Title Finale (9.24/9.25)
Written By Greg Daniels
What Happens? One year after the Dunder Mifflin documentary aired, the whole gang reunites and is filmed once again for two very special occasions: a panel discussion about the documentary and Dwight and Angela’s wedding. After catching up with various characters, we learn that Darryl is making a lot of money and loving life in Austin as he enjoys the success of Athlead, which has now changed its name to Athleap. Jim, however, has stayed in Scranton but appears happy with his decision and his life with Pam. Andy’s breakdown at his singing competition audition went viral, and he’s now a nationwide joke—but he did get a job in the admissions department at Cornell. Kevin and Toby were both fired by Dwight, Nellie moved to Poland (the Scranton of Europe), and Stanley retired to Florida.
The day before the wedding, Jim does his best to throw Dwight a fun and Schrute-friendly bachelor party, which is his duty as “bestest mensch.” Meanwhile, Angela is kidnapped by Mose at her bachelorette party and forced into the trunk of a car as part of a traditional Schrute pre-marriage ritual. The wedding day begins with the panel discussion, where Andy discovers he has fans, Erin finally finds her parents, and Pam has to face some tough questions about her reluctance to let Jim follow his dreams.
Following the panel, the wedding preparations begin in earnest, but Jim tells Dwight there’s a problem—the bestest mensch is supposed to be older than the groom, so he can’t do it. But he finds an even better alternative when Michael Scott shows up with a smile and a classic “That’s what she said!” Michael, now a family man with kids of his own, happily sits back and basks in the joy of watching the love that grew out of his office—even the dysfunctional love of Kelly and Ryan, who run off together into the sunset, leaving behind Kelly’s boyfriend and Ryan’s baby (who is then given to Nellie).
Before going to a big reception for the documentary back at Dunder Mifflin, Jim and Pam stop at home, but Jim is surprised to find a realtor showing their house. Pam reveals to him that she had been secretly showing the house for months because she wants Jim to be able to live his dream in Austin with Athleap and have his family there to support him. Seeing the documentary made her see that some things are worth the risk; sometimes you need to do the big, brave thing.
The night ends with a private party in the office where each member of the Dunder Mifflin team says goodbye to their friends who are moving on and to the people behind the cameras.
Best Moment The moment Michael Scott appeared onscreen, I knew that this finale was going to go down as one of my favorite series finales ever. For so long, NBC had been trying to deny all reports of Steve Carell being a part of the finale, but I think everyone knew that a finale of The Office without Michael Scott would just feel wrong. Michael needed to be there—not just for the fans but for the characters as well. Dwight’s face when he hugged Michael was one of the most beautiful single moments of the finale, and it was because it signaled that everything was right in the world: Dwight was marrying Angela, Michael was there to be his best man, and Jim had just pulled off the best prank ever. The emotion in that scene was just right. It wasn’t cloying or heavy-handed; it was filled with the sense of joyful pride that a reunion between these characters needed to have. Michael is proud of Jim and Dwight like a father is proud of his kids, and he should be. But he doesn’t need to say it: It’s all in Carell’s smile. And then he follows that smile with the most-anticiapted “That’s what she said” moment of the series, reminding everyone of the way this show can deftly walk the line between sentimentality and silliness. This moment was everything I’d been waiting for and everything I could have hoped for. It was that kind of perfect series finale moment when you could see the emotions of the actors coming through in their characters in a way that worked wonderfully with the material they were given.
Finale M.V.P. Every actor was at their best in this episode—as it should be. But I think Rainn Wilson stood out above the rest because of the incredible amount of emotional depth behind his performances. I’ve always loved Dwight for his ability to make me laugh, but he made me cry more than once in this episode. I’ve already talked about the sheer joy on his face in his reunion with Michael, but what especially got to me were his reactions in smaller moments. I loved the scene where he fired Jim and Pam so he could give them the best severance packages possible. I loved the warmth in his eyes as he held Angela and listened with everyone else to Creed singing. And I loved his final talking head more than I would have imagined possible. There was something so quintessentially Dwight in the way he made sure to call his coworkers his subordinates, but then the way he talked about his relationship with all of them left me an emotional mess—in the best possible sense of the word. It was a wonderful way to sum up what all of these characters have come to mean to each other, and it felt right that it should come from Dwight. Wilson’s delivery was so genuinely touching; you could feel how much these people meant to the character and how much this show meant to him as an actor.
Most Memorable Line “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” (Pam)
What Didn’t Work The episode certainly got stronger as it went on. The first half went by without giving me much to feel emotionally connected to, but that thankfully changed as soon as Michael appeared. I also wish there had been more to Michael’s appearance. I know Carell left on a strong note, and I was happy that he didn’t take over the episode. But it felt weird to have him absent from that last scene in the office. At least he should have been given a few more lines at the wedding. I suppose it’s better to be left wanting more than to feel like something was done in a way that was too heavy-handed.
I also found myself feeling uncomfortable during the panel when the fans were beginning to gang up on Pam. I know it was realistic and set the stage for her big revelation later in the episode, but it felt almost too meta to me, which is weird because I’m usually fine with finales that have more than a few “meta moments.” Maybe my unease came from the fact that the fans sounded a lot like me in recent weeks, and it made me feel guilty for saying nasty things about a fictional character, which is a weird feeling.
What Worked I loved that each character got an ending that felt right for them. It was a finale full of “Of course…” moments, which are my favorites. Of course Oscar would be Philip’s godfather. Of course Angela would have people bring cats to her wedding (I’m assuming as gifts?). Of course Ryan would give his baby an allergic reaction just to be alone with Kelly, and of course Kelly would find that romantic. Of course Michael would have kids but he’d also still see his Dunder Mifflin employees as his kids (who married each other, setting up another instant-classic Michael Scott line). Of course Pam would see the documentary and decide to let Jim chase his dream. Of course Andy works at Cornell now. And of course Creed got arrested in the end. Each ending felt tailored to each character in a special way, giving the episode a wonderful sense of closure.
There was so much love in this episode, and it spoke to how much this cast has come to care about one another. From the way B.J. Novak looked at Mindy Kaling before kissing her to the way John Krasinski held Jenna Fischer as they sat in the office at the end, there was such a wonderful warmth to this episode—a warmth this show always had in its best moments.
Most of the time, I judge a series finale by how hard it’s able to make me cry, and by that criteria, The Office had one of the best finales I’ve ever seen. I got choked-up when Michael first appeared, but the tears really started when the office phone began to ring and I knew Pam was going to pick it up. The way that moment was shot from Jim’s point of view—like so many shots of her doing the same thing in the first seasons of this show—was incredibly beautiful. Who knew, “Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam,” could make me cry harder than almost anything else I’ve seen on TV this year? It was the perfect way to close the book on the show while recalling the simple beauty of its beginning.
As Pam said so perfectly, there is a lot of beauty in ordinary things. That’s what the show was all about—the stories found in our mundane lives that become less mundane because of the people in them. The Office was a show about ordinary people in an ordinary job, but there was whole lot of beauty in those ordinary lives. Sometimes, as a writer, I’m struck by how perfectly one sentence can say what most of us would need a whole thesis to explain. Pam’s line was one of those sentences. Whoever wrote that should be proud.
There were a lot of beautiful lines in those final talking heads, but none more beautiful than this one from Andy:
I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.
Some may say that the good old days for The Office ended when Michael Scott left, but I think last night’s finale proved that there was still something left of those good old days to be shared one last time. And I’m so happy I tuned in to watch.
Final Grade A – . This wasn’t a perfect series finale, but it hit all of the emotional beats it needed to hit perfectly. And that’s what I want most of all from a series finale—something that makes me reach for my tissues and moves me beyond anything I was expecting. I fell in love with The Office during the summer before Season Five, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. This was a finale worthy of the show’s best days, and that’s all I could ask for as a fan.