So I’m probably one of the last people out there to watch The Office (what can I say I’ve been living under a rock), but it was one of my goals for the new year to finish watching every single episode of the show which spanned the course of nine seasons. I started watching the show around the time I was finishing my undergrad and I quickly understood why it’s such a favorite. But I have to admit that in contrast to prior seasons, the last season just wasn’t as good in my opinion. Hear me out – it wasn’t all bad, but there were definitely things I thought could’ve been better about this cult favorite show’s final season.
The Bad, The Good and The Ugly
First off, I really hated the way that Andy just up and left everyone (especially Erin) to be on a boat/in the Bahamas for three months! I know comedic writing makes sure to incorporate the foibles of characters, but it just seems rude that Andy would make such a profound misstep after telling Erin that he loved her, by acting like such a jerk during season nine. One of my other gripes about the last season were the conflicts between Jim and Pam. I really felt uncomfortable with the way Jim was splitting his time between Philly working for his company Athlead, and working in Scranton part-time at Dunder Mifflin. All while Pam was left to hold down the fort as a single mother. I was conflicted – I wanted Jim to follow his dreams, but also I could see the strain being put on Pam and felt sympathetic for her. Especially as there were several moments during the season that I felt Jim was being really dickish to Pam unnecessarily (say for failing to get a video of Cece’s ballet recital)! I just felt like after watching Andy and Jim for so long, they suddenly were acting completely out of character. Here were two guys who at one point, would have done anything for the women they loved. Everyone is entitled to their missteps in life but it just felt like too much. Long gone were the twelve days of Christmas and teapots with secret love notes.
It was hard (that’s what she said) to watch the ninth season with the roller coaster ride that Angela and Dwight’s story lines had become in the final season. Angela finds out that Robert is cheating on her with Oscar, but she continues a short lived facade of a happy marriage to The Senator. Dwight then asks Angela for assistance caring for his elderly aunt as the two reconnect, but any hopes of the two reuniting are squashed by Angela’s mention of her husband Robert. Dwight soon ends up romantically pursuing his neighbor Esther while Angela’s marriage to Robert continues to unravel when during a televised press conference he comes out as gay. The results end up providing one of the sweetest moments from Oscar as he offers a place to stay after Angela is evicted. It’s difficult because you just know that Angela and Dwight belong together!! The will they, won’t they of their relationship extends dangerously close to the end of the final season. I’m just happy there was a happy ending, or this entire post would be one long bitch about how they belong together!
Another area of frustration for me was the warehouse mural. Pam’s artistic skill is so underappreciated throughout the show and few really seem to acknowledge it (I’m still a little choked up from Michael’s reaction to Pam’s paintings in the Season Three episode “Business School”) so when someone defaced the mural (with butts, really?!?) that she was working on in the warehouse it really bugged me, but then we find out who did it. Is it just me or does Brad William Henke (who portrays new warehouse worker Frank) play the whole douchey antagonistic type of character really well as evident by his character in Orange Is The New Black? Things were definitely made better when we were provided another sweet instance of Pam and Dwight teaming up as they painted on his truck together. It can’t be said enough – Dwight and Pam’s friendship throughout the show is seriously underappreciated!!
This might be controversial, but for me, one of the highlights of season nine was the exit of Ryan Howard’s character. I did miss the sass that Mindy Kaling’s Kelly Kapoor brought to Dunder Mifflin, but I’m not going to lie – I absolutely couldn’t stand Ryan so I may have clapped when it was mentioned by Toby that he had left (sorry, not sorry)!!
It would be incomplete if I didn’t mention S9,E7 “The Whale”, where Pam and Dwight team up for a sales trip to the Scranton White Pages. Pam’s shocked realization that the female client is none other than Jan Levinson is such a great moment. I love when shows bring previous characters back into the mix as the show progresses and I think this episode did so fantastically! Another highlight for me, and perhaps one of my favorites, was finally meeting Broccoli Rob (played by current CBS Late Show host Stephen Colbert) as he feuds with fellow Here Comes Treble-alum Andy about their experience with the acapella group while at Cornell. On top of Andy’s amazing George Michael Halloween costume, the banter between the two definitely was one of several comedic high points during season nine.
Speaking of holidays, I can’t forget to mention one of the best Christmas episodes with “Dwight Christmas” as Dwight is given the chance to share with the office, a Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas celebration when the Party Planning Committee forgets to plan a party. We are introduced to Belsnickel and an exceptionally drunk Darryl. But this episode provides a real Christmas treat in all the Die Hard references this gal could ever want (It’s a Christmas movie, don’t fight me on this…)!!
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t talk about a moment that had been a long time coming (no, not the one you’re probably thinking of) as Dwight was asked to be Regional Manager by David Wallace. It’s been nine seasons in the making…if you casually glance over moments like when Dwight was acting manager during the Dunder Mifflin/Sabre days in Season Seven (remember the gun incident?).
Alright, let’s get to the nitty gritty of The Office‘s final season – how ’bout that finale?!? I don’t think I’ve ugly cried so hard watching anything as I did when I watched the last episodes of The Office!! (I mean, I think I cried more over this, than I did over the death of Denny Duquette on Grey’s Anatomy). Before I delve into the finale, I just want to acknowledge a few things about the show as a whole. I know I’m soooo late to the party and I have to apologize to everyone who suggested I watch the show in the past – you were right and I was wrong to not check this comedic gem out sooner!! A comedy’s main goal is to be funny, but few comedies can brilliantly blend humor and human stupidity, alongside heart-wrenching human suffering and joy. Take Jim and Pam for instance – it took the two of them so long to get together and it was painful, but so damn sweet when they did.
Now let’s cut to the chase – the finale!! This was so beautiful because not only were we rewarded with the panel for the documentary that the show frames itself around (it’s like a show within a show in a way) as Erin is reunited with her parents. We were also treated to the sweetest return ever as Jim informs Dwight he’ll be needing an older best man as the camera reveals Michael Scott (seriously, come prepared with tissues)!! If Steve Carell hadn’t returned, I would have honestly been so pissed.
There are so many moments in this episode to unpack – from the new warehouse mural to the way Pam surprises Jim by indulging him of his dream as she puts the house up for sale so they can join Darryl in Austin working at his company (now Athleap). Honestly, not many shows wrap up their finales as well in terms of recapping things as this one did. Were there things that I think may have been missed? Sure (like why wasn’t Holly Flax with Michael at the wedding?), but then the episode reminds you – it’s about the people who worked at Dunder Mifflin from the show’s beginning with a few additions thrown into the mix over the years. The episode provides a beautiful sense of retrospection and family as the characters reminisce and share memories from working at the Scranton paper company over the years while also showing the progress that they have made since the documentary first was being filmed. While there were things about the last season I may not have liked initially, the finale almost entirely makes up for these with a beautiful way of saying goodbye to a group of people we all fell in love with or tolerated (except you, Ryan).
Okay, so now that I’ve finally caught up, what do I watch next??