But. If I were to pretend that Pam had been officially more-or-less written off the show and Jim were, I don't know, happily dating Katy off-screen while Pam was married to Roy and this was one of those old rare angst-free "we're-just-friends" episodes, here is what I might say about it (in no particular order):
1. Michael is incredible in this episode. Excepting the cold open, which I have already decided to declare non-existent because it's stupid, unfunny, and adds nothing, I cannot remember a second of screen time that makes me double over in painful cringing. NOT ONE! He is, 95% of the time, not only a normal character but an effective and believable boss. This happens less than once in a blue moon. I'm shocked speechless. The only time he even slightly veers towards that territory is when he talks about having tons of leftover guacamole, but still, you can believe there's a boss out there who's vaguely pathetic like that.
I'm just, alsdjfalksdf, why can't Michael be like this all the time so I could stop hating him? Between actually coming up with a competent response to improve salesmen's customer relations, and taking serious action towards Kelly...yeah, he ultimately lets her off the hook, but still. That scene felt realistic, and possibly even mature.
I hereby issue a temporary Writ of Liking Michael. I'll probably have to rescind it in about 12 hours, but it was nice while it lasted.
2. I get very sad and uncomfortable when Michael says "You know, she has a point about you two. You do have a problem dealing with people." Because - it's kind of true, now, since Jim is So Over anybody who's not Pam. He didn't used to be! Remember E-MAIL SURVEILLANCE?? He used to get along with everybody, including Steve the Vending Machine Guy! But somewhere in season 4 (or 3?), the Everybody Hates Jim tide turned, and meanwhile he's gotten pretty disengaged from everyone (drat it, there's an engagement pun waiting to happen in there) he works with.
It's just tragic to have to put him in the same category as Dwight on that one.
3. The slow reveal of the mystery was incredble. I freely admit that I was on the edge of my seat the whole time - I mean, I figured it was Kelly, but we also all figured Ryan was involved somehow, and of course I had no idea why or how all the loose threads would play together, so it was exciting watching it come together. Also, Detective Jim is hot.
V: Is there a version of Jim you don't find hot?
RS: Onion Loaf Haircut Jim.
V: Of course you have a prepared response. *rolls eyes*
4. Um, "I LOVE YOU." FROM BOTH SIDES. (FINALLY.) Which would have merited like 8,000 rewinds all on its own, but then you get Dwight's outraged "WHAT DO YOU THINK I'M SAYING TO YOU?!" and I literally cannot watch that without bursting into laughter. I've seen it tens of times, and even when I'm sitting on a crowded bus, you can see me hunched over, lips twitching around a smile as I desperately try to stifle my giggle fit.
5. I didn't think the engagement-ring-after-a-week was creepy, and I feel no different about Jim buying a house as a surprise. I'm kind of thrilled about it being his parents' house, even, because my family lives in the house Dad grew up in, and speaking from experience it's just delightful to have all that history. Plus this way, the brothers' childhood home (I'm going to be optimistic like that and assume it's not a recent move) never gets turned over to strangers, and you have to admit that's nice.
That being said, WAUGH, JIM, ARE YOU TRYING TO GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK? I just told you, in response to "I ran out of money!" Pam, about the sociology class I'm taking and how I'm up to my ears in tales of woe about how financial difficulty ruins marriages/young families. You know what the number one force behind such financial struggling is? DIFFICULTY MAKING MORTGAGE PAYMENTS. So. Please don't even make jokes about not being able to afford it, mmkay?
5.5 Incidentally, my personal canon is that Jim's parents were going to sell the house anyway, and Jim didn't want to let it go, figured it coincided nicely with his engagement so he offered to buy it, and here we are.
6. KELLY. I'm overjoyed that she finally got to have a central storyline again (one that didn't involve Darryl! Double score), and I don't even have the words to begin to express my glee with it. "I was raped!" *cracks up* See, this is why she belongs with Ryan. What other couple could blame all their problems on rape and inability to process 9/11?
(I think it's weird that she'd hold such a grudge about though, considering Ryan says the place "was packed." How upset could she have been about two co-workers not coming, honestly? Then again, I also think it's weird that either everyone coincidentally used their photo mugs on the same day, or that Jim never noticed any of them in use before, so I guess we have to sacrifice some logic for dramatic purposes)
7. RYAN. Oh, pleeeeeeeeease don't let the rumor about B.J. Novak leaving for good be true, because I might cry. I loved Owly Little Temp Ryan, but I got used to Corporate Satan Ryan too, and right now Demoted Corporate Satan Ryan's lines just make me howl with laughter. I don't even know how you describe his tone anymore, but hilarious. Just like Jim's world-weary expression every time he starts up a conversation hoping for some semblance of normalcy, only to have to endure other round of meaningless expressions.
8. There was a tiny glimmer of the old, likeable Pam when she protested "Don't give him Snoopy, that's mine!" Awww. So cute.
9. According to the Q&A with the writer, the magical Tiny Bluetooths that get such a feature in this episode don't exist - not in that size. COME ON, SHOW. You're so good about grounding yourselves in reality...who came up with this nonsense? I bet it was the same guy who decided to repeatedly insist that Pam's art program was 3 months, and give us title cards with dates and everything, only to inexplicably stretch it out past Halloween with no mention of this fact. I hate that guy.
10. Back to Kelly for a minute, you know, when I said I wished she and Jim would have more interaction? This was not what I had in mind! I don't want her sabotaging his results and him crossing his arms and frowning in disapproval*! (* well, I do want that, just not in this context) Favorite and second-favorite characters, why you gotta be at such odds with each other? *sadface*
11. None of this is going to prevent from now running off to concoct a scenario in which Jim, regardless of the whole "you almost cost me my bonus" thing, very sweetly and sincerely apologizes for unintentionally hurting her feelings. I might even need to imagine hugging.
12. I'm furious at the whole simulated-sales-call scene, which everyone else inexplicably likes, because it could have been so funny - comedic GOLD, something this show does not have a ready supply of - but it was completely ruined by the crude-humor aspect. You know what, people? I'm not 10. Bathroom humor stopped being funny a long time ago. I actually get upset when I have to fast-forward past this scene, because Jim is incredible, but I just can't stand listening to that name keep coming up. They could have found a way to use that joke without being completely crass. I seem to recall an amusing commercial that made good use of "Mr. Dumass," for example.
(yep, I somehow find that far more acceptable. Don't ask me why. Oh wait, possibly because it doesn't conjure up disgusting mental images!)
13. Similar hatred for Pam's "That's what she said" freakout. That's ridiculously unprofessional, and it makes me want to slap her.
14. "You were right the whole time, buddy!" *LOVES* I've decided to be marginally OK with Pam never coming back to the office, because Jim & Dwight have officially become the two best people to share a scene. I cannot stop grinning like a fool every time I see this. AWWWWW. They make such a good team, it's almost as good as watching one pull a prank on the other!
15. By the way, the thing that really, really makes me furious about Lame Mad Men Dude's speech? Besides the fact that he has no business telling Pam how to live her life, or the fact that I think 3 months is the absolute maximum amount of time a person could stand to spend in a place like New York, or even the fact that I'm SICK of everyone acting like New York is the only place in the world that's ever even heard of art? I hate that he says "If even a tiny part of you wants to be an artist," implying that unless she stays, she's not a true artist. My way or the highway much?
That's a disgustingly elitist attitude, anyway, belittling her chances to prove herself anywhere else. You know what? Schools all across the country churn out art majors every spring. They don't all come from New York. They don't all go to New York. Some of them become incredibly successful right where they are.
16. I am really enjoying the fact that Anger Management Andy keeps popping back up. I hope Angela's ultimate jilting will finally make his head explode (a la that Dwight cartoon, if possible).
17. Speaking of which, people keep inexplicably being on Andy's side in all this, which...what? Are you serious? I, personally, am getting nigh-orgasmic pleasure from watching Dwight and Angela's eyes gleam as they talk to and/or smile at one another, while the cluessless idiot sits RIGHT THERE, completely oblivious to their wiles. Personally, I demand nothing less than to eventually see them rip out Andy's STILL-BEATING HEART and hold it aloft in triumph while they laugh at his pain. Heh. *violent shiver of unholy glee*
18. I'm also highly pleased with that little glimpse into Dwight & Angela's romantic rendez-vous. An old barn with starlight visible through the roof...awwwwww.
19. Another tiny glimpse into adorable domesticity - "Ooh, cute shoes online!" Jim, all bemused and indulgent: "How many shoes do you need?"
Hey look, after writing all that, I found my running commentary! Here are some additional highlights:
(Cold Open) LIES. THIS "ENGAGEMENT" IS ALL LIES. As for this outbreak of wedding fever...calm it down, Office. Unless you want to change the title of the show. "The Wedding Planner" was a terrible movie, though.
*SNERT* DWIGHT PUNCH.
Heh, and I love how Jim's just hanging out in back, smirking, probably wondering why he hasn't been questioned about the wedding plans by the camera guy yet. Or else secure in the knowledge that he paid him off NOT to be asekd that...
SCREAMS. LAME MAD MEN DUDE IS BACK?? (which, by the way, is expressly how I plan to refer to him forever, regardless of whether or not we ever get a character name. Although if we do, I hope he's Stacey. It would fit.)
They're not telling anyone, huh? And I suppose nobody's going to notice them talking to themselves all day?
Where do I register a complaint about weddings being planned in the office?
Really? Wait, really? LIKE, REALLY? He's actually buying, like, an actual house, thereby conforming to yet another of my idealistic domestic daydream scenarios?? I, UM, FLAAAAAAAAAAAAIL. *melodious trumpeting sound*
"Centerfold!" MUSICAL WIN. (and how is that song not already in my library already? Must remedy that) As for Pam humming, if she doesn't get a scolding by episode's end for her noisemaking, I'll eat my non-existent hat.
"I personally choose to handle it like a normal person." *adores Jim*
[Ultra-running-commentary, pausing every few seconds:]
-NO! NO, LAME MAD MEN DUDE ("Alex," psh, whatever), NO! GTFO! GTF *OUT*! ANGSTY PLACE. WE'RE GOING TOWARDS IT WITH ALARMING SPEED.
-Please, Pam, don't, don't, *don't* turn off the bluetooth, you KNOW what that's going to do to Jim, PLEASE let him hear this. Hear you rejecting LMMD, I mean.
-Thank God, at least Jim's spidey sense is on high alert and he demands a sit-in.
-LMDD, IF YOU KISS HER, I SWEAR TO GOD I'M COMING IN THERE TO PUNCH YOU IN THE NOSE.
-How long til Pam tells Jim to shut up? It's very nice to hear his inputs, but it's got to be an irritating distraction for her.
-Haaaaa, he sucks. She came for the program, moron. And -- GOD, PAM, DON'T LISTEN TO HIM. FUCK. JIM IS BUYING HIS PARENTS' HOUSE FOR YOU. (and that's where my r.c. devolved into what I previously posted in my initial Hatey Post of Rage and Hate]
-Ooh, pissed Jim. Pissed Jim doesn't have time for Dwight's nonsense right now. That "Don't" is quite possibly the hottest instance of Dangerously Quiet Anger Jim yet.