I have been a faithful watcher of The Office nearly from its beginning and have loved the vast majority of its 184 episodes. Naturally, Steve Carell’s departure left an obvious, gaping hole and at first, I admit I did think they should have ended the series when he left. But this ninth and final season has been better, not quite hitting the bar set by those first few seasons, but much improved from the last couple. I still do feel that the show has run its course and I’m glad this is the last season but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that is sad to see it go.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this:
“I am bothered by the developments that this season has brought to the Halpert family. Jim and Pam haven’t always been the focus of the show but their chemistry and the evolution of their relationship has been a constant. Some viewers felt it got a bit stagnant after they got married and started their family but I always felt that theirs was a natural relationship. After all, what marriage doesn’t lose some of its zeal after the realities of daily life and the demands of family set in? They stuck by each other and that was enough reward for me. Earlier on in this season, when Jim pursued a career change and lost sight of Pam’s needs and wants, I felt this, too, was an organic and plausible story line. But I expected one of them to close the gap. To sacrifice for the other and for their family. To stop communicating so poorly, to take a leap of faith, to lay it all out once and for all. Whether it would be Jim sacrificing his dream job or Pam sacrificing their comfortable life in Scranton, I expected one of them to give in.
One could argue that families fall apart all the time. Divorce in America is by no means an uncommon thing and this show has always maintained a commitment to exposing the sad, dreary aspects of the mundane lives of the working class. Perhaps the destruction of the Halpert family is just one more harsh reality. Jim and Pam may be no more special than any other couple who falls in love, gets married, raises a family and eventually grows apart. I couldn’t call it unrealistic. But it certainly isn’t what I expected, nor is it what I want to see. Sink or swim, I want to see Jim and Pam together.”
Last night’s episode finally gave me what I’d been waiting for. It was emotional, subtle, tender and it moved me to tears. And it surprised me. No surprise that The Office, with a mere 3 episodes left, still has the ability to make me tear up, but surprised that I doubted it would. While the American series differs in a great many ways from its British point of origin, it has kept true to the pace that the show’s creators set. They know just how long to keep you waiting, to make you damn near desperate for the pay-off, so much so that you’re even beginning to doubt you’ll get it. We saw it with Tim and Dawn in the original series and even though Jim and Pam are really very different characters whose story has veered from that of their British counterparts, they’ve held true to the remarkable sense of timing that makes even something as small and ordinary as a hug feel monumental.
Yes, it’s true. The Office: I will miss you.