And then I opened my eyes, sat up in bed, and swore.
In other news, I think I'm ready to discuss this in a rational, or at least extremely verbose, manner:
The Office, "Company Picnic" (season 5 finale)
I still haven't watched the five or so episodes prior to Cafe Disco. And that is because, as I discovered while watching this, I think I sort of have a hate-on for the show in general now. A large part of whatever wasn't Jim and Pam seemed more excruciating/awkward/embarrassing than usual, to the point where I couldn't listen to it anymore, and kept plugging my ears. Setting this one largely away from the building at least took away some of the things I most hate about this new post-Two Weeks (a/k/a "episode that broke all my faith in this show") world; I don't think I can handle going back into that shambles of an office itself.
I feel it's important to air my specific grievances first so as to end on a happy note, so...
Things I Took Issue With
-Retconning Pam from "I faked female problems to get out of gym" to "star volleyball player." And the weird thing is, you'd think I could totally respect this change, since volleyball is one of like two sports I wholeheartedly adore, along with soccer. It is 8 million times better than softball as far as company picnic sports go, and under any other circumstances I would have been delighted to watch everybody play.
But this, aside from an immediate desire to smack Pam upside the head for that irritating "and went to volleyball camp most summahs!" line (which that goes right along with my desire last fall to smack her upside the head for "what up, 2-1-2" and her "That's what she said" freakout), transformed past images of her from a fairly shy and solitary art student to someone who would presumably have had a wide social circle, because it is hard to be an introverted athlete on a team sport.
See, I just cannot reconcile that image with Season 1 Pam. Can you? I hate things that are changed for the purposes of temporary narrative convenience. Speaking of which, if the writers really needed Pam to be a ringer, couldn't they have just had her be naturally awesome at volleyball, without an extensive background in it? That would have been the best thing of all. I would have liked that.
-I don't like Holly. I don't have a vicious well of hatred for her or anything, but she's about on par with Meredith as far as "background people I could take or leave." I had no real interest in seeing her again, and after I figured out how horribly awkward and uncomfortable Michael was going to be while in her vicinity, I just skipped all their scenes. Every last one. I don't appear to have missed much, but from what I've read, let me just say that the incessant parallels between the two of them and Jim/Pam are getting more annoying and unwelcome than ever before.
-TPTB recently crushed my dreams that saying Erin would be staying on in season 6**. And I don't know if you've heard, but Erin is currently fighting with Andy for the dead-last position on my totem pole of characters. I literally cannot stand even the briefest sight or sound of her. At least Andy didn't drive an awesome salesperson out when he took the job! (well, arguably, Ryan left. But that was a very indirect correlation)
**I kind of want to throw up just thinking about this, and the only way I can fight the nausea is by rocking in a corner and moaning to myself that it could still be temporary, there's still a chance Pam could be the receptionist again someday. Because the idea that Pam will be in sales, with a usurper at her desk for the rest of the series, just like Andy stuck here permanently and Jan's sanity will never be regained, absolutely makes my head spin with horror.
-Dwight: "No, I'm kidding. He's just a regular doctor that comes out and shoots your horse in the head when its leg is broken." Um. I'm sorry, I know this was just supposed to be a throwaway joke and y'all probably at least cracked a smile, but I'm too busy hearing that he has a horse with a broken leg about to be shot. NOOOOOOOO, not the buckskin with the freckled blaze!! *sobs*
-Real reason I don't want to watch the five missing episodes: Pam's hideous
-Wait. Why are Holly and Dan designing a house? Doesn't she already live in a gorgeous big house? Didn't I say something to the effect of "that house is worth uprooting your life and living 7 hours away from your soulmate"? This had better be a hypothetical house design that they're doing for a friend, as a business model, or perhaps as an assignment for a community college architecture class
(or possibly it's just Dan designing a house, in the manner of McDreamy, and it will exist as a mere idea & hope in his head for like 5 years while Holly is Meredith, all skittish and refusing to commit and continuing to live in the awesome old house she already owns)
-The episode opens on Erin's face. It is an unpleasant jolt that I do not want and do not need every damn time I open this ep, which I have done several dozen times for the Jim/Pam parts.
-I'm mad that they deleted the 5-second scene with Jake being told to go back and sit in the car. Yikes, that kid grew up a lot in 3 years! I almost didn't recognize him.
-I don't know how I feel about this whole Andy/Erin idea. On the one hand, I advocate unpleasant people being paired off because it means instead of, say, ruining Angela for me, there will be more scenes I can skip entirely. On the other hand, Andy insists on getting like the third-highest amount of screentime, which is also offered to anyone he happens to be attached to.
-Where the hell was Kelly? The good Kelly, I mean, whose initials are KK.
-If there is one more mention of Angela being a tawdry whore for the rest of the series, I'm going to stab someone. With their own pen. It will not be pretty.
Things That Were Awesome In Spite Of The Above
(warning: it looks like there are more positive things than negative things. There aren't. It's just that I ignore many of the negative things by skipping them entirely, and/or I talked more about each negative thing.)
* Hehehe, Jim & Pam's joint effort - followed by Dwight - to fast-forward all of Michael's clocks so as to go home 4 hours early. You know, in some episodes, a little cold open like this would have made all the difference between my JAM heart pitching a hissy fit and being completely satisfied.
* Super-short credits to fit in more episode! I specifically like to pretend it's to fit in more time at the end of the episode.
* Charles Minor! God, he is so great. In my "Top 6 Characters" great. I wish he were permanent and Erin were not. I'm sorry that he and Jim are sworn enemies, but it is still delightful to see him rib and goad and generally heckle the latter, not unlike Michael's every interaction with Toby. Everyone else seems to feel like "omg, he is Teh Meanest Bully Ever!", but I just cannot muster up even an ounce of dislike.
It's not even just because I love frustrated!Jim or angry!Jim anymore - although those are fun fringe benefits - but simply that I get kick out of everything he says. "Must be nice to get a rest from all your rest." Fortunately I have a lot of practice in this field, what with having loved Corporate Satan Ryan, so I'm used to disagreeing with fandom.
* Those brief glimpses of David Wallace I caught, when I wasn't skipping them because they included Michael, were pretty great as well. Is it wrong to root for Corporate over Scranton in that final match?
* I actually did kinda like it every time Pam did well. Mostly because I was focused on Jim's reactions, but still. Also loved Ryan on the phone totally ignoring the game despite being one of the players, and Stanley's bemused, possibly drunken chuckle.
* Tanster (Office Tally)'s cameo appearance among the Buffalo branch! Which I needed MTT to tell me about since I'd skipped that bit, but still. When I watched it again, it was cool.
* LOL TOBY. In the space of ten seconds he pwned half the other characters' appearances thanks to his numbingly monotone conversation with another numbingly monotone HR dude. I really want there to be webisodes featuring Human Resources all of a sudden...
* DWIGHT'S WEIRD FRIEND ROLF. I can't remember where else I've seen the actor, but he's vaguely familiar and the guy cracks me up. It's almost as good as having Mose
* "KEVIN! Now it's 7-6, or is that too much accounting for you?!" Oh Angela, never change. Except possibly to get back together with Dwight.
* "I'm sorry, can we just hurry this up? I have a game go get back to."
"Oh good, because my next question was 'Do you have a game to get back to?"
I NEED THIS NURSE IN MY LIFE FOR ALWAYS. Can we bring her over to House to replace the long-absent Evil Nurse Brenda? Or maybe they can do crossover heaven and feature her on upcoming NBC drama "Trauma"? /free advertising.
* It started in Cafe Disco, and it keeps rolling out here: long before the ending, I kept remarking to myself that the amount of Jim/Pam interaction was, well, remarkable. Possibly record-setting. Not only were there cute bits, there was just a lot of talking and being together; like every time I turned around, there they were. Not just in the same shot, but speaking. To each other. Madness, wonderful madness!
After all those months of bitter drought, it was like the heavens had opened and started pouring down the love. It's a pity it didn't happen within episodes where my biggest problem was Andy/Angela, so that I could appreciate it instead of thoroughly despising 90% of anything that wasn't them, but...
So let's talk about that.
JIM/PAM (part 1)
(brain is blur of joy)
FACT: 5 days in a row, I have tried to finish this post, but I always get distracted by the ending, watch it 50 times without typing a word, and then go to bed so I can dream about it. I tried to thwart it once by writing in the morning, but then as soon as I finished my other internet stuff and opened LJ, Mom came up to kick me off the computer and eventually I got distracted by other topics. NOT THIS TIME. This time it's "screw coherency" and I'm just writing a list of happy moments:
1. The aforementioned cold open. Stocking feet, hee!
2. Their amusing plan to get in and get out of the picnic ASAP, only to realize they've been caught by the camera. I love their "ohhh, busted" faces.
3. "Tell 'em what happened last year."
"I had this huge spider in my baseball mitt --"
"No, no, the guy who hit on me!"
"Oh, right. Some drunk guy hit on Pam last year. Said he was grabbing her for 'balance.'"
"Yeah. You don't grab *these* for balance."
I FIND THIS FAR MORE AMUSING-SLASH-INTERESTING THAN I SHOULD. God, they bring me such joy! Also, at this point we were like two-and-a-half minutes in and was already satisfied by the amount of Jim/Pam. I took that as a good sign.
4. "I don't get it. He's not even my boss anymore."
"Do you want me to beat him up for you?"
"No, I shouldn't have to ask you to do stuff like that. ...you should just do it."
I like how Pam is always offering to beat up people who harass Jim at work. Although this is much tamer than her suggestion of vehicular homicide for Ryan last year.
5. Pam snickering at Dwight bringing up Jim's wimpy spider incident and Jim muttering to the camera that he could have died. "I looked it up online. Afterwards."
6. Jim mouthing 'wow' after her first awesome serve. And the general encouragement and awesome teamwork and otherwise just FIXING ALL THE HELL from "Beach Games"! I didn't even know I was still harboring any resentment from season 3 until it was being gently erased before my eyes. Pretty sure I still need a cute date night montage, but overall...
7. Further on the volleyball game, Jim's winning spike, and hugging Dwight for slightly too long. :D
8. Being as I was 99% sure the Big Spoiler floating around was that we'd find out Pam was pregnant, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out how that went down. So far I was pretty confused as to how it would happen.
Me: 15:53, Pam's gotta like...collapse at some point or something, right?
*5 seconds later* And go. (as Pam lunges, slips and falls)
9. Not that I've watched Jim help her up like a hundred times or anything. That would be weird.
10. I'm pretty sure that picking her up and carrying her off the field was unnecessary, but SO ADORABLE.
11. Some people have actually whined about the pregnancy anvil when the nurse wheels Pam off. Apparently these people do not have the same gene I do, whereby as many seconds of Jim and Pam in a hospital setting as possible, for whatever reason, are the Ultimate Daydream Fodder that I previously assumed I would have to sell my soul or at least two appendages to see on TV. Yes. Jim filling out paperwork is very exciting to me.
Initially, I was grumpy about that last Michael/Holly scene that took forever, as all I could think was "Less than 90 seconds to go! We could be spending this time on Jim and Pam!" Because I assumed that, like usual, they were going to get shafted. But then came The Scene and it took me eight minutes to get through the first time because I kept pausing it, sure that the scene was going to cut away any second. Several lines of flailing capslock can be summed up with "I KEEP WAITING FOR IT TO END, BUT IT DOES NOT, THIS JOY JUST KEEPS GONG AND GOING AND GOING..."
Further notes from the night of airing:
OK, yeah, that was full of win (damn you for overriding my principles, show). In the future, I plan to be FULLY ANNOYED by the lack of sound (I can and would replicate that effect by hitting the mute button, damn it!) and be all full of snark and "o i c what you did there, this is my tradeoff for getting to hear the proposal, isn't it?" but right now JOY JOY JOY.
(Of course, you know what this means for the next season of Private Practice... EVERY EXPECTANT COUPLE WILL BE JIM AND PAM. I don't even know if I'm thrilled or terrified by the prospect of what my brain will do with this material.)
[Edit: OK, so, I've been on MTT for approximately 2 hours, reading 40+ pages of the squee/episode thread and frequently replaying that final scene, and someone mentioned that you can just barely hear a couple snatches of dialogue if you turn the volume all the way up, particularly while wearing earphones. So now I'm doing just that - turns out it's true! - and while I occasionally forget and have my eardrums BLASTED OUT on either end of that scene, I'm extremely content. MTT's dedicated posse of lip-readers has also so exhaustively analyzed and dissected their exchange that I almost feel like I know all the words after all.]
SO. Approximately 3 weeks later, how do I feel? Besides the fact that I have twice been sorely tempted to buy What to Expect When You're Expecting at garage sales in an effort to bolster my mental playground in better detail...
As we all know, prior to watching the episode, I had some extreme Issues with Pam being pregnant right now. The biggest one still stands: I'm annoyed that they've fallen into the TV trope of Surprise Baby, and think it would have been much bolder to buck tradition and have a pregnancy following their marriage (shocking! By TV standards*). It also makes "Cafe Disco" dig under my skin - I'm now rankled that although I would have been annoyed at the time if they'd gotten hitched on a whim at a courthouse, after this I'd have promptly switched my tune and been all, "AWESOME TIMING."
(*I mean, seriously, I challenge you: in the last, I don't know, 10-15 years...how many babies can you think of born to established characters on your TV shows that were born in wedlock? How about to characters who weren't together when the series began, but subsequently dated, got married and then had a baby?)
But I tend to forget this fact, a lot, when I consider the overwhelming, delirious happiness - from both of them - when they find out. If I had one fear, it was of Pam being less ready for this than Jim, perhaps making that Face of Uncertainty people claimed they saw after Jim's suggestion of engagement in "Chair Model." And that fear vanished the second I saw how wide her grin was while beaming up at Jim, waiting for him to process it. Darn your stupid perfect writers; this scenario for letting us know about a pending baby never entered my mind and yet it's the best possible one.
Hold on, my coherency and clarity is breaking up...
* I seriously want to give John Krasinski an Emmy for this scene alone. It has been a very long time since I was that impressed by an actor, David Krumholtz's finale performance aside. I just want to establish that first.
* I really love the moment where Jim's like, hah, good joke...OMG YOU'RE SERIOUS. And being totally stunned, looking to Pam for confirmation, and then suddenly unable to throw his arms around her fast enough.
* Squeezing tighter!
* Hand cradling her head! Cheek kiss! More giddy laughing with noses pressed together! His vaguely dazed expression before vehemently declaring there is no way they are going back to the game! Her endless well of smiling! ENH!
* Seriously. Whenever my little 'but-but-but I want them to be married!' voice pipes up protest, I just watch this moment of mutual joy and it cleanly wipes away those feelings like waves smoothing a sandy bash. Beash. BEACH. See, it's such a blissful anesthetic that I can't even remember how to spell words.
* Teary eyes! Voice cracking on the phone! Unable to stop little laughs of overwhelming disbelief and joy! That last little "Oh!" before he rushes back into the room to hug Pam again! Man, if I thought the silent scene was perfect - and I fully expected it to end with their foreheads touching - this is like ten times better. It's, um, a little bit creepy when he leans into the camera and I get a sudden mental flash of a deranged clown bobbing forward (SORRY IF I JUST RUINED THAT FOR YOU), but 99% of this leaves me dazed and happy and utterly speechless with joy.
* I was so happy right after I finished watching this that I sort of wanted to call everyone I knew and share the good news. I refrained, due to the fact that 1) I don't know or call anyone, 2) this had happened 3 weeks ago, and 3) this was fictional good news for people who are not real. AND YET. I stayed up for five hours afterward just bubbling over with glee, scouring the internet for (positive) discussion and randomly laughing and quietly squealing to myself every time the news would hit me again. Silly old Past Me!
* Incidentally, I've made my peace with the muted scene, but I wish everyone would stop mentioning it being such a beautiful homage to a particular scene in the original Office. Because there are a lot of things I've read about the UK series that would utterly infuriate me if Tim and Dawn were attractive enough for me to care about them (namely the show ending before you actually got to see them exist as a couple), but not even getting to hear that final culminating moment would probably make me break something.
* Best part: Unlike every other couple on TV and real life, I've decided I have absolutely no preference for boy vs. girl. It is very difficult to maintain this mental equality, and I'm sure that any day now I'm going to slip up, get attached to one gender and thus guarantee it's the other, but for right now? I have absolutely no preference.
I'd like Jim to have a second lady in his life, citing his previous excellent experience with Sasha and Abby (plus Pam's really close to her mom), but I also like the idea of Pam and her boys, citing that she generally seems better around guys - Jim, Alex, she connected best with Jake, and then there's having to constantly monitor Michael (plus Jim grew up with two brothers and I'm sure he'd love to pass down a sports interest, so). I've even got caches of fic illustrating that both genders go equally well. There is absolutely no way to throw me for a loop on this.
In sum: STILL GRINNING LIKE A FOOL, KTHNXBAI. Also, part of me wants to hold off on watching those five missing episodes until the last possible minute, but the other part is watching the Office Tally "Episode Survivor" polls roll out (poor maligned Lecture Circuit pt. 2! And the Halpert Bros episode! And how the fuck did Frame Toby end up lower than Business Ethics?), and desperately wanting to do my own episode ranking where I can explain/defend my choices. AH, DILEMMAS.
*scrolls up & checks something* Dear God, that wound up being over 3500 words long. I hope you only skimmed it.
P.S. Also! There's some kind of desperate irony to the fact that the whole allure of "Away We Go" is John Krasinski as an expectant father - by which I mostly mean "how can I ignore the beard/glasses/Maya Rudolph and warp this to my Jim/Pam desires" - so...well. WIND OUT OF SAILS. But then I remember that The Office's format severely limits the kind of personal milestones you can see in any given relationship, so AWG will likely still have a variety of useful scenes.
It's just, the unexpected coincidence, especially the timing, has me shaking my head in bafflement.