Warning: this post contains spoilers.
Have fans of "The Office" seen the beginning of another end?
The series' ninth and final season has promised an introduction to the camera crew who has been filming the fictitious Dunder-Mifflin employees since the series' 2004 premiere. But on Thursday night's episode, viewers got more than just an interaction between Pam and a concerned boom operator after a fight between her and Jim left her crying at her desk.
Of course, something like this had been brewing between Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski) for weeks, thanks to Jim's new job that has kept him away, and Pam's new role as (temporary) single parent. In the real world, these would be issues, which is why this storyline is important.
Jim was introduced to viewers as a seemingly perfect person, filling the "nice guy" role while Pam carried on her relationship with fiancé Roy (David Denman), who was just the opposite. However, as the series has progressed, Jim has gone from a seemingly ideal companion to a man obviously in the throes of some sort of crisis. Before being given Pam's blessing in terms of his new professional endeavor, Jim hid it from her completely (his wife and the mother of his children!) before she confronted him and told him she would have supported it from the get-go.
Now, with said job, he's away for extended periods of time, indulging in a lifestyle he would otherwise not get to experience (see: this season's tenth episode, when Jim told Pam he was in meetings, but was playing squash at a private club), and alienating his family in the process. Yes, Jim is earning better money and following his dreams, but instead of including Pam in them, he does the opposite, and makes her feel alone and rejected.
Jim, meanwhile, has been given a chance to break free of the stifling identity he built for himself at Dunder-Mifflin, and now he gets to pursue his passion. And don't forget, he was completely supportive of Pam doing the same thing twice -- once, when she went to design school in New York and again when she quit Dunder-Mifflin to work for The Michael Scott Paper Company. No, they didn't have kids at the time, but relationships are give and take, and Jim's never implied that this current lifestyle will be permanent.
However, real couples, no matter how lovely, argue, disagree, and make mistakes. What Pam and Jim now have is not the over-romanticized fairytale of the first four seasons -- it's a much more realistic story. And while many relationships can work through the trials and tribulations of marriage and kids, others cannot. Pam and Jim might be one of the relationships that can't.
This new twist on the "will they or won't they?" scenario makes sense for "The Office." Considering both characters were introduced to fill that role, to end the series posing that question again would see the Pam and Jim narrative come full circle.
But will the writers of one of NBC's most successful sitcoms really want to break our hearts like that? We'll have to wait and see.