dwight says that he's not surprised with the outcome of the mystery. "A lot of the evidence seemed to be b