Instead, some crucial threads snapped in my brain and I went for broke, plunging heedlessly forward again without forcing myself to process the existing episodes first.
In my haste I clicked the wrong link and didn't notice, so I accidentally missed "Living the Dream" and proceeded straight to A.A.R.M., because I had only meant to take the edge off. Fifteen minutes in, when I finally realized it was a double episode, instead of cutting myself off then and there I just started skipping the side plots and streamlined it to pure Jim/Pam scenes because I was desperate to see this part come to a head. THAT'S when I realized I had missed an episode and OH CRAP now all I have left is the finale, and there's a time jump so I basically ruined the last "regular" episode of the series. All this time spent waiting for Halpert resolution, and it mows me down when I'm not prepared.
(but on that note, WHOAAAAAA, weeping an ocean of pure joy and relief now that Jim has restored honor unto his name. I'm going to talk about that for a thousand words later on)
And thaaaat is when all the remaining threads snapped and I just threw myself into all the spoilery sources I'd been forcibly keeping myself away from (Office Tally, dollsome and crackers4jenn, basically). Spoiled myself on the wedding partners! Spoiled myself on Michael's appearance! Spoiled myself on Pam's beautiful last TH! ALL THE SPOILERS. I have ruined the expereince of watching the last episodes of one of my cornerstone fandoms and I hate myself for it. I mean, there are still plenty of details I don't know about the finale - like, for instance, where Jim and Pam ended up career-wise - and I haven't watched any of it outside of a few gifs, but...god. Four months I spend locked away in my spoiler-free cocoon, and ruin it in 24 hours without any help.
*NOTHING IS WORTH 9x15. I am going to carry that flame of hatred all the way to my grave in the file of "Most Epic Mistakes In Television Script HISTORY."
So now that I've had a hysterical fit of regret, let's go back in time and pretend that second part hasn't happened yet.
Well, that was the most horrifying teaser that has ever existed ever. Moving on.
So, wait, did they explain why they're still filming them even though the documentary is apparently wrapped and ready to air? Did the crew explain it to the staff off-screen, at least? What are the theories? I feel like I mentioned this before, but I can't find it and it's still true - watching late and being cut off from the instantly-available deleted scenes, reviews, comments on OfficeTally makes me feel like I'm watching this show half blind and deaf; it's totally disorienting.
Part of me wants to stop right here and watch the entire series from start to finish just to refresh my memory of what it's been like and to imagine how they might condense those 100+ hours down to 9. But part of me also wants to stay in the fuzzy state of memory where Jim/Pam zig-zags from Casino Night to Fun Run within 3-5 episodes, because "Jim/Pam in season 3" is right up there with "in 9x15" on my list of Legendary Rage Triggers.
Anyway, yeah, all of a sudden I feel pretty gross about the camera crew and bad about myself for wanting all the invasions of privacy. Thanks for the shame lesson, TPTB! That must have been one hell of a contract the characters signed. (and yet, would I trade one single 'secret moment'?
I feel like Brian didn't totally deserve to take all the heat for the Secret Sleazy Filming Choices, but he's more than worn out his welcome so it was pretty satisfying to see Pam look at him like he was the scum of the earth and walk out without a backward glance.
Those early scenes from season 2 gave me feelings of nostalgia I don't even own, considering that while season 2 was airing I was like THIS SHOW IS DUMB AND STUPID, WHY WOULD ANYONE WATCH IT, and that when I did finally watch it for the first time it was just a few summer reruns and then I marathoned the first 3 seasons in the week before season 4 began. Watching Pam replay the promo for those little moments of her and Jim over and over was perfect. I've been waiting 5 years for her to get to smile over footage of the early days.
(also: Clark, are you really in a position to mock anyone's hair? Or anyone's anything?)
Post-nostalgia, I basically wanted to curl up in a ball and cry because Jim has changed and it's wildly upsetting that right now I just plain cannot imagine him as the guy who would go the ends of the earth and back for her. Well, actually, I can - the problem is that I can't imagine him willingly coming back and staying put just to make her happy.
In outer-office news, I have no idea who Famous Ryan Howard is any more than Pam does (that reference made me laugh), but the exaggerated version was kind of amusing. He had so much polite enthusiasm for his terrible ideas, the fact that he wasn't trolling them on purpose just made this so much better.
Speaking of trolls, Nellie antagonizing Andy on YouTube was SO GREAT.
Also, Esther is really pretty. I enjoy her even more than I enjoy Angela's vendetta and how she cracks herself up comparing Esther to a horse. Did not mind this tractor-leasing subplot at all.
Aaaand last but not least, I still hate seeing Angela and Oscar work together - the gay BFF formula only works if your gay guy is cute and/or warm and affectionate, just fyi - but I took great satisfaction in seeing her repeatedly hit him in the stairwell (you were kissing him on Halloween?! HE WAS DRESSED AS RONALD REAGAN! SACRILEGE!!), and that cheerful tandem phone message to the Senator made me laugh out loud.
I really enjoyed that! (except for the awful Senator plotline) The Andy parts weren't bad -- although Roseanne Barr acted circles around him, which was even better because for months I had somehow read her name as "Rosie O'Donnell" and was really dreading this character's appearance -- and I loved the dog/cat/mouse balancing act beyond compare, but what really had me cracking up was Stanley's stubborn refusal to use stairs going up or down, and the assorted tomfoolery resulting in shooting him with tranquilizers and rolling him up in bubble wrap.
And of course, the real crowning jewel was Jim & Pam & Nellie & Toby. Look, guys, all my favorite people came out to play in the same storyline! I mean, sure, my initial reaction was to stop and cry for five minutes because intellectually I know that marriage counseling is not the death knell that TV makes it out to be and that it's actually supposed to be a healthy thing, but irrationally...my brain wants us to raid the nearest armory and go on a shooting spree for daring to suggest that this perfect couple could ever come anywhere close to such a state of disrepair that they need an outside mediator. THEY'RE NOT BROKEN.
Voice: *hums* We're not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again.
RS: Get out.
Voice: I'm sorry I don't understand
Where all of this is coming from
I thought that we were fine,
(Oh, we had everything)
RS: This is not OK.
Voice: Your head is running wild again
My dear, we still have everything
(Yeah, but this is happenin')
RS: The song break is over now.
Anyway. I love that they each found a confidante to talk to, and I loved both conversations equally. Toby's short-lived joy about "getting personal" before Jim asks about his divorce. Pam putting her foot down about not moving her family to Philly (GOOD GIRL). Blithely skating over "he bought our house without telling me" as mere evidence to stack against him and not her actually taking umbrage to that, and appreciating how both of these conversations only underscore that Jim is being ridiculous and Pam is like 90% in the right. And Toby pointing out that it must be hard for Pam to "sign on to being unhappy" without an end date. Toby can throw shade, who knew.
In other news, I'm catching up on the OT comments right now, and...ugh, I legitimately cannot believe what bitches people are being about Pam (what's that? That was me all over late season 5/season 6? Well, that's not hypocritical at all - my issue is not wanting her to change, and right now Pam is all about not changing). But at least there is this really great Tumblr post smacking them down like the hand of god with sound, sensible logic.
(also I'm pretty sure that most of the Pam hate comes from horrible people who are literally incapable of understanding that some people like their hometowns, don't want to leave, and/or don't consider anything that requires them to move a "great opportunity")
Paper Airplanes: 19 straight minutes of excruciating embarrassment (exceptions made briefly for Angela showing off and naming her ~20 new cats, Nellie looking cute in a fitted ref uniform, and Roseanne Barr continuing to be awesome), then Jim/Pam.
FIRST REACTION: I would really like to appreciate the hugging and extended kissing and the declarations of love, and one day I will, but right now I'm still too bitter. Really, that's what the arc from hell was for? You think this makes up for it? Because I sense that after all the tension, it was supposed to make my heart spin and thrill and be all "no, I just missed my wife" levels of fulfillment as we take our first solid step toward the light, but instead I just sat there as emotionless as a Pam scarecrow enduring a feelings glomp.
SECOND REACTION, a day or so later and after spoiling myself on the remainder of the Jim/Pam arc for the year: yeah, OK, I'm starting to feel it. I'm still depressingly detached from it, but what was significant to me was Jim crouching down beside her before he left. "I know that this was really weird, and it's really hard, but I think we're making progress. So I'm really sorry that I have to to go, but let's keep at this." There's an ocean of space between them, and for ocne I'm glad of it. I feel like it's the first time he's realized how far she has checked out in her disappointment, and it finally scares him. Something about his tone of voice, too...my brain connected it to the sort of regret and worry you'd hear at a hospital bedside vigil, particularly the kind where you were fighting before the accident. I may have run with that.
As for the World's Most Awkward Hug...not sure about that. I kind of like that they set up him spinning her as if for an epic kiss, only to realize that the timing is all off and he has no idea what to do or say once she's facing him. Realistic in a good way, that epic movie moves rarely make sense in real life, but I liked his determination to just keep going until she responded. Felt kind of like a cheap Hallmark moment to have the wedding flashbacks, even though I totally get what they were trying to do and if it just wasn't for the bitter scar tissue left by 9x15, I'd be swooning. (because those few new seconds of their wedding were more romantic & satisfying than anything during their private or public ceremonies in "Niagara.")
But even Bitter Me felt something break free when Pam's stiffness melted into that same familiar pose with her arms locked around his neck. It was like one of those wooden toys where you push a button and the whole thing collapses in a limp and broken-looking mess -- then you let go and it springs back into position? The kiss was letting go of the button.
Need gifs, stat, so I can stare at them forever.