The Office, "The Delivery"
First off, let's get one thing straight: baby episode > wedding episode. I have already said that several times, but I will say it several times more, any and every time I run across someone making the opposite (incorrect) statement.
Second, I tripped over "Thoughts From a Labor & Delivery RN/Doula," which offers some absolutely fantastic observations on the episode. Plus she's at least 90% positive re: accurate portrayal, which I take as validating proof that when this show wants to transcend its general idiocy and not completely sacrifice emotional weight in the name of comedy, it can.
Okay, okay, snark-free is the way to be. Because this hour was one big explosion of love and flailing, followed by four hours of continuous flailing before I went to bed, and basically they exceeded all of my expectations by about five thousand percent. This was near Glee-levels of 'oh, there's no way they will indulge me this time OH MY GOD, THEY TOTALLY GRANTED MY SELF-INDULGENT WISHLIST.'
Let's set this up in categories, and get the minor amount of negativity out of the way ASAP:
Things I Hated (just to get it out of the way)
-Isabelle cementing my opinion of her as a vapid airhead for somehow not learning her lesson about Dwight.
-"Stick spicy foods up her butt." Did. Not. Need. To. Hear. That.
-In fact, Kevin had way too much screen time in general.
Those are literally the only things to which I had an overwhelmingly negative response.
Things I Sort Of Didn't Like
-"That kid's gonna have a lot of hair." WHY. WHY IS MICHAEL ALWAYS PUTTING THESE THINGS INTO MY BRAIN. DO NOT WANT.
-Dwight destroying their house (duh) -- but on the whole, that was much less stress-inducing than anything Dwight did at the wedding (including Isabelle! Ba-dum-tish). Although I don't want to hear that they have mold. Seriously. I am going to pop some Retcon and assume he was exaggerating the problem, because so help me God, if you do anything to permanently ruin Jim's childhood home...
-I should hate the fact that Dwight slept in their bed half-naked (and not the appropriate half). In good conscience, I can't say I do, as it gave us both another excuse to see the room - I am in love with their pretty bedding, by the way - and a brand-new framed picture.
-Erin reciting Triple Crown Winners. I mean, that itself was amazing, but in the bigger picture - that is trivia only horse-crazy girls tend to memorize*, so I can only ask, WHY? Why do these writers insist on mocking me by having Erin basically not only be me (minus the pretty hair), but be an idealized version of me as she lives my dream life?
* = the other option is that she just likes to memorize random trivia, which is no better, because I do that, too
-The entire subplot in the second half. They cut back and forth to the hospital so often that it seemed much less excruciating at the time, but if I ever have to watch this episode again without a fast-forward button, things might get ugly. That said, at least it Andy/Erin had relatively little direct interaction, and damned if I didn't even sort of like the way he asked her out.
Remember how all my favorite shippy scenes involve tears? Yeah, I'm that easy. Forget Casino Night, I want someone to ask me out after I break down in tears feeling stupid and attacked. I probably would have watched this scene twice if Erin hadn't done her bipolar snap back to smiling and made it impossible to feel sympathy for her. I'm still replaying it in my head, though, to savor the moment where Andy looks horrified and finally blurts out what he's been trying to say. Yeah, you heard me, I just found Andy tolerable with a brief dash of charming. Don't spread it around.
-The wrong-baby moment. But not entirely. Will expand in a later section.
Everything Else: General Category
-Cold open: Loved Dwight's outrage that Pam is "exploiting her baby for sales" instead of coming by them HONORABLY! And Jim promptly dropping the pending-fatherhood bit on a client of his own, just to try and make Dwight's head explode.
-IT Nick: WHY ARE YOU HERE? It's so bizarre. It's like that episode of How I Met Your Mother, where it turns out Doug the Bartender was supposedly lurking in the background of every classic scene, and you just didn't notice. I half expect them to flash back to Casino Night and show Nick sneaking out the door during the kiss.
-I love that the police are on a first-name basis with Dwight. Probably not for the most positive reasons. (ALSO: sight gag of him tossing various weaponry out of his car. Best!)
-Dwight and Angela! Drafting baby contracts! I do not understand why everyone is hating on this subplot, because I thought it was marvelous. Out of the blue and ultra random, but marvelous. Angela said nothing! And it was the most gratifying silence ever! Frankly, I just adored the return of covert conversation in the break room with their backs to each other. I adored it so much I'm not even going to ask Angela if she knows that a baby conceived under non-marital contract is still a bastard.
^ Yes, I did just reduce that storyline to a paragraph. Still loved it!
-Fine, yes, I actually looked up the Burning Man 2009 dates just to make sure that Jim was joking about where the baby was conceived. You can never be too suspicious of this show.
-I love Kelly's impromptu pregnancy research and subsequent revulsion, because...let's face it, I did exactly the same thing this summer, and reacted in kind (don't forget episiotomies, Kelly! Those are their own special kind of horror). I spent a lot more time on it, though, until I had a considerably more balanced perspective. Pregnancy still sounds like a less frightening or nauseating prospect than taking care of an actual infant.
-"You are a woman warrior." You know what this show needs more of? Well, yes, Kelly at all times, but especially Pam/Kelly interaction. ...that doesn't involve the latter being hyper competitive.
-The dreaded Mama Beesly only showed up for about 30 seconds, couldn't beat a retreat fast enough upon seeing Michael, and I was so distracted by Jim cuddling his new daughter (I'm just going to use that word a lot until it sinks in) that I barely registered her at all. VICTORY!
-Jim: the master of diapering all objects both animate and not, including Bandit. I don't know what the best part was: Angela's expression, a cat wearing a diaper, the continuity involved with choosing a tabby, or the fact that he was able to do this without having his arms clawed to shreds, which I interpret less as the cat being easy-going and more as Jim being a cat person. Because I want to.
-All of the "distractions" were golden. Not least because they led to frazzled!Jim finally leaping out of his chair, denouncing the whole business, and then popping back for one last awesomely passive-aggressive smile and, "By the way? Hate that you're helping her with this right now." I may have applauded when I saw that in the preview? Because while it turns out that I'm actually on Pam's side as far as not leaving too early, his frustration is not unlike what my frustration with her has been in the past, and it's nice to hear it voiced.
-*smirk* Ryan raises his hand as A Single Man, despite Kelly clinging to his other arm. In fact, I'm pretty sure he raises it higher as a result.
"Okay, show of hands, who wants to live in a world where Stanley has two lovers and you don't have any?"
-Andy has a long tradition of (unsuccessfully) hiding behind plants. HAHAHA! Oh, my God, did I just legitimately find something he did funny? This episode must be magical. Like unicorns.
-Oh, and one last note - all the kitchen destruction gave us an excuse to visit another room in the house, and examine the magnificent set decoration for further details. Like, look! They have random little teacups! A collection of bright and vibrant oven mitts! Adorable animal magnets on the fridge! Click for full size in order to examine some of said details...and just try to blur out the undershirt-clad monstrosity in the middle.
Deleted Scenes, So Far
1. Ryan's poem? I know Pam burst out laughing (which was hilarious. also, I shipped them for a few seconds), but I think that was more a reaction to Ryan doing a Dramatic Reading, rather than the poem itself, because...dude, I like that poem. At least as a working draft. But the second couplet is magnificent and already deserves a place in cursive script on a wallpaper collage somewhere. It is also on my list of potential fic/blog post titles. Watch for it in the future.
You let me in your bed
But now, I sleep alone
Trapped with the forgotten
In my detritus home
I hope you're happy now
I hope it every day
In case you didn't figure it out yet
I'm the doll you threw away
2. SO MUCH AWESOME HERE. Ryan flipping out at the mere suggestion that Michael might know models. (and then smoking. WTH.) Creed preparing to die, per the cycle of life rules. And more of Jim quietly gnashing his teeth and wondering how many more minutes before garroting Clark counts as justifiable homicide.
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Jim/Pam ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
"Shipper-tastic," promised one early review. I was skeptical, but it's true: they share so many scenes, either alone or in a group but still directly interacting, that I can't even count them. You know how I am always complaining that they don't get enough focus and/or are in the background too much? This is what I've been yearning for. All Jim/Pam, all the time. In my ideal world, every episode would resemble this one.
Not to mention, if you remember my longshot but legitimate fears that he would be stuck in a New York meeting with his phone off when she went into labor, and possibly be racing the clock to make it in time for the birth...this was just a marvelously indulgent piece of work.
Self-quoting time: When I first read the summary in which "they" were waiting until midnight, I was ticked off, because it seems perfectly in character for Pam to be stubborn like that, but I just could not imagine a world in which Jim was not fretting on the sidelines about her well-being and impatient to whisk her off to care ASAP. I feel vindicated now.
This entire plotline, which seemed like a possible recipe for disaster? Perfect. I love the 5,204 contraction moments. I love that Jim is calm and collected and on board with the whole waiting plan until the 7-minute mark, and then it's the faltering, "...are you serious?" followed by the slow yet certain path to pacing and hair-tearing. But we'll get to that.
Now switching to a list of reactions in chronological order, once I was finally able to pull myself together and start typing.
"Stop watching me."
"O-kay, Crazy. I think I have better things to do with my day than worry about you. Like sell printers. Now through Friday, 20% off all printer cartridges, that's a big deal; while we're on the subject, why don't I just run you down to the hospital for a quick check?"
-More applause for Jim's increasingly desperate expressions during Operation: Conference Room Distractions. The hyper-bouncing leg is a nice touch.
-The CRAZY HAIR is wonderful. "I know Pam better than anyone in this office, and OBVIOUSLY she has gone crazy, but everyone wants to say that I'm crazy. I'm not crazy, she's crazy. I'm not crazy, she's crazy."
-And to emphasize this fact, Jim will now read aloud from a stack of baby books: "5-7 minutes. 5-7 minutes. 6 minutes: different! But not really. 5-7 minutes."
Of note - I love the book-flipping montage, but the only New Parents Baby Book I could find on Google was published in the 80's, apparently without revised editions. That's just mean, props department. I was hoping for an authentic reading experience.
-Meanwhile, this is the Worry Shot I will use for AU Daydream Land when my brain is busy running through the plots of old ER/Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice episodes, and trying out every delivery complication I can remember. Thank you for sparing these few seconds.
-Pam finding out the gender early - again, this is a place they could have royally screwed up, but instead made it pitch-perfect. Everything from her begging him not to be mad (wait, I even get serious emotions in this?! well, knock me over with a feather), to that being the farthest thing from his mind. "Mad? How could I be mad? We're having a little girl...wow. We're having a little girl!" SO. I'LL BE OVER HERE, FLAILING.
All the pros and cons I laid out for both boy and girl in the "Company Picnic" review stands [right down the part where I knew they'd screw me on name choice if I didn't care about gender! Can I call it or what?], so I really would have been happy either way. The whole internet was convinced for months it was a girl, so I nearly started hoping for a boy out of sheer contrariness, but ultimately I'm quite pleased they have a daughter.
-Oh, and back to this scene: beautiful, perfect reactions from both that mirror those of the reveal in CP. Only this time I even get a bonus kiss out of it! Further bonuses: Pam nonchalantly laughing off the fact that her water broke as she walks back inside. Jim's decidedly chalant laugh, and expression of oh. Great. Perfect. *mental headdesk*
-The break room scene is ALSO PERFECT. I love that in 2 seconds flat she switches from shouting so fierce that everybody drops their hold and takes a step back, to the squeaky voice of fear. "I'm not going today! Because I can't do it, I don't think I can do it..."
O hai there Serious Emotion, are you making two appearances in one episode?? You are! I don't know what I like more: Jim's beautiful and tender reassurances, or how despite the obnoxious stereo echoes of everything he says, Pam tunes them out and keeps her eyes locked on him.
"Hey. Are you kidding me? If anyone can do this, you can do this. Pam, I'm scared. I'm real scared. But the best news is...we're gonna have a baby today."
All together now: awwwwww.
And then they find out the contractions are down to two minutes apart, and simultaneous meltdowns ensue. Totally and completely irrational meltdowns; I love it. "We waited too long!" "I don't want to have my baby here!"
-I don't think I have mentioned this yet, but at this point, Michael becomes amazing. Despite his variety of later gaffes, every time I watch this part, I almost tear up with pride at how effectively he calms Pam (and by extension, Jim) down and handles this. I didn't even know Michael was capable of being this sweet and supportive. Can he be like this always?
-I am going to block out the part where Jim listens to things like the 8 Mile soundtrack, and focus on him rubbing her arm/knee in the backseat and trying to keep her breathing steady. I am being spoiled to the gills and beyond with all the touching in this episode, and we are still not even halfway through. I can only assume you are stockpiling in preparation for maternity leave.
Jim doesn't know what "fully effaced" means? Oh, whatever. They've bought at least four different baby books - don't even pretend he hasn't read them all cover to cover.
-No, but seriously, I love this little labor update. I love that they gave me an exact number of hours (timelines: they're your friends!). And your heart skipped a beat when the nurse referred to him as 'Daddy.' Don't even deny it.
-You might think that one of the greatest benefits to being a pregnant character on a mockumentary show is that you don't have to portray the whole embarrassing labor thing on camera. NOPE. WRONG. Admittedly you only have to provide the audio, but I have to wonder if it's not more awkward to yell and cry and scream convincingly when you're just sitting in a room somewhere. Kudos, though, it sounded incredibly real.
And in the end...
I will never get tired of looking at this.
"Cecelia Marie Halpert." And to that I say, MEH. Personally, I did not have a dream name (okay, I totally did, but that's just because Emily_Halpert is infamous and everywhere in fandom, so I've been conditioned to the sound - really, I was open to suggestions), but 'Cecilia' seems like such a mouthful. Also a bit old-fashioned. Are we going with nicknames here? And if so, what? I know Jenna Fischer's all excited about naming her after her niece, but...
And "Marie"? Yawn. People pick it because it sounds good with everything, but it's the generic option, like wearing a black dress to everything. Yes, readership, I know; your middle name is Marie and you think it's pretty. That's not the issue! The issue is I knew SO MANY people with that name in junior high/high school, I used to joke that female birth certificates were pre-printed like that unless parents requested a change. It doesn't even sound like a name anymore.
It doesn't help that I've read so much about Angela Kinsey's daughter, whom Jenna has also mentioned a fair number of times, that my mind just automatically starts calling the baby Isabelle, even though I know that name's already been distributed. This is going to be a hard habit to unlearn.
But, um, before someone named Cecilia comes over to smack me down, let me clarify that on its own it's fine, it's pretty, and I'm sure I'll accept this in time.
And Baby Makes Three
There are no words. For my squee. As Jim comes out to make his announcement, fairly glowing with pride. 7 pounds, 2 ounces, 18 inches, "mother and daughter are doing great." *THUD* Remember those words, like 'married' and 'husband' and 'wife' I had to say a thousand times in October and still couldn't fully process? We have a new set of words to work with.
But don't think I didn't notice that moment where Kelly was going to be the first to hug Jim, and then Michael intercepted and took that moment away from me. Grrr....look, my wayward ship can happen at all times, okay? And now:
DID YOUR OVARIES JUST EXPLODE?Per a tip from fiery_twilight , I recently stocked up on several boxes of spares. So far I've gone through one and a half. I just love so much about what this scene chooses to be, including brief on Helene and heavy on new-parent pride. Plus a Jim-brow that scoffs heavily at Pam's claims of a caffeine-free lifestyle.
Did they just explode again, or did the squee only take out your head this time?
You know how I assume there are certain things that I will never get to see with this format, and I figured "Money" was the only time I would ever see them in a bed? I ENJOY BEING WRONG SOMETIMES. Spooning, Iiiiiiiiii got spooning, and now I will never be disappointed again (that is a bold-face lie. But I'm good for the rest of the season, probably).
"Remember yesterday, when we were terrified of being parents?"
A clear illustration of the wearing-pink-and-blue rule that usually signifies we're having an awesome episode.
-Awww, I love Pam's alarmed little "Doesn't she sleep here?" On a related note, the internet has been kind of down on Nurse Josie, but I love her. She's plucky and personable, and while her patience seems to wear thin by the end of their stay, for the most part I think she's extremely helpful and reassuring, and I wouldn't mind having her for a care provider.
-My life was not complete until I heard Pam gushing in baby-talk. Who knew?
-It will never not amaze me that we run for three scenes in a row at this point; from the aforementioned cuddling to hilariously unsuccessful swaddling (complete with squabbling and wrist-slapping), to the first of many nursing dilemmas. Seriously, not even in my wildest dreams did I think they'd be this generous with the camera time in the room. Did I agree to sign over my firstborn to TPTB? Is that how this miracle came about?
"You're pushing the milk out, right?"
Pam's answering bitchface is AWESOME.
"How would one do that?"
"Well isn't it - it's kind of like a - (awkward shoulder hunching/pectoral flexing motions)"
"Do you want to try it, Jim?!"
"Mm-mm. I think you're good. You're doing a good job." *surreptitious nurse-paging*
In further reasons to love the Josie:
"She'll be fine, I can always give her a bottle once we're in the nursery."
"No, I read in the book about nipple confusion."
"Oh good. You know everything."
The snarky nurses on this show are THE BEST. I mean, I adore that Pam is so bound and determined to breastfeed, but I also see where a bunch of new parents spouting book rhetoric all the time with no firsthand experience would get old, fast.
-Jim & Pam openly staring at the other mom's boob: see, this is the kind of odd social behavior that annoys me when they are eating food off other people's plates, but here is just adorable and quirky. By the way, whichever jackass editor decided to cut straight from a scene of them whispering to ROCK MUSIC + CHAINSAW just earned my undying wrath.
-New favorite part: Pam + male lactation specialist = Jim's own private hell. TOO GLORIOUS FOR WORDS. And apparently this guy is Jenna's real-life fiance, so the juxtaposition between fiction & reality here is too fabulous for me to wrap my brain around. And just when Jim thinks they can be done with all this weird outside breast contact...
Pam: No, please, I think it'd be weird if you did it.
Jim: Right, that makes sense. I'll just...go get the other guy. -.-
While I have you - you know how I am grouchy that Numb3rs is ending, because this is like the only fandom in the world that cannot write baby!fic to save its soul, and without canon I subsequently cannot even begin to fathom how Charlie and Amita would react? The more I watch this part, the more I could see this entire scene happening with them. In fact, I can almost transpose the entire episode onto them. Minus the delayed hospital wait and the weirdo baby swap, but seriously, everything else.
HAPPY TIMES, FOLKS. HAPPY TIMES.
Back to Baby Times
Wait, but, I already got cuddly spooning in bed. Now you're telling me I get I MORE, in the form of them all curled up asleep? That's it, I need to see proof that my soul still belongs to me. We are going to ignore the context here for a moment and focus on the visuals, because I cannot believe I finally got to see things like this:
Let me bring out another relevant quote from my thoughts on "Money": I loved the subsequent sequences of the light being flipped on and going to investigate things that go bang (and/or moan) in the night, especially the second one. Yes, my heart gave a little skip at the “Your turn” comment. So ready for babies.
SERIOUSLY, WHO THOUGHT WE WOULD GET TO SEE THAT FOR REAL? BECAUSE I SURE DIDN'T.
OK, context. I really want to say that the case of the mistaken newborn was AWFUL, and it was, but the thing of it is...I mean, I didn't notice they were grabbing the wrong baby. And even though I hate that their adorable "we're really parents now" moment was based on a lie (and I so loved how Jim managed an enthusiastic monotone without even opening his eyes...), their reactions when they realize the mistake are so priceless that I have to watch it over and over again.
-Pam's initial panic: amazing. Jim using his foot to slide the little cradle away cracks me up. The way they're just silently cursing in their heads that all this is not only being observed by a third - and fourth - party, but filmed...Jim cowering down and hiding his face in Pam's shoulder! Pam's sudden inability to breathe! HILARIOUS. (Mom: "We never had to share a room with anybody." Dad: "That's probably why.")
By the way - between the baby mixup and the way the camera guys let Michael walk in on Pam in labor and watched Dwight break into their house and destroy their kitchen, Jim and Pam might want to have a word with the documentary crew about the fine line between “impartial observer” and “reasonable interference.” I’m suddenly worried that if Stanley has a heart attack out in the parking lot, they’ll just wait around hoping somebody looks out the window in time.
-One last round with a failure to latch, hospital staff pushing them out the door, and STILL one of the best scenes is yet to come. I don't even know how many times I have watched this last one, because I loved all the parenting stuff together, but there is something about this lone mama + baby moment, "it's just you and me," that makes me all sappy and misty-eyed, and oh so happy for her when it finally works.
And then Jim comes up in time to see it and complete the little family picture, and I don't even know how it is possible to love fictional characters this much.
We did it!
P.S. What do you call that thing Pam's wearing? I've been going with 'nursing apron', but that doesn't seem like the...oh, nope, maybe it is the right term. Hmm. Must investigate further.
Interesting thing about the baby crying - at no point tonight did I want to smack the everliving hell out of it! I mean, it wasn't a great sound, but it was like a barking dog instead of worse than a fire alarm. I'm growing! Vicariously through TV first, real life later.
I even sort of thought this baby was cute, and I don't think I have ever thought that about a baby before. They still mostly all look alike, but when she was reaching out with her little tiny arms, I made a noise of appreciation normally reserved for puppies, kittens, bunnies, and other furry critters.
In Conclusion: Best episode of the season. Possibly the best episode of the last two seasons.
Next Episode: It is going to be bizarre to get thrown back into the actual office, and force myself to accept where the show usually takes place. Nooooo! I don't want to leave Wonderland, I won't, I won't! *stamps foot*