Leaving Lackawanna: A Flonkerton Farewell to The Office

The Office - Episode 9.2223 - A.A.R.M. - Promotional Photos (2)_FULL

In the fall of 2006, I caught my first full episode The Office. For whatever reason I hadn’t seen the show before, probably due to a busy schedule as well as none of my friends ever talking about watching it. My first full episode was “The Convention,” and, although I don’t know if I would count it among my favorite episodes or anything, it grabbed me for some reason. The awkward humor, the relatable characters and situations, and of course Jim’s cute little glances to the camera, my interest was piqued. I went to Blockbuster (ah, how things have changed in 7 short years) and rented the first disc of Season 2.

Once the credits of “The Dundies” (the first episode of season 2) rolled, I was full-on hooked. I plowed through disc one in an evening, rented disc 2 the next night, then disc 3 and 4. I was caught up by the time the next new episode aired, ready for the continuing antics at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton Branch.

What got me (and probably so many) so hooked on The Office was how real it felt. Dunder Mifflin looks like a typical utilitarian office, the actors look like people I would meet in real life, no one has a ridiculous job title or an unrealistically huge home or a designer wardrobe. The dialogue was natural, no perfectly worded supposedly impromptu speeches, no exceptionally witty banter, the characters stumble and don’t know how to react and say the wrong thing sometimes. The central plot of episodes revolved around remarkably boring things like company health care changes, paper conventions, accounting errors, sales calls.

For better or worse, The Office was my introduction to “fandom”. I learned the meanings of “OTP” and “shipping”, I knew “Jam” had nothing to do with fruit preserves, I became a connoisseur of fan videos and fanfics (and created a few myself), and participated in many very in-depth conversations about Jim and Pam’s characters and storyline. And of course, I created this site!

Like any long running show, The Office had moments of feeling a little stale and repetitive, as well as some storylines that felt increasingly unlikely and silly. I know my fervor for the show waned a bit as the years went on, but I still always loved watching Michael’s well-meaning but sometimes misguided quest for affection, Dwight’s grabs for power and recognition, and Jim and Pam’s subtle and sweet relationship progression. More than any other show, I feel a connection to Dunder Mifflin ad it’s staff. To quote Michael Scott, saying good-bye is gonna hurt like a mother$%#@.

Pam Pong Round 12: The Fight

Previous Round, Halloween: When Pam encourages Jim to go for a better job in a different state, Jim can’t hide that he’s a bit hurt. They barely talk for the rest of the day, until Pam pulls Jim aside and says she doesn’t actually want him to leave, to bring the score to +4.

Pam Pong Scorecard
Episode 206: The Fight

When reading Jim’s palm, Pam says he’s has bad fortune: -1
But she complements his teeth, and Jim smiles: +2
Jim has a hard time convincing Pam to help set up a fight between Dwight and Michael: -1
But she agrees when he says he’ll buy her chips: +2
And she does a great job provoking Michael: +1
Jim teases Pam by reading her gloved palm: +1
She teases him back by lightly hitting him, and play fighting him: +3
Though she’s laughing when Jim picks her up, Pam asks him to put her down: -1
Then when Meredith sees them, Pam demands Jim puts her down, and walk away annoyed: -5
Pam avoids looking at Jim the rest of the day: -2
Jim starts to write Pam an email: +2
But then erases it when he sees the camera zooming in: -1
Pam doesn’t look at Jim when he says goodbye to her: -1
But she notices he bought her chips, and glances over at him: +2

Final Score, +1: While this episode ended with things lukewarm at best between Jim and Pam, there are are positives to draw from their “fight”. It wasn’t Jim’s “play-fighting” that upset Pam, it was that Meredith saw them being so close and flirty. Pam wouldn’t care about that if she wasn’t harboring feelings for Jim. Of course, we are seeing that Pam’s way’s of dealing with problems is avoidance, so what will she do when there’s something that she can’t avoid?

Next Round, The Client

Pam Pong Round 11: Halloween

Halloween Pam PongPrevious Round, The Fire: It was a constant back and forth as we saw Pam deal the reality of another woman in Jim’s life. On the plus side, Katy’s presence made Pam’s feelings for Jim creep up to the surface. But on the down side, Pam acted a bit immature as she openly mocked Katy and purposely kissed Roy in front of Jim, resulting in a score of -4.

Pam Pong Scorecard
Episode 205: Halloween

Jim is at Pam’s desk when Dwight makes his dumb “3-hole-PUNCH” joke: +1
And they immediately team up for a brilliant prank on Dwight: +2
Plus Jim takes advantage of being behind the desk with Pam, leaning over her the whole time: +2
Pam smiles at Jim the whole time he’s impersonating Michael: +1
And they share an air five: +1
Pam thinks Jim is very talented and deserving of a better job: +1
But Jim takes her encouragement as a sign that she doesn’t want or need him around and is visibly upset as he leaves her desk: -7
Pam is extremely worried when Jim is called into Michael’s office: +2
She runs up and grabs his hand when he leaves Michael’s office: +3
But Jim is short with Pam and walks away: -3
Pam pulls Jim aside to apologize: +1
Jim is not very responsive to Pam’s apology: -2
But after she joking says she would “blow her brains out” if he left, he chuckles and motions for her to come along: +1
And the camera’s catch him break into a big smile: +2
Jim tells the camera’s if Pam ever left, he would probably look for another job: -1

Final score, +4: Things were going swimmingly for Pam and Jim, but Jim’s reaction to Pam’s job suggestion set the Pam Pong score back to zero and Pam spent the rest of the day trying to get back in Jim’s good graces. She managed to pull it off in the last couple minutes, but some concerns still remain. We see in this episode that even the slightest rejection from Pam hurts Jim very much. Since Pam’s engaged, we can only brace ourselves for the inevitable rejections Jim will suffer. But on the plus side, Pam recognized Jim’s hurt and did everything she could to make it better.

Next Round: The Fight