Full disclosure: I’ve been hating on The Office ever since Michael Scott left. Not because I thought the show couldn’t handle the burden of everyone’s favorite paper company boss hitting the road, but mostly because the show tanked soon after. The episodes weren’t funny, the storylines were weak – it should’ve ended in its 7th season and I completely stand by that.
But dammit, they nailed that finale.
[Spoilers from last night’s Series Finale]
The episode took place a year after the Dunder Mifflin documentary aired. Since then, everyone has had the time to let the last nine years of their lives sink in. They reunite to celebrate Dwight and Angela’s wedding festivities, as the film crew returns to shoot bonus footage for the DVD. There’s a bachelor party that only Dwight could enjoy, a kidnapping, a stripper that Dwight mistakes for their waitress, and some other shenanigans with the groom’s freaky-deaky farm friends. The episode is packed with funny insights and assorted hilarity. Aside from all this, the 75-minute-long episode succeeded in two major ways.
First, like any strong finale, the show brought back some familiar faces. Kelly Kapoor and Ryan were reunited at the wedding (I guess true love never dies), and more importantly, Michael returns to be Dwight’s Best Man. Producers were mum on details about whether or not Carell would return, even refuting it at one point, but I was glad to see him and also glad they didn’t make the finale all about him.
Second, it finally showed some much-needed character growth and it did so with so much heart. Andy went from a YouTube sensation/laughing stock to getting a full-time gig at his Alma Mater. Erin finally found her birth parents (Oh, hey Joan Cusack!), and Meredith revealed that she was in college getting her PhD hence her partying.
And then there’s Jim and Pam. These two revisited their budding romance, the Roy days, their courtship, their marriage and parenthood all because of the documentary. Pam’s return sacrifice for Jim was a perfect ending for them, and proved that the couple is finally ready to leave Scranton behind and move on. Pam waxes nostalgic about how the documentary made it difficult to relive all her former mistakes:
“I kept wanting to scream at Pam. It took me so long to do so many important things. It’s hard to accept that I spent so many years being less happy than I could’ve been. Jim was five feet from my desk and it took me four years to get to him. It’d be great if people saw this documentary and learned from my mistakes. Not that I’m a tragic person, I’m really happy now. But it would just make my heart soar if someone out there saw this and she said to herself: ‘Be strong. Trust yourself. Love yourself. Conquer your fears. Just go after what you want and act fast! Because life just isn’t that long!’”
Well said, Beasley.
Jim also has a moment where he thanks the camera crew for capturing his last nine years:
“Imagine going back and watching a tape of your life. You could see yourself change and make mistakes and grow up. You could watch yourself fall in love. Watch yourself become a husband. Become a father. You guys gave that to me and that’s an amazing gift.”
Bravo to John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer for their nuanced performances here, which were simply stellar. Jim and Pam were great characters that I think we all enjoyed rooting for.
The finale pulled at heartstrings in all the right places. Think about the last 9 years of your life. What if you could watch that back, like one long movie? I think almost everyone can relate to how surreal that would be – having a specific time of their lives encapsulated like that, frozen in time. There’s something to it. Life rarely works that way though and as Andy put it: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
So even though I appear to have
sipped on chugged The Office Kool-aid, credit where credit is due: Greg Daniels and co. nailed this finale. Despite the last two seasons of suck-dom and the finale’s periodic self-indulgence, these guys and gals finished with a bang.
(That’s what she said!)
Seasons 8-9 Grade: C
Finale Grade: A