When writing a story that spans multiple entries, having many individual plot threads for your cast is important, as it makes each of them feel important in their own way. Scott Pilgrim does an excellent job of this, and even has each character’s individual story revolve around a different theme: Stephen’s story is pure self-discovery, and figuring out things about oneself that you might not have understood previously — in his case it’s his sexuality, something he comes to grips with off-page during the events of the fifth book and Knives’ story is driven by growth, as she literally goes from wide-eyed teenager to young adult in front of our very eyes. Kim Pine’s story, however, might be the most interesting individual thread of them all, and it revolves around the concept of closure.
Closure is one of the most prevalent themes of Scott Pilgrim, as Scott himself craves it with Envy after the way things went with them, and the villainous League of Evil Exes was born out of Gideon’s drunken anger at Ramona’s abrupt disappearance. Kim’s desire for it, though, isn’t plain to see initially; in the first two books, she’s characterized as being resentful towards Scott and wanting him to fail in his relationships — to the point that the second book features a bit where Kim dreams about being at his funeral, and implying that she has this dream, or ones like it, often. She comes off continually as the bitter ex girlfriend, especially after Scott’s recollection of how they met and the way that their relationship ended — which is later proven to be a false memory planted by Gideon, but we’ll get into that later. Through all of this resentment though, one thing remains about Kim: she continues to help Scott. Against all logic and against her own description of him as “the scum of the Earth”, Kim plays support to Scott time after time. From something as simple as renting some DVDs for him so he could try to prepare to fight Lucas, to serving as a deus ex machina and fabricating text messages from Ramona after being kidnapped by the Katyanagi Twins in the penultimate book to motivate Scott to fight back, Sex Bob-omb’s resident redhead remains by the hero’s side the whole way through. This is, of course, due to their history and the feelings Kim still harbors for Scott — there’s an unresolved tension between the two of them stemming back almost a decade, and feelings that she hasn’t been able to put a proverbial lid on for that length of time, but Scott seemingly has, which only makes things worse.
In the time between them splitting up and the beginning of the story, Scott has had two major relationships, first Envy, or Nat, back when he knew her, a relationship that lasted a good portion of Pilgrim’s time in college, and Knives, whom he has just started dating at the beginning of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. Now, it’s safe to assume that Kim has had some romantic interests in that same seven-year gap, but during the year or so length of the series, we only ever see mention of her dating one other guy, Jason, who of course ends up cheating on her with her roommate, thus spelling the end for both that relationship and living situation. Meanwhile, Kim has to watch her high school sweetheart, whom, I might add, never officially broke things off with her, fight, both figuratively and literally, to keep a relationship with a girl he just met and she’s never even gotten so much as an “I’m sorry” out of Scott in over half a decade. It starts to eat away at Kim, as it would anyone, and it’s why she comes off the way that she does a lot of the time. The first times we see her genuinely happy prior to her and Scott finally resolving things in the final book are in flashbacks in the second book:
And when she sees Lisa again in the fourth one:
Kim isn’t an angry person, per se. She even says to Hollie that she might have been a happy child, and the two people who we see being directly involved in her happiness are Scott and Lisa. However, as it’s revealed in Scott Pilgrim in His Finest Hour, they’re also involved in her unhappiness. After Kim moves back home in the previous book, Scott, at the behest of Wallace, takes the trip up north for a “wilderness sabbatical” and stays with the drummer and her family. On the trip, the two reminisce about their youth, leading to Scott stating that Kim is “the one constant in [his] life”, which I might add, is completely true, after making a move that is initially reciprocated:
This leads to quite possibly the most important part of Scott’s character arc, with him finally accepting NegaScott and getting all of his repressed and altered memories back — but this isn’t about him, it’s about Kim. For her, this is the culmination of, at this point, eight years of unspoken issues and tension; eight years of holding on to the memory of Lisa having to tell her that Scott was moving away and not telling her, eight years of holding a grudge against one of her two best friends in the world. Kim’s initial reciprocation to the kiss is that feeling she’s been keeping capped for nearly a decade bubbling to the surface just for a second, just long enough for her to enjoy it one more time — and a much different kiss than the one she gives Scott “for luck” just before he returns to Toronto. As much as the first was about Scott rebounding to Kim in his attempt to get over Ramona, the last is about Kim finally letting go of Scott.
In that scene, Kim encourages Scott to go back and fight Gideon to earn back Ramona’s love before planting one on him and delivering the above line. And though she’s saying that to our protagonist, it can be argued that she’s telling herself, and that she’s speaking into existence the close of that chapter of her life. A chapter, mind you, that opened when she was sixteen. The next time we see Kim and Scott together, they’ve formed a new band together and wouldn’t you know it, Kim is singing and laughing with him the whole way through. All of the resentment, all of the tension, all of the baggage, is put behind them, because Kim has the thing she’s needed all along — closure. She’s finally been able to talk to Scott about what actually happened between the two of them — including him beating up her helpless ex, Simon, for no reason — and be satisfied with everything.
Then again, maybe I’m just over-analyzing things.