S07E25/26: The Office usually manages to pull off incredible season finales. Jim rushing in to kiss Pam at the end of season two. Jim bursting in to ask Pam out at the end of season three. Actually the fourth season wasn’t that good. Five was decent with their pregnancy. And season six? Nope. So basically, what we’ve learned in this opening paragraph is that if The Office doesn’t have some big story involving Jim and Pam in its season finale, it’s not a great finale. And this season is a perfect example.
There were plenty of funny moments in the hour-long episode but from a narrative standpoint it was inconclusive in the worst way. Take the second season-ender; Jim rushes in to kiss Pam, they pull back and BOOM: end of the season. That’s inconclusive, but it also leaves you wanting more. This season, sure we didn’t find out who the new boss is, but we didn’t care. No one appeared competent enough nor was there obvious competition between anyone. So with no tension or conclusion drawn, the episode pretty much failed as a whole.
"As a gay man, I’m horrified. As a friend of Angela’s, horrified. As a lover of elegant weddings, I’m a little excited. But overall, horrified." - Oscar
The episode failed and so did all the guest stars. I know NBC had to advertise them because they weren’t confident anyone would be paying attention after Steve Carell’s exit, but they completely ruined it. Ricky Gervais didn’t even appear in the office, he sent in a video CV. Why? We’d already seen him on the show earlier this year, his interview added nothing, and it wasn’t funny or interesting. What about Jim Carrey? He was barely in it until the very end and we had already seen the punch line about his voice (also he seemed like he was on a green screen; did anyone else notice that or was that just me?). Even though there were rumors about Catherine Tate getting the job, her character wasn’t that interesting nor competent. Buffet was fairly funny as a penny pincher, but really only if you knew it was Warren Buffet. The only guest star that managed to save grace? James Spader. Holy hell was he funny. So intense and creepy. I have no idea if he would work on the show but he was the only guest that made me laugh.
But they weren’t the only ones applying for the job, some internal candidates applied as well. I know I've been saying Darryl would be the one getting the job but dammit, he disappointed me. He got in his own head and thought he could ride on being chummy with the committee. I was genuinely disappointed in him, especially when he brought in his own daughter to try and play the cute card. Andy tried but didn’t really try and somehow managed to come out as the best candidate? Dwight went so far as to bribe everyone and nearly had it despite Jim’s complete abject disagreement. And Kelly showed a lot of balls though she isn’t the most qualified. So yeah, the season ends with Jim having a pool of incredibly unqualified candidates with no hope in sight. Again, it's not the best way to end the season.
And then there was all that stuff with Erin. Actually wait, great news first! Fucking Gabe is going back to Florida! Yay! Jo finally realizes that he got too involved with the people in Scranton for him to function properly so she’s shipping him back off to Florida! Yay! The open puss wound of the office is finally leaving! Hooray! Unfortunately, this doesn’t immediately solve everything for Erin and Andy though since Andy “moved on.” It’s quite obvious they still want to be together but whether the writers can keep up a decent will they, won’t they plotline remains to be seen. Especially since we’ve already gone through that before with them. I just want them to be happy together, I mean, if Erin is willing to give an impromptu puppet performance for him, you've gotta respect that. However, I will say the bit about Kevin not knowing the alphabet is the classic case of extending something too far into unbelievability. I’m willing to believe he’s the biggest idiot in the world, but to not know the alphabet? C’mon.
"Bread is the paper of the food industry. You write your sandwich on it." - Dwight
Also, someone really called Phyllis and Erin thinking they’re birth mother and daughter separated. Making the move of Phyllis not being Erin’s mom was the absolute right move. For starters, had they actually been mother-daughter it would’ve made the show way too soapy. By having Phyllis let Erin believe there is a chance for a bit longer is not only much sweeter, it forces them to create a situation where Phyllis has to tell Erin. I don’t know how it will go but it’ll be very emotional and despite all the flaws of this episode, I still think The Office knows how to deliver some emotionally awkward situations.
Having said all of that, the absolute BEST thing about this episode (and definitely in the top ten moments of the season) was Creed running the place. Oh my God. Just, everything about it was the absolute pinnacle of absurdist humor. Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing. And then we see Pam stepping in to save everything by having him compare two identical photos and pretending to be the various clients in a long charade. It was genius, perfect, and it almost saved the entire episode from being a complete disaster. Just go watch the beginning again; it’s that good.
So we’ve reached an important turning point for The Office. Next year is going to make or break the show. Either it will find its voice again and the show will continue on or it will fail spectacularly and be canceled. Honestly, I want to see it keep going. I really like these characters and there are plenty of stories left to be told. We’re no closer to knowing what happens next season, especially who will take over as manager, but while this episode shook my confidence a bit I still have the faith. It wasn’t the best episode, but next season is a whole new year. Let’s see what happens.