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Initiation (The Office)

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The Office episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 5
Directed by Randall Einhorn
Written by B. J. Novak
Production code 305
Original air date October 19, 2006
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Grief Counseling"
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List of The Office (U.S. TV series) episodes

"Initiation" is the fifth episode of the third season of the American comedy television series The Office—the show's 33rd overall.[1] Written by B. J. Novak, who also acts in the show as Ryan Howard, and directed by Randall Einhorn, the episode first aired in the United States on October 19, 2006 on NBC.

In the episode Ryan is taken by Dwight on what he believes is a sales call, but instead is brought to Dwight's beet farm for an "initiation." Pam is supposed to keep track of Michael's productivity, but Michael spends his day waiting in line for a pretzel. Jim steals Karen's chair and foils her attempts to get it back.


In the cold open, Dwight tries to test Ryan with riddles found on a website, but is angered when Ryan knows all the answers before he even finishes talking.

Ryan Howard (B. J. Novak) plans to go to his first sales call with Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson). Dwight surprises Ryan by taking him to Dwight's beet farm to both teach and haze. When Ryan, a member of a fraternity in college, accuses him of trying to haze him into acceptance, Dwight snaps at him, saying the reason Ryan has yet to make a sale is because he thinks he knows everything, and must think otherwise to sell. After Dwight tries to force Ryan to wrestle his cousin Mose (Michael Schur), Ryan gets angry and walks out. Dwight apologizes to Ryan and begins to give Ryan serious sales advice as Ryan takes notes. The two then go on a sales call which ultimately doesn't work out for Ryan. Irritated, Ryan throws eggs at the building housing the company that refused his sale. Dwight and Ryan then go to a bar and return to the office, where it appears they formed a new bond.

Jan Levinson (Melora Hardin) instructs receptionist Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) to keep a log of Michael Scott's (Steve Carell) activity, and throughout the day, she dryly notes Michael's antics, including a Bill Cosby impression for a potential customer and waiting in line with Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker) for a free soft pretzel, while hinting to Michael that he should focus on being productive. Michael enjoys Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll" in his office at a high volume. After consuming his sugary pretzel, Michael emerges from his office and launches into a hyperactive, sugar-fueled speech before falling asleep at his desk. At the end of the day, Pam realizes that Michael's antics secured a large sale.

At Dunder Mifflin's Stamford branch, Karen Filippelli (Rashida Jones) discovers that Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) swapped his chair for hers, but Jim foils her efforts to switch them back. The two flirt for a while before Karen steals Andy Bernard's (Ed Helms) chair. Later that night, Jim, who was trying to call Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner), ends up talking to Pam on the phone for the first time since the two kissed. The two have a lengthy conversation and begin to reconnect. Jim misinterprets Pam's parting phrase to Ryan as being directed at him, and the two end their conversation, much to their sadness. The episode ends with a brief talking head of Stanley, counting down the days left in the year until the next Pretzel day.


This episode was the first full episode of the series directed by Randall Einhorn. Einhorn had previously directed all ten webisodes of the spin-off mini-series "The Accountants". "Initiation" was written by B. J. Novak, who also acts for the show as Ryan Howard.[2]

The episode was filmed before "Grief Counseling", but it aired after it. There were rumors that "Initiation" was supposed to air before "Grief Counseling", but it turned out the location of the beet farm was only available that week.[3] Although the idea for writer Michael Schur to be Dwight's cousin Mose had been a joke among the writers since the first season, B. J. Novak pitched the idea when writing "Initiation". Schur had to grow out his beard for three months and wear wool clothes on a hot day as part of his character. Mose was based on an actual participant in the UPN reality show Amish in the City.[4] In this episode, Jim was seen singing Lovefool by The Cardigans. The song playing in Dwight's car when he and Ryan are driving to the beet farm is River Runs Red by Life of Agony. In the basket that Mose makes for Ryan is "something he whittled" which strongly resembles a Venus figurine.

The third season DVD contains a number of deleted scenes from the episode, including Jan asking Michael to record his day on a schedule, Ryan being hugged by Michael before leaving for his first sales call, Dwight and Ryan leaving the office, Michael reading his schedule in a talking head scene, Pam encouraging Michael to "focus" for the day, Ryan reflecting on his life path, and Dwight showing Ryan his family cemetery and making a reference to his Nazi grandfather by calling him "a good man...who did some VERY bad things".[5]


This episode was generally well received by critics. Abby West of Entertainment Weekly stated that "one of the many things I love about the show is how current it is. I love the pop-culture references, like Lost's Dharma Initiative, Deal or No Deal, and that soon-to-be classic SNL/Chronicles of Narnia sketch.[6] IGN's Brian Zoromski said that although the episode had "a few hit and miss moments", it "was a very well done episode that carried through on three main storylines" and "began and ended beautifully".[7] Aaron from eTV Review said that even if it "wasn’t as good as last week’s episode", it was still "another great one".[8] In a poll done by, "Initiation" was ranked by viewers as the thirteenth funniest of the twenty-three episodes of the third season.[9]


  1. ^ NBC (September 25, 2006) CHANGES/ADDITIONS TO THE NBC PRIMETIME SCHEDULE FOR THURSDAY, OCT 12 2006 – THURSDAY, OCT 12 2006 NBC, Retrieved June 24, 2008
  2. ^ "B.J. Novak". Retrieved 2008-06-27. 
  3. ^ Fischer, Jenna (October 19, 2006) Tonight – "The Initiation" – A new episode of The Office, Retrieved June 24, 2008
  4. ^ Tan, Jeannie (July 18, 2007) Q&A with Michael Schur: Part 3, Retrieved June 24, 2008
  5. ^ Deleted scenes for "Initiation" (DVD). The Office: Season Three Disc 1: Universal Studios Home Entertainment. 2007. 
  6. ^ West, Abby (October 20, 2006) Love Fools Entertainment Weekly, Retrieved June 24, 2008
  7. ^ Zoromski, Brian (October 20, 2006) The Office: "Initiation" Review IGN, Retrieved June 24, 2008
  8. ^ Aaron (October 20, 2006) The Office: "Initiation", Retrieved June 24, 2008
  9. ^ Tan, Jeannie (September 26, 2007) OfficeTally Survivor Poll: Season 3, Retrieved June 24, 2008

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