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‘The Office’ Series Finale Review: “Finale”

The Office: "Finale"
NBC/Colleen Hayes

Tonight offered the finale of ‘The Office,’ and at this moment — considering most people complained that the show should have ended a couple years ago — it’s worth pointing out that most great network shows overstay their welcome. It’s easy to pine over one-season wonders like ‘Freaks and Geeks’ and ‘Firefly,’ but part of what makes them great is they never had the chance to get bad.  Whereas there are definitely bad episodes (and sometimes seasons) of all-timers like ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘The Simpsons.’

The last couple seasons of ‘The Office’ may have tarnished its reputation, but it was once one of the best sitcoms on television. The finale reminds us why.

The episode starts six months after the last episode, with Dwight driving and asking why they’re still filming (it’s bonus footage for the DVD), as the documentary already aired. Dwight’s business at Dunder-Mifflin is booming, Oscar is running for state senate, and there’s going to be a “where are they now” panel about the doc that weekend. It turns out that Kevin was laid off in the interim. It then flashes back to Stanley retiring, as Kevin is given a “get out” cake, and though everyone fights it no one can defend his work skills, while Toby is also given the boot.

Jim now rides a bike to work, while everyone in the office now does exercises in the morning because Dwight is imitating the Japanese. Dwight’s hired a bunch of new people and brought back Devin after Creed faked his own death once the documentary aired. It turns out Creed is wanted by the police for an assortment of crimes, including stealing weapons-grade LSD from the military. Jim plans with Oscar, Pete, Clark and Dwight’s cousin Zeke Dwight’s bachelor party that night, as Dwight has named Jim his best man.

Darryl exits an airport and sees Andy and ducks. Andy’s ‘America’s Next A Capella Sensation’ failed audition clip went viral, and led to parodies from the Philippines, and on ‘SNL‘ (which leads to guest appearances by Seth Meyers and Bill Hader). Also returning to Scranton is Nellie, who is currently living in Poland (“The Scranton of the EU”), and Toby, who’s now living in New York with six roommates. Andy shows up at the office first, then Darryl, who now lives in Austin where Athlead (which changed its name) merged and is very successful. All the men from the office head off to the bachelor party in a limo.

The limo stops in a field where Jim has arranged for Dwight to shoot a bazooka. Then they go to a restaurant for a private dinner, where Andy is harassed by customers because he’s internet famous. Angela has a bachelorette party with her coworkers and her sister. At the bachelor dinner there’s a stripper, but Dwight just wants food, and Jim records the whole awkward interaction. Angela also gets a stripper, but the stripper is Meredith’s son. Then Mose shows up and kidnaps Angela.

Jim gets a call from Pam telling him about the kidnapping, but Dwight laughs it off as a ceremonial bride kidnapping. The game is that Mose will hide Angela in a pub and Dwight has to find her, and as Jim thinks it would the last bar Dwight would go to, they head to the right bar and find Mose. Tending bar? Kevin, who owns the bar. Jim set this up so Kevin and Dwight can bury the hatchet. Jim says that he knows Dwight misses Kevin, and the two make up. Mose then lets Angela out of the trunk of his car. For the reunion panel, Stanley shows up from Florida. He lives on the edge of the everglades and carves birds (he’s also now divorced). The attendance for the reunion is low, which Andy blames on the autotuned version of his viral video, but it turns out a bunch of people are waiting outside, and they all love Andy.

The panel starts, and they’re asked about how they feel about being filmed, and Pam is asked how Pam paid back Jim for leaving Athlead (she says she hadn’t). Someone else asks what was in the teapot letter, but she won’t reveal it. Other women note how lucky Pam is for having Jim. Pam admits that she was scared and doubted that Jim would succeed, and then describes their relationship as a fairy tale. Then Erin’s birth mother shows up and it’s Joan Cusack! And this is the part where I start crying! Ed Begley Jr. also shows up as her dad. They all hug. And Creed is seen in the audience.

At Dwight’s farm, everyone shows up for the wedding, including Creed, all bringing cats. Kelly shows up, as does Ryan. Ryan now has a baby named Drake, though the girl he was dating left him with it, while Kelly comes with her boyfriend Ravi. Angela prepares for the wedding, but her leg is wobbly from being in the trunk for three hours. Dwight also prepares, but then Jim tells him there’s a problem as the best man must be older than the groom, and so Steve Carell‘s Michael Scott steps in. You may have seen it coming, but it is pretty perfect. Dwight says “I can’t believe you came.” and Michael says “That’s what she said.” The two hug and cry. Phillis carries Angela down the isle to a string version of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and the two are married in their own graves. As Kevin reads to close the ceremony,  Ryan and Kelly flirt and Moses stares longingly at a female scarecrow.

The newlyweds dance to Motley Crue’s “Angela,” and then Jim and Pam dance when Jim tells Pam she doesn’t owe him anything. Ryan distracts Ravi with his baby, and when Kelly and Ryan have a moment alone they make out. Michael has a bunch of kids now, and can’t stop taking pictures of them, so much so he owns two phones to hold all the pictures. Toby is a mess, while Stanley and Phyllis are happy to see each other again. Ryan and Kelly run off, abandoning the child.

Kevin tells Ravi about Kelly and Ryan, and Ravi tells Kevin to call child services, but Nellie offers to take the baby. Michael says that he feels like all his kids grew up and married each other (“every parent’s dream”). There’s an after party at the warehouse, and most everyone’s going (except Michael, because Carell must have shot for a day, maybe two, tops). Jim and Pam come home to find that Pam has been trying to sell the house. She says she’s cool with moving to Austin, and the people looking at the house make an offer. They accept. At the warehouse, Pam reveals the mural in the warehouse, which is a portrait of everyone who’s worked there. Phyllis and Stanley — and also Meredith and Toby — sneak off for quickies.

Back in the office everyone says they need a drink, so they raid Meredith’s desk. Pam answers the phone, and says Jim doesn’t work there any more. Talking to the camera about herself and the documentary, Pam berates herself for being slow in life and suggests she hopes people learn from her mistakes. Then the flashbacks kick in. Angela and Dwight come up, and note that they don’t know when they’ll all be together again. Jim then breaks the news that he is leaving, and Dwight lays them off so they can get severance packages, and Dwight offers them his barn to stay in if they come back to visit. Dwight notes that he gets along with all his subordinates and and says Pam is his best friend. The office then watch Andy’s “Baby Wawa” commencement speech at Cornell (where he now works in admissions) and everyone applauds him. It’s revealed that Creed has been living in the office over the weekends. Creed then plays a song on guitar, and Jim reflects on seeing the documentary and how great it was to see those moments again, and thanks the documentary crew for saving the memories. Kevin then tells Oscar that he thinks he’s gay because he’s so emotional (Oscar emphatically tells him he isn’t), and then there’s clips from earlier episodes as everyone gets their moment with the camera as the party ends,  Pam steals her art back and Creed gets arrested. The series closes on Pam, who says of the documentary “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things, isn’t that the point?”

As an ‘Office’ viewer, I must admit I bailed on a couple of the middle seasons, and was brought back from time to time by guest stars, but even with some gaps in my ‘Office’ viewings, this was as good a conclusion as one could hope for. With the extended 75 minute running time, everyone got their moment to shine, and though Steve Carell’s cameo was brief, it was also perfect. Jim and Pam are off to Austin (which almost seems like an in-joke on these non-hipster hipsters), and everyone gets the ending they deserve.

As the end of the season, it’s hard not to note there were a lot of dead ends this year, but perhaps the presence of Brian the boom guy will seem less obnoxious in the context of the whole. That he was a concerned person who was more plot point than possible love interest (though that’s not the way they played them). And the presence of Pete and Clark was mostly a bust, as Pete and Erin’s relationship became backgrounded the minute Erin broke up with Andy. But right now, that’s unimportant.

This was mostly a mega-happy ending, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It was also a really funny episode, as the sight gag of Dwight firing a bazooka for his bachelor party was a perfect Dwight moment. And if the end got a bit sappy, I’m welling up just thinking about it. That’s the perfect response. Though it’s end came a little late in the scheme of things, the show will be missed.

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