Well, that was tremendously satisfying.
That's what she said.
After nine seasons on NBC, the American adaptation of Ricky Gervais' beloved British series of the same name, The Office was given an absolutely lovely, sincere, and near-perfect send-off. No, not everything in the episode worked. But what did work — those heartfelt reunions and goodbyes — are what really stood out and what mattered and what made this 75-minute finale so very special.
But, that's almost fitting in a way. The past few years of The Office were pretty bad, but the finale erased all of that. This is exactly what the conclusion was about: redeeming yourself, making peace with something, remembering the good over the bad, and finding the beauty in imperfections. Everyone had their happy ending, including The Office itself.
Picking up a year after the airing of the PBS documentary about them, and a day before Dwight and Angela's wedding, we found our favorite characters at different places in their lives. But the employees of Dunder Mifflin were — and still are — at their core, a family. But, you can't have a family unit without it's papa bear, which in their case is Michael Scott. Yes, the rumors were confirmed and our wishes came true: Steve Carell returned for the finale, and it was just perfect.
After Jim was named best man for Dwight's wedding — or, as the Schrute's call it, Bestest Mensch — and he went above and beyond the call of duty (aw, remember the episode when Jim was terrible at Call of Duty?) by pulling off the Best... Prank... Ever... and surprising the groom with a new Bestest Mensch: one Michael Gary Scott. And their first exchange in nearly two years went as follows:
Dwight: "I can't believe you came." Michael: "That's what she said."
Oh, Michael, you haven't changed a bit. Well, he did a little, in that he now has gray hair and is blissfully happy with a wife and their kids. But at the core, he's still the same old Michael. He still can't dance and he still says things that come out wrong ("I feel like all my kids grew up and married each other... it's every parent's dream!"), but his heart is still in the right place. Please, please let the Emmys at least give Carell one for a guest appearance.
Michael wasn't the only one who got a happy ending so richly deserved. Pam finally made a big, romantic gesture to Jim and decided to move their family to Austin so he could pursue his dream; Dwight and Angela got married; Kelly and Ryan (that's right, Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak returned, too) got back together (even if they did so in the most terrible way possible: by ditching a baby... though would you expect any different from those two?); Andy went from a laughing stock to a hometown hero; Darryl enjoyed his continued success; Toby enthusiastically got invited to hang out; Oscar enjoyed a senatorial campaign (but sadly no showcase of his origami skills) and, in the most touching happy ending of them all, Erin finally got to meet her birth parents (played by Joan Cusack and Ed Begley Jr.).
But, really, even if they didn't have a big goodbye, all the characters walked away with something: wisdom. Lucky for us, they all got to share a few pearls (major kudos to The Office writing team for this episode, it was some absolutely beautiful stuff):
- "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." Oh, Nard Dog. Someone should write a song about that.
- "I worked for a paper company all these years, but I never wrote anything down." Phyllis just destroyed me in this episode (she was so concerned about Andy, and she carried her old nemesis Angela down the aisle, and was so genuinely happy to receive her gift of a cute bird statue of herself from her grumpy pal Stanley) and this little snippet was a reminder to us all to take more pictures and write down your memories — you'll really cherish them someday.
- "Yes, I'd say I have gotten along with my subordinates." Dwight, referring to his wife Angela, best man Jim, and his best friend (aw!) Pam, among others.
- "Everything I have I owe to this job. This stupid, wonderful, boring, amazing job." Jim, TV's best crush, always and forever.
- "There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?" Pam, who grew into her own and allowed herself to find happiness over the course of nine years. As she simply put it, "Be strong, trust yourself, love yourself, conquer your fears, go after what you want." And thank goodness that The Office saw the beauty in ordinary things and ordinary people who were capable of extraordinary things.
Other finale highlights:
- Bringing back characters like Carol the realtor (Carell's wife in real life, Nancy Walls), Elizabeth the stripper, and of course, Mose. - Cameos by Seth Meyers and Bill Hader as themselves. Hey, we'll take as much of those guys on SNL as we can while we can get 'em. - Dwight carrying/dancing with Angela. - The group shot in front of Pam's mural calling for "everyone from the office." Judging by the cameo by Greg Daniels, it was likely everyone from The Office. - Creed's beautiful guitar serenade in the office. - Reminscing about the Office Olympics. - Pam getting in one last "Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam" and taking her painting of the office building with her. - Just. All of it, really. Goodbye old friends. And thank you.
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A lot can happen to a person over the course of nine years. You can change jobs, you can fall in love, you can face the loss of your favorite television show... and all of that will make you turn into the person you are today.
We've seen the characters at Dunder Mifflin grow (and sometimes regress) since the debut of The Office back in 2005, and with the series coming to an end on Thursday, May 16, we wanted to look back and see who has changed the most. While some have stayed rigidly the same, we've witnessed others evolve right before our eyes, for better or for worse. (And no, Ryan doesn't count, because he has been, and always will be, a total d-bag). While we weren't always sure or didn't always agree with the direction in which the writers would take these characters, after nine seasons, we still felt like we knew them, inside and out.
Here are the five biggest character transformations.
Watching Michael Scott now in the pilot is nothing short of painful. Yes, Michael was always an awkward, terribly uncool boss, constantly saying the wrong thing. But in the beginning, he was a pretty awful jerk with sketchy greased-back hair who fake-fired employees for a laugh. Who could have guessed that by his final episode, we'd be crying not to see the dorky, oh-so-big-hearted (well, to everyone but Toby) guy go? Michael was just someone who wanted to be loved and give love, and layer by layer we got to see that truth reveal itself. Explain to us again why Steve Carell doesn't have an Emmy?
At the start of The Office, Pam was just the nice girl next door (or the girl next cubicle) engaged to a big lunk named Roy, letting the real love of her life (Jim) and her passions (painting) slip away. But Pam became a powerhouse, taking back her fate by dumping Roy, following her dreams (she briefly traded Scranton for art school in New York City), and finally saying "yes" to Jim. Not to mention the fact that she went from mousy wallflower to full-on babe when she started dating Halpert.
When we met Phyllis she was a sweet and quiet office fixture, but not much more than Angela and Michael's meek punching bag. Eventually, Phyllis put Angela in her place and could fire back zingers at Michael like the best of them. Plus, Phyllis was the first one to truly find love at Dunder Mifflin, and her marriage to Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration) is still going strong.
If we fell in love with Michael Scott over time, then we did just the opposite of Andy. He started as an annoying, angry, but ultimately harmless preppy transfer from the Stamford branch, but we've seen Andy manically and frequently bounce from a well-meaning lovelorn guy to a local musical theater hopeful to a full-fledged a**hole of a boss. Andy was always easy pickins, but now everyone has a reason to hate him.
Transforming her from the quiet, poorly dressed office drone to the fast-talking and fashionable Kelly we came to know and love, The Office writers pulled a total 180 on us with this one. In the first season (and a little bit into the second), Kelly was not only missing her Valley Girl accent, but she was nearly Pam-like: quiet and smart and dressed like a school marm. Thankfully, they went in the different direction of the boy crazy, Netflix-explaining, fashion-show-at-lunch enthusiast that became Kelly. She was way more fun over time.
The Office retrospective and series finale airs at 8 PM/ET on NBC.
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Considering a good number of his cast mates from The Office found their way on to the first run of Arrested Development (including Ed Helms, Phyllis Smith, Craig Robinson, and Brian Baumgartner) it's only fair that John Krasinski, who spent years dealing with the craziness at Dunder Mifflin, should also get to experience the craziness of the Bluth Company. Now he's going to get that chance, and the timing could not be sweeter considering his nine-season run on NBC's The Office is about to come to a close for good when the series wraps on May 16.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Krasinski will join the continually impressive roster of guest stars on the upcoming fourth season of Arrested Development on Netflix. (Hollywood.com reached out to the actor's rep for confirmation, but they were not immediately available for comment on the casting news).
Krasinski will be among famous faces to appear on the new incarnation of AD, including Conan O'Brien, Kristen Wiig, John Slattery, Seth Rogen, Isla Fisher, and returning favorites like Andy Richter, Liza Minnelli, Ben Stiller, Carl Weathers, Scott Baio, and Ron Howard. Still no word on Steve Holt (Steve Holt!).
While there's no details about who Krasinski will play on the comedy (the show's creators are keeping everything awfully close to the vest... much like you would an illusion, Michael), if the guy can deal with Michael Scott for years, Michael Bluth will be a piece of cake. Well, unless he's on the Atkins Diet.
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