Yippee - I have more-or-less created a reprisal-from-homework weekend for myself! I mean, there's massive amounts of reading/discussion prep, and technically I should start working on some of the roughly 8 billion things that are due in the next 3-4 weeks (including two 4-5 page papers due the Monday and Friday after Thanksgiving break, respectively), but...right now, I don't exactly have to be doing anything, and I am running with that option.
For starters, you may have noticed that I am less than appreciative of 30 Rock, but I have seen enough of it to find this Sesame Street sketch amusing, and I thought some of you would enjoy it too. (P.S. If Liz Lemon was an actual lemon, I might like the show more.
Now, in news of better NBC shows in the 8:00 hour, I am determined to catch up on my Office rambings and possibly even meet the deadline for office_meta this week.
Despite the fact that this post took me forever to write and I only got last week's done.
5x08, "Business Trip"
Firstly, when they replayed the "Boy, you're cute" promo right before this episode, I sat bolt upright and flailed about with much "Eeeeeeeeeh!" and flapping of hands. "Does this mean things?! PLEASE MEAN THINGS." MTT had been chattering for weeks about various times they were sure Pam was going to come back, and I hoped every week that it would be "this one," but I was pretty sure I was keeping my pessimism hat on until right before Christmas. She was still here on Halloween; clearly Pam had decided to extend her summer program into the first semester.
AND THEN THE OPTIMISM HAT FINALLY CAME THROUGH! But we'll get to that in due time. The real reason I didn't get around to reviewing this last week is that I put it on my Sansa, and as such watched it like 3 or 4 times over the course of the week. And when I say "watched," I mean "watched anything with Jim and/or Pam several times in a row and spun with alarming speed through the title scenario," but...I place values on certain things more than others in determining what makes a good episode.
-OK, I'm going to be completely shameless and admit that Kevin slapping Jim's butt in congratulations is going on my list of Top Ten Office Moments (when I get around to making such a list). His expression. Hee! Chandler Bing has nothing on this.
-I was less impressed with Creed's creepy shoulder caress. Because, damn it, that's a scenario I like to imagine Pam doing quite a lot, only now every time I try to play it, her hands inevitably morph into Creed's. Which is just disturbing.
-All of it is worth it for Jim's carefully-restrained TH. "Everyone's here just been so excited for me...and involved. And intrusive. And weird."
-Ryan/Kelly (see: own subsection)
-"Mon" petite fiancee? ANDY. Even an idiot like you should be able to remember basic pronoun gender agreement. On second thought...possibly we can just go ahead and consider that subtle forshadowing to what many of you are predicting is his eventual coming-out. Because I mean "fiancee" sounds the same whether you add the second 'e' or not, and he strikes me as dumb enough to pronounce even petit like the English word, so...maybe it was a Freudian slip of the tongue.
-I SO LOVE OSCAR ASKING ANDY WHY THE HELL HE'S EVEN WITH ANGELA. I do have to point out that this is the wrong question, though. The real question is "Why the hell is Angela with Andy?" Let's examine the facts*.
(* facts may used interchangeably with "my opinion," which is always right. because it's mine)
Angela: Loves cats, rightly points out others' flaws and shortcomings, expects world to adhere to strict moral guidelines (shut up), won't stand for any hint of tomfoolery, devotedly religious, excellent accountant (sharp of mind), and an even more excellent and efficient party planner.
Andy: Singing buffoon, unattractive, dumb as a post
/my grumpiness that the internet consistently refuses to recognizes what an incredible and inspiring character Angela is. I frankly aspire to be like her in every way. ...probably a large part of why I adore her more and more as the years go on (hey, remember season 2 when I still thought she was too uptight and unpleasant? LOL) is that we are already extremely similar. I think it's the judginess. Such a deliciously judgmental attitude.
But, um, anyway. I'm just going to cling to those words, "She is teaching me to be a better person," because haha! Not entirely untrue. Although I'm confused as to why Oscar is so surprised that they haven't slept together yet. You've sat next to Angela for 9 years and you know she's getting married (after a fairly brief period of dating, too) - doesn't it seem like a sort of obvious jump, even in your inebriated brain, to assume that premarital sex is a no-no for her?
(Shut UP. I'm talking about assumptions Oscar should have made)
-This whole drunken exchange had me laughing my ass off, though. I ACTUALLY LAUGHED AT ANDY AND FOUND HIM LEGITIMATELY AMUSING. Not to mention giggling!Oscar.
It also had my brain firing away on those other 1950's AU scenarios. (I told you. I love them an unhealthy amount)
Now, when I call for Jim and Pam to live the 50's Family Nostalgia for me, it means one thing. Happy breadwinner/homemaker model and all that. Andy and Angela, I love thinking about the darker side of 50's married life. And oh, this convo just gave me so many places to run with the formula that Anger Management Andy + Alcohol + Consistently Spurning Angela = Semi-Violent Marital Sex! I apologize. My brain doesn't want to divulge the detailed picture either. But as a general vague idea, I just cannot let it go. Not I think it would happen with 2008 Andy & Angela in any context, but in the literal 1950's, it just seems wonderfully possible. Perhaps as an isolated incident, complete with next-day shame and endless remorse, wherein I imagine Angela would be less traumatized than simply infused with a whole new level of acidity and scorn towards her husband.
Yes, Voice, I'm adding the "crazy fic ideas" tag to this post
with extra emphasis on the first word.
-"Excuse me?" There will honestly never be enough of defensive!Jim for me. *purrs* I love that he has to get up for "coffee," a word which here means "remove myself from the temptation to punch Dwight in the face." One guess as to which option would have made him feel better, though.
-Although I won't watch it twice, I did really like Michael telling David Wallace "that was a sucky thing to do." Because it's the only part of the episode where I feel like Michael is a human with real feelings rather than a ridiculous caricature, and even though I still like Holly ten times better when she's not on my screen, Michael's right. It was a sucky thing to do, and he conveys that legitimate hurt nicely.
-I take that back - my notes say he sounded like a real, normal, rational person in the business meeting too (I'd forgotten about that part). "I'd buy paper from him." Wow, Past Self, that is an impressive statement.
-Thanks, Michael, for ruining egg salad sandwiches for me forever. Prior to this episode's airing, they were actually one of my favorite sandwiches and now the mere thought of one makes me gag. THANKS A LOT FOR THAT. (shut up, arteries, no one asked your opinion)
-It's a good thing they disguised Michael and the conceriage in the midst of all that awesome Andy/Oscar/Angela stuff, because I was flailing about the latter too much to pay any attention to the former. All of a sudden Michael was getting tail and I was going "Wait, how the hell did that happen? Also WHY." Not why did he sleep with her, but why did I have to see it? i understand the theory, but my eyeballs still violently reject the imagery.
In a related note, David Wallace, you're treading dangerously close to Ryan territory with the delusional distortion of truth. You in no way, shape, or form "had" to transfer Holly, so acting like you feel bad is just...it insults the camera guy's intelligence. I realize that you probably don't want a repeat of Jan, and I'll pretend you were trying to rescue Holly from the fate of being crazy because she seemed like too nice of a girl to subject her to that, but...
-First thing Andy should learn if and when he realizes he's gay: you do not wear a red tie with a pink shirt. That made my eyes bleed.
A) GLORIOUS. I don't care what it implies, or what anyone else thinks, or how briefly this joy lasts, because it's like manna from heaven. I didn't even have time to fully glee over Kelly's awesomely unimpressed look, or Ryan's pushups*, before suddenly she was throwing things off her desk in order to climb all over him on top of it. I may knocked something over while throwing my arms in the air to cry "HALLELUJAH!"
(* = in subsequent rewatches, I also may have noticed that between Ryan's heavy exhale of exertion during the attempted 1-handed ones, and his general position, I couldn't stop my brain from going to filthy places. I'm not proud of it. Sometimes I can't help myself.)
Honestly. They are terribly screwed up, and this is the unhealthiest relationship ever, and I should not love them as much as I do, but...they're such attractive people! And while Jim and Pam have this wonderful, mature, adult relationship that I very much adore over there, sometimes part of me just wants to kick back and enjoy the crazy shenanigans of these two kids. The shallowness! The self-delusion and disconnect with reality! The fact that I cannot and will not ever give up hope that somewhere deep down, Ryan might have actually grown to care for her in spite of himself!
Also, it gives me a chance to bust out one of the fun things I learned in sociology, and draw myself up importantly to point out how they are the classic Pursuer-Distance couple.
The type of marriage with the highest rate of divorce, but whatever, I can handle that.
B) You don't know how long I've been waiting Mindy Kaling's spoiler about how in one episode "I'm doing so much making out, my parents can't watch" to come true. I can safely say I'm satisfied on this count. So much kissing...OH, oh, and the one with his hand tangled in her hair! Look, Jim and Pam may be too refined to play tonsil hockey on camera, and I'm perfectly OK with that, but I'm gonna need to get my thrills elsewhere. Like RIGHT HERE.
C) And the ending scene...never mind how trapped Ryan looks, I'm just going to focus on their entwined fingers, and possibly tell myself that they had an impromptu Vegas wedding to celebrate their reunion. Besides, I just love the fact that not only is there a good end tag, it's a good scene that immediately follows a Jim/Pam scene. Do you know how often that happens? Basically never. My Jim/Pam scenes are almost always rudely cut off with a switch to Michael or some other ridiculously boring TH. It's nice to have one where I don't have to flail to hit the rewind button.
When this episode started, with Jim's whistling and cat-that-ate-the-canary grin, I was curled up in a ball, moaning "Oh God, can't take it, THIS IS GOING TO END SO HORRIBLY."
And then came the part about Pam failing one of her classes - like, actually recieving a final grade of F (which, what?
Digression: I'm pretty sure no normal professor just springs "by the way, I'm going to fail you" right at the end with no prior warning. I mean, even when I did fail a class, the prof e-mailed me at the end of the semester warning me what was going to happen unless I wrote those 3 papers. My response was "well, those papers obviously aren't going to happen" followed by withdrawing from college for a semester, but...the point is I was well aware of how badly I was doing. And if Pam was actually doing the work, but just not doing it well enough, there definitely should have been a heads-up before it was too late. IT BUGS.
That being said, when I sat bolt upright yelling about how one of my dream scenarios was coming true, what I mean is that I have this tendency to apply Jim and Pam to all areas of my life
because I don't have one of my own, and so when I was struggling mightily with my classes earlier in the semester, I couldn't help playing with the idea of Pam being similarly stressed - not quite the same level of panicky desperation I was in, but having some difficulty nevertheless. Being close to failing was not out of the realm of possibility. I may have envisioned a scene or two where Pam contemplates quitting entirely and Jim has to talk her out of it and make her think it through. The way it ends in my head usually involves encouragement to finish, but also her needing to hear that coming home doesn't mean she's giving up or make her defeated/a failure. Which is the part that wins out.
I never in a million years dared to envision her failing, because that just seemed...impossibly convenient. Simultaneously ending her stay and crushing her confidence in her ability to pursue art as a career - thereby increasing the likelihood of her continued longterm occupation as the receptionist? Score! But when she said she had to stay another 12 weeks and retake it, my heart hit the floor.
(Also, I would debate the ability of Pam to just automatically retake a single course when the fall semester should be well underway and when she's not pre-registered for anything, much less that course - and shouldn't have a place to stay, either, if she was only the RA for the "summer" - but the writers have taken great pains to shoot timelines all to hell, so the realism of college probaby isn't a high priority)
While a little part of me is still disappointed that the phone conversation is over too quickly to get into the "doesn't make you a failure" part of my imaginary scenario, I do love everything Jim says, and all the nuances of expression. A pettier part of me can't help but feel like "your dream" came with quote marks around it, but for the most part I was just transfixed by how he was clearly struggling to process this information and figure out respond to it, but by degrees, he manages to do an admirable job of it. "It's not about me," is too automatic, so he comes up with a better justification, one that actually sounds plausible, and I like how there's little nod after "So that you come back the right way. Right?" (Clearly trying to convince himself more than her)
BUT. THIS IS WHERE THE EPISODE GETS AWESOME, and where I knew things were going to be all right - this clearly is not what Pam wanted to hear. Despite all those stupid things Alex said, Pam wants him to tell her to come home. My friends, it was like someone found the tiny glowing ember in my heart, all that remained of my pre-New York Art Student Pam love, and suddenly made it come bursting into flame. When she hung up and started crying, all alone on the bench, I started doing a happy dance.
Once I was satisfied that Lame Mad Men Dude wasn't going to appear out of the blue and comfort her, that is. Because that seemed like a fearfully legitimate possibility.
(Yes, I feel slightly guilty about raging in giant capslock at Pam about her art dreams now...but only because they were crushed. It's much easier to be sympathetic to someone's tears than to support their independent endeavors, you see.)
And still. Still! I was not entirely convinced about how things would end up - though I was hoping hard for a Jim/Pam ending tag, if nothing else, maybe him showing up in New York to be supportive - when he walked out and saw her in the parking lot, pretty sure my heart thudded out of my chest in a cartoonish manner. I still haven't heard the entirety of Pam's speech, because every time I swear to myself that I'm going to listen the whole way, I end up getting transfixed by either the sight of Jim's expression (the uncertaintly waiting for her to make the first move! The slow smile! The downright smug stroll up to her, not saying a word, just simultaneously bemused and adoring), or what I imagine is running through his head at the sight of Pam. I even tried closing my eyes, but I just watched it on the back of my eyelids. So clearly that's a lost cause.
All I know is that I'm thrilled by it. Fine, I guess I can sacrifice the unfulfilled part of my daydream because Pam has to make the decision on her own -- all that really matters is the end result of HER COMING HOME! Furthermore, I'm always complaining about how Jim makes the grandiose romantic overtures. I think this counts as Pam's first one since "Beach Games." There's still a hint of something that irks me about her
sass assertiveness ("You can't tell me what to do, got it?"), but all is instantly forgiven when her levity disappears with the exhale, and that "I missed you too" is the first real, raw emotion I've ever gotten to work with from her since the relationship started. Not that her reaction to the proposal wasn't lovely, but I need some angst too. Preferably angst that can be solved with a kiss.
Not that I've watched it a billion times or anything. No, it's more like 8 billion. I just - gah! It's so pretty, with the sunset backlight and... I cannot get over how they are always and forever perfect together, and so incomplete apart that it's like the world tilts back on its axis with their kiss. I thought about admitting that was a slight exaggeration, and decided that would be a lie. It's really like that.
As is to be expected about any scene I watch 8 billion times, the cuts have started to bother me. In the first shot it's only their lips touching, and that lack of any other contact especially thrills me for reasons I can't fully articulate (possibly it sends me back to Mulder and Scully's first proper kiss, with the baby between them?). In the second, when they're breaking apart, she has one hand against his chest and his hand's gripping her arm, which is equally nice...but the transition is just way too abrupt for me to wrap my mind around.
I am further distorted by the fact that the first shot looks like simply one long press of the lips, which is what I'm inclined to believe, except that in the second it looks like Jim's pulling away from a deeper one, and THE MECHANICS JUST MAKE MY BRAIN FEEL FRUSTRATED. I could on describing my complaints with the precise angle of Jim's head tilt and his line of sight depending on the two camera's perspectives...
But instead I will just go back to gazing at screenshots of Jim's expression as he approaches. Oh, and gleeing over the fact that Pam does say she missed Scranton. I choose to believe that she means that legitimately and not just as a metaphor for "you." TAKE THAT, BIG CITY.
And I love that even though you can already see her fading a little under as the reality of her mundane receptionist duties returns, the smile convinces me she thinks it's worth it.
Let's see how long that lasts, shall we? [EDIT: Oh, about 4 months.]