Tuned In

The Office: Now That We've Found Love, What Are We Going to Do With It?

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WARNING: Office spoilers.

So: it’s a date. Pam and Jim are together, Jam has been achieved, order has been restored to the universe. A good if not great season-ender, and if the conclusion didn’t have the holy-crap factor of The Kiss last year, Pam’s closeup reaction to Jim’s return during her interview was–like everything Jenna Fischer does on this show–winning and sweet.

But to be the spoilsport for a minute: little cold the way the show dealt with Karen, wasn’t it? Or rather, didn’t deal with her. She didn’t get Jim. She didn’t get the corporate job. (Ryan? Hilarious twist–“Who was that?” “Nobody. We’re over”–but totally unbelievable). And she didn’t get any kind of closure. We know that Rashida Jones is off to a Fox sitcom next year, and presumably Karen still works at the Scranton branch, at least for the moment. But there was no breakup scene, no exit interview–does she just cease to exist?

Maybe the writers will deal with her early next season, but it seemed an uncharacteristic way to end this love triangle, which was distinguished by the writers’ refusal to make anyone the bad guy. Yeah, Team Pam / Team Karen was a fun game to play (and it was funny to see Kevin voicing the fanboy debate over who was hotter), but it was easily possible for a Pam fan to like Karen as well, for the ways in which she was the same (funny, playful) and the ways she was different (more assertive, more citified). Pam and Karen could as easily have been friends and allies, and in fact they often were, which was what made it funny to see their conflict come out in the open. (“Pam? Kind of a bitch.” And come on–at that moment, Karen had a point.) And that’s why it was disappointing not to see Karen get the closure that I’d think a “regular” character would have, because she’d proved herself as more than an interloper.

[Although I dunno--maybe female Tuned Inlanders want to weigh in here--is liking Karen strictly a guy thing? I don't mean in the who's-hotter sense, but I wonder if the whole triangle appealed more to guys as a geek-boy fantasy. A slightly nerdy, funny, nonthreateningly good-looking guy gets battled over by two hot, smart chicks, both of whom like practical jokes, one of whom plays Call of Duty? Throw in a plate of wings and you're pretty much in Guy Heaven there.]

OK, sour grapes over. The best thing about the season-long Jam saga was that the writers, with Fischer’s able help, made it about more than the receptionist’s lonely pining for some guy. Ultimately–and this was beautifully set up, going back to Pam’s art show and before–it was about Pam missing herself, needing to become confident, brave and self-sufficient. She was delighted when Jim came back to her, but the nice thing is (and this is something the British Office never managed with melancholy Dawn) she had already found happiness unto herself.

That was the real triumph of this season, and it was enough to make me think that the wrong person got the first consonant of their hybrid name. From now on, I’m calling them Pim.

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