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"Email Surveillance" is the ninth episode of the second season of The Office and the 15th overall. It was written by Jennifer Celotta and directed by Paul Feig. It first aired on November 22, 2005 and was viewed by 8.1 million people.

Cold open

Michael spies the IT guy walking across the parking lot and quickly runs into the office, (assuming that he's a terrorist) telling everyone to get down and be quiet. He turns out the lights, but their cover is blown by Kevin, who asks Michael questions. Michael explains that he and the IT guy, Sadiq, did not get off to a good start.


Sadiq is setting up an email surveillance program so that employee emails can be monitored. Michael goes through a few and discovers that all the employees except for him have been invited to a BBQ at Jim's place.

The employees learn that their emails will be monitored. After Pam overhears Dwight and Angela discussing deleting sensitive emails, she wonders if they are in a relationship.

No one will admit to Michael that they are going to a party. Jim doesn't want Michael there because he wants the employees to feel free to have fun. Besides, his roommate doesn't believe Dwight actually exists. To get Dwight to stay quiet, he claimed the party was actually a surprise party for Michael.

Finally, Michael decides he is just going to go to his Improv class. Michael's not very good at Improv. He repeatedly ruins his classmates' scenes by resorting to his sole character: a gun-wielding action hero. The teacher is unable to get him to cooperate. When the class goes to dinner together after their session, they do not include Michael. Instead, he crashes Jim's party.

Pam in Jim's bedroom

At the party, Jim conducts a tour of his house, and finds a distracted Pam in his bedroom. She looks at his yearbook, calling him dorky. Kelly doesn't want to talk about work. Angela is disgusted because Jim has offered no vegetarian food. Pam asks Phyllis if she knows of any office romances. Phyllis immediately asks if she's talking about herself and Jim. Stunned, Pam backs off.

She tells the camera that, sometimes, people can just be friends and it doesn't mean there's anything else there. It's best not to make assumptions. She doesn't see Dwight's sandals intertwined with Angela's shoes in the background where they're clearly making out.

When Michael arrives, Jim joins him in Karaoke.

Deleted scenes

Notable cut scenes include:

  • Michael tries to eliminate wasted e-mail space on computers, specifically by suggesting that Jim cancel a charge from Amazon rather than continue to contact them regarding an undelivered CD.
  • Michael and Mary Beth argue following their improv scene.
  • Michael makes suggestions for an improv scene despite being asked not to.
  • Kevin's mocking of Ryan by calling him the "Fire Guy" during grilling is taken to an obnoxious level.

Additional deleted scenes were released on Peacock:

  • Kevin deletes his porn collection.


  • When Jim and Pam are speaking in Jim's room at the BBQ, the video game Call of Duty: United Offensive, an expansion pack to Call of Duty, lies on Jim's desk. (It is best visible when Pam is looking at Jim's yearbook.) Toby plays the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty 2, at 20:08 there is a clear shot of a WWII-era sniper rifle on each split section of the screen. Call of Duty plays a more prominent role in the third-season episode "The Coup".
  • When Michael is reading Jim's invitation, the date on the e-mail for the party is November 5, 2005, which was a Saturday, even though this episode takes place on a Friday. It was likely an error by the production staff or a liberty taken by the writers. This places this episode on November 4 or 5, 2005, depending on which of those scenarios is correct.
  • This episode includes two guests who went on to greater prominence. Improv classmate Bill is played by Ken Jeong, who went on to play Señor Chang on the NBC sitcom Community and Mr. Chow in the Hangover movies. The IT guy is played by Omi Vaidya, who became a Bollywood breakout star in the movie 3 Idiots.
  • When a cameraman helps Pam figure out if Dwight and Angela are secretly dating, it becomes the first time, and the only time until season 9, that the documentary crew bears a direct impact on the plot.
  • Ryan asks Jim if he can call Katy. Spoiler: This begins a recurring theme of Ryan trying to date Jim's girlfriend. In "Women's Appreciation", we learn that he asked out Karen. In "Dunder Mifflin Infinity", he asks out Pam.


  • Michael explains that he and Sadiq, the IT guy, "did not get off to a great start," indicating that the two had never met before. Nevertheless, Sadiq attends Jim's barbecue, either an indication that Jim is quick to make friends or that Michael does not pay attention to the IT employees, as is brought up in later episodes.

Amusing details

  • The password was on a note stuck to Michael's computer. The IT guy didn't need to come at all.
  • One of the recipients of Stanley's email about Michael is "Leslie". Leslie David Baker is the actor who plays Stanley.
  • When Angela buys the Baby Ruth candy bar from the vending machine, nearly all the other candy bars are turned around to hide the brand names. The exceptions are three generic-looking candy bars (no brand name), plus a fake candy called "Picaroon".
  • A close-up of Kevin's computer in a deleted scene shows that he is deleting 13,038 files, including "When Hairy Met Sally.wmv" [sic], "2+1=Crazy Love!.wmv", and many files whose titles are combinations of the phrases "Night of", "Hot Heat of", "Naughty", "Crazy", "Lovin'", "Nurse", "Babysitter", and "Monkey" (!). Screen shot.
  • Even Sadiq the IT guy was invited to the party.
  • Jim's roommate Mark and the roommate's girlfriend are constantly cuddling. The actors had not met before.[1]
  • Kevin's fiancée Stacey (the blonde-haired woman) and Stanley's wife Terry (the brunette next to Stanley) both attend the party.[1]
  • Tacked to the cork board above Jim's desk at home is what appears to be a tiny doll dressed as a Dunder Mifflin warehouse employee hanging from a noose. Maybe Roy?
  • Angela dropped off her coat and purse on Jim's bed.[1]
  • The plaid shirt Creed wears to the party reappears as his gift to Jim in the following episode Christmas Party.
  • When Jim and Michael are singing Islands in the Stream, Jim winks at Pam during the part, "Makin' love with each other."
  • Care is taken to draw attention to both Dwight's and Angela's shoes early in the party: Dwight shows off his Birkenstocks, and Angela complains about sap on her shoes. This enables the reveal at the end of the episode with the two pairs of feet. Dwights feet are facing downward, which means he was on his stomach while Angela was on top of him.
  • "Michael Scarn" is Michael's fictitious Secret Agent character who appears in his movie, Threat Level Midnight.
  • Michael arrives just as Kevin sings, "Just turn around now, 'cause you're not welcome any more."


  • Sadiq wears a turban, which is strongly associated with Sikhism. However, other aspects of his character are inconsistent with this. See Sadiq goofs for details.
  • In Meredith's e-vite that Michael opens, the "Yes" list says 14, but only 10 names are listed. When Michael reads off the names of attendees, he does not say (and the screen does not show) Joe, Mike and Matt - who all appeared the first time the e-vite was shown. This further reduces the "Yes" confirmations to 7.
  • When Michael asks Dwight about his evening plans, Dwight's coat collar changes from flipped up to folded down.
  • When Michael leaves the improv class, he does not wear a necktie, but he has one on when he arrives at Jim's party. It seems unlikely that he would put on a necktie to go to Jim's party, so this is probably a continuity error.
  • The set decorators used the same poster in Jim's room and along the staircase.
  • Michael mentions eating ramen noodles in college, but he never went to college. This may just be Michael lying, but in other episodes he seems more open about his lack of post-secondary education.
  • Spoiler: A copy of Call of Duty is seen on Jim's desk at home. However, in "The Coup," Jim indicates that he has never played the game before. During Season 2, the writers had a Call of Duty story card on the wall, and this was a failed attempt to introduce it.[2]:36:07 The writers hoped that nobody noticed the game's background appearance in this earlier episode.
  • Spoiler: There is a guitar in Jim's room. In "Local Ad", Jim's Second Life character has a guitar slung across his back. Pam remarks, "I did not know you played guitar", and Jim quickly changes the subject. Does Jim want to play guitar and never got around to it? Is he embarrassed that he's a bad guitar player? Is he just embarrassed that he plays guitar at all because he wants his image to be more of a sports kind of guy?

Behind the scenes

  • The unusual camera angles When Michael comes out of his office and Dwight surprises him are because Omi Vaidya was not on set that day, and they needed to hide the fact that he wasn't in the office.[1]
  • Michael constantly producing a gun in improv class was based on a colleague of Steve Carell at Second City who would always pull a gun during scenes.[3]
  • The scene in Jim's bedroom is carefully choreographed so that Pam ends up on Jim's bed in a very natural way.[1]
  • The yearbook picture is a real picture of John Krasinski, pasted into an otherwise fake yearbook. The other items in Jim's room are props.[1]
  • Phyllis Smith was not familiar with the song Here I Go Again and practiced it constantly in preparation for the karaoke scene.[1]

Cultural references

  • Michael says Oil can in an impression of the Tin Man character from the movie The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Big Brother is the personification of the surveillance state in George Orwell's dystopia 1984. Also from 1984, the direct quote "I love Big Brother"
  • Battlestar Galactica is a science fiction television program.
  • Michael shouts, Oooh, ooh, Mr. Kotter! in imitation of the character Horshack from the 1970s television comedy Welcome Back, Kotter.
  • Bernie's Tavern is a pub in Scranton.
  • Dale Earnhardt was an American race car driver.
  • Amazon.com is a large Internet retailer.
  • Cup Noodles or Cup of Noodles is a brand of instant ramen noodles.
  • An e-vite is a form of invitation distributed by email.
  • Michael says "You too, Dwight?" which could be a reference to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and the famous quote, "Et tu, Brute?" as Michael's most loyal companion, Dwight, betrays him just as Brutus betrayed Caesar. Another Julius Caesar reference is made in "Special Project."


see Email Surveillance Quotes


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast

  • Jeffrey Muller as Mark
  • Michael Naughton as Chris
  • Jonathan Browning as Steve
  • Ken Jeong as Bill
  • Colleen Smith as Stephanie
  • Anderson Reid as Dave
  • Nikki McCauley as Mark's girlfriend
  • Dee Ryan as Marybeth


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. 2020. Office Ladies: Email Surveillance podcast.
  2. Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 31: The Coup. "Office Ladies" podcast, June 10, 2020.
  3. "Conversations with Steve Carell." Screen Actors Guild Foundation, January 4, 2015. Excerpt.