[I am only two episodes into season 4, since I have been playing catch up with this series.]
A while back on here, we had a discussion of how The Office was a show about celebrating the 'small, perfect' moments (particularly in regards to Pam and Jim's relationship). Tonight's finale was an excellent example of that. Throughout the episode, I kept waiting for something 'Bad' to happen with Pam and Jim. That's what traditional sit-com romances have trained us for; whenever things are going well... something bad has to happen to mess it up. When Pam gets accepted to design school, for a moment, I expected this to strain the relationship. Instead, they're both happy. Why are they both happy? Because unlike most sit-com couples and like most real, loving couples... they had actually discussed this! It was what they were both hoping for. They had planned for it and were prepared for it.
Also, it is when Jim realizes that so many of the small perfect moments have happenned at the office that he decides to propose to Pam at that evenings office party and, the real tragedy of the episode, is NOT that their relationship is broken but that Jim is robbed of his 'perfect moment' to propose to Pam by Andy's proposal to Angela. The show has me hooked... but I don't feel jerked around the way I do with the typical 'Sam and Diane/Rachel Ross' scenario. Doing that with Pam and Jim would rob the relationship of its sweetness.
It's also worth pointing out that Michael (always looking for his 'big movie moment') ultimately chooses to abandon the pursuit of 'small, perfect' moments with the new Human Resources lady to, instead, get back with his ex-girlfriend who is carrying a child that is not his; which sounds like the plot of a hackneyed romantic comedy... which is probably part of why it appeals to Michael (he's also desperate for children... and sees this as a short cut over Jim's advice of take it slow with the HR lady). Once again, Michael's pursuit of a 'big movie moment' over 'small, perfect moments' has robbed him of happiness.
The writer's for this show are smart, they know they don't have to mine the Pam and Jim relationship anymore for conflict: They're together and happy and, we, as the viewers like them like that. They also know that there's enought material with the other characters in the office. I've noticed that a lot of this season has been spent building up the background characters... we care about what happens with Dwight and Angela (and Andy).... and, now, we have the relationship between Michael and the HR lady (forgot the name... sorry). As long as the writer's continue to find ways to surprise us... the show can be fresh for some time to come.