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Wow. What an opener! Aside from being hilarious, the episode gave us major JAM developments. Many have stated that the JAM resolution was hurried, lacked emotional depth, and was out of character. Initially, I agreed with this perception. However, after repeated viewings and pensive thought I've come to a completely different conclusion. The 45 seconds (or so) of after kiss footage is packed with meaning and emotion. Pam's reaction was indeed in alignment with previous behavior patterns.

The Kiss Aftermath:

Pam initially responds to the kiss in a positive way. Jim has given her the reassurance she needs to let out her feelings, even if only for a moment. She also felt safe enough to admit that the kiss was something she's also wanted to do for a long time. She still views Jim as her safety net, even though her fear is now centered on him. She is not necessarily afraid of him, but rather the relationship he's proposing.

She searches his face for answers after she says "Me too." Even though she is still allowing her emotions to run free, she is oddly still looking to him for strength and for how she should respond next. This is a very confusing place for her to be. It's highly probable that she did not want to reveal her feelings to him as quickly as she did due to the fact that this will take her to a place she fears the most; the unknown. She wasn't ready to deal with Jim's revelation earlier in the evening and now he has raised the bar to a higher level. She feels like she's backed into a corner, hence the momentary lapse in suppressing her emotions.

She was clearly overwhelmed by the situation and quickly reassembles her emotional defense barriers. She does this mainly because she is not ready to deal with her emotions regarding Jim. She has not had the same amount of time or freedom as Jim to explore her feelings. This is the first time she's really allowed herself to openly express and experience these feelings. Furthermore, it's the first time she's ever given Jim an undeniable indicator of how she feels about him, which in turn creates a sense of apprehension.

Pam starts to go into panic mode after she realizes she's revealed too much. She's desperate to find a way out of it. Pam's defense mode is noticeably weaker than during Jim's confession, mainly because her feelings are overwhelming her and they are creating a massive internal conflict. She hasn't been able to bottle it up yet and bury it as per her normal course of action. She is perhaps still under the spell of that kiss (who wouldn't be!).

Trying to escape, she brings up that they both might be drunk. This comment serves two purposes:

1. She is trying to find an excuse for why she let Jim kiss her in the first place and why she kissed him back without having to fully confront the fact that she loves Jim.

2. She's trying to send a signal to Jim not to pursue this any further. She needs him to back off; she's not ready.

She instantly realizes that Jim is not buying it or backing down. We can safely assume this because she is honest with him when he asks if she's drunk she admits "No."This is another emotional lapse. Again, she is admitting how she feels. However, she's still not ready to deal with her emotions. The tone of the "no"is very important here. She's realizing that her drunk excuse is lame and invalid, which causes her to wonder, If I'm not drunk, then what is it? The answer to that question is more than she can handle. She is slowly realizing the extent of her love for Jim and it terrifies her.

Adding to her fear is Jim's persistence. Jim pushes it further when he leans in for another kiss, causing her fear level to spike. This fear spike allows for her to suppress her feelings. This is also the moment her moral center fully reawakens. Her moral center is going to provide the escape she is desperate to achieve. Her fear and sense of being overwhelmed are apparent in her breathing just before she stops him. Her breath is sudden and trembling. She simply says his name, but really she is again saying, "I can't."She can't allow him to do it again, as she has barely regained her composure from the last kiss! Jim stepped over the line with the first kiss. A second kiss is too much, too fast, and way too far over the line.

Pam's moral center brings back that sense of obligation in her commitment to Roy. Even though she let her feelings for Jim come out, she still will not do anything about them as long as she is with Roy. Running to Jim at this point is wrong regardless of whether or not she's ready to leave Roy. Roy is still in the picture and Pam doesn't have it in her to cheat on any level.

In order to regain some normalcy, Pam restores her personal safety net by reverting to the notion that she is going to marry Roy. She has used this as a way to hide from her feelings throughout Season 2. She knows this will cause Jim to back down, as it has in the past. Pam's longstanding fears of the unknown are coming back to haunt her. Jim is offering her a new relationship that has no guarantees. She is experiencing emotions that are new, confusing, uncertain, and insecure.

As a result she brings herself to the one constant in her life to dispel the chaos: her impending marriage to Roy. As she nods in response to Jim's "You're really going to marry him,"she looks resigned to the fact that this is the right choice. The nod itself also has deeper meaning. This is the gentlest way to let Jim down. She knows he is already hurt and she doesn't want to make it worse. There is really nothing more she can say.

Bottom Line: She is simply not ready to contemplate a new relationship with Jim.

Current Status:

The events of Casino Night served as the catalyst Pam needed to make some serious changes in her life. Granted, she didn't make these changes until a few days before her wedding. Nonetheless, Jim succeeded in shaking her emotional core. She is more aware of her feelings, but she is still not ready to act on them.

Her experience with Jim helped her to realize that her relationship with Roy is no longer needed. She stated that she "needed to get out of that relationship," which tells me that Jim made her realize how Roy is stifling her as a person. Jim gave her the freedom to be herself and now that he's gone, she no longer has that freedom. So, she breaks away from Roy as a way to get that freedom back.

A large part of this break is the fact that Pam realizes she no longer loves Roy and has huge doubts about the relationship in general. She gives cold feet as the reason for backing out of the wedding, but offers no details. She won't talk about Jim, but we can reasonably assume that her reasons revolve around him.

For the first time, Pam is ready to explore a future without Roy. This never would have happened without Jim. He gave her the courage to step out on her own, when he asked her to be with him. This was the first time she thought about being with someone else on a conscious level. It's also possible her cold feet originated from the fact that she allowed Jim to kiss her. Pam can't marry Roy when she is able to and wants to kiss someone else. However, it took almost a month to get the courage to act on her feelings!

She may have mustered up the courage to leave Roy, but she didn't have enough leftover to go after Jim. Part of this lies again with her moral center. She still cares about Roy and doesn't want to hurt him by being with someone else right away, especially Jim. On the other hand, she's still not ready to be with Jim. She's just left a long-term relationship and she's no about to go jumping into another one.

Pam needs time to be alone and discover who she is without Roy and perhaps work through her emotional idiosyncrasies concerning Jim. She needs to find herself and what she wants. Pam has already found her independence by having her own apartment. This is a huge leap for Pam as she is afraid of the unknown, but it fits with her need to be alone.

She is also taking part in art classes, which is her way to break the restrictions Roy had placed on her dreams. She didn't go for the internship in Boys and Girls, so now she is taking steps towards achieving her dreams. These actions solidify Pam's resolved to make it on her own. This surge of confidence originated from Jim, as she was reliant on him for her self worth, but she has learned to transfer some of this reliance to herself.

She is still in a fragile state, due to the fact that this is all very new and uncharted. We can realistically assume that Pam has no doubt that she made the right decision. She treats Roy with an air of indifference when he comes by to bring her lunch. It is obvious that she considers the relationship over.

Even though Pam is moving on from Roy, she is having difficulty moving away from Jim. She misses him. She's realizing how much of a fixture he was in her life. We see this in several instances. She keeps looking up and staring at Ryan in Jim's old desk. This is a combination of habit and wishful thinking. She's hasn't adjusted to his absence. The fact that he crossed the line before she was ready is inconsequential. She still wants him in her life. This, however, creates a conflict.

She may want him in her life, but she knows she can't handle him in her life. We see her fighting the impulse to think about him throughout the episode. We also see Pam reverting to her Jim habits. The absence of Jim has created a void in her life. In the conference room she leans over to Ryan to laugh at Michael's antics. She is startled and saddened when to realize its not Jim sitting next to her.

This void is furthered when Jim's gaydar package arrives for Dwight (excuse me while I have a little chuckle. God, that was funny). Pam laughs as Dwight uses it, appreciating Jim's humor as she always has. Nevertheless, she is saddened that she can't share the moment with Jim. She is feeling his presence and that accentuates the void of his absence. Again, she is realizing how much she needs him and is further realizing her feelings for him. The longer she is without him, the more ready she becomes to explore those feelings and eventually act on them.

Bottom Line: Pam has found the courage to leave Roy and start over. But, she does not have the courage to face her feelings for Jim.

- - -

I was hoping the season premiere would clear up my multiple personality disorder, but clearly the JAM optimist and pessimist are still in play. Even though this episode is remarkably in the JAM optimist's favor, the pessimist has enough scraps to hang on!

JAM Optimist:

- She's not married
- She broke up with Roy
- It was her decision to call off the wedding
- She let Jim see some of her feelings
- She allowed Jim to hold her hands
- She misses Jim
- She's taking time for herself

JAM Pessimist:

- She's found her independence and she may not need Jim anymore.
- She turned him down again, despite the fact that she had the perfect opportunity to say yes.
- She's not ready and may never be ready.

What makes this particular analysis so difficult is that there are a number of unknown variables. Here's a list of what we don't know that will have an impact on the accuracy of the above analysis:

1. Does Roy know about the events of Casino Night?

2. Has there been any contact between Jim and Pam?

3. How did Jim and Pam acted around one another prior to his departure? When did Jim leave?

Chapter End Notes:
This post was written ten years ago so go easy on me in terms of writing style! I've decided not to revise the original posts beyond filling in missing words or fixing wayward punctuation. Call it nostalgia if you will, but there's something to be said for preserving this little snapshot of fandom.

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