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"The Whale" is the seventh episode of the ninth season of the The Office and the show's 183rd overall. It was written by Carrie Kemper and directed by Rodman Flender. It aired on November 15, 2012 and was viewed by 4.16 million people.

In the episode, Dwight must sell to a woman at the lucrative Scranton White Pages, causing Pam and the ladies to teach him how to interact with female clients. Angela suspects the Senator is cheating on her; she and Oscar spy on him at his yoga class. Meanwhile, Andy Skypes in from his boat, and Toby convinces several guys in the office to grow mustaches in honor of "Movember".

Synopsis

Andy and the rest of the office staff talk through Skype. The staff are horrified to see Andy shirtless and badly sunburned. Andy shows them around the boat and accidentally knocks various items of importance overboard such as his drinking water, a hose used to convert salt water into fresh water, and eventually the laptop he is using. Darryl then tells the cameras Andy has only been sailing for two days.

David Wallace calls to tell the branch that a massive client, Scranton White Pages, a phone book company, has recently dropped their paper supplier of 10 years and is now interested in Dunder Mifflin. Dwight brags that David has selected him to go after this "white whale" of a client instead of Jim, but David says he wants Jim on the call too. Dwight tries to take the phone off speaker, to keep Jim from being included, but Jim unplugs the handset and puts it in his desk drawer. When David tells Dwight that the new CEO is a woman, the women of the office begin to worry as Dwight is horrible when it comes to female clients. Pam asks Jim if he can go instead, but he can't due to a conference call for the company he and his friends are working on. They women all agree to coach Dwight on how to be respectful to women.

Meanwhile, Pete, Clark, Toby, and Kevin are growing out their facial hair to support a charity for prostate cancer research. Toby likes the idea as he feels that he is bonding with the others in the office.

Angela confides in Oscar that she thinks the Senator might be having an affair, which horrifies Oscar, knowing that she might be on to them. He tries to assure her that he isn't, but when Angela tells him about a yoga studio he is always at and how he is always with someone named Blake, Oscar begins to worry that the Senator is cheating on him as well. The two agree to stake him out.

Pam tries to teach Dwight how to be respectful to women and teaches him ways to indicate that he is listening such as smiling and nodding, but Dwight appears creepy when doing so. Nellie and Phyllis try to help him, but they soon deem him "hopeless". Pam agrees to go on the sales pitch with Dwight and try to help him.

Meanwhile, Jim calls his friends to discuss the investment and is embarrassed to learn that he is the only one calling and all the others are actually there. He tries to talk to them through his office phone, but various distractions around the office prevent Jim from focusing.

Oscar and Angela spy on the Senator and while Oscar is relieved to know that Blake is a woman, Angela becomes jealous. However, it is revealed that Blake has a boyfriend letting Angela relax, but Oscar becomes jealous when he notices another man and the Senator getting along quite nicely.

Dwight and Pam arrive at the White Pages office and they soon realize that the CEO is Jan Levinson. Pam tells Dwight to forget all they had taught him. Jan arrives and becomes furious when she realizes that Dwight and Pam are the sales representatives as she was expecting David Wallace. She had wanted to show David how powerful she had become and never planned to do business with Dunder Mifflin at all. Dwight, however, still intends to land this massive client and he tells Pam to stall before leaving the room.

Toby enjoys spending time with the other men in the office as he feels he is really bonding with them. Meanwhile, Pete jokes around with Erin about his mustache and when it's obvious that Erin thinks it's ugly, Pete shaves it off.

Angela begins to get suspicious as to why Oscar is so focused on the Senator. Before Oscar can leave, they watch the Senator make a phone call and when Oscar's phone starts to ring, he looks up to an angry and terrifying-looking Angela.

Jim tries to talk to the other investors in the parking lot, but a loud saw across the street causes him to go to a quieter area and he accidentally sets off Meredith's car alarm. Hank then comes out believing that the local skateboard punks are back and yells for them to come out. Meredith also comes out, believing that someone is breaking into her car, causing even more chaos and noise for Jim.

Pam is forced to watch a very awkward and weird slideshow of Astrid with Jan's singing. Dwight arrives with Clark and exploits Jan's fetish for younger men. Clark, however, appears to believe he was going to Quiznos. Jan agrees to take Clark in as her "personal Dunder Mifflin liaison" in exchange for giving Dwight her business.

Jim apologizes to his friends for all the chaos of their phone call, but they admit they don't feel "this is working". Jim asks what that means.

On the way out of the building, Dwight and Pam convince Jan's emotional and low self-esteemed secretary, Molly, that she should quit as Jan is likely to fire her anyway. She appears to like Dwight as he seems empathetic to her problems. Pam encourages Dwight to get her number, to which Dwight replies he already got "it", referring to her license plate number, and that this is all he needs to get her phone number. Dwight then promises Pam he will gossip about what they do on their date since "...women love gossip. It's like air to you people."

Cultural references

  • Skype is a video conferencing application.
  • In sales jargon, a whale is a very large potential client. They are very profitable and require extraordinary effort to close.
  • Dwight refers to the potential client as a white whale, confusing the sales term with main antagonist of Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick, the great white whale.
  • The white pages, which is the sale that Dwight is attempting to make, are a listing of telephone subscribers in a geographical area or subscribers to services provided by the organization that publishes the directory.
  • Toby organizes a Movember celebration, which is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other male cancers and associated charities.[1]Clark, Kevin and Pete also participate.
  • Pete says, "Calm down, just me, not Tom Selleck." Selleck is famous for his trademark mustache.
  • Andy has watched Dirty Dancing 10 times while sailing to the Bahamas.
  • Erin appears to misinterpret the meaning of "No Woman, No Cry," but the joke is on the writers: the lyric actually does mean "No, woman, don't cry," not "Women cause men to cry."
  • Creed misses former US president Bill Clinton.
  • Jim's business partners joke that his voice sounds low like Batman's.
  • Pam talks about watching Pulp Fiction and feeling sorry for the characters.
  • Angela calls the small trainer Thumbelina, like the fairy tale character.
  • Jim tries to talk about the genius of Air Jordan, a brand of shoes.

Connections to previous episodes

  • The Warhol-style painting of Jan is from Michael's old condo, as are the Serenity by Jan candles, both last seen in Dinner Party.
  • The episode sees the return of Melora Hardin as Jan Levinson, a former character in the series who left after the early part of the fifth season. However, Hardin made two short appearances on the show during the seventh season episodes Sex Ed and Threat Level Midnight.
  • Pam mentions that she and Jim were pretty sure Jan had an affair with her then-17-year-old assistant Hunter. In Dinner Party, it was heavily implied that Jan took his virginity.
  • Jan's desire to get revenge on Wallace dates back to the third-season finale The Job, when she was fired.
  • Pam pretends to have trouble spelling Astrid's name. In Baby Shower, it was Michael who couldn't spell her name correctly.

Amusing details/Trivia

  • Ed Helms only appears in the episode's cold open; he was written out of several episodes of the season in order to film The Hangover Part III.
  • "The Whale" was written by executive story editor Carrie Kemper, who is the younger sister of cast member Ellie Kemper, making it her third writing credit for the series. She also played the role of Molly, Jan's assistant.
  • If one looks closely next to Erin's iMac, it can be seen that Michael, Dwight and Jim have their phone extension written down on a post-it-note.
  • David knew that Dwight and Pam would be meeting with a woman, but it's revealed later that Jan's secretary was instructed not to give her name.
  • As they leave, Pam and Dwight talk to Molly, who is on her way to Jan's office with a bottle of wine and two glasses, presumably for her and Clark.
  • Dwight gives Molly's license plate as 415-YCL. Pennsylvania passenger car license plates have never taken that form. (The format since 1991 has been XXX-0000. Earlier formats include XXX-000 and 000-00X, but not 000-XXX.) The show probably chose this form to avoid matching a real license plate.

Cast

Main Cast

Supporting Cast

Guest Cast

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