After Seasons of Frustration and Futility, "The Office" Proves It Still Has the Ability to Move Us

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After Seasons of Frustration and Futility, "The Office" Proves It Still Has the Ability to Move Us

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | April 26, 2013 | Comments ()


It's been a rough few season of deteriorating quality; the loss of Michael Scott, Kelly, and Ryan; the the unfortunate addition of Nellie Bertram; and a pitiful embarrassing waste of James Spader, but "The Office" is finally nearing an end, four seasons too late. There have been a few genuinely amusing moments along the way, but they have been few and far between, and it's hard to argue anything other than "The Office" has terribly outstayed its welcome.

That's no more apparent than in what has happened to Jim and Pam over the course of last season and this. Once the sweetest, most adorable couple on television, Jim and Pam have become increasingly distant, as Jim sought to start his own company in Philadelphia, to the dismay of Pam, who -- you have to admit -- hasn't been particularly supportive of Jim's ambitions. After all, though it's been lost along the way, Dunder Mifflin was supposed to be a temporary situation for Jim Halpert. There was a time, too, when both he and Pam were the voices of sanity, the anchors in a crowd of eccentrics. Over the last few seasons, however, both Jim and Pam become more like the oddball characters of "The Office," and maybe that's a realistic de-evolution for people stuck for years in a job below their qualifications.

In any rate, last night's episode of "The Office" -- which comes ahead of two hour-long episodes before it's all over -- was fairly typical of the mediocrity of latter season episodes. There was a paper airplane competition, which featured Kevin bumbling and Erin displaying the kind of temper that early Ed Helms showed, a subplot that also pushed Dwight and Angela -- now separated from the Senator -- closer together. There was also another frustratingly insipid subplot -- as most dealing with Ed Helms are these days -- where Andy got an acting gig, although I will concede that the scene where he was forced to stick his eye in a water fountain elicited a laugh.


The final subplot featured Jim and Pam employing the advice they'd gotten from marriage counseling. Never mind that five years ago, we'd never have imagined these two in marriage counseling, the evolution of Jim Halpert's assholery actually managed to make the situation feel somewhat genuine. I think many of us had begun to feel the way that Pam has felt: Her heart has been closed off to Jim. He's been too insensitive. His head has been stuck too far up his own ass.

But as will happen with any couple who love each other facing the prospect of actually losing one another, there was a break-through, the first genuinely great Jim and Pam moment in a very long time. I think Jim was determined to break through the ice that has shrouded Pam's emotions. I suspect he'd have continued hugging her for hours, until she finally relented. She did. And it was sweet, heart-aching relief.


That scene was all the more effective, too, juxtaposed against Jim and Pam exchanging wedding vows, a reminder of the couple they once were and we hope will be again. I genuinely hope that the final two hours of "The Office" continue to show the healing in Jim and Pam's relationship. We do know that the final episode will feature the Dunder Mifflin gang reuniting months after the airing of the documentary at a wedding, although we're not sure who, yet. will be getting married. My money is on Ryan and Kelly (they will return for the finale), although it could be Dwight and Angela, or even Erin and Pete. I would not, however, rule out Jim and Pam renewing their vows.

the office jim and pam wedding dance from Isthshowulikeit on Vimeo.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • mb

    This season has just made me constantly long to see Jim and Pam die in a fire. They're both insufferable.

  • Obsidiandog

    This article had it right when it said the Office's demise is 4 seasons too late.

  • poopnado

    Ughhh. I did not like this. The Jim/Pam conflict was so forced and annoying. It started at the beginning of the season, and now it's the end of the season so all better. If they wanted to make their marital problems realistic they should have started showing some cracks in earlier seasons. And then Jim hugs Pam, and we hear some bla bla bla from Corinthians. What? OH RIGHT I forgot, I promised I would always love my husband. Duhhhhh. I really hope they don't expect us to believe that Jim fixed his marriage with a hug.

    Fischer and Krasinski are both phenomenal actors. They had me going for a while, then the credits finished and I wanted to smash something. Why do I keep watching this show?

  • Mrs. Julien

    It's almost over. It's okay.

  • Holly

    Thanks for the spoiler, ASS.

  • James

    How do you mistake an eye wash station for a water fountain?

  • I think the Pam/Jim evolution (leading up to this season and the sports marketing thing in Philly - which all seems really forced) has been amazing. They were the two class clowns staying above the fray most of the time, pointing and laughing. Then they got married, bought a house, had kids, got more responsibility and became totally lame, always talking about their kids or trying too hard to be the cool kids they used to be. And I'm not knocking it. I got married, bought a house and had a kid and got a lot less cool all along the way - especially to the 20-somethings I work with, I'm sure. It felt like a really funny commentary on growing up and choosing your partner wisely. I haven't hated this year's storyline, but it certainly feels like a disconnect.

    I think I've said this all before here now that I think of it.

    I still think the show should have ended with the revelation that it's been Paul Riser's character from Mad About You shooting this documentary and we find out he doesn't have anyone funding the project and it's never going to be seen and he's just a weird lonely old nutjob since his wife left him. It's really the best explanation for why anyone would spend a decade making this film.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Nice tie in.....that would have been GREAT!

  • dizzylucy

    I said "Oh thank goodness" when she finally hugged him back. This season has been brutal for many reasons, but the tension and unhappiness between them was by far the worst. I guess it was an interesting idea to explore, but I wish they had done it in a different way that was more balanced. All this storyline did was make Jim, the guy we once rooted for and related too as he watched his co-workers insanity with us, look like a jerk. The idea of him finding his passion and taking a chance to do something he loved was great - risking his family (and the core relationship of the show) to do it was not.

    I was a die hard fan of this show in its prime, but I truly wish it had ended either with their wedding or with Michael leaving. The occasional laugh here and there hasn't made up for the past couple of seasons.

  • All the therapy talk between them and the phrases they were told to use were mind numbing. Made me want to rip my ears off.

  • rocboltin rocbolt

    After I stumbled across this I dusted my hands and decided to forget about this show, because I knew the writers wouldn't do the right thing

  • Yikes, that was harsh and spot on!

  • Marc Greene

    The series should end with Creed murdering everyone.

  • $27019454

    I want it to be a Creed-Angela wedding. Or Creed-Oscar. Because you know it could shwing either way.

  • Rochelle

    Oscar has better taste, even on the re-bound.

  • Amanda

    I'm holding out for a Michael and Holly wedding.

  • Eva

    If my husband announced to me one day that he had already started a business in another city and was going to be leaving me alone most of the time to raise the kids by myself and sleep alone most nights, I would be a hell of a lot less supportive than Pam has been. It's not fair to point out her lack of support without acknowledging how he completely excluded her from a major decision that would drastically effect both their lives. I have actually been pretty frustrated with her passiveness regarding this for a while now. She pointed out once that not only did he make this big career decision without her, he also bought a house without her and though that is a very sweet gesture that is yet another area where a wife deserves to be involved, as it's the choosing of the place that is going to define the rest of her and her children's lives. My husband knows better than to pull any crap like that with me and that's not because I am not supportive of his ambitions and dreams, or because he is afraid of the wifely wrath, it's because we are partners in life and he respects me.

  • neonseattle

    I don't think the show has done a satisfactory job with this story. Jim is working hard to make it in his dream job, and she thinks he "changed" because she misses him goofing around in a job he disliked and was overqualified for. Meanwhile, she's been unwilling to consider leaving her easy job at DM, which she lied her way into after failing as a salesperson (and before that giving up her dream to be an artist). It doesn't seem like Pam/the writers have made much of a case for her wanting to stay in Scranton. She's losing my sympathy. It used to be that Pam was maturing more than Jim, and now it's the other way around.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I thought it was fantastic that they brought up the house buying thing. He's been behaving a certain way for a while and the job in Philadelphia is just the biggest example of it. Pam is more than justifiably aggrieved. Jim has a point that if he didn't push Pam would be married to Roy now because she lacks bravery, something I think Oscar commented on during her student art show. This whole season, and the last couple, have been a mess, but at least they've done a decentish (if heavy-handed) job with this relationship arc.

  • competitivenonfiction

    Yeah, if my husband pulled something like this, he could only hope I'd be passive aggressive instead of aggressive aggressive about it.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    I thought the last scene of the episode would have been perfect without the wedding/1 Corinthians 13 flashback to hit us over the head. We *know* they love each other. That's never been the issue (so GO AWAY Brian the Boom Mic Guy). Just letting the scene play out on its own, without the 'Harrison Ford narration' to explain what's happening, would've been really powerful.

    "...Pam, who — you have to admit — hasn’t been particularly supportive of Jim’s ambitions." I don't admit that. Jim has basically run over Pam. He hasn't heard her when she's expressed concerns, basically backing her into a corner. She can either go along with it 100% or be a bad guy. I think she'd have been more supportive if she felt like she had a voice in the situation.

  • Completely agree about Jim and Pam! If he had sat down and had a real conversation and been completely honest that it was something that he needed to do then I don't think things would have turned out the way that they have. He even admitted this a couple episodes ago when he finally freaking realized that Pam was happy with their lives and Scranton and he was the one who blew it up.

  • Eva

    Yes, exactly.

  • DeltaJuliet

    I agree. Hell he never even told her when he initailly joined the project. He didn't tell her for a LONG time. So she was bitter about that from the get go. Add in all the extra work on her part taking care of the family etc. and yeah, I get it. I live it and I have to say, that scene with him hugging her and her not reciprocating right away made me so sad. That whole scene got me.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I agree, though I think this was somewhat character assassination by the writers. I don't buy that Jim would take a job without telling Pam.

  • mairimba

    He did tell her and she said she didn't want him to do it. Which I think is totally selfish on her part. So he did anyway, but hid it for a while.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I still don't buy that he would hide that from her. This is a couple who talked to each other about everyone (annoyingly so) before they were even in a relationship.

    For the record, I also don't buy that she would have said no. The writers spent the last few years building up a Pam who would take chances and follow her dreams, and I don't think she would deny Jim this. She'd have a much better chance of becoming an artist in Philly than in Scranton, plus Jim has always supported her (New York?). Really, this plot didn't make sense for either of them.

  • til I saw ṫhe drafṫ ωhich haḋ saiḋ $7243, I diḋ nοṫ bℯliℯνℯ ṫhaṫ my faṫhℯr in laω ωοz liĸℯ ṫhℯy say acṫually rℯcℯiνing mοnℯy ρarṫ-ṫimℯ frοm ṫhℯir laρṫορ.. ṫhℯrℯ ḋaḋs buḋḋy sṫarṫℯḋ dοing ṫhis fοr οnly 10 mοnṫhs anḋ jusṫ clℯarℯḋ ṫhℯ dℯρṫs οn ṫhℯrℯ cοṫṫagℯ anḋ bοurṫ a branḋ nℯω Miṫsubishi Eνο. ωℯ lοοĸℯḋ hℯrℯ,

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser


  • They had a discussion as a couple and decided it wouldn't be the best thing for themselves and their family. She wasn't being selfish by not wanting to completely uproot their children and their lives. Their kids are very young and his business is the "unknown." It could be a miserable failure and leave them financially ruined. If anything Jim was being selfish while Pam was thinking of the family unit.

  • KC

    I think its difficult though. Their kids are young enough that if they do it now they won't worry too much about the kids hating moving because the kids probably won't really remember it. As time passes and they get older it'll be harder and harder to move. They get more complacent, set down more roots. The kids will get more friends and start more activities. By the time they try to think about it again there will be so many ties to their current situation that it'll be even more difficult to just uproot their life.

  • Oh'd be hard to move at any time with kids. I can't even imagine how terrifying it would be to start over while being the breadwinner for an entire family.

  • Mrs. Julien


  • Jane

    My money is on the wedding being Michael Scott and Holly. You know he'd invite the whole Dunder-Mifflin crew.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I actually said, "That was lovely" out loud. It was obvious they would bring them back together but they managedd it nicely. I realise that Jim has been handling it badly, but he's right, (and not just because she should defer to him as her husband and head of the family, although if she had recognised her obligation to do so, it would have made things easier.) They have to take this chance for something more. It would be a source of regret for them forever if they didn't, and I say that as someone in a marriage where one person has been pursuing a dream and it has not come to fruition. (Yet?) You have to try. You have to take the chance.

  • Rochelle

    If a husband or wife is going to succeed as the primary decision maker in a family, both partners have to explicitly agree to that. Jim clearly thinks he has the right to make the decisions he made, but Pam clearly doesn't agree. The current assumption in the US is that spouses are equal partners.

  • Three_nineteen

    That is actually what makes this plotline ridiculous. In their relationship, if anyone was the primary decision-maker, it was Pam. Jim never would have started that company without consulting with her first. Never. I buy everything that happened after that, but the initial Jim-hides-his-new-business-from-Pam stuff was completely out of character.

  • Mrs. Julien

    What a remarkably calm and reasoned response to my blatant trolling!

  • Rochelle

    I know a few people with households that are expressly dominated by the husband or the wife. It's not my jam, but my opinion doesn't count in other people's marriages.

  • $27019454

    Have I told you lately that I love you?

  • Aratweth

    I'm choosing to believe that this is just some Pookie-level trolling...please let it be that.

  • Deidra

    Yes, please elaborate on what exactly her "obligation" is.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    "I realise that Jim has been handling it badly, but he's right, and not
    just because she should defer to him as her husband and head of the family, although if she had recognised her obligation to do so, it would have made things easier."


  • pajiba

    "He's right, and not just because she should defer to him as her husband and head of the family."

    Oh, Mrs. Julien: You're going to be in SO much trouble for that statement.

  • I would have been a lot more moved by Pam and Jim reuniting if I didn't feel like their separation was a forced and contrived conflict to begin with.

    I mean, the issues they faced due to Jim working in Philly were grounded in reality. But to do a story line like this in the last season seems cruel to the audience who believed in the authenticity of their relationship.

  • Xtacle Steve

    Jim and Pam's wedding would've made a great finale to the show. Last night's episode only served as a sad reminder of what the show has become since that point.

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