Ben Franklin: Episode 3.15

315benfranklin.jpg“Ben Franklin”
Season 3 Episode 15
Air Date: February 1, 2007
Summary:
In honor of Phyllis’s upcoming wedding, Michael brings two “adult” performers to the office; a stripper and a Ben Franklin impersonator. After learning about Jim’s past, Karen talks to Pam, hoping to clear the air.

Supplemental Materials
View the Pam Pong scorecard for this episode
View the “Ben Franklin” slideshow
Poll: Grade this episode here
Read an in-depth analysis of Jim and Pam‘s actions in this episode

Episode Summary
“If you’re watching this, that means I’m already dead”
Michael is looking at the camera talking to his “son”. Dwight, who is holding the camera, asks how Michael knows he will have a boy. In a talking head Michael says he was mildly electrocuted the previous day and had an “epiphery,” he wants his son to know the “dealio” if Michael dies prematurely. He goes on to give some (bad) advice on how to do “men” things like jump start a car, or take off a bra. At the end of his video he tells his “son” his will always love him, even if he’s a murderer as Dwight suggests.

“Co-ed Strippers in this office, for realsies.”
Michael announces that Phyllis’ wedding to Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration, is six days away, and the employee clap mildly. Michael then says he will be instituting “prima nocta.” A pensive look crosses Jim’s face, and in a talking head he says “prima nocta” and is a term from Braveheart for the king “deflowers” brides on their wedding night. In the next scene, Michael is explaining he thought prima nocta meant something different. Later, Michael walks into the conference room where the women are setting up Phyllis’ wedding shower. Michael announces he’s having a party for Bob Vance to; a guy’s afternoon in, or a “G.A.I.”

Karen and Jim are discussing business when Todd Packer walks in. A usual, Todd makes a derogatory remark about Jim being gay, then spots Karen. He tries to act suave as he introduces himself. Karen introduces herself as Jim’s girlfriend, and Todd acts shocked. Michael sees Todd, and starts faking a heart attack as Todd runs up and play-kicks him. In Michael’s office, Todd is shocked to learn Michael hasn’t hired a stripper for Bob’s party. When Michael says it would be inappropriate and sexist, Todd suggests Michael hire a male stripper for Phyllis’ party to make it “separate but equal.” Michael walks out of his office and announces he’s going to get a stripper for each party. Angela, of course, does not approve of a male stripper, and Meredith yells at her.

As Michael and Ryan leave to get supplies, Michael asks Jim to hire the strippers. Jim refuses, but Dwight, naturally, volunteers. Dwight calls a service and lists his criteria for the stripper; ruddy cheeks, thick calves, and no “tats.” He asks Jim is he prefers a brunette or a redhead. Jim pauses then says “Blond.” Pam is looking on until Karen catches her, then looks back to her computer screen.

Michael is giggling uncontrollably as he wanders though a sex shop. Ryan looks at the camera and tells it Michael’s been like that the whole time. Jim calls Michael and tells him “they had Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, or Sponge Bob Square Pants.” In a talking head Jim reveals that instead of calling the male strip club Michael suggested (Banana Slings), he called the Scholastic Speakers of Pennsylvania. Michael and Ryan are stepping into the elevator when someone shouts for them to hold the door. A man dressed as Ben Franklin runs up, and Michael giggles as he asks “Ben” if he’s wearing a thong.

“Jim told me about you guys”
Karen is working when she looks over towards Jim, who is yawning. He smiles, and she smiles back a decidedly unsure smile. In a talking head, Karen says she and Jim had a “rough patch” in regards to her finding out about Jim’s feelings for Pam, but they talked about it, and now they’re “better than ever.” In his own talking head, Jim’s eyes are half closed and his voice is slightly raspy as he reveals he and Karen have had “long talks” for last five nights. Back in the main office, Karen walks over to Jim’s desk and hugs him around the neck as Pam looks on, puzzled. Pam tells the camera that something’s up with Karen and Jim. She claims she hasn’t been eavesdropping, but has “gotten pretty good at reading the back of Jim’s neck.”

Pam walks into the break room where Jim is buying a soda. Pam asks if he’s okay because he seems tired. Jim confesses he and Karen have been up late talking, then grimaces. He starts walking to the door when Pam says he should get more sleep. Jim agrees, the Pam starts rambling about how important a full night’s sleep is, getting the REM cycles in and all that. Jim chuckles nervously then says he’s heading back to work. Pam tells him to not fall asleep at his desk, then utters “Oh my God” to herself.

Phyllis’ shower is underway when Michael walk in and introduces the “sexy” Ben Franklin. “Ben” walks in and Michael makes a few suggestive remarks, but the women quickly realize Ben is not the stripper they were promised. The party seems dead as Angela is the only one interested in Ben’s “historical speaker” act. Karen attempts to liven things up by asking if Ben has a girlfriend. Ben says he has a wife, then Pam chimes in that Ben Franklin had girlfriends in Paris. Things picked up when “Ben” ties a cherry stem in his mouth as the women look on, whooping. Pam asks if Ben wears “boxers, briefs, or pantaloons.” Ben calls her “saucy,” then winks at her, much to Karen and Pam’s delight.

After the party, Pam and Karen are in the kitchen giggling and exchanging theories on how one becomes a Ben Franklin impersonator. Karen gets a serious tone in her voice and tells Pam she wants to talk to her about Jim. Pam nervously asks what Karen means, and Karen says she knows Jim and Pam kissed, but Karen and Jim talk about it and it’s not a big deal. Pam silently nods in response, and Karen asks if Pam is interested in Jim. Pam enthusiastically says “Oh yeah,” and Karen looks on shocked. Pam tries to cover up her Freudian slip by saying she misheard Karen’s question, and starts to babble about how great Jim and Karen are together, and that she’s not interested in him. Karen chuckles nervously, asks if they’re okay. Pam says they are, then says “Sorry.” Karen quickly asks what Pam is apologizing for, but Pam plays dumb and claims she was thinking of something else.

Ben Franklin approaches Pam’s desk, telling her he invented electricity, and he’s sensing some electricity between them. “Didn’t Ben Franklin have syphilis?” Pam asks. “Ben” chuckles at Pam’s rebuff, then drops the act and tells her his real name is Gordon. Pam looks away lets out and “oh” as she realized Ben/Gordon is interested in her.

Ryan, Kelly and Jim are in the break room when Pam walks in. Kelly tells the guys that Pam was flirting with “Ben,” Pam scoffs at Kelly, and Jim teases her by asking if there’s and potential with “Ben”. Pam starts walk out of the room, then turns to Ryan he can set her up on a date with one of his friends. Jim, who is munching on chips, completely stops chewing as a surprised and jealous look crosses his face. Pam marches back to her desk, where Elizabeth the Stripper is munching on M&M’s. Elizabeth comments she would get fat from all the snacks if she worked at Dunder-Mifflin. “Yeah? I lose my appetite all the time,” Pam says curtly. She doesn’t even look up when Elizabeth looks her over and tells her she could strip.

“An hour long shower with guys”
In the parking lot, Dwight and Jim are watching when the stripper for Bob’s party arrives. Jim asks Dwight if he’s ever seen a stripper, and Dwight replies that he say Jennifer Garner play one in “Alias.” The stripper, Elizabeth, walks up to them. Jim gets a text message asking if “she’s hot,” and turns to see Michael waiting inside the double doors. Dwight tells Jim to text back “kind of,” and Elizabeth’s jaw drops.

Michael walks into the warehouse with steaks he cooked up on his Foreman grill, asking who wants his “man meat.” He serves up the steaks, but the men only have plastic utensils and can’t cut them (though Creed just picks up the steak with both hands). Later, a few men are gathered around a poker table. Kevin calls out the rules for their up-coming game, and the men look on, baffled. Michael, who insisted on shuffling, is spreading around the cards face down on the table when Elizabeth the stripper walks in dressed in a business suit. Michael jumps up, and seems to be the only one excited.

Elizabeth starts dancing and calls over groom-to-be, but Bob Vance refuses, telling Michael “it’s all you.” Roy gets out of his seat, and the camera catches him wiping his eyes. He tells the camera he’s not really into strippers, and claims what he finds sexy is Pam’s art. Michael takes Roy’s chair, and Elizabeth sits on his lap. The faces of the men range from entertained to horrified as Elizabeth strips, and Michael tells her she smells like Tide detergent. Elizabeth puts her arm around Michael’s neck, and Michael shies away and says he has a girlfriend. “I bet she’d be jealous,” Elizabeth says as she pulls off her shirt. It’s too much for Michael as he insists that Elizabeth stops dancing, then walks up the stairs of the warehouse and tells everyone to get back to work.

Back in the office, Dwight leads Elizabeth to the accounting area, asking her to answer phone calls because he hired her for the afternoon so she’s going to work. Angela watches Dwight walk off, wanted to protest this decision. Elizabeth compliments Angela’s poster of babies playing instruments, and Angela thanks her with a pained look on her face. Elizabeth sits down and catches Kevin staring at her, unable to speak.

In Michael’s office, he is asking advice on whether or not he should tell Jan about the stripper. The camera pans over to reveal Michael is talking to Ben/Gordon. Still acting as “Ben,” he tells suggests Michael not tells because, “these things only serve to upset the women.” Unsatisfied with that advice, Michael seeks out Elizabeth in the kitchen and asks what he should do. “Secret secrets are no fun, secret secrets hurt something,” she says. Michael seems moved, and thanks her for the “advice.”

Michael decided to call Jan about the party, telling her “things getting out of hand.” Jan asks when the party was, and he admits he arranged one at work. He wants to make sure Jan doesn’t want to break up. “I’m closer to to firing you,” Jan says, clearly irritated about Michael throwing a bachelor party on company time. Michael somehow reads her comments as a sign of affection, and Jan hangs up in frustration. In his final talking head, Michael says that “Ben”s advice disappointed him, but Elizabeth gave great advice. “Make you wonder how Ben Franklin can become president, but someone like Elizabeth can’t.”

The Shrute Gauntlet
In the conference room, Dwight is testing Ben Franklin’s historical knowledge. He offers “Ben” some chocolate, and Ben quickly says in his “time” the U.S. didn’t have chocolate. Dwight then fires off questions about monarchs during Ben Franklin’s time, and “Ben” doesn’t miss a step. In a talking head, Dwight says that despite what Jim says, he is 99% sure that’s not the real Ben Franklin. Later, Dwight continues to try to stump Ben by asking if he’s near or far-sighted. Ben says he’s both, which is why he invented bifocals, and Dwight throws his arms up in frustration.

Trivia

  • Despite the previous episode being about his “return,” Oscar does not make an appearance in this episode.
  • Andy also does not make an appearance in this episode. In the Producer’s cut and “newpeat” version of “The Return,” it’s show Andy was sent to a 10-week anger management course.
  • According to Jenna Fischer, Elizabeth’s shirt is an old “Pam” shirt (possibly from the Basketball episode).
  • When Michael is grilling steaks, a reference is made to “The Injury” where Michael burned his foot on his Foreman grill. Both “The Injury” and this episode were written by Mindy Kaling (Kelly).
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