I was a stalwart fan of the workplace comedy. Through thick and thin what kept me coming back was the characters, and last night was theirs.
PLUS: Creed’s touching end song “All The Faces”, in its entirety.
“The Office” ended its nine year run on NBC. When it started, it was part of a huge comedy block on Thursdays, when it concluded, it was the limping anchor of that night, a sad reminder of how far the network has fallen.
Inconsistent over its run, the show stayed on my radar because its inconsistencies were based on the reality of the American workplace. Bad corporate decisions, an inept array of managers, people being replaced, and a core of workers who were really holding the place together, but getting no recognition for it.
I understand why the show struggled in the ratings. In addition to some uneven writing in its middle years, the truth is no one wants to come home and rehash workplace day-to-day mundaneness, and the realization that they knew their co-workers better than they know their own family.
In fact, family was really the basis of most of the narrative of the series, particularly during the Michael Scott years, when his subordinates became his de facto family, much to their chagrin.
Last night’s finale will go into “Finale Purgatory” like most finales do. Bloated at an hour and fifteen minutes, I don’t think it will ever pop up on the countless runs of the show we will see in syndication. Like the “Seinfeld” finale, it will be relegated to be seen on the DVD box set (or as Jenna Fischer said on the retrospective that proceeded the finale “whatever people watch TV shows on in the future”). But it did what I, as a fan, wanted: it told you where all the characters wound up and hinted at where they were going. (Well, almost. I kind of wanted to know what happened to Jan and Robert California, if only to know they were suffering. Greatly.)
The final episode takes place six months after the last one. The documentary has been released and has done well on PBS. Several former work mates have returned for a combination of events, a Q and A the cast of the documentary has agreed to hold at a local arts center, and the wedding of Dwight and Angela. Jim is Dwight’s best man or “bestest mensch” and as such, he promises to perform three “tricks” or good deeds for Dwight (the last of which is bringing back Michael).
Those events were the main drive to determine the fates of our beloved cast. The rest of the show lurched and stumbled around an odd Q and A (which served mainly to bring Erin’s story to a nice end), Dwight’s wedding, which set up the strangest (and only unforeseen) twist of the night. And finally wrapping with the crew sharing drinks back at the Office, serenaded by Creed, who as far as we can tell LIVES in the Office.
So here’s a quick rundown of where the characters wound up after nine long seasons:
The Jim and Pam relationship hit a crescendo with Pam finally living up to her side of the O. Henry story by making “a Jim move” to allow him to take the job he really wanted. A bittersweet cap, when you consider that that job consumed him and she had a hard time dealing with that.
Dwight got his dream girl and his dream job, but showed no signs of appreciating either. One has to wonder how many cats will die over the course of that marriage.
Michael returned to show he hit his emotional jack pot in Colorado. Uncharacteristically calm, he showed photos of the family he finally obtained. A nice touch to see him fulfilled, and slightly greying a the temples.
Andy became the laughing stock of the nation when his acapella audition went viral, complete with parodies and auto tune. But something strange happened. He took it stride, learned to laugh at himself, and went back to his collegiate roots, as an admissions clerk at Cornell.
Oscar, who to me became the besmirched every man on the show when Jim was going through drama, is applying his levelheadedness to run for his former boyfriends State Senate seat.
Daryl is happily working in Austin TX for Athelead and is still seeing Val from the warehouse. There are some signs shown early on that he is doing really well for himself in his new job.
Kevin was fired from accounting after developing a number called a “Cleven”. He now runs a Scranton bar.
Creed was arrested at the conclusion of the show for living on the Office premises. Somehow that seemed okay with Creed, who was essentially playing himself. He sang a song at a post party the workers attended. It’s shown in its entirety below.
Stanley retired and moved to Florida. He now sits on his porch and carves bird figurines.
Phyllis continues to be Phyllis, the loving center of the show. She was over-the-moon happy that Stanley had crafted a bird statue of her. You want to win Phyllis over, do something crafty.
Erin was introduced to her birth mom (and dad) during a Q and A the staff did as a result of the release of the documentary. Joan Cusack was brilliantly cast as her Mom, Ed Begley Jr. was her Dad.
Nellie is now working in Poland (“the Scranton of Europe” she calls it), but she gets her greatest wish fulfilled in what turned out to be the strangest twist of the finale.
Ryan, who showed up at Dwight’s wedding with a baby boy, Drake, left behind from an itinerant relationship, still longs for former flame Kelly Kapoor, who is now married to a peditrician named Ravi.
Unable to keep their hands off each other as usual, Ryan concocts a scheme to pretend the kid is sick to have Ravi take the baby inside, and when he does, he and Kelly run off into the sunset together. No two people have deserved each other more.
Ravi leaves the wedding in a huff, giving the baby to Kevin. Nellie, who was rejected trying to adopt a child earlier this season, seizes the opportunity and is seen near the end with Drake at the airport heading back to Poland.
Meredith is still Meredith, still working at Dunder-Mifflin, and she seems not that least bit embarrassed that her son is the male stripper performing at Angela’s Bachelor Party.
David Wallace is briefly shown promising to back Oscar’s political campaign.
Toby was fired and moved to New York where he lives with six other roommates in a sub-let. He claims to be writing a novel.
And finally, Clark and Pete have assumed their positions as the new Jim and Dwight of “The Office”. Erin clearly the new Pam, and Oscar, Phyllis, Angela, and Meredith are left behind to be, well, their strange selves.
No word as to the fates of Jan, Robert California, Jo, Gabe, Devon, DeAngelo, Karen and the myriad of other assorted co-workers who have popped up over the years.
So when did you cry during the finale?
For me, it was when Michael appeared, looking happy and fulfilled.
So here’s to you, Office workers. It was fun while it lasted.