Grading the Series Finales: The Office

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.

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