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"The Coup" is the third episode of the third season of The Office and the 31st overall. It was written by Paul Lieberstein and directed by Greg Daniels. It first aired on October 5, 2006.

Cold open

Pam supervises microwave popcorn in progress in the breakroom as Michael complains of dire hunger. He pulls a DVD copy of Varsity Blues from his office safe and calls it the only cure for Monday blues. Pam explains in an interview that Michael began Movie Monday with training videos, and continued the tradition with an ill-received medical video, likely a birthing video, six repeats of a single episode of Entourage and finally a feature film in thirty-minute increments.


Prior to the screening, Michael selects an excited Kevin to recite the previous action in the film, to bring the audience up to speed. Angela states her opposition to Movie Monday and indeed is the only staffer not in attendance when Jan pops into the branch unexpectedly. Jan scolds Michael despite his explanation that productivity increases following the screenings as employees must work harder due to the lost time.

In interviews, Angela and Dwight both note that Jan seems to have a vendetta against Michael for his choosing Carol over her, and fear it might affect the prospects of the Scranton branch. Angela summons Dwight to the breakroom, where they speak in their traditional manner with their back to each other. Angela tells Dwight she fears for their jobs under Michael's leadership and tells Dwight to speak to Jan about taking over the branch. In the parking lot, Dwight reaches Jan on her cell phone one hour out of Scranton. She does not want to speak but listens when he says it concerns Michael. Dwight instructs her to shop at the nearby Liz Claiborne outlet store — which he has determined to be a favorite brand of hers — until he can reach her. In order to leave, he tells Michael he is visiting a new dentist who works far away, so he will be gone for about three hours.

Jan and Dwight sit at a nearby diner where he orders two plates of waffles and begins to propose taking over the branch. Pouring syrup maniacally and proceeding to eat in a deliberate way for effect, he states that he could do the job better by firing half the staff, to whom he swears no loyalty since he doesn't care about any of his co-workers. As the meeting ends and Dwight sloppily devours his meal in front of her, he urges Jan to check out a new Ann Taylor outlet store nearby, as he has noticed that she is fond of the brand's earrings. Jan calls Michael, relays the entire meeting and demands he gets his branch under control.

Meanwhile, the Stamford branch has its own distraction, the computer war game Call of Duty, being played under the guise of a team-building exercise. New to the game, Jim plays poorly and he mentions video games weren't played at his former office. He does, however, reveal a prank in which he and Pam hummed the same high note in the hopes of Dwight scheduling an appointment to have his hearing checked, an activity Pam dubbed "pretendinitis".

Back in Scranton, Pam shops online for new clothes at Kelly's insistence. Upon the clothes' arrival, Kelly demands through chanting that Pam performs a lunchtime fashion show. Though Kelly, Phyllis, and Meredith compliment her on her clothes, Pam claims "it's too much" and considers returning them. Roy enters the breakroom and tells Pam she looks pretty. Kelly asks if that is his third soda of the day, to which he doesn't respond.

In Stamford, Jim manages to kill a player, but the thrill is short-lived as he is told he's killed a teammate on the German side. As another game starts up, Josh calls Jim and Andy for an impromptu huddle about game strategy. Andy blames the defeat on "the new guy," and as Jim reveals his use of a sniper rifle, both co-workers react in disgust, with Josh scolding Jim for using the weapon on an inappropriate map, and Andy claiming he is going to shoot Jim "for real."

Upon Dwight's return, a calm but clearly offended Michael initially tries to make him admit he didn't go to the dentist by feeding him M&M's and asking for the dentist's name, to which Dwight replies "Crentist." When Michael notes how the name sounds strangely like "dentist," Dwight reasons it may have been why he chose the profession. Later, Michael tells Dwight that Jan has called to demote him to Dwight's position as Assistant (to the) Regional Manager, and Dwight should be expecting a call from Corporate to take over as acting Regional Manager. Announcing it to the office, multiple people question Dwight's selection, and Kevin even expresses concern about Michael possibly losing his condo. Angela is the only one to congratulate Dwight, though later when she says in private that they could make a difference together, he corrects her to say as he would make a difference. Though Angela seems upset at first, she then smirks as Dwight offers her to be in charge of the female staff.

Michael eventually reveals the trick when Dwight casually refuses the keys to Michael's Corporate Chrysler Sebring convertible and insults the vehicle due to its poor gas mileage and impracticality in Scranton's climate. Taking the remark personally, Michael blows up at Dwight after he refuses to take back what he said, especially after Dwight previously stated that he loved the car (a lie meant to appease Michael). In turn, Dwight begins to beg for his job and grovels at the floor for Michael's forgiveness, offering to do his laundry for a month, then a year, to which Michael responds he has a laundry machine. Michael then forgives him and tells him to "Hug it out, bitch," which, Michael tells the camera, is what men say and do to each other after a fight (a reference to Michael's obsession with Entourage). Dwight returns quickly to being Michael's loyal right-hand man at the next Movie Monday, as Angela looks on in disappointment.

Pam decides to return to dressing her usual way at work when Creed walks over to her desk, blatantly looks down her shirt and refuses to leave the area. Pam covers up with a sweater and decides to keep the clothes for outside of the office.

Jim still can't get the hang of the game, and Karen catches him jumping in a corner trying to shoot with a smoke grenade. Karen tells the camera to "look at how cute he is," before telling Jim to turn his character around. Requesting any last words, she shoots his character point blank. Jim then turns to the camera and whispers "psychopath." At the end of the day, Jim pretends to throw a grenade towards her desk when leaving, to which she tosses a few paper clips in the resulting explosion. They laugh, and after he leaves, she still gives a slight wave and continues to stare at the exit.

Deciding he still harbored resentment towards Dwight, Michael forces him to solemnly stand atop a box with a "LIAR" sign dangling from his neck, in addition to one year of indentured servitude as a launderer.

Deleted scenes

The Season Three DVD contains a number of deleted scenes.

  • Dwight is sent to bring Angela to Movie Monday, but Angela refuses to go and suggests to Dwight that he would be a better manager.
  • In a talking head interview, Dwight describes the conflict between his paternal Schrute blood (which is loyal) and his maternal Manheim blood (which knows when to cut and run).
  • After Jan leaves Michael's office, Dwight attempts to give Michael advice on cutting costs, suggesting that he fire Meredith and charge Creed rent.
  • In a talking head interview (illustrated with footage of Creed in the office at night), Creed explains that he sleeps under his desk four nights a week and spends the remaining three nights in Toronto in order to milk the welfare state. "They don't know about this job up there."
  • Michael tries to resume watching the movie, but nobody is interested. Angela shoots Dwight a look of impatience.
  • Michael tediously recaps an episode of Grey's Anatomy for Pam. His summary is interrupted by a phone call. It's Jan. Michael warily returns to his office. In a talking head interview, Pam admits that she once faked a call from Jan to get out of Michael's synopsis of an episode of NCIS, and Michael has been suspicious ever since.
  • Pam's computer screen blanks due to inactivity, prompting her to use it as a mirror to see how her new sweater fits. Kevin drops off some documents, then stares at her chest and says, "Nice. Wow!" Pam uses a binder clip to close up her neckline.
  • Roy admits the only time he told Pam how nice she looked was at their senior prom.
  • Michael tries to come up with a career that rhymes with his own last name.
  • Dwight tells Michael of his plans for changing the office.
  • In a talking head interview, Phyllis considers quitting if Dwight is put in charge. Her fiancé told her that her new job is to be Mrs. Bob Vance.
  • In a talking head interview, Meredith considers telling Dwight that she has a dependent child to avoid being fired. She undoes a button on her blouse.
  • In a talking head interview, Creed doesn't believe working for Dwight will be any different.
  • In the video game, Jim kills Karen's character. He turns to gloat, only to discover that Karen isn't playing; she's talking with Jan. Jan comes over to Jim's computer and playfully presses a key that causes Jim's character to fall to its death. As she leaves for a meeting with Josh, she tells Jim, "Remind me to tell you what Dwight said to me earlier. You're going to get a big kick out of it." In a talking head interview, Jim acknowledges that the work environment in Stamford is very different from Scranton. "It's not bad."

Deleted scenes not on the DVD:

  • In a talking head interview, Angela says that an unnamed friend introduced her to the show Star Trek, in which an honorable character Spock stands up for what is right. She thinks someone else should do the same thing.

Connections to other episodes

  • Dwight calls Jan's cell phone. In the episode "Health Care", Jan tells Dwight not to call her cell phone again.
  • Dwight must stand on a desk in front of the whole office wearing a sign that says "LIAR" on it. Spoiler: In "Livin' the Dream", Dwight stands on the desk to exclaim to the whole office that he is permanently promoted to Regional Manager.
  • Michael makes Dwight do his laundry for a year. Spoiler: In "Traveling Salesmen", Andy uses this information to oust Dwight.


  • Continuity: When Jan arrives at Scranton, she puts her bag and coat on the chair in front of Michael's office. After Angela points to the conference room, Jan is holding her coat again.


  • In the inside door of Michael's cabinet, a picture of Carol has been placed over the framed picture of Jan. For a rundown of other changes to Michael's cabinet, see Michael's cabinet.
  • Angela's talking head interview at the start of the episode is in the annex. The window behind her looks into the break room. The location is explained in a deleted scene where Angela sits in the break room doing needlepoint.
  • When Dwight returns from his meeting, Michael asks him if he wants an M&M. Dwight replies he's "stuffed," which would be impossible since he was supposed to be at the dentist.
  • When Michael says, "And I guess I will be Assistant Regional Manager", Dwight corrects him to "Assistant to the Regional Manager", which is ironic because Michael corrected him on this for years.
  • Michael plays along with letting Dwight think he's the new Regional Manager, but what finally sets him off is Dwight insulting his car.
  • A close inspection of the computer screens reveals that Karen's username in Call of Duty is "KarentheJimSlayer". Andy's is "Here Comes Treble", presumably named for his a cappella group. Jim's is simply Jim Halpert.
  • Jan is infuriated at the Scranton Branch for watching a movie during work hours. Two scenes later we see that the Stamford Branch does the same, albeit playing video games instead. (In a deleted scene, Jan visits the Stamford branch and has no problem with them playing video games. She just has it out for Michael.)
  • This is the second consecutive episode in which someone looks down Pam's blouse.
  • Pam reveals that most of her after work clothes are pajamas.
  • This is one of the few episodes where Michael threatens to fire someone and he is not joking at all.
  • Angela convincing Dwight to betray Michael is reminiscent of the play Macbeth, where Lady Macbeth convinces her husband to overthrow his king.
  • This episode marks the beginning of Karen's infatuation with Jim.

Behind the scenes


Call of Duty

Call of Duty!

  • One of the producers at The Office installed Call of Duty on everybody's computers, and they play it at work.[1] The game made cameo appearances in the earlier episode "Email Surveillance" in Jim's house. Although Jim owns two versions of the game at home, he admits, "I really suck at it."
  • The writers had been looking for a way to use Call of Duty as a storyline. The Call of Duty scenes in the episode "Email Surveillance" were cut, so they tried again in this episode, hoping people wouldn't notice that Jim suddenly got bad at the game.[2]:32:03
  • The box of clothes Pam bought contained multiple identical shirts, just in different colors. This was a joke about how people say that they want to change their look, but end up just buying the same thing in different colors.[2]:28:59
  • Dwight's no-look syrup pour was scripted: "Dwight takes the syrup as he talks, without breaking eye contact with Jan, and pours it over everything on his plate." Dwight's voracious eating was an acting decision by Rainn Wilson.[2]:44:51
  • Dwight's secret meeting with Jan was filmed at Patys Restaurant in Toluca Lake, California.[2]:48:12
  • Ed Helms improvised most of Andy's "I'm really going to shoot you" outburst. John Krasinski (Jim) struggled not to break during that scene.[2]:51:47
  • Mindy Kaling improvised "Isn't that like your third soda today?" The scripted line was "Awkward!"[2]:51:32
  • To get the right facial reaction from Angela when Dwight tells her, "You can be in charge of the women," Greg Daniels told Angela Kinsey to imagine what Angela would do to the women.[2]:01:03:12
  • The scene in which Karen teases Jim for being bad at Call of Duty was the scene that Rashida Jones was asked to perform at her audition.[2]:01:03:38
  • The moment where Jim throws a pretend grenade, and Karen tosses some paper clips was improvised.[3] According to Jenna Fischer, the grenade scene was not in the original script but was developed on set.[2]:01:04:42

Cultural references

  • Varsity Blues is a 1999 film about a high school football team. When a quarterback is sacked, he is tackled before he can throw the ball. The quarterback is a vulnerable position, and a sack can cause injury, as it did in the movie.
  • Entourage is a television comedy about a young actor and the friends who follow him around.
  • Milk Duds are candy associated with movie theaters.
  • Call of Duty is a video game set in World War II. The town of Carentan in France is a multiplayer map in Call of Duty 2.
  • Liz Claiborne and Ann Taylor are retail chains which sell women's clothing. An outlet store sells irregular, out-of-date, or simply surplus clothing from a major manufacturer at a discount. They are typically located far from major cities. The Crossings Premium Outlets in Tannersville has both a Liz Claiborne and an Ann Taylor outlet store. It's about 45 minutes outside of Scranton along the most direct route between Scranton and New York City. However, it is at exit 299, not 40. Furthermore, in a deleted scene, Jan is at the Stamford office, and the store is not along the most direct route between Scranton and Stamford, either.
  • M&M is a brand of chocolate candy. It consists of a pea-sized piece of chocolate coated in a candy shell.
  • Karen the Jim Slayer is a reference to the movie and television program Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Let's hug it out, bitch is a famous line from Entourage. Watch it here. Amusingly, Entourage is tightly scripted, but actor Jeremy Piven was moved to improvise the line. Interview.
  • In a deleted scene, Michael recaps an episode of the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy.


Main cast

Supporting cast

Recurring cast


  1. He Knows Where You Work, Inc.com
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Kinsey, Angela and Jenna Fischer. Episode 31: The Coup. "Office Ladies" podcast, June 10, 2020.
  3. Shaw, Jessica, October 20, 2006) Entertainment Weekly, PaperMate.