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"Performance Review" is the eighth episode of the second season of The Office and the 14th overall. It was written by Larry Wilmore and directed by Paul Feig. It first aired on November 15, 2005 and viewed by 8 million people.

Cold open

Dwight gets a fitness orb and replaces his chair with it. He bounces on it all day while making sales calls and explains its benefits to Jim. Annoyed, Jim pops Dwight's orb with a pair of scissors, causing it, and Dwight, to collapse.

Summary

Michael gets a call from Jan who will be coming down to Scranton to do his performance review. She explains that there will be no other topics of discussion. Michael tells the camera that he and Jan mutually agreed that their relationship will remain professional.

In the meantime, it's everyone else's performance review time, as well. Dwight tries to convince Jim to tell Michael that they should sell more of a product they don't sell at all. Jim won't fall for it and irritates Dwight by telling him he's going to ask for a pay decrease instead of a raise. Then, after hearing Dwight inadvertently mess up the day, Jim decides to spend the rest of the day convincing him it's Friday instead of Thursday.

Michael plays back Jan's message during Pam's review, asking for her opinion. Pam starts to explain that she believes Jan means she didn't want to talk about anything else. Michael feels bummed and decides to proceed with her review. Not wanting his bad mood to affect her salary, Pam quickly backpedals to state that she believes Jan is conflicted because they work together and doesn't want her relationship with Michael to be awkward.

Stanley recommends that Michael focus on Jan's pauses as many women say more in their pauses. He even agrees that he learned all this wisdom "on the ghetto". He tells the camera this is all about his bonus.

Jan calls back in response to Michael's many calls, interrupting Angela's highly anticipated review. He tells her he needs closure on their relationship. She is adamant that they are not going to discuss anything else at their meeting. Michael realizes he needs more help so he asks Pam to get the suggestion box and get everyone in the conference room for a suggestion box meeting.

Upon Jan's arrival, Michael continues to try to steer their conversation to personal issues. He can't seem to understand that her duties as his supervisor do not constitute a personal interest in him. Pam tells him that the employees are gathered for the suggestion box meeting. Jan decides to sit in on it.

The suggestion box has clearly not been emptied in years. One question is about preparation for Y2K. Another appeal for mental health support is nixed when it's revealed that it was submitted by Tom, a former employee who committed suicide about a year ago, as Michael learns from Phyllis who mimes shooting oneself.

Michael is particularly dismissive of the suggestions, especially when they become personal. He gets into rude arguments with some of the employees when they try to explain. He lectures them about how they don't want to have to do this tomorrow. Dwight agrees. After all, they don't want to come in on Saturday. Michael starts to wonder at that, then pulls another suggestion: Michael shouldn't sleep with his boss.

Jan pulls Michael to his office where she can't understand what she has to do to convince him that they have no personal relationship. Dwight bursts in for his performance review, revealing that he takes no sick time and shows up on weekends and holidays using a copy of the building key. Jan expresses her concern that this is a serious offense. When Dwight insists on pitching himself, Jan takes a few minutes out in the hallway, refuses to answer the camera crew's questions, but does ask for a light for her cigarette.

Finally, Jan emerges to tell Michael she's leaving. She and Alan, Dunder-Mifflin's CFO, will do Michael's performance review tomorrow by phone. Michael races to the elevator to try to get an understanding of what's happening. Jan explains in no uncertain terms that they are not in a relationship. Michael was very nice that evening after the Chili's meeting, letting her cry and encouraging her during this vulnerable time after her divorce, but that's all it was. She has no romantic feelings for him. It's got nothing to do with his looks, but his personality is selfish and rude and annoying.

Now that Michael knows it's not his looks, he's much happier. He tells the camera that Jan isn't ready for a relationship right now...still completely missing the point.

The next day, Michael wanders into the sales department and asks where Dwight is. Jim hasn't seen him. Michael wanders off muttering about Dwight's claim to never miss work. Outside, Dwight, having realized it's not Saturday, after all, races inside, yelling his apologies.

Deleted scenes

The Season Two DVD contains a number of deleted scenes from this episode.

  • Oscar's talking head interview about his job review, where he worries that Michael will notice his extensive absences.
  • Dwight showing Jim a "visual aid" for his review, where he has made his name into a backronym.
  • Jan reminding Michael to keep business as the subject of their discussions. Michael theorizes in a talking head that Jan is on her period.
  • Jim asking Michael about his night with Jan using baseball terms, confusing Michael.
  • Michael sends Ryan to deal with a complaint, resulting in Ryan running around the building looking for more notes. Eventually, he returns to the suggestion box to find the final note, which then mocks him for doing so.
  • Alternate take of Michael reading the "don't sleep with your boss" suggestion, prompting Jan to announce to the staff that she and Michael are not in a relationship.
  • Pam and Jim discussing the date of a newspaper.
  • Dwight and Ryan discuss performance reviews by the vending machine. Dwight begins beating the snack machine out of frustration when he learns Ryan's interview came before his and that Ryan would be getting a small raise.
  • Dwight practicing how he will ask for a raise in the stairway while listening to rock music and performing martial arts, before noticing he is being recorded.
  • Michael claims in a talking-head that he and Jan are "taking a break", and decides to call Jan's ex-husband to ask about her; the conversation does not go well. He mentions the call to Jan by the elevator; an infuriated Jan tells him to stay out of her personal life.
  • Michael comparing his love for Jan with human anatomy.

Connections to other episodes

  • Dwight claims that he's never been late, but in this episode he is pranked into arriving late. Spoiler: Dwight arrives late in subsequent episodes, suggesting that his punctuality may have been exaggerated. For example, in "The Secret", Dwight is the last to arrive at work, giving Michael the opportunity to try the "updog" joke on him. In "A Benihana Christmas", he is also one of the last to arrive at work. In "Traveling Salesmen", Dwight's tardiness is a significant plot point.
  • Angela reveals that she participated in youth beauty pageants. Spoiler: This topic reappears in a deleted scene from "Frame Toby", in which Angela is dieting to try to fit into her youth pageant gown. It is alluded to in "Roy's Wedding" when Angela whether Erin has pageant experience.

Trivia

  • This episode contains some of the first hints of the secret romance between Dwight and Angela: Dwight smirks when Jim believes he's not having sex, and Angela tells Oscar and Kevin that "office romances are nobody's business but the people involved."
  • The first time Michael talks with Jan in his office, the documentary crew is outside the office because Michael wanted privacy. But the second time, the cameras are inside his office: Michael invited them in because he figured their presence would make it less likely that Jan would yell at him.[1]:42:09
  • Right before Pam talks to Jim about "The Apprentice" Meredith places a piece of lined yellow paper into the suggestion box. Later the note reading "Don't sleep with your boss" is shown as being on lined yellow paper, implying Meredith wrote it.
  • During the suggestion box meeting, one of the messages, regarding employee outreach for depression, comes from "Tom", a former accountant who committed suicide "about a year ago." During the ""Writer's Block" Q&A session at The Office Convention in 2007 (shown on the Season 4 DVD), it is implied two possibilities:
  • Ryan was hired as a temp to replace Tom. (This seems unlikely since Ryan is not seen doing accounting work and in Halloween, Angela says accounting is "three people doing the work of two.")
  • The documentary crew's original purpose was to observe how the Scranton branch coped with the death of an employee but changed their focus when they realized that the day-to-day ennui of a Michael-run office was a far more interesting subject.
  • Jim states that the Saturday of the week that the episode takes place within is the 15th. It is likely that the Saturday will be November 15, meaning that this episode takes place on November 13, 2005.
  • The 3rd Michael Scott absent in cold open.

Amusing details

  • Dwight and Angela were the only the two people who were looking forward to their performance review, and they are the ones who get a purely perfunctory review.
  • Michael asks Jan, "So my looks have nothing to do with it?" He misses the point of Jan's speech, and his main conclusion is that she doesn't find him unattractive.

Goofs

  • In the episode "The Fire", Dwight says, "Michael is in there right now evaluating the temp. He hasn't evaluated me in years." However, Pam says that performance reviews are annual and company-wide, and goes on to describe her review from the previous year.
  • The members of the office are able to clearly hear the entire conversation between Michael and Jan outside the elevator despite the fact that there are multiple doors separating them.
  • In the beginning, scene when Jim pops the fitness orb he was so surprised he jumps off screen laughing.
  • Dwight mentions having walking pneumonia, although in the episode "Health Care", he says he has never been sick.

Behind the scenes

  • The show bought a total of 17 fitness orbs. Three were used in rehearsals, leaving 14 for filming.[1]:08:30
  • The popped fitness orb is actually a blooper. The script called for the orb to deflate slowly, and they filmed several takes. In the final take, John Krasinski accidentally hit a seam, and the orb popped. You can see Krasinski jump out of the camera's view because he was laughing so much. You can also hear a cast/crewmember laugh and another start to say "What?" Writer Larry Wilmore loved this take so much, he fought for it to be kept in.[2]
  • Jenna Fischer was very sick during the taping of this episode.[1]:03:59 In her first talking head, you can hear a hint of a stuffy nose. Fischer said she was at her sickest on the day they filmed the scene in Michael's office listening to Jan's voicemail, and the cold medicine made it hard for her to concentrate, which is noticeable in her eyes.[1]:26:13 Creator Greg Daniels didn't know this and called Fischer's manager to say her performance was great and, "Whatever it is you did to prepare for this episode, keep it up."[1]:05:16
  • When Michael "replayed" the message from Jan, it was not a recording. Every time Steve Carell hit the button, Melora Hardin had to say her line. You can see this in a blooper, where Carell "replays" the message repeatedly.
  • When rehearsing the welcome scene, Steve Carell accidentally touched Melora Hardin's breast while trying to reach her shoulder. She thought it was so funny that she pushed for it to be added to the script.[3] Executing the move was tricky because it had to look like an accident even though it was rehearsed.[1]:41:10
  • Writer Larry Wilmore came up with the idea of Dwight repeating every suggestion after Michael read it, the same ridiculous way Ed McMahon repeated every question after Johnny Carson did so in his Carnac the Magnificent sketches.[1]:08:30
  • Writer Paul Lieberstein wrote the line "on the ghetto" for Stanley. There was debate in the writers room whether "on the ghetto" or "in the ghetto" was funnier, but "on the ghetto" won out.[1]:32:01
  • During the reading of the suggestions, Kelly covers her mouth with her hand. This is Mindy Kaling trying to hide her laughter, but you can still see it in her eyes.[1]:45:45
  • The show produced a photo of a young Angela Martin twirling a baton, which was ultimately not used.[1]:34:50
  • Much of Dwight's pre-meeting ritual in the stairwell was improvised by Rainn Wilson, such as the air guitar.[1]:46:15
  • Usually, scenes are filmed without music, and the music is added later. This allows the dialogue to be recorded cleanly. But Dwight's pre-meeting ritual in the stairwell was filmed with live music coming from his boombox. It made editing more difficult but improved the performance and added realism.[1]:47:13

Cultural references

  • I missed you can be interpreted in two ways. Jan intended it to mean "I failed to get in contact with you," but Michael interprets it to mean "I am saddened by your absence."
  • The Apprentice is a television reality game show hosted by Donald Trump. Every week one contestant is eliminated ("fired").
  • Dwight repeats every suggestion after Michael reads it, in the style of Ed McMahon, sidekick to former late-night talk show host Johnny Carson, in the Carnac the Magnificent sketches.
  • Y2K is shorthand for the year 2000. Computer failures caused by the change of century were a major concern in the 1990s.
  • B.O. is slang for body odor.
  • Dwight prepares for the performance review by listening to Wild Side by Mötley Crüe.
  • Lex Luthor is a DC Comics villain often opposed to the superhero Superman.

Quotes

see Performance Review Quotes

Cast

Main cast

Recurring cast

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 14: Performance Review with Larry Wilmore. "Office Ladies" podcast, February 5, 2020.
  2. Performance Review DVD commentary
  3. Performance Review DVD commentary


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