Season 1 Episode 3
Air Date: April 5, 2005
Summary: Michael puts Dwight in charge of picking a new (read: striped down) health care plan; a responsibility that quickly goes to Dwight’s head. Meanwhile, Michael struggles to arrange a “surprise” to hopefully offset the staff’s disappointment about the reduced health care benefits.
Passing the Buck
Michael approaches Pam’s desk asking for new messages. Pam says there’s nothing new, asking Michael if he wants her to repeat the messages for the camera. In his talking head, Michael talks about how his employees are his family and he provides for them like they are his children, including picking a new health care plan. “Does that make me their doctor?” Michael asks himself, before concluding that in a way it does.
Jan visits Michael and asks if he has selected a plan. Michael says he’s going to go with the best plan: the gold plan that covers things like massage and acupuncture. Jan tells Michael that he just needs to pick the least expensive plan. Michael, ever fearful of viewed as the “bad guy”, talks about how upset the employees will be, and Jan tells Michael that as regional manager, he has to make the unpopular choice.
Jim is at Pam’s desk, talking about “Trading Spouses.” Pam jokes that she doesn’t watch the show because she “has a life,” and Jim should try it, but Jim replies “Who would watch my TV?” Michael calls Jim into his office and claims since he’s so busy (as Jim glances at the empty “In” tray) he’s going to let Jim pick the new health plan. Jim tells the camera in his talking head whenever Michael wants him to do something Jim doesn’t want to do, he suggests Dwight. He then talks about how Dunder-Mifflin is just a job, and any promotion will make it his career, and if that happens, “I would have to throw myself in front of a train.”
Dwight (naturally) immediately accepts the task of choosing a new health plan. He then asks if he can use the conference room as his office, Michael tells him Dwight can use it as a “temporary work space.” Dwight looks at the camera, smiling about his new responsibility.
I’m the Lion, You’re Dead
As Dwight walks around the office passing out a memo, he talks in a voice-over about how he slashed benefits and saved money. He says in nature, there is no health care plan, if someone hurts their leg, they get eaten by a lion. “I’m not dead,” he says, “I’m the lion.”
The employees are gripping about the new bare-bones health plan when Pam receives a call from Michael. He says he’s super busy (as the camera catches him playing with a toy truck) and Pam tells him everyone is pretty unhappy with the new plan. Michael tries to weasel out of the conversation by saying he’s getting a call. Being the receptionist, Pam can clearly see no one is calling, so Michael ends the conversation by asking her to not to let anyone in his office.
Pam and Jim enter the conference room to confront Dwight about the plan. Pam tells Dwight the plan he picked is horrible, Jim backs her up by asking Dwight if Dwight wants good insurance. Dwight says he’s never been sick due to his “superior Shrute genes.” He then claims he can raise and lower his cholesterol at will. Pam ask why he would want to raise it, and Dwight replies, “So I can lower it.”
Dwight’s solution to picking a plan everyone likes is to make everyone fill out a survey of all the diseases and illnesses they have. While many of the employees comply, Jim is at Pam’s desk dreaming up new diseases like “spontaneous dental hydroplosion.” After reading the surveys, a frustrated Dwight exits his office workspace asking who invented diseases on their surveys. He insists on interviewing everyone individually and until then “no health care for anyone!”
Suspecting Jim made up all the diseases, Dwight interviews him first, trying to guilt trip him into a confession. Instead, Jim grabs Dwight’s keys and locked him in the conference room. When Dwight calls Jim, threatening to fire him, Pam call Jim (from her own desk) and they sit and talk about nothing as Dwight looks on. Dwight calls Jan to try to get permission to fire Jim, and Jan is livid when she learns Michael had put Dwight in charge of picking the new health plan.
Dwight decides to read allowed all the medical conditions, and employees have to raise their hand to indicate it’s real so it will be covered. He reads out “anal fissures” thinking it’s fake, but Kevin says it’s a real and “someone has it.”
The Big Surprise
The employees are upset about the new health care plan to the point that Oscar and Meredith wait outside the bathroom to confront him. Michael makes a beeline to his office, trying to dodge all the employees walking up to ask about the memo. Oscar tells Michael the slashed benefits might as well be a pay cut. Michael tries to pass the buck to Dwight and tells him to pick a plan that will work for everyone. Trying to get back on the employees good side, Michael promises a “big surprise.” In a talking head Michael admits he has no idea what the surprise is, but it doesn’t matter because (he thinks) everyone is happy.
Michael leaves the office to try to organize the “surprise.” He starts at a travel agency, hoping he can organize an all inclusive (and free) weekend to Atlantic City. He then called a local attraction, the Lackawanna Coal Mine, hoping they have something exciting like a free falling elevator or laser tag, but to no avail.
Michael comes back to the office with a bag full of ice cream sandwiches. As he tosses them to his bewildered employees, Stanley asks if this was the big surprise, because it doesn’t make up for the horrible day everyone is having. Michael claims it’s not, and goes into his office (ignoring Dwight who is still locked in the conference room).
At 5pm, everyone gathers outside of Michael’s office to await the ‘big surprise.” Michael reluctantly emerges from his office and is hit with the question of why he put Dwight in charge of picking the health care plan. Michael tries to act like he had no control over what Dwight picked, and since Jan needed it by 5, Michael can’t change it. Angela chimes in about “the surprise.” Michael tells the group that before he reveals the surprise, he wants to know what everyone thinks the surprise is. Stanley tells Michael that everyone thinks there is no surprise. Michael insists there is and starts doing a fake drum roll, as a voice over of him talks about what great improvisational skills he has. Kevin heads for the door and the rest of the employees follow. After everyone leaves, Dwight leans over to Michael and tells him Jan wants him to call her.