The Office: Niagara
NOTE: I apologize. This is approximately 5,000+ words long (suck it, "Weight Loss"!), I ramble all over the place, I felt this crazed and desperate need to hammer out every single thought and minor feeling I had about everything, and I made very little attempt at chronological order. This is what happens when you procrastinate all week and then write it overnight in an attempt to make the office_meta deadline.
Which I later realized was ironic, on account of how I made no attempt to be witty or quote-worthy at all. But sometimes a girl just has to pour out her hormonal responses to TV without worrying about whether anyone will read them.
Edit: In my 3 AM brilliance, I decided to a tack a "tl;dr" summary onto the end of every subsection. You can thank me later.
Last week, as you all know, Jim and Pam got married. You may also recall me anticipating it for about two months beforehand in a series of illuminating and occasionally bitchy spoiler posts. Take a minute to read them over if you didn't catch them the first time; I covered a lot of emotional ground.
A quote from the first post: Now I just have to figure out whether I'm relieved or scared that Mindy Kaling is (co)writing it
Answer: SCARED. ALWAYS SCARED. Crap, she's working on the Christmas episode this year, too...
As you no doubt know by now, the episode failed to live up to my expectations. Maybe 10% of it was truly great, whereas it was least 60% pure stupidity, and no, I will not make allowances for the fact that it is "The Office" and crazy stuff is par for the course**. I expect certain things to be able to transcend the idiocy of this show.
(SORRY. IT APPEARS THAT I AM STILL FULL OF COLLECTED RAGE. I DO, HOWEVER, PROMISE TO INJECT SOME POSITIVE THINGS INTO THIS REVIEW.
**I guess if I'm being honest, I can't help sighing and thinking of Abby & Luka's wedding on ER. TPTB even broke format for that one and said "Screw the patients! Abby's getting married, and that's what we're going to film. Well, plus a B-plot about Neela's love life in which she gets hit on by everyone and some people fight over her. BUT MOSTLY IT WILL BE ABOUT THEIR WEDDING." I guess I was selfishly, secretly, irrationally hoping it would be a little more like that episode, even though the two shows have nothing in common besides the network. *shrugs* Moving on.
I initially missed the first minute and I had my eyes shut for most of the rest, so when I caught Pam's prim look as she dabbed at her mouth, I thought she had cooked up a devious plan to serve the office complimentary macaroni salad with spoiled mayo for lunch, in a last-ditch effort to make them too sick with food poisoning to attend the wedding.
At least that explanation makes sense. So, what, Pam had no morning sickness (at least at work - which is highly convenient) her first trimester, and then she suddenly began upchucking nonstop in month 4 or 5? Not so much with the realism.
Writers, I appreciate your attempt to answer my burning questions about her morning sickness, but I assumed we'd shake hands and agree that certain things had to be sacrificed when you decided to squander 1/3 of the baby storyline on summer hiatus.
Some (Other) Things That Were Horrible
Let's be clear: I'm going to work through this list with a lot of patronizing repetition, the way you would speak to a misbehaving toddler, in order to reinforce that if you thought any of the following were amusing, you are Wrong.
- Chain vomiting: not funny
- Kevin Malone: not funny
- Kevin's toupee: not funny
- Kevin's disgusting feet, disgusting shoes, and tissue-box shoes: not funny
- Riding in cars with people who are not Jim and Pam: not funny
- Dwight's spoken CD mix: not funny
- Michael sleeping behind the wheel: not funny
- Andy sucking at life and being ignored by women: funny, but not a worthy use of film
- Horsemeat: not funny
- Stanley deciding to just blatantly flaunt his affair: not funny. [Especially not at a wedding.]
- The word "scrotum," once or in excessive repeat: not funny
- Condom jokes: not funny
- Michael in boxers: not funny
- Oscar-and-Kevin: not funny [also, when did Oscar develop permanent bitchface?]
- Dance-offs: not funny
- Drunk people: not funny [exception: Jim]
- Dancing down aisles: not funny
- Kicking women in the face: not funny
- Erin's panties: not a character
- Creed grabbing his crotch: not funny
- Bob spanking Phyllis: not funny, also nauseating
- Viral videos: not funny
- Howling: not funny
- Dwight being an unlikely man-ho: not funny
- Pam's dysfunctional parents: not funny [more on this later.]
- Michael hooking up with Pam's mom: NOT FUNNY
If Pam has talked about her coworkers so much that Penny knows about Gil, how does her mom not know how UTTERLY TERRIBLE Michael is, and how does Isabelle not know better than to go within 500 yards of Dwight?
I was terrified of how they were going to warp Jim's sweet speech into an idiotic move on his part. I really, really didn't want to know, and at that point I was praying it'd be something as innocuous as spilling the beans about the baby. Fortunately, it was. And even though they kept making it more and more awkward, my girl Pam saved the day by having the grace to make all my expressions for me.
Well, she really should have kicked Jim in the ankle and then interrupted to lie that she just didn't like the taste of champagne or whatever, but since she missed that window of opportunity, I was just happy to watch her cringe in horror. I enjoyed watching her utter mortification escalate as the situation somehow defied logic and got worse with every passing second, until she finally got Michael to shut up. Embarrassment is moderately easier to witness when people acknowledge that it is horrifically embarrassing, and don't just laugh it off or ignore it.
And then Jim goes and hides in a corner (kind of), and Pam sidles up with barbs of sarcasm, and I get to watch Jim be appropriately ashamed and apologetic - okay, more like the point is I get to watch Jim deal with an actual family crisis, WHICH IS EXCITING; IT VALIDATES THEIR RELATIONSHIP FOR ME WHEN IN-LAWS ARE INVOLVED.
Luckily I am making no effort at witty meta tonight, or I'd be annoyed that Jim beat me to a good line:
"Is there something about being a manager that makes you say stupid things?"
Feel I should reiterate that, even though the "mental snapshot" thing isn't really my cup of tea and it looked weird every time Pam did it, Jim's speech slayed me. Nothing about this episode made me cry or even get teary, but that speech had me sighing with great emotional affect. I'm still rolling the sentiment around in my head, savoring it.
tl;dr: The toast went better than I expected, was equal parts sweet and funny, and I wish the whole episode had balanced that well.
Andy Has a Problem
I personally would have left Andy to bleed to death (or at the very least suffer enough to succumb to infection and/or possible sterility) in the hotel hallway. Also I would have encouraged one of the drunk people to drive him to the hospital, in hopes that they'd all get into an accident and die. C'mon, they're all expendable!
But seriously, what about Angela? You're telling me Angela was too drunk to drive? Cause I'm pretty sure she was focused on staying sober enough to chaperone Pam all night. And what with her being his ex-fiancee, it wouldn't even have been that unreasonable of a request. I'm sure there are one or two Andyla shippers left who would have appreciated that storyline.
On the bright side, I did get to watch a vengeful Pam deliberately cause Andy as much additional pain as possible, so that was worth it. Season 6 Pam is fierce. I love her to death.
For as much as I want to hate the fact that this storyline exists, and I don't want to believe that Pam had to spend the night with Andy in her room (WHY. EXPLAIN WHY HE COULDN'T HAVE SLEPT BY HIMSELF IN HIS OWN ROOM) - although she did awesomely make him sleep on the floor, hee-hee-hee! - and I need to practice some retconning in my head and convince myself that their wedding actually took place in the afternoon so that she was able to get some sleep...I can't actually hate this scene.
P: Are you pushing me off the phone?
J: No! Let's talk for a long time.
*rolling down the length of a hotel hallway, laughing my ass off*
And, yes, because I still can't get over the vicarious joy of Pam delivering all the abuse I have ever wanted to take out on Andy. Now that I think about it, that was almost better than seeing her marry Jim.
Also, kinda worth it just for the jump-cut to Jim's comment the next day, on the exaggerated nature of Andy's genital injuries: "I may have told some people that." XD
tl;dr version: Genital injuries are gross, but Andy in pain is hysterical; also, I like drunk!Jim.
It's A Family Thing
First and foremost, I'd like to celebrate the end of an age-old, eternal struggle for truth within the fandom: who is Larissa Halpert?? It has divided us within fanfic for years. Some fans prepared for the disappointment that she might not even exist, having been tossed off as a line of convenience. Most everyone else was convinced it was his mom, BUT NO: TURNS OUT, JIM REALLY DOES HAVE A SISTER. It's like finding out unicorns exist!
Now we can stop the raging debate about the suspect plausibility of that excuse Jim made one time about how he had to go to his nephew's T-ball game, even though four episodes later Jim's brothers were revealed to live in suspiciously far-away locations! I'm pretty sure the tying up of this loose end was a happy accident on the part of the writers, but then again, maybe it's only Pam's continuity they don't care about.
Second, I'd like to register my complaint that we're not allowed to interact with the sane family members. I mean, Jim's mom didn't even get to talk, but she seemed pleasant enough, and wasn't his dad charming? I got the sense that Jim's dad is awesome. Can we see them hang out more?
(also! I just noticed his dad wore a kilt to the wedding. WHAT? WHY? WHAT? I BET THERE IS AN AWESOME STORY BEHIND THIS. HOW COME WE COULDN'T INTERVIEW JIM'S DAD INSTEAD OF WATCHING MICHAEL BEG PAM'S MOM FOR PURSE SNACKS?)
I suspect that the reason we weren't allowed to talk to Larissa (I only figured out who she was during the second rewatch, and then only by process of elimination that she must be the brunette between his parents in the front row at the wedding) is that she was too normal for the camera guys to bother with.
Unlike Jim's Asshole Brothers, which...I'd obviously rather see them than watch Dwight hook up with Pam's vapid airhead friend (I determined she was a vapid airhead after she willingly hooked up with Dwight), and I was thrilled that they were able to get both actors back, but at the same time, whenever they open their mouths it's like, "STOP TALKING. Because the words that you're saying, they're hurting me." -- TM Miranda Bailey.
*shudder* I am always overcome with the weirdest desire to start punching them and never stop.
As for Pam's dysfunctional family...I wasn't thrilled when I found out she had a sister, because for some reason Pam has always very strongly seemed to me an only child. And the fact that I really didn't get a sisterly vibe between them didn't help them gel any better, so I'm going to wipe "Penny" out of my head now.
Pam's Dad: Giant Douche. *moves on*
Pam's Mom: Thanks for making that divorce storyline of such dire importance last year, writers. Because I know I definitely enjoyed the fact that instead of season 2's "I love my mom!" and maybe showcasing that adorable bond, instead we just got to watch New Mommy bitch about her ex husband and try to convince her daughter not to get trapped in marriage.
Like I wasn't creeped out enough by the fact that she looks like Jan, now I have to put up with her acting like her too? That's it; I'm just assuming Pam's mom got in a terrible car accident somewhere along the way, resulting in both a face and a personality transplant. Feel free to join me in this belief.
The one member of Pam's family I do like? Meemaw. MEEMAW IS THE BEST. MEEMAW IS WHO I ASPIRE TO BE. Remember when Angela was like, "Some of us have to be our own grandmother?" I hope you all thought of me when she said that, because I proudly admit that this is my personal outlook on life.
I love that she has no smile wrinkles, and was totally scandalized that they were living together, and was mentally assaulted by "Bruno," and would not care to live if she believed people were incapable of perfection. GREATEST OLD LADY EVER.
tl;dr version: Pam's family is terrible, except for her awesome grandma; Jim's brothers are still assholes but his sister and parents (especially his dad) are possibly the greatest people on the planet.
Something I Need To Assault YOUR Brain With
"And I have another one of them in the nude. But that's for me."
Oh God, I want to believe that was just a joke, and yet. Now I have this horrible idea that someone should write a fic in which Michael - in his strange, manchild, Michael way - fantasizes about a menage a trois with two of his favorite people. Now I am imagining how Michael might fantasize about that. OH MY GOD. ONE SHOULD NEVER HAVE THE MENTAL IMAGE OF MICHAEL FANTASIZING ABOUT ANYTHING. EW EW EW. I need the brain bleach, I need it, I need it now! Auuuuuuuuuuuugh!! Stupid suggestive writers!
(Does anyone else see something wrong with the fact that this thought entered my head during Jim and Pam's wedding episode? This tells me there was not enough focus on the bride and groom. For the record, "enough" would be "95%", with the remaining 5% being distributed among their family members. And 0% to anyone from the office unless they were in direct conversation with the bride and/or groom.)
There is no tl;dr version here. I want you to experience the full horror.
Tie-Cutting! (a/k/a BEST/MOST ROMANTIC PART OF EPISODE)
[a/k/a "the very last part I wrote" - just like filming the show, I do things out of order! - at 3:00 in the morning and probably am totally incoherent about]
I kinda forget to breathe during this scene. Everything about it is just...this is the romance that I wanted out of the episode, that I wanted to sneak up on me and blow me away (only, you know, repeated in every scene. Ideally.). This is why I watch the show. This is the only reason the show exists.
I've been nursing a secret hope that we'd get a window into the sort of hormones that manifest themselves in crying at the drop of the hat - albeit without much hope as to how that might happen within this format - and while I get that it's mainly the general stress of the day/weekend/wedding that brings this about, something about the way she whimpers "My veil tore," like it's the greatest tragedy ever befallen, pushes that button for me.
Although really, any excuse to stretch Pam to a tearful breaking point is good. Because it's always happening in fic, and I am always thinking that it sounds unrealistic, so I'm very pleased that they came up with a way to put it on film. And with sneaky!cam, that makes it feel like it's not being filmed by a documentary crew at all, but like it's part of a regular show.
Somewhere between Jim's speechless "You look..." and "You look just as I imagined you. Pam, you're so pretty," the sound of his voice reduced all the solid molecules in my body to liquid, so I need a five-minute break to pull myself together.
(relatedly: God, she is pretty. I don't think I appreciate her enough. And for some reason, she looks especially stunning in this scene. Is it the angelic lighting of a Sunday school classroom?)
Oh, and that sound you hear after Jim cleanly snips his tie in half? It's not the scissors hitting the floor, it's my heart exploding in my chest.
Guh. No pause, no hesitation, just "There. Now we're even." Yeah, I'd say that gesture makes up for ruining the rehearsal dinner. Clearly Pam agrees, as past her initial shock and disbelieving smile, the heart-melting expression on her face makes me do A;LSKDJFLKA;SDJF (that's Keyboard Smash for "keyboard-smashy") things.
And then there is a very sweet kiss. Where my joyful squealing was probably audible to people on the street. SURPRISE BONUS KISSES ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.
I assumed the scene would end there, but no! (This is the part where my TV started acting up during the original airing and I cursed a blue streak at missing this crucial dialogue.) As much as he's helped, Pam still has a few more admittedly misery-making stresses to cry about, which Jim just patiently takes in stride. (Have I mentioned how much I like how, for the most part, he just *listens* and lets her pour it out? Is very dashing) Complete with cheek-stroking,* flail, and...then they rush off to elope on a damn boat; whatever; that part I don't like so much; let's go back to appreciating the gorgeous way Jim just gazes at her throughout this scene.
* = I have rewound this gesture one miiiiiilion times and think maybe it outstrips all 2.5 of the actual kisses in this episode? It's just so ridiculously sweet, and I don't think they'd yet hit that point on my Checklist of Cute.
Lastly, I completely missed Pam saying "This is supposed to be our wedding day" the first time around. My heart always does such flippy things when she's the one drawing attention to their relationship and milestones therein! YAY.
tl;dr version: Pam tears make me a happy person, and Jim is the sweetest and most supportive, reassuring guy ever.
RS Has Issues With The Wedding Itself
OK, fine. So they had two weddings, and at least one of them was in a church, right? Right. I'm moderately less rageful now than I was when I first heard the Maid of the Mist spoilers and went flashing back to a very rageful Booze Cruise place. Although I am still not happy, I am willing to settle for the fact that at least their real plan was to get married in a church.
The "destination wedding" wasn't even as obnoxious as I assumed; I liked Jim's voiceover as they arrived, and I was placated easily enough by the explanation that they were simultaneously trying to get away from the office and closer to somewhere both families could drive to.
However, I diverge from all other Jim and Pam fans when I say that I did not think their little family-free boat marriage was particularly cute, or sweet, or romantic, or nice in any way. I just don't. Maybe if it hadn't been on mute and, to quote my original reaction post, "intercut with asinine aisle dancing" footage and had just been filmed straight, I'd have been happier, but the shoddy editing job ultimately left me feeling cold and cheated. If you're going to stick a camera guy in there at all, then I want the full monty. Don't half-ass it.
Look, I knew when the promo pics came out that I wasn't going to have the sweet kiss at the altar I dreamed about, but I also didn't expect it to be foiled on two counts. The boat one is ruined by its brevity and how it's not actually on the lips, and the church one is ruined by its length and generally ostentatious nature. I realize that almost every kiss they have on camera is like a wedding kiss and therefore I should be placated by the variations, but...I really wanted a picture-perfect kiss in formal attire, and I did not get that. Am sad.
The only thing I liked in the whole debacle - besides the fact that SWEET JESUS, THANK YOU FOR NOT MAKING PAM DANCE DOWN THE AISLE; at least I can take solace in the fact that even though neither she nor Jim shuts this nonsense down, they at least refrain from participating in the madness - is the shot with Jim and Pam quietly looking out over the falls.
His arm around her waist, her head on his shoulder - that's picturesque and perfect. To the point where I don't even really like the fact that Jim acknowledges the camera, because I wish they'd just left the two alone. I even thought I'd hate the fact that the actors were drenched, but somehow Pam's wet, scraggly hair down her bare back added this pretty sense of authenticity.
tl;dr version: Mute, fast-forward, and pause on the last shot to ensure maximum bliss. Then read wedding fic that does it better.
(OTHER) THINGS THAT WERE ENJOYABLE
I put it in all-caps to draw your attention to the fact that I am not a total Negative Nellie.
* How Jim just stands at the front of the room next to Pam, without actually saying anything to endorse her position, during her speech about courteous and non-smelly workplace behavior. Heh.
* Michael decorating his own car in celebration of the marriage. Namely the part where Pam starts to remind him it's supposed to be done to the couple's car, until she catches Jim shaking his head and realizes she needs to shut that sentence down immediately.
* Jim & Pam's quasi-matching outfits with hoods. I mean, I'm just very fond of Jim in casual wear in general, but Pam's pink and rather sweater-like material was...I want it. SERIOUSLY, PAM WAS SO PRETTY AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS EPISODE, WASN'T SHE? It was insane. Not that she wasn't a pretty bride, but for some reason the beginning blew me away.
* The DO/DON'T whiteboard presentation!
+Angela: "Decent people everywhere will be offended." Ahhhh, be still my heart! Truer words, my dear. Be my sounding board forever, mmkay?
* Angela honking at Kevin to get out of her way before she ran him over at the speed of a turtle. And then honking at him some more to emphasize how much he sucks. IT WAS LIKE WE WERE MIND TWINS.
*Jim & Pam checking in at the hotel. Oh my God, I still love that; third best part of the ep. They're just little happy bundles of puppy-like joy. Also, Andy is useful when he's grossing them out as much as me.
A: I got the room the night before you guys - I'll break in the bed! *lurid grin + hip movements*
J: I don't like that.
P: I'm gonna need the name and cell phone number of the housekeeper responsible for changing the sheets, please.
Like I said before - wise request, Pam.
* The fact that all the signs charmingly misread "Halpret." Including the board on the wall, featuring the rehearsal dinner tonight at 7 (until 8:40 PM) and the reception tomorrow at 2. Yes, I rewound repeatedly and advanced frame-by-frame until I could freeze a shot to read those times clearly.
* Dwight bringing down the mood at the kid's table with tales of The Bad Man. (side note: I hope the diligent fic writers among us are already eyeballing the children at that table and figuring out how to work them into this year's round of family-oriented Yuletide fic)
* Pam's glasses!
* Pam's rehearsal dinner dress, which was ALSO super pretty, even though it does a terrible job hiding her bump. Also, RANDOM FUN NEW BACKSTORY: the year that Pam spent teaching Jim to drive a stick. Raise your hand if you love extra shippy insight into the early seasons.
* Jim out drinking with Michael & Dwight. See, not unlike the toast, that was an example of something that was awkward and yet endearing.
* I loved Hallway Chaperone Angela, and I am glad someone was there to make sure the lovebirds behaved themselves. Still, her offer to join Pam downstairs seemed sincere, and I really kind of wanted them to hang out that night. I love those little moments where they're almost friends!
* Jim kicking a soccer ball with his nephew. Remember how enraged I was when you retconned Pam into an awesome volleyball player? I am in no way opposed to retconning Jim's ability to properly connect with a soccer ball. Yay!
* Toby's pathetic yet endearing moment of hope that the wedding might be called off, and Jim and Pam broken up. I love that even the pregnancy does not deter him from this crush. Hell, he probably reasons it gives him a better shot - this way, they could connect as single parents!
* Ryan's bitchy greeting upon their late arrival. Where were you guys? DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG HE'S BEEN WAITING? HOW DARE YOU.
* Let us be very clear, I loathe the song everyone danced to. LOATHE IT. Not least because it sends me into powerful, visceral flashbacks of summer custodial (back when we listened to the Top
However, I do want to applaud the fact that NBC is not shying away from using Chris Brown's work. Separate the music from the man, I say! It was so silly when radio stations did that whole boycotting thing last winter.
* Ryan & Kelly dancing down the aisle was also good. They are the only two characters who are allowed to dance on my show without igniting my FIREBALL OF RAGE!!!! feelings that watching this part always produces. Seriously, I am watching it for only the second time in full right now, forcing myself not to fast-forward (although I cannot force myself not to mute it). I have to sit on my hands in order to enforce that rule. I can't even tell you how much hatred I have in my heart during this - I'm literally shaking with contempt as I type. This is worse than the cold open for me. I repeat: it is worse than the cold open.
* Which is why I'm so proud of my girl Angela for primly walking down the aisle and refusing to stoop to their level.
*"And Plan A was marrying her a long, long time ago."
I leave you on the most positive of notes. (Oh wait, the tag!)
The Real Ending
As previously mentioned, I was a tad too pissed for words when I waited through commercials hoping against hope for one last Jim/Pam moment, and instead got two types of nausea-inducing horror. Rest assured, I will rage at length about the hookup at a later date - right now, I'm busy bleaching my brain in hopes that I won't be forced to acknowledge it.
More importantly, in order to help you divest your own brains of the travesty, I found you a cute post-ep fic which, frankly, would have served as a much better tag. It features Michael stalking the newlyweds back to their honeymoon suite, with exactly the outcome you might expect from Michael attempting to be stealthy. This is what should have happened: Consequences of an Open Bar
There, see? The most positive of notes. :)
For those of you not privy to or who missed the edit to my locked initial-reaction post, which contained even more rage than I am comfortable sharing with the general public, let me quote this last bit:
HOMG, okay, so when the episode ended on an extra-failtastic tag, I half-jokingly scowled to myself and said "I know the cameras aren't coming on the honeymoon, and that's fine, but damn it, after that I freaking deserve some hidden-camera footage or something."
HALPERTBEESLY.COM. VIDEO BLOG. UPDATED. IT WILL SUFFICE AS AN APOLOGY GIFT TO ME. At the very least, it makes up for the Entertainment Weekly photo shoot. JKras, JFisch, have I told you lately that I love you?
I think she says some things in the first 30-40 seconds, but they all kind of fade from importance once Jim wanders out with bedhead and without pants, don't they? I don't even know what I like best about those last 15 seconds:
That "babe" somehow slipped from a word used to mock Jan & Michael into part of their vocabulary? That Pam makes no attempt to warn him he's on camera, just snickers when he finds out for himself? The weak little wave? The way he very carefully walks back to the bathroom, as if through sheer nonchalance he can will the last five seconds out of existence? The fact that we can better see the layout of their bedroom, including the important detail that they have a shower door rather than curtains, all of which will be important for various
("Gotta let me know when you're doing that!" HEE.)
I've only made it through 25/49 pages of discussion at MTT, in pursuit of those savvy lip readers to explain to me what Jim & Pam's snippets of vows were, but I found an answer:
Jim says: I take Pamela Morgan Beesly (slips her ring on her finger) as my lawful wedded wife.
Pam says: ...as my lawful wedded husband (she says it kinda too fast)
I dunno; I can't quite match the words up myself like I could with Company Picnic, but at least it's something to tide me over.
I'm sure at some point it will actually sink in that they're married, but right now I'm still kind of in a state of frozen shock. I keep repeating the words "husband" and "wife" and my brain still lights up like a Christmas tree every time I apply those words, as if I've just been told for the first time. Must admit, it's a nice state of being. *wanders off in happy bliss*
Ooh boy - "Pam Pong" somehow shot to the top of my music library as a result of writing this post while playing it on loop. I...am pretty sure that I didn't love it this much even when I originally found it, and now I can't get enough of the song. *bobs along happily*