We don’t waste any time this episode following through on the inherent difficulties of Michael and Jim as co-managers. In fact, the problems are so obvious you have to feel dumb to think the arrangement could possibly work. As Oscar puts it: “It doesn’t take a genius to know that any organization thrives when it has two leaders. Go ahead, name a country that doesn’t have two presidents. A boat that sets sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be without the Popes?”
Michael and Jim are at loggerheads because the budget for raises is smaller this year — wait, they’re doing raises at Dunder Mifflin? Hope nobody tells those Buffalo employees who just had their branch shut down. The logical solution would be to give everyone tiny raises, but because Jim is a horrible manager, he decides to just give bonuses to the salespeople, because “it seems smart to keep the salesmen happy.” With Jim and Pam short on cash as their wedding approaches, his move’s clearly meant to keep one particular salesperson happy, and everyone sees this immediately. Jim backs off and waits for Michael to save him, but Michael, as usual, just makes matters worse. Dunder Mifflin now has two feckless leaders.
It’s smart to make Jim not only a poor leader but also smug, constantly undermining Michael and absolutely convinced his way is always right. We’ve seen this self-satisfaction from Jim before, most alarmingly in some of his interactions with Pam. So much of his character is wrapped in cutie-pie aww-reaction shots that we’ll lap up any flaws we can find. And this is a big one. We’re far from certain that he’ll remain co-manager for the whole season. Though it was impossible not to love the quiet final scene with Michael and Jim bonding over the hatred their co-workers feel for them, sipping gin out of “World’s Best Boss” mugs while the angry masses pound on their door.
The duo will last at least another week as co-managers, because next Thursday brings us the long-awaited wedding of Pam and Jim. It’s difficult to work up too much excitement for this, as it’s been in the works forever. But they’re somehow still a likable couple, and we’re glad we don’t have to wait all season. Particularly because, if the preview can be believed, Kevin will be wearing a toupee.
And if that’s not enough romance for you, we take you home with this random, terrifying exchange:
[Shuffling of papers]
Creed: Hey, why haven’t we ever
Meredith: We have.
[Return to paper shuffling]