Chelsea Field as Emily Burch
Emily Burch, Michael's friend from college, returns and temptation ensues
Michael opens with a dream sequence about burning his correspondence with Emily Burch, an old friend from college who is coming to stay with them while she's in Philadelphia on business. She's been in England since they were sophomores in college, and Hope insisted on inviting her to stay with them. Janey's first birthday party is coming up and Hope decides they should invite Nancy instead of Elliot. Much is made of the fact that Michael and Emily never slept together, though the friends enjoy speculating on what might have happened. They all meet in the aftermath of Janey's birthday party, and while visiting about Emily's job as a VP for a bookstore chain, Melissa brings up a poem that Michael and Emily wrote together. Michael would write a stanza, mail it to Emily in England, she would write back, and they supposedly never finished it. Michael and Emily stay up late visiting.
The next morning, Emily encourages Nancy to bring over her illustrations for the story because she really wants to look at them. Emily goes to the office, looking for Michael, but meets and is charmed by Elliot instead and they go to lunch where Emily shares that she and Michael really wanted to be writers back in college. While working out, Gary presses Michael about why he and Emily never got involved all those years ago. Returning to the office, Michael is slightly jealous that Emily went to lunch with Elliot and now has a dinner date with him. While waiting up late that night and hashing it through with Hope, Michael has a horrible vision of Elliot showing him a slide show of his date with Emily.
Hope lets Nancy know about it the next day, which makes Nancy feel a little awkward about having lunch with Emily. Hope finally begins to wonder if there was something more to Michael's feelings. At the office, Elliot runs on a little too long about what a great time he had on the date, and Michael finally communicates that Elliot had better not sleep with her. Walking back home with Michael, Emily apologizes for how much she's been in and out and regrets that they haven't gotten to talk more. They discuss what it's like to be involved with married men, and Emily admits that she's occasionally gone out with them.
That night, Hope's patience has worn thin as Michael lies awake waiting for Emily to come home. He presses her to tell him what's wrong and they finally blow up about the simmering tension. When Emily finally returns (Gary in tow), Michael is up waiting and drinking chocolate milk. Michael suggests that Emily move to a hotel and she takes the suggestion. Michael goes to mope at Melissa's while Hope spills all to Nancy. Gary is waiting for Michael when he leave's the loft and tries to apologize and explain about why he was with Emily the night before. They sit in the car and talk, Gary revealing that he once slept with Emily in college while Michael was off in the library with Ruth Corrigan, fifteen years ago. Gary tells Michael not to be jealous, reminding him that he tried to get Michael to do something about it and he wouldn't, to which Michael vehemently counters that in college he had confessed to Gary that he loved Emily, but Gary went ahead anyway.
Michael then goes to Emily's hotel to see her and apologizes for asking her to leave. She confesses that she had expected more of an emotional reception from him and that she's still mad about Ruth Corrigan and angry that they wouldn't end up together this time either. Emily produces the notebook with their poem in it. Michael confesses his plan all those years ago when they went on a date just before she left for England--he was going to walk past the bus stop and take her to the Adams Hotel and they would sleep together. But it was snowing and Gary picked them up in his VW, it never happened, and she went to England two days later. Emily asks him why he didn't do something on all the other opportunities, and he confesses that he was afraid of being shut out the way that she did all the other men who tried to hold on to her, and he knew that he couldn't count on her. Emily hands him back the poem, turning to the last page, which she has finished two hours ago. The last stanza, not read aloud, seems to indicate her love and desire for him even now. Michael kisses her once, tells her they can never be together, and returns home to Hope and Janey.
Michael's father had already left when they were 19 and had all met at Pen Michael dated Ruth Corrigan in college Michael and Emily saw Carnal Knowledge together Michael and Emily's poem was written in a little green notebook that he hid inside the Lord of the Rings Nancy and Elliot met 14 years ago, slept together the second night they knew each other and he moved into her dorm room Elliot paid for his date on the company credit card.
In the opening, Michael daydreams of his life as a storage facility, with boxes of letters to Emily that Hope wants to burn. Michael also has a nightmare that Elliot gives him a slide show of his date with Emily.
"Emily? No, they never slept together. I know, he would've told me." --Melissa
"No, asking if you made a pass at a woman, Elliot, is like asking if there's gravity today." --Michael
"The world is rather fragile for them. It makes them in a strange way very beautiful. Married men make very tender lovers." --Emily
"Don't you minimize me!" --Hope's worst line of all time
"I can handle the women you've slept with. The problem is what do I do about the women you want to sleep with." --one of Hope's better lines
"Getting upset with Gary is like getting upset about continental drift." --Melissa
"Seduction called on account of cold." --Emily, on that ill-fated last date
Q: You stated that your script "undone" "didn't win you any friends among the women of the staff"--without having to plead the 5th, could you elaborate? It's always been one of my favorite episodes and as a woman I never remotely took offense at it.
A: My memory is that there were people who took exception to this woman showing up out of the past and being so unambiguous about what she was offering Michael...and that Michael was being more than a little naive about what she wanted. I knew what was going on and how far Michael would go, but Iím a guy and sometimes we can be pretty clueless about these things.
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