Sunday, May 18, 2008

Scott on the Office Season Four Finale

[I am only two episodes into season 4, since I have been playing catch up with this series.]

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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.


scott91777 said...

I think this episode also shows how beautifully Jim has grown over the course of this series, In the first episode he claims that if he thought of that job as his career he would have to kill himself and, now, he is prepared to fight to keep his job when it is threatened by Ryan... even saying "I like it here." In this episode, Jim not only realizes that he fell in love with Pam in the Office but that, despite himself, he has also sort of fallen in love with the office itself.

This transformation was not dones suddenly, it was done with beautiful subtlelty over the course of the 4 seasons. In a way, this episode serves as a sort of bookend to last year's season finale where Jim decides to go back to the office after spending his evening in New York with Karen. Jim has a wonderful time in New York but, in the end, realizes that, even though Scranton isn't that exciting, he likes it there. It's not the job that he loves, though he's decent enough at that, It's the Office itself that he misses and doesn't want to leave.

Paul said...

Great points all around. I'll just add that the scenes between the HR Lady and Kevin were great.

Prof Fury said...

On the subject of Michael's obsession with living a "big movie moment," I thought I detected in this episode a little bit of intertextual signifyin on Steve Carrell's role in the (execrable) Dan in Real Life -- in which he plays a man who falls in love with his brother's girlfriend over the course of one incredibly cloying, precious weekend: When Jim is counseling Michael to go slow with HR Lady, and Michael says "I love her," I immediately flashed back to Carrell's character having the exact same epiphany in Dan -- except in Dan it's played as the big emotional moment of the movie, not as immature raving. I like to think of this moment in the finale as Carrell's apologizing for all of us who sat through that movie.

scott91777 said...


Yes! The stuff with Kevin was great!

I just love that Kevin interprets it all as her hitting on him.

Yet another reason why we don't need to mine Pam & Jim for conflict... the show doesn't need that to be funny... which is what the show is supposed to be at the end of the day.... Yeah, I neglected to mention that... the finale was also probably one of the funniest episodes of the season... definitely the funniest since they came back from the strike.