Thursday, May 15, 2008

Poor Pam: Reflections on The Office's Fourth Season Finale.

* * * * * SPOILER ALERT * * * * *

The Office pulled out all the stops yet again with its fourth season finale. Like last year's offering, this episode pushed through a lot of developments that the writers may or may not visit in the upcoming season. All of the storylines were left as cliffhangers.

I really like the dynamic added with Holly, but I am also sad to see Toby go. There seems to be an endless amount of potential for future flirting between Michael and Holly -- I thought she was joking when she said "I almost fell asleep when Toby was showing me the files," but it turns out that she wasn't just sucking up to Michael -- there is seriously a woman who understands and acts the same way as him. Which is great. And out of all the ideas for pranks/hazing, the writers really capitalized on the one where Dwight convinces Holly that Kevin is a "slow learner". That is very elegant, superb writing -- it's something that everyone who knows the show can immediately see, but not something that I think anyone really thought about before. Kevin was always strange, but I don't think anyone took him for slow -- he really knows his gambling, for example.

Poor Pam's lack of a marriage proposal could almost be seen from a mile away. The Office is sentimental at times, but never when you expect it to be. So when Jim dishes out the money for fireworks and promises that tonight will be the night (to the collective "awws" of females everywhere), you know some stuff is going to go down. And it's certainly appropriate that Andy is the one to mess things up. From the looks of it, there could be some added tension to Jim and Pam's relationship, but that's how (good) sitcoms work, and without that tension it would just be boring. Obviously, this tension muddles the "good stage" that Pam was talking about as the reason that she could go to New York for three months at art school. Whatever will happen?

I thought the writers would have trouble with having to do so many office romances, but it seems like they're pulling it off -- the "surprise" ending bit is a way of keeping interest. Just because you have official relationships or engagements doesn't mean there can't be things happening on the side. Angela's "Okay" response was one of my favorite things in the episode.

There was a notable lack of Stanley (I don't think he had a single line...?), but the time devoted to Toby was well spent. And what's the deal with Ryan? Will there be another job opening and the chance for another cast member to leave the core office?

Michael, while still crude, is left in a sympathetic light, and I think everyone felt that it should be his time to continue standing up for himself and try to develop a relationship outside of Jan (with Holly obviously being the best candidate at the moment). But I suppose the nature of his humor, his tumultuous upbringing and general character all point towards him finding comfort in the controlling, truly messed up Jan.

I think The Office has a couple more good seasons in it, but I fear the probability of more cast changes and especially about this rumored spin-off series. Let's hope that like its British inspiration (and unlike The Simpsons), The Office knows when to bow out with grace. But I suppose I could withstand a few lackluster episodes (I found season four to be lacking, but it might have just been the writer's strike throwing off the groove of things) if they keep delivering special episodes like this one, which was truly phenomenal.

1 comment:

  1. Whenever Michael breaks into song, you know it's a good episode.