Monday, May 19, 2008

The Office: You Can't Always Get What You Want

I thought I was in a real quandary.

Last week, I pondered which of the many, many things that had been set up on The Office would actually come to fruition. Would Jim and Pam seek greener pastures far away from Scranton, PA? Would Toby pull a “Casino Night” and lay his feelings for Pam out on the table? How would Pam and/or Jim react to such a move? And, ultimately, would Jim propose? I thought the conflict of the episode would come in the fact that surely not ALL of these things could happen.

I was so unprepared for the possibility that NOTHING would happen.

And yet nothing did.

There was so much possibility for Jim and Pam going into the season finale, and I was so terribly disappointed—from both the in-canon perspective and the this-is-a-show perspective—that they were left on the exact same level they were eight episodes ago.

They did get a few cute moments in. Pam getting accepted to design school was sweet and exciting for her, and their mutual anticipation about a prospective proposal would have been precious if not for the disappointment with which the joyful feeling is now forever entangled.

As a storyline, this is just dumb.

We’ve been anxiously waiting since “Chair Model” for a Jam proposal. When Jim said, “Well, that’s coming,” I believed him. I was stupid.

I would venture to guess that the season five premiere will pick up three months later, once Pam has returned from design school and Baby Levinson has been born. (Oh, snap—who called that one, by the way?) If Pam and Jim are not engaged by this point, then it’s even more pathetic because Jim’s either a huge pansy or Pam said no. And if they ARE engaged by this point, then you didn’t show me it and I’m going to be hella upset!

Throughout the episode, my co-watchers and I just kept waiting for a little resolution to any of the many Jam things currently up in the air. When Ryan was marched out of HQ on fraud charges (Thanks, YouTube!), we thought we had cracked the code. Jim would get Ryan’s job, and Jam would head off to NYC together. Win win win. But that clearly didn’t happen.

My dad has predicted that Pam will strike up a relationship with somebody new while in New York. Others I know think Jim and Pam’s relationship is just dandy. Others are burying themselves in happy thoughts of post-ep proposals on the roof. The problem as I see it is that the longer Jim postpones getting married, the more Jim risks looking like Roy. And the more likely Pam will—and should—say no.

I’ve been hearing a lot of takes on what people think will happen to Jim and Pam in the aftermath of “Goodbye, Toby.” For most people, it goes something like this: Pam is acting weird. Jim knows why Pam is acting weird. They talk about their mutual disappointment. Jim wanted it to be special. Pam just wanted it to happen. Jim proposes.

No, thank you.

By focusing so much on the situation of the proposal, Jim is putting way too little faith in Pam. And by planning to do it in the Dunder-Mifflin parking lot of all places (regardless of how done-up it was), Jim disregarded the less-than-joyful memories they have of that place. We should’ve known the proposal would be botched with such a historically doom-filled setting. The rooftop or the spot right in front of Jim’s desk would have been a much more appropriate location for Jim to propose.

Location isn’t critical, though. No matter what, Jim should have just freakin’ done it.

Pam’s got to be second-guessing their relationship at this point. I sure would be. Jim would be a fool to send her off to art school without a ring on her finger. Yeah, Andy ruined the moment, but he didn’t have to ruin the whole evening, which is exactly what Jim let him do. So I think it’s up to Pam to step it up and either propose herself, offer Jim an ultimatum, or break it off. Her mistake, I think, was in giving away her answer way too early. Jim thinks their marriage is an inevitability—I’ve watched television long enough to know that it’s not—and he’s confident enough in her answer to let this prolonged limbo go on for way too long. He doesn’t think he’s risking her yes, so Pam needs to make it clear that he actually is risking it. Because at this point he’s taking advantage of Pam’s love for him, and the writers are taking advantage of me.

And I am tired of it. I hate being dragged along with a stupid storyline—especially when it’s only recently taken the turn from brilliant to stupid.

UGH Jim. Do you remember how easy it was for Jack to propose to Kate? It’s really only four words. Grow a pair and ask her.

That all said, it was finally a funny episode. These last several have been pretty serious downers, and I’m glad to see that it at least picked up a little there at the end. The Kevin/Holly stuff was AMAZING, as was the kick-off of the Jan and Michael as parents storyline. That’s what I’m looking forward to for next season.

And Angela Martin…tsk tsk. God, I wish I had the words to describe how perfect that tag was. When the episode ended, I looked at my friend in disbelief that Jim and Pam had actually ended the season without an engagement. There was a big part of me hoping that the tag would let my Jam heart relax for the summer. But that reveal was perhaps even better. The looks on both of their faces—priceless. Dwight’s surprised and Angela’s just pissed.

Hey, at least somebody got what they wanted.

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