'The Office' Season Finale Review: "Free Family Portrait Studio"

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'The Office’ Season 8 files its twenty-fourth and final episode of the season in "Free Family Portrait Studio," as Andy infiltrates Dunder-Mifflin as a janitor in order to make his reveal of David Wallace taking over that much more dramatic, while Dwight launches the titular portrait studio as a means to get a DNA sample to test Angela's baby!

Last week’s ‘The Office’ “Turf War” saw Andy nabbing the client out from under the squabbling branches of Dunder-Mifflin that he thought would get his job back, only for Robert to refuse (busy with his own scandal), necessitating Andy's approach of David Wallace, so what will the season finale bring?  With all the departures and renewals, will there even be an 'Office' to come back to next season?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘The Office’ finale “Free Family Portrait Studio!”

For our cold open, Oscar nobly attempts to make an “It Gets Better “ video, though probably shouldn’t have attempted to do so in the office, lest he face interruption from Dwight, Phyllis, Kelly - trying to do her makeup in webcam - or Kevin.  And that was BEFORE Robert butt in to put his creepy mug up to the camera and ad-lib about the journey that is human sexuality.  Yeesh.

Dwight’s started a family photo studio for all the members of the office (even Creed’s parents!), though Jim suspects the entire scenario to be an elaborate payback of his most recent prank, which swapped Dwight’s suit with an equal one of breakaway velcro.  Meanwhile, two of Daryl’s old warehouse workers have come begging for their jobs after losing their lottery money, and Andy has hatched a plan of his own to infiltrate Dunder-Mifflin as a janitor, in order to dramatically reveal his return as Manager when David Wallace arrives to announce the takeover!  What could go wrong?

Pam arrives at the office with her and Jim’s children for the family photo, in spite of Jim’s reservations that the studio must be some kind of prank.  Predictably, Jim himself is the one to nearly ruin the photo, constantly searching for some kind of sabotage through every shot, when in reality Dwight’s plan is far more sinister.  In walks the Senator with “his” and Angela’s baby, ripe for the taking of a DNA sample!  She does her best whenever Dwight suspiciously approaches to clear some stray hairs, skin cells, or fingernails, but the sh!t really hits the fan when the sh!t really hits the diaper, and Dwight manages to steal the disposed diaper out of the building and peel out of there!

While Andy continues debasing himself mentally and physically to sell his upcoming reveal, Daryl returns to his old workers to the warehouse, loudly praising Val - whose boyfriend Brandon overhears.  Rather than make shy his intentions however, bad-ass Daryl admits outright that he’s flirting with her, making her blush.

Unfortunately Andy’s bizarrely see-through behavior, drinking, limping and clumsiness has the office call a meeting to ask what’s wrong, as even Erin’s attempt to corroborate his breakdown with domestic violence and verbal abuse don’t go over well.  Who’d have thought?  Just then, David Wallace calls, ruining the big plan by attempting to delay his appearance, and Andy’s hand is forced to reveal his plot to the waiting group, who aren’t convinced he hasn’t imagined the whole far-fetched scenario (‘The Office’ thinks it’s being meta instead of sadly truthful).  Meanwhile, Angela continues chasing after Dwight (who manages to fake her out with Mose behind the wheel of - apparently - another Trans Am), and Ryan continues his lovelorn looks at Kelly and her new boyfriend.  You know, the ones we’ll be seeing so much of next year because Mindy Kaling’s new FOX sitcom totally wasn’t picked up, like, at all.

Just when Andy’s plan seems at its lowest and even Robert tries to get him to give it up, David Wallace finally arrives to announce the validity of Andy’s claim.  As much as Andy tries to salvage his dramatic reveal (in a notably Michael Scott manner), David confirms the mundane nature of the transition, and only Robert seems visibly nervous, introducing himself as a Sabre CEO under a different name, and wishing to speak in private. Down the hall, Daryl takes the family portrait with his daughter, to which Val joins and holds his hand.  Awws.

Still desperately trying to savor one delicious moment, the newly re-empowered Andy (complete with suit underneath his janitor jumpsuit) finds himself swayed by her pleas of mercy, and offers a job to Nellie Bertram.  Afterward, Robert and David emerge from the conference room, Robert having successfully worked his creepy magic to have David fund a worldwide expedition to find uneducated, but limber women for Robert to…mentor.  Goodbye, failed experiment.

No longer fooled by Mose in another car, Angela rushes to the hospital to find Dwight’s already given the diaper for testing, a process that takes 72 hours. Resigned, she sits alongside him and takes his hand only briefly brushing off his aggressive make-out.  For now, let’s assume we have a Schrute baby!  Meanwhile back at the office, the Senator finds Oscar downstairs, and impresses beyond any manner of subtlety that he should call, adding “you know what this is about.”

While we're still nervous about the prospect of another season of The Office given all the recent turmoil, at the very least it's a relief to know that unless NBC pulls the plug John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Ed Helms will return.  'The Office' is certainly going to look (and feel) different without Mindy Kaling, and possibly B.J. Novak, but maybe some new producers could breathe new life into the series, rather than having it feel like something stretched on too long.

After all, it worked for 'ER,' right?  Right?

In any case, this season got better toward its end, leaving behind some of the unwelcome sap between Andy and Erin, who sadly remain no Jim and Pam, and we no longer have to worry about James Spader's out of place creepiness.  "Free Family Portrait Studio" didn't have much in the way of dramatic upheaval, but definitely left in a place where there's room to grow next year.

Did you get anything out of  “Free Family Portrait Studio?”  Is 'The Office' still working, or do you think it's time to close up shop?  What did you think about the episode? Join us (hopefully) next season for all-new episode recaps of ‘The Office on NBC!

Filed Under: NBC, The Office
Categories: TV News, TV Reviews
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