December 15, 2013

The Office: Ending on a High Note

The Office US original cast
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At its best, The Office was able to flow from rapid fire jokes right into heartfelt moments.  This blend of workplace satire and emotional drama made many early seasons of the show some of the best on television.  The show lost its mojo for a while but chugged on year after year occasionally hitting those high notes once again.  Thankfully, in the penultimate episode of the entire series, The Office once again hit the perfect notes of comedy and heart to put together a fantastic episode.

Ok, let’s get this out of the way right now.  Andy is awful.  I had high hopes that his exit two weeks ago would be the last we saw of the Cornell grad.  They put together a nice (read: unearned) sendoff that saw the same coworkers he had berated and betrayed for the entire year say goodbye with a heartfelt moment.  If you ignored how implausible this was, it was a good moment.  Of course, he had to make another appearance and, as expected, he once again proved to be a drag on the action.  So, the less said about his a cappella audition the better; onto the fun!

Dwight finally realized his ultimate dream and took the title of Regional Manager.  Making Jim his enthusiastic Assistant to the Regional Manager turned out to be an inspired decision.  Trolling Dwight into believing he was the only possible candidate to take the coveted position of Assistant to the Assistant to the Regional Manager was a classic Halpert prank.  There was no mean spirited contempt for Dwight, just fun, good natured antics.  The fact that Dwight came across particularly humanized in the Angela arc this episode and thus, less cartoony, certainly helped.  While Dwight and Angela’s torrid love affair has seen its share of highs and lows they had many genuinely good scenes together in this episode. I stopped caring about the Dwight/Angela/Oscar/Senator love battle of thunder dome long ago but the megaphone proclamation of love proved to be one of the episodes better moments.

As I said, The Office is best when it blends humor and heart and in this episode the transition from the laugh out loud crowning of Dwight as Assistant to the Assistant to the Regional Manager into the heart wrenching scene between Jim and Pam in the parking lot was incredible.  It got a little dusty in my apartment a few times throughout this episode and this was certainly one of those moments.  The writers have had a difficult time making Pam sympathetic this season, often portraying her as a nagging wife holding her idealistic husband back from his dreams, but they were able to bring her full circle and show just how difficult this process has been for her and how hard it was believing you may not be enough for your husband.  Luckily, Jim has (seemingly) thousands of hours of footage to draw from to show Pam that she is all he will ever want or need.  In another “ah dust got in my eyes!” moment, the audience was treated to a Jim and Pam’s greatest hits to remind everyone just how perfect these two are for each other.  It was another great emotional note in an episode chock full of them.

On Thursday May 16 The Office will close its doors for good.  There will be a two hour (+15 mins) finale event complete with a six month time jump.  For the first time in a long time I am looking forward to an episode of The Office, but if the penultimate episode had been the last we’d seen of these Scrantonites I think it would have been a fitting send off.

Watch a tearful farewell video from some of the cast, including John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and Rainn Wilson:

And catch a sneak peak of what’s in store for tomorrow’s series finale of The Office:

By Alec Bugg

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