Last night was the last episode of The Office. Ever.
The series finale, after 9 successful years for this revolutionary comedy TV show, was aired on May 16th, 2013.
I think that’s a date that the fans of the show will remember for a while. This was my experience of those 50 minutes of that day.
About 20 seconds into the episode, I started crying. Correction. I was sobbing. Nothing really happened, but I knew that many things would happen until it reached its end, when nothing would ever happen again. It was almost over and I had a hard time accepting that.
Jim Halpert, said it best when Michael Scott was exiting the show at the end of Season 7.
“Goodbyes are a bitch”
The finale was compiled of two important events for the employees of Dunder Mifflin: Dwight and Angela’s wedding, and a Q&A local panel for the employees of Dunder Mifflin after the episodes of their documentary had aired. Both were great reasons for the journeys of these characters to come to a completion.
The “Finale” episode, however, wasn’t a full-stop to their rides. It was a semicolon, a thought-out and emotional conclusion to their television personas, but also a great gateway to even bigger prospects and possibilities for them. They just wouldn’t be written into storylines anymore.
The episode had a sense of, just because we won’t be witnessing their journeys on television, doesn’t mean they won’t be continuing.
The panel happens 1 year after the documentary has been aired, which is a great opening and excuse for the characters to come together again.
Darryl comes back to Scranton and his job at the newly-merged Athleap seems to be going well, judging by the limo that picks him up from the airport. Nelly also returns from Poland, where she now works. Toby lives in New York with 6 roommates, writing the Great American Novel. Andy, after his disastrous audition at America’s Next A Capella Sensation went viral, he was mockingly invited to give the commencement speech at Cornell, which led him to getting a job at the admissions office.
Little by little, they all find themselves back where they started, with the people they started with. When all the characters are sitting in line on stage, with an anxiously embracing audience waiting for their answers and explanations and points of view, you can’t help but get an inevitable smile on your face.
The line between reality and fiction at that point was very, very thin. It was surreal, reminiscent and prophetic. These characters are up there, giving inside into their lives and experiences, while engaging with their fans from the documentary, who so eagerly awaited to see them and hear them and tell them how much they enjoyed or appreciated something they did.
Just like Jenna, John, Rainn, and all the people in the show have been doing for years now. It was a perfect circle for the people and their characters.
At the Q&A of the panel, a woman asks Erin if she hates her mother for abandoning her. Erin’s sincere and heartfelt response in that instance summed up everything that she represented in the show. As if that wasn’t beautiful enough, the woman asking the question was indeed Erin’s birth mother, even though Erin was characteristically the last one to realize it. Her reconnection with her birth parents was the most unexpected of events in the finale, but it was much fitting for Erin’s journey.
Admittedly, I was disappointed that Andy and Erin’s love was not rekindled in some way, but their separate stories were so equally fulfilling and fitting that I freely let go of that hope straight away.
The panel was a turning point for Pam, as well. People’s harsh reactions to Pam asking Jim to leave his job prospect with Athlete in Austin so they can stay in Scranton, seemed to have an effect on her. And even though Jim was as lovely and reassuring about it not being the case, as he always is, Pam pulled a ‘big-Jim-gesture’ by selling their house, so they can move to Austin for a new beginning.
Pam and Jim were always one of my favourite, if not THE favourite, TV couples. There’s a realness and a truthiness to their characters and their relationship. There’s no parody of any sorts, no silliness, or anything that is not believable. That was the key. We believed them. We believed in their love, and subsequently to that, we believed in love, period.
So, whether they are in Scranton, in Austin, whether we are watching them on our TV or dreaming of what would happen to them, we can always be sure that they are in love and have each other.
Dwight and Angela’s wedding was a great opportunity to bring everyone back together, from past and present, and allow for closure or completion to the stories of these characters. It made for the perfect excuse to have so many pleasant return cameos from such beloved characters from the show, which made the finale that much more appropriate and satisfying.
Kelly Kapoor was reunited with her ex-lover obsession, Ryan, who was now a single dad. Of course, it was just as easy for Kelly to leave behind her boyfriend and fall back in love with Ryan in seconds, as it was for the self-inflated Ryan to abandon his child and run off with Kelly, shouting “I finally mastered commitment”. Honestly, there could not have been a more representative, spot-on ending to the story of these two.
Nelly finally had the child she always wanted (even though it was originally Ryan’s baby). Stanley’s a happy, retired man now living in Florida and carving birds out of wood. Phyllis is just being Phyllis. Kevin works at a bar and he’s actually good at his job. Oscar is running for State Senate. Meredith’s proud of her son for being a stripper, and apparently, she got a PhD. Creed is, naturally, wanted by the police for an assortment of crimes.
And Toby..well, Toby is still sad, and confused, and lonely. But, he’s still trying his best.
And then there was one. Michael Scott. And of course, I saved the best for last.
After much speculation, many rumours and continuous denials of Steve Carell’s return for the series finale – which no one believed or wanted to believe – the inevitable happened.
It was the best unsurprising surprise ever.
Even his first entry in the episode was predictable after a while. But at the same time, the moment itself did not lose any of its excitement, momentum and shock.
Jim pulls the ‘Best prank ever’ as he gets Michael Scott to come back and be Dwight’s best man at his wedding. Can anyone think of anything more fitting for these characters?
“Dwight: Michael, I can’t believe you came.
Michael: That’s what she said.”
I’ve never been so unsure of whether I had tears of joy or tears from laughter in my eyes. I was sobbing, but I was so happy. They nailed it, and I’m sure they know it.
After that, Michael wasn’t around much in the episode. I’m sure that fans would have liked to see much more of him, but I was more than happy with the few glimpses we got, of Michael just looking around at his old friends, smiling and seeming so at peace and just..happy. Michael’s farewell came two seasons ago, when it was all about him, when Steve Carell was the star of the show, and that was concluded in its own time, in its own way. Everyone moved on and it was obvious and it was the right way to do it.
Michael Scott’s cameo was not done to steal any spotlight, make a statement or rehash the past. Actually, Michael Scott himself explained it perfectly:
“I feel like all my children grew up and they married each other. It’s every parent’s dream.”
Well, at least as perfect as Michael Scott could ever explain anything.
Steve Carell’s cameo was subtle, contained, but beautiful and gratifying.
The Office is over after 9 years and 201 episodes. It was a show that introduced audiences around the world to an unconventional treatment of comedy. It upped everyone’s game and took television comedy to a higher level, with new boundaries and new ideas. A show with a simple storyline, so simple, that perhaps was almost banal to some people. A workplace and its employees. A paper company and its suppliers. A family and its loved ones.
The show and its characters were hilarious, insane, strange, unconventional, awkward and unfiltered. But above all, amidst all of the shenanigans, they were human, they were heartfelt and they were sincere.
They had flaws, they made mistakes, but at the end of the day they made long-lasting friendships, were taught life lessons and essentially were simply perfect in their imperfections.
Rainn Wilson said it best in “The Office Retrospective”: “It’s the heart that kept people coming back. The romance between Jim and Pam. The loneliness that you saw underneath in Michael Scott. That aching, vulnerable ambition of Dwight. These are little glimmers of emotion that keep you vested and interested.”
We don’t know if Jim and Pam will have another baby or how their house in Austin will look like. We don’t know what Dwight and Angela’s son will be like when he grows up. We don’t know if Oscar becomes Senator. We don’t know if Toby will finally find his path in life and what that is. We don’t know if Ryan and Kelly will make it work. We don’t know how Nelly will deal with being a single mother.
But, yet, somehow, we do.
Additionally, The Office taught me so many things that I will always cherish and remember:
– Real, unconditional, ever-lasting, exhilarating love can exist.
– Great prank ideas.
– There’s a depth to every kind of person.
– We are all different people, but at the same time, very much alike.
– How to make good ‘That’s what she said’ jokes
– How to mastermind excellent openings for ‘That’s what she said’ jokes
– To always check for any dirty cartoons imprints on my paper
And more importantly:
– Ryan started the fire.
But, MOST importantly, the last words that were ever said on The Office:
“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things, isn’t that kind of the point?” – Pam Halpert
That’s all she said.
We Thank You.