The Office, 5x05*, "Mafia"
(*I don't care what the production codes say. I assign numbers based on how many sets of ending credits I see.)
I have always, always believed that Jim and Pam are the only reason to watch this show - you may not be aware of that, since I tend be real low-key about my feelings in this department. I ardently believe that if it were ever to lose both parties, it would instantly be exposed for the hot circle of garbage it is. My hypothesis was finally put to the test, on a safe 1-episode trial, and I don't know if I should feel elated or depressed by how accurate it was.
(OK, strictly speaking, I believe that the series could limp along for up to half a season on the power of Ryan, Kelly, Ice Queen Angela and maybe Toby, but eventually even they would run out of steam.)
I'm sorry. I didn't want to have to come across as such a bitter person - if it was just the mafia plot alone, like "Prince Family Paper" I would have forgiven it for being insufferably boring and moved on without much comment. But then they decided to spike my blood pressure on two separate levels, so my contempt has been quietly simmering beneath the surface all week.
Issue the First: Deleted scene #1, in which Erin apparently destroys Pam's priceless (in terms of sentimental value) painting. I have heard about it but cannot actually bring myself to watch it, because I'll either be sick to my stomach or punch a hole in the nearest wall. I have watched the second one, though. My immense desire to punch a hole in Erin's head tells me that skipping the first scene was probably a good idea.
You'll notice that, despite my trembling fingers and the faint shade of purple my face is turning with the effort of containment, I have not yet unleashed any Capslock of Rage or colorful expletives. I'm being very, very calm; you want to beware of that. And the only reason I'm being so very, very calm is that the [keyboard] is a delicate thing, and I'm afraid I'll break it if I try to put my feelings toward this character into words. So whatever you've done to Pam's painting, I want it reversed.
*end clumsy Doctor Who quote appropriation*
Issue the Second: Honeymoon Interruptus
Here is a direct quote from the Entertainment Weekly article: Jim and Pam will enjoy a week away from Dunder Mifflin for their honeymoon - sorry, no faux-documentary cameras allowed. Says Daniels, "We're giving them their privacy."
What he fails to mention is that while the camera crew might be giving them privacy, the rest of the office is not. No, the rest of the office will be trampling all over their privacy as many ways as possible.
And as excited as I initially was that they found a way to keep Jim and Pam's voices in the episode, it quickly just made me ill. I hope you enjoyed mining this subplot for fart jokes and a few other weak laughs, because I for one find it hysterical to think about Jim and Pam going straight from their high-stress wedding to having their last pre-baby vacation ruined by incessant phone calls and the stress of potential credit card fraud & frozen bank accounts. Yuk, yuk!
You couldn't leave well enough alone and not mention them? We had armies of fic writers standing by to fill in the blanks. Of course the episode was going to suck; don't try to improve it by shoehorning your absentee characters in through any means available.
*sigh* It's just. I already had to compromise on the wedding, making allowances for the style of the show, but I figured that as long as they weren't on camera I'd be free to imagine their honeymoon, at least, as something sweet and relaxing and free of worry. Having that taken away for no real reason sucks.
And since clearly there's nothing they won't mine for laughs, I'm no longer entirely sure I trust the writers to let Jim be there when the baby's born. I can see it now: he'll be stuck somewhere in New York babysitting Michael at a branch-managers meeting, with his phone turned off or broken or something. She'll go into labor a week early and be forced to let Dwight drive her to the hospital (though first he'll probably try to convince her that hospitals are unnecessary and he's perfectly qualified to handle live births). Then she'll have one of those record speedy deliveries so that by the time Jim gets there - after a drive full of more hijinx like wrong turns and flat tires - it'll be over.
These are legitimate fears in my brain. Be warned, scribes, I also consider them grounds for justifiable homicide.
P.S. The next person who complains that Pam was rude to Oscar will find a no-vacancy sign hung on their ass, courtesy of my resident foot. What part of "this is their honeymoon" and "being interrupted for completely frivolous and unnecessary reasons" doesn't seem clear to you? Haven't they earned the right to have one week in which they don't have to think about work in any capacity?
I think we she was quite restrained about it, to be honest, cutting right to the point: "Unless someone very close to us is in immediate physical danger, you should not be calling us." She didn't even call him any choice names before hanging up, like I most certainly would have.
Thoughts I Might Have Had, If Not For My Issues
-It is my personal bit of canon that if we don't get to see that first baby kick at some point, then I'm going to pretend it happened right after they'd both just finished having a meltdown over the credit card emergency. I'm picturing arguments, raised voices and quickened pulses, frustrating phone calls, general negative vibes...and then there it is. Like, "way to put things in perspective, Baby."
-My favorite part of the episode was when Ryan's eyes lit up at the prospect of authority, seizing his chance to explain his expert knowledge of mafia families. All I could think was, "Wow, so sad. This is the smallest amount of power I have ever seen go to someone's head."
-"The Coalition of Reason." I like it. I wonder if that was the original/working title for The Finer Things Club.
-CAPITAL ONE?? I'm sorry, but I have been assaulted by ENTIRELY too many "design your own Capital One credit card!" commercials in my lifetime not to start immediately envisioning what sort of wacky picture Jim might have on his.
-Actually, Jim pretending to break up while going through the "Bermuda Triangle" was really funny, and a pretty ingenius way of getting Michael off their back. I like to imagine that he was making a variety of wonderful facial expressions to go along with this, and that Pam was sitting next to him the whole time, mood quickly shifting from fury to delight, and nearly dying from the effort of stifling her laughter. I wish that had been the end of the calls, so I could picture them ending the day in a good mood, instead of hearing Pam's strained voice sounding frustrated to the point of tears. Again.
(If anyone could point me in the direction of missing-scene or post-ep fic to calm me down, I'd love you forever. Sort of like how this fic put a soothing cap on the end of the conflict in 6x03.)
-So Jim's dad has a bad heart, huh? (Try not to kill him off in a February ratings stunt, if at all possible.) On the one hand, that kinda sucks, since he's clearly the best family member either of them have. On the other, I see your attempt to pacify me with a subtle yet serious Family Detail, and grudgingly accept your offering. *swipes and stuffs in Daydream Fodder file*
-I just realized that this is one of those special episodes, like "The Deposition" or "Two Weeks," that I am never actually going to finish watching because it's too boring/awful to bear. There's like 8 or 9 minutes in here that I just can't make myself sit through, not even once.
Basically I think I need to consider this week nothing more than an experiment in filming fanfic. No aspect of it shall be considered admissible in a court of canon law, and I am scrubbing it all out of my head right now like a bad dream.
Up Next: Ummm, just watched the promos for next episode. In the wake of my hatred for "Mafia," I'd forgotten about the upcoming plotline there. I don't know how, because next episode looks all-consumingly horrifying...which is probably why my brain blocked it out in the first place. Pam seems to be taking it better than I am, if that gives you any indication about my feelings.