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The Office: The Job (season finale)

by Jay Black, posted May 17th 2007 11:45PM
I'll miss you guys! I need you... like the desert needs the rain...(S03E24) There's a divide, I think, among Office die-hards as to how to strike a balance between the soap opera elements of the show and the straight comedy pieces. Move too far towards the former, and we're watching Melrose Place lite; too far towards the latter, and one of the things that makes this show so special is lost.

I've made myself clear over my run of reviews that I enjoy the soapy elements as much if not more than the comedy bits. Maybe it's because I have an unabashed (and quite creepy, if your comments are to be trusted!) crush on Jenna Fischer, but either way, I tend to tune in to watch the romance inch forward. I know a lot of you are just the opposite, though, and could live without the longing glances between Jim and Pam. Just bring the funny!

That's why it's so damn nice when the show can make both camps equally happy...

Let's start with the comedy. There was just so much good stuff this week:

-- Shrute bucks and Stanley nickels. I've never worked a real office job so I'm not sure if such a thing exists out there in the real world, but having been a teacher where people actually think things like this motivate people, I found this bit outrageously funny.

-- Dwight's choice of Jack Bauer as his ideal assistant. Has there ever been a network show that actually dares to compliment the shows of other networks? I mean, it makes perfect sense for someone like Dwight to worship the gun-wielding, torture-loving Mr. Bauer, but it shows courage that NBC would allow him to talk about another highly rated show (especially one that competes with Heroes).

-- www.creedthoughts.gov/www.creedthoughts

-- Jan's new boobs and Michael's reaction to them. While it might not be fair to say that all men are as simplistic as Michael and that bigger boobs can somehow magically fix a relationship, but, uh... what was I saying? I was just looking at Jan on my Tivo and lost my train of thought. "Also, add this... brrrrrrrrr."

-- Dwight and Jim working out the details of Dwight's fictional hotel in hell. It's a running gag on The Office: Dwight says something stupid and Jim takes him at his word, and then the two of them banter... but it gets me every time. "I didn't tell you how much I earn. $80,000."

-- Michael's choice of farewells.

-- "Beardy." Small moment, but it slayed me.

We also got some great movement on the soap front. My wife thought Karen was acting "bitchy this episode," especially when she came between Pam and Jim's exchange over Jan's new boobs. I'm not so sure... I thought she was reacting like anyone would react when it's obvious that the girl your boyfriend used to love actually has feelings back for him. If I were Karen, I'd be the same way (right after I got over the incredible gender issues I'd be experiencing). What say you, loyal readers? Was Karen over-the-top tonight or acting in a way that is to be expected?

Also, while I was happy that Jim stuck his head in and asked Pam to dinner (not quite a Casino Night moment, but close enough for season three), I was a little concerned about what this meant for Karen being stranded in New York. Whether or not he wants to break up with the girl, he at least owes her a ride back to Scranton, doesn't he?

I wonder: do you think that Jim admitting that he hasn't been himself is something that the show has been building towards (you guys called it in the comments; Jim has been a bit "jerky" lately) and a testament to the greatness of the writers and actors on The Office, or something that they tacked on at the end of the season to make some uneven writing make sense (Lost style). As a fan of the show, I'm in the former camp, but I want to open the floor to discussion because the thought did cross my mind.

The fact that Michael was applying for Jan's job came as a bombshell for me. I really didn't see that coming! The fall-out was wonderful, if only because it led to two all-time great Office moments. Michael's heartfelt endorsement of Karen and Jim, and Jan's statement that "working on their relationship will be her full time job." Michael's look at that moment was priceless.

Three final notes before I sign off for the season:

1) Ryan?! I thought for certain that Karen was getting the job (what with Rashida Jones' sitcom getting picked up and all). His never having made a sale and getting promoted makes sense, I guess, in the context of corporate America, but the way he ended it with Kelly made me angry. I know, I know, it's just a show, but I like Kelly. That little no-sale-making-class-A-rat-fink really rankled me with that "we're done" line. I hope someone makes him a reservation in Hotel Hell.

2) Pam. I said last week that her speech was completely out of character, and you guys gave me about 30 reasons why it wasn't out of character. I usually like to stick stubbornly to my guns no matter what the evidence says to the contrary (I don't care what you say, the movie I saw last night was not Citizen Kane), but after the avalanche of comments in praise of Pam's speech, I decided to take another look at last week's episode. Watching it again, and, in light of the way Pam was played this episode, I have to admit... I was wrong. They're moving Pam to a new place and the speech was the dislodging of the "old Pam." While I might not agree on its appropriateness, I can definitely see how it fit the character. Consider my crow eaten.

3) And in keeping in the tone of the last paragraph, it's been a blast reviewing each week's episodes for you guys. For the most part, the comments have been more a lively discussion of the night's episode than a discussion about the most appropriate way for my life to end. I appreciated all of your feedback, even when we disagreed, and I'm happy to say that I've had a lot of pleasant conversations with you guys both on this site and in private emails. Thanks for a great season. That being said, I now go back to the shark-pool that is Studio 60. Goodbye intelligent discussion! Hello "please die, dirtbag!" See you there next week!

One last question of the week: What are you going to do now that your weekly Office fix is gone? Is it going to be Look, it's a prime number! And a big one at that! (Not big enough to encrypt anything, but you get the point...)another show? TiVoed episodes of The Office? Or do you... gulp... spend time with loved ones?

This episode gets 7 Shrute Bucks out of 7.



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lmr2000

Ryan may only have 2 years' experience, but he's got an MBA (according to the script), so that would probably trump experience. He is not a "night school" guy--he's working (or just finished) quite an advanced degree...

Great episode, all around! Can't wait til September!!!

May 21 2007 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
koz1000

It almost felt like the episode was written as if Season 4 possibly might not get picked up. You had a pretty clean finish to a number of storylines at the same time, but they could all pick up again in the future if the show got renewed.

I think Ryan getting the job was great. Like the previous comment said, it's payback time for Ryan. To be a sticker, did Ryan actually have the job offer phone call before or after Michael came in and told him to get coffee?

May 21 2007 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
apsara

One more thing - I do think Ryan got Jan's job. It's life in these corporate united states.

When Michael told him to get him coffee, and he said "I don't do that anymore" - he was telling him something. He's top dog now.

May 21 2007 at 11:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
apsara

Good episode.

Jan...well, I always thought she was somewhat nuts for not firing Michael. I like that she's melting down. It happens.
Melora is a fabulous actress.

karen: I think her behavior was very human, and thus appropriate for the characterization.

Jim/Karen: I didn't think he ditched her. I got the idea that he broke up with her off screen.

Jim is a jerk: He is, but a human jerk - he's self-centered in many ways, like most humans are. Remember how he basically ditched the purse-salesgirl? I mean - she was kind of a jerk herself, but still.

Ryan has always been a jerk.

"Goodbye Kelly Kapur" - hilarious. Angela continues to be strange as ever.

May 21 2007 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

This episode was great, and I enjoyed it for many of the reasons everyone else did. The Jim/Karen/Pam dynamic is fleshed out in a very interesting way here. I tend to agree with Jenny's analysis: Karen is not so much manipulative/conniving as she is a sympathetic person in an unfortunate situation. She certainly does illustrate, as Jenny wrote, that people might have more than two matches, of varying characters, in life, but that (for Karen and Pam alike,) timing is key.

The reading of Karen's character is especially interesting to me because she is simply not clearly defined in the way that many characters in her place might be. She should be clearly unlikeable, conniving, imperfect, and a bad match for Jim. This would make the plot a lot more straightforward, standard, and traditional. But there's so much more complexity to it as a result of her actual intelligence, personality, and connection with Jim, which mostly dissolves due to 'static' from a previous relationship, as opposed to faults in the relationship itself. Karen's character is debatable, but we're really only given the most minor of scraps to imply she might have done something wrong. Her main fault seems to be that she has fallen a victim to unfortunate circumstances, which even her proactive and assertive attitude cannot overcome. I hope she gets the fair sendoff she deserves, or, better yet, recurs on the show from time to time. Karen wistfully longing for a lost love, an unfair casualty of fate, gradually working towards moving on, could add some serious depth to the otherwise overly-mushy prospect of Jim and Pam dating.

Finally, one might interpret Karen's leaving before Jim's interview as a mistake that left her deserving of being left by Jim. But it strikes me, instead, as being a slight instance of Karen letting down her guard in protecting herself from the overwhelming influence of Jim's feelings for Pam, which threaten to destabalize their otherwise good relationship at any time. Running to lunch demonstrates that Karen has an attachment to friends and the city, but it's as if, by indulging in these other interests for one time, she unavoidably loses all connection with Jim -- which seems a bit unfair. But, alas, life, love, and reality are a bit unfair, and the show is all the more brilliant for acknowledging that. Just hope Karen gets more than a verbal acknowledgment of having left Scranton or a teary-eyed angry goodbye in the next season.

May 20 2007 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike scannapieco

does anyone know the name of the song that michael plays as he is leaving?

May 20 2007 at 4:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BigKahuna

Who says Ryan got Jan's job? Maybe he got another job in NYC. It doesn't make sense for a guy right out of night school to get promoted over Jim and Michael, even if they both withdrew their applications; chances are they'd hire from outside the company or shuffle things around in NYC. (I know it's a sitcom, but it's a smart sitcom, and I don't think they'd get something that wrong.) Maybe Jim did broke up with Karen (or vice versa)and is telling Pam he wants the job and would she consider leaving Scranton, too. Thoughts?

May 20 2007 at 1:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jenny

In the Season 2 commentary, Mindy Kaling says that she loves writing for Pam because Pam's character is so likeable, and I think that's so true. Pam Beesley is that sort of safe, charming, but not too over the top charismastic, affable yet reserved, funny and witty but more likely to be the one laughing at your jokes and playing along than making the jokes or coming up with the pranks, pretty, yet not unattainably pretty girl that everyone wants to root for, so when she does something that normally would be seen as sort of an insensitive, selfish thing to do, AKA announce in front of an entire group of strangers that she cares deeply for someone who is famously and madly in love with her, we dismiss all the negative aspects of her actions--that she made Karen feel uncomfortable and sad by saying something that should have been said in a more intimate one-on-one situation, that she refused to apologize for basically saying that she cared deeply for Karen's boyfriend, and etc--and instead, blindsighted by our love for Pam (and Jam), we decide: it's okay! Do what you want, as long as you you and Jim get together.

I don't think Karen was being bitchy. I think when she told Jim that he looked homeless, it was meant in a lighthearted jokey way, spoken with the liberties and intimacies that only a couple can use to speak with each other. I think strategically, the writers can't have us rooting for Karen, and they can't show us very many layers of depth for her character, because part of the reason that we keep watching the show is because we want this conflict to come to a head--we want to see Jim be with the wrong girl and realize, doh, I should be with the girl I've loved for years, so they have to write Karen sort of flat in comparison to Pam. But it was a night touch to show the two, Jim & Karen, having a good time, and to show that there is such a thing as two different types of people balancing each other out, and adding layers of life, interest, and personality to each other.

Also, I think the writers showed a remarkable amount of restraint for Karen's attitude towards Pam. If you were a girl who thought your coworker was cute without knowing anything of his romantic history with a certain receptionist, and a few weeks into the relationship someone tells you that your boyfriend was and probably still is madly in love with the receptionist, you would probably feel miserable, insecure, and hurt. That said, she has not said anything negative about Pam, out of hurt or anger throughout the season, until Pam essentially proclaimed her feelings for Jim in front of the entire office staff and then refused to apologize for it.

I thought the finale was great, but there were so many moments that felt inorganic to the plotline thusfar. I've almost never heard of someone going from temp to Corporate Executive in less than 2 years time. Maybe he doesn't have Jan's exact job, but Dunder-Mifflin must be run by some short sighted execs if they are willing to hand over upper-level management jobs to someone who has only had about 2 years of job experience in the corporate world.

Also, I thought Melora Hardin gave a great performance but I saw sparks of over the top, overwrought comedy in her interaction with Michael. It also made her seem sort of one-dimensional, cartoonish, and merely of a caricature instead of a full character with depth and complexity.

That said, I loved so many small moments: Creed's blog, Stanley's nickles, a moment of recognition about Michael's incompetency by Phyllis, the message Michael gave to Jan's assistant about wanting to shove his face in her boobs, the tribute (or rip-off, depending on how kindly you view it) to the British office's finale to season 2 and the Christmas special. And Pam's teary eyes, as already been said, was a great moment--touching, real, and full of heart.

May 19 2007 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
C.L.S.

I think the Jim & Pam ending was great.....it just goes to show that you MUST follow your heart to be truly happy. I did find myself wondering who drove Karen home but, ah well....will NOT be missing her at all~she just didn't fit in. I've only gotten into the Office in the last few months on the advice of my husband & with his help watched every single episode to bring me up to date which made it my favourite current show to watch. I love the Jim & Pam story line and as a "die hard" FRIENDS fanatic, I think that Jim and Pam are a far better couple than Ross and Rachel simply because they are so alike...
I thought it was funny when Pam said they were "too similar" and that one day she would find her male version of Karen. From my own experience, it's better when 2 people are a lot alike in a relationship. Jim thinking of Pam while he waited for his interview & watched the corporate receptionist and fumbling in his interview after the gold medal distracted him, were very REAL little tidbits that I'm glad they added. You can see he wasn't himself after talking about how he likes the buildings in New York during his interview....huh? (he basically had the job) Glad he "came back" for real at the end! Yay! Go PAM! As for Jan's boob job and Michael's reaction...I think it was hilarious! His character is awesome & I hope she does move in to give that whole new angle a try. Ryan was not really that mean considering he tried to break up with Kelly before and she just didn't get it......He'll be funny taking Jan's place as Michael's superior. What can I say about Dwight? His character is so funny! I think the show is a perfect blend of all personality types.......can't wait to watch next season!

May 19 2007 at 8:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff

I love this show and can't wait until next season, but with how all the plot lines wrapped up, I think this might have been the perfect way to end the series.

-- Michael returning, calling the Scanton office his graveyard.

-- Jan's self-destruction

-- Ryan's promotion

-- JAM's togetherness

May 19 2007 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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