The Alliance: Episode 1.04

104alliance.jpg“The Alliance”
Season 1 Episode 4
Air Date: April 12, 2005
Summary:
A golden opportunity for Jim and Pam to prank Dwight arises when Dwight asks Jim to form an “alliance” to find out about downsizing rumors. Meanwhile, in order to boost moral, Michael puts together a surprise (and very early) birthday party for Meredith.

Supplemental Materials
View the Pam Pong Scorecard for this episode
View the “The Alliance” slide show
Poll: Grade this episode here

Episode Summary
Boosting Moral
At the beginning of the episode, Michael admits downsizing is a possibility, and the rumors are getting everyone down. Michael’s solution to lift employee spirits is to have a birthday party. After Michael performs a fake drum roll, Pam reveals the next employee having a birthday is Meredith, but it’s not for another month. Michael gives the go-ahead to throw the party, then teases Pam for being so quiet by using his phone as Star Trek-like “life detector.”

Angela, Pam and Phyllis are in the conference room planning Meredith’s party. Phyllis suggests streamers, and when Pam suggests they should be green, Angela tells her green is “whorish.” In a talking head Pam says she wanted to flip a coin to decided, but Angela doesn’t like to gamble. “Of course by saying that she was gambling that I wouldn’t smack her,” Pam says. Michael checks on the party committee and suggests getting an ice cream cake. Angela informs Michael that Meredith is lactose-intolerant, but Michael still wants ice cream cake since it’s not just about Meredith. Pam quickly points out this is Meredith’s party, and Michael yells out “Mint Chocolate Chip!”

Michael shows off Meredith’s birthday card (a picture of a crow that says “Happy Bird-Day”) and talks about how he needs to write something really funny in the card because he has “set the bar really high.” He is still struggling with the card when Dwight rushes in. Michael tries to reassure him there’s no downsizing, and asks for help with with card. Dwight recites a laundry list of facts, Michael asks for something more “personal” and cringes when Dwight tells him Meredith had a hysterectomy.

Michael gives Ryan the card right when the party starts. Angela leads Meredith in and the employees yell “Surprise!” Meredith is confused about who the party is for, and Michael starts a round of “Happy Birthday to You.” Later, Michael asks Meredith if she was surprise, and she says yes, very surprised. He offers her some cake, and she has to decline due to the dairy, and Michael said if he couldn’t have dairy he’s have to kill himself.

Meredith starts to read from her card. She reads out what Michael wrote; a rather humorless joke about how he hopes the only that’s downsized is her age. He tries to reassure everyone that downsizing is just a rumor, but mostly is upset no one laughed at his joke. He pulls out a piece of paper and starts reading what he didn’t use; taste-less jokes about how old she is and her two divorces. Everyone stands around, awkwardly silent. Michael tries to pass the blame for the boring party to the women who decorated, telling them it wasn’t their best effort. Far away from the action, Ryan reveals it’s actually his birthday to Toby. Toby offers to say something, but Ryan tells him not to do that.

Michael Scott: Regional Manager, Philanthropist
As Michael struggles to come up with something witty for Meredith’s Card, Oscar walks in asking for pledges for his nephew’s charity. Michael is surprise that everyone else has pledged only a couple dollars so he pledges $25. He is very please when Oscar tells him how generous that amount is.

Michael walks up to Jim at the party and Jim compliments him on his generous donation to Oscar’s nephew’s charity. Michael ribs Jim about only pledging three dollars, and Jim explains it’s a Walk-a-thon and he pledged three dollar per mile. Michael pulls Oscar aside to explain that he didn’t understand and wants to pledged a smaller amount, and Oscar thinks it’s wrong to “undonate” from a charity. Michael asks how many miles Oscar’s nephew walked last year, and to Michael’s dismay Oscar tells him 18 miles.

After Meredith’s party goes sour, Michael announces that they are a group and they need to support each other, and for that reason he’s donating $25 (per mile) to Oscar’s nephew’s Walk-a-thon. He writes a check to the charity in front of everyone, whispering to Oscar to not cash the check until Friday.

In his final talking head Michael explains how he wants to give back with this strange story, “I want it to be like, ‘Hey, who donated that hospital wing that is saving so many lives?’ ‘Um, I … I don’t know, it was anonymous.’ ‘Guess what, that was Michael Scott.’ ‘But it was anonymous, how do you know?’ ‘Because I’m him.'”

“An alliance? What does that even mean?”
Dwight paces outside of the bathroom and confronts Michael about the downsizing rumors. Michael tries to placate him by saying there’s no downsizing, but when Dwight ask if he needs to be worried about his job, Michael lets a “maybe” slip out.

Dwight is then sitting at desk, watching some of his co-workers talking at the water cooler and lamenting about how he brings his own water to work and misses out on the “water cooler gossip.” He moves the water cooler to his desk, and unsuccessfully tries to gossip with Kevin and Stanley.

Later Dwight approaches Jim and asks if he wants to “form an alliance” to find out who is likely to be let go in the event of downsizing. Jim tells the camera that everything Dwight does irritates him (as a flashback of Dwight flexing his arms and asking Jim if he has tickets to the “gun show” plays) and Dwight asking him to form an alliance was like a gift. Jim promises Dwight not to tell anyone about the alliance, so of course in the next scene Jim is at Pam’s desk. Pam laughs and ask what it even means to “form an alliance.” Dwight overhears and quickly asks Jim into the kitchen. Jim tells Dwight that Pam is useful for the alliance because as the receptionist she knows the most information about the office.

Jim and Dwight see Toby and Kevin in the kitchen having lunch. Dwight thinks it looks suspicious, and Jim goes in to “investigate.” Though he only talks about sandwiches with Kevin, Jim later reports to Dwight that “tensions were very high” and that Toby and Kevin may be forming an alliance of their own. Jim tells Dwight they need to assume everyone else wants to get rid of them “because we’re strong, Dwight.”

Pam walks over to Jim’s desk and starts telling him about a meeting about downsizing Michael has made her sit in on. Dwight strains to hear as Pam talks about how worried she is about her friends. In a talking head Jim gushes about how that rouse was all Pam’s idea and how well she executed it. “She’s so great,” he says and smiles to himself before noticing the cameras are still watching him.

Jim tells Dwight that a different alliance is meeting in the warehouse during Meredith’s party. While thinking of a good place to hide, Dwight decides to hide in a box. He tells Jim to tape the box shut and Jim gladly obliges. In a talking head Dwight talks about how he is not sure if he can trust Jim, but he has not choice. Jim tells Pam that Dwight is in a box and Pam goes down to the warehouse to mess with Dwight. She pretends to talk on the phone with someone and Dwight cuts peepholes in the box. The box falls over and Pam runs away laughing. Dwight continues to cut holes in the side of the box and then punches his way out of it with a warehouse worker looking on.

At the end of the episode, Jim runs to Pam’s desk, claiming he’s outdone the box prank. He tells Pam he’s convinced Dwight to go spy on the Stamford branch, and in order to disguise himself Dwight should dye his hair. As Jim explains the prank his hand is on Pam’s back and she grabs his other hand as she laughs. The door opens and Roy walks in on the scene. He gets in Jim’s face and accuses him of trying “cop a feel.” Jim tries to explain he’s teasing Dwight by trying to be in an alliance, and they’re just joking around. Roy asks Dwight what Jim is talking about, and Dwight claims he has no idea. Roy stares down Jim as Pam starts to leave and Roy soon follows her. Jim is left alone behind Pam’s desk, clearly crestfallen, and in a voice over Dwight explains how his plan was use Jim to get the information he wanted, then “throw [Jim] to the wolves.” It cuts to Dwight, with dyed blond hair, telling the camera he thinks Jim learned an important lesson.

Trivia

  • Dwight mentions the “Dundies” which we later learn are the annual office awards.
  • In this episode it’s revealed Meredith is twice divorced and has two kids.
  • Meredith turns 46 in this episode (or at least a month after this episode). This indicates she was born in 1959.
  • possible continuity error: in this episode it’s mentioned Meredith is an accountant, but later in “Halloween” it’s stated there’s only three accountants: Angela, Kevin and Oscar.
  • There is a brief shot of the staff newsletter about the “80’s Party.” There is some amusing filler text, and apparently all future newsletters have this same text.
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