"It all seems so very arbitrary. I applied for a job at this company because they were hiring. I took a desk at the back because it was empty. But, no matter how you get there or where you end up, human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home."
Creed summed it up beautifully at the end of tonight's series finale of The Office… and then he was arrested. But that's another matter. One of the things I've loved so much about The Office was the way it captured the humor and spirit of the mundane. For those who aren't working their dream jobs, going to work every day can be a drag. When the work itself isn't exciting, it's the people that get you through the day. The Office captured that perfectly in the way it featured characters who were, for all intents and purposes, average - for the most part. Sure, they had their little quirks, but the staff of Dunder Mifflin was stocked with actors we'd never seen before - excluding Steve Carell, though he was really only on the brink of fame at that point - allowing us to suspend our disbelief and pretend that Dunder MIfflin was a real place with real people working unexciting jobs for average pay. And - like real people who work those kinds of jobs - they found personal fulfillment in other ways, while at work and in their free time.
The finale picked up a year later, with Dwight and Angela about to be married and the Dunder Mifflin staff reuniting for the wedding and a documentary reunion special. During the process of getting caught up, we learned that Kevin was fired for being incompetent. And Toby was fired for trying to save Kevin. Dwight offered them both consolation cakes with the news of their termination. Stanley also received a cake because he was retiring. Never mind that he's a diabetic, Dwight.
Devon - who was fired by Michael during the second season - was brought back. I like to think of that as a great little loose end that was finally tied up. With that in mind, Creed being an outlaw seems particularly karmic. After all, Creed was the one to throw Devon under the bus all those years ago. Not that getting someone fired is against the law. Selling drugs and trafficking endangered species meat is, though, which is what put Creed on the run. He showed up later with a long beard and a new identity.
With Stanley gone, Phyllis has a new desk mate, whom she's overfeeding to get him up to Stanley's weight and blood sugar level. Stanley apparently missed Phyllis so much that he whittled a likeness of her, complete with flamingo legs. That's how they do it in Florida, I guess. Meanwhile, Andy's a viral sensation… but not in a good way. His sobbing audition video from the a cappella show went viral, resulting in the parody videos, auto-tune remixes and SNL "Weekend Update" segments that sometimes ensue when someone gets famous for an embarrassing moment caught on tape. It seemed like Andy Bernard had hit an all-time low, but he was taking it in stride, as his former co-workers went out of their way to be kind to him. As it turns out, Andy really was doing ok. The Nard Dog "nailed it" when he gave the commencement speech at Cornell. His appearance was supposed to be a joke, but he turned it around at the podium and earned himself a job on the admissions board at his alma mater.
My first bout of sniffles came before the documentary panel portion of the episode, when it seemed like no one was showing up and Andy went outside to see the line of people waiting to get in. That in itself made me smile. Because these fictional Scrantonites clearly love Dunder Mifflin as much as we do. And they love Andy. Instead of laughing at him, they all started shouting Andy's trademark "riddit-dit-tadoo," which is probably one of the best ways anyone could salute Andy Bernard.
The documentary reunion panel was brief, and consisted largely of women making eyes at Jim for being amazing, and giving Pam grief for not being supportive enough. Jim went out of his way to defend Pam, and Pam gave us a tiny hint that she was working on something to pay Jim back for the sacrifice he made in leaving the sports job to return to Scranton. But more on that later. The big moment at the panel was when Joan Cusack stepped up to the microphone and asked Erin about her feelings for her birth mother. And immediately we knew what was happening. In fact, everyone on the panel seemed to figure out that this woman was Erin's mother… except Erin, who did eventually get it. Ed Begley Jr. showed up and immediately claimed her as his daughter as well, and Erin greeted them with hugs and smiles. I like to think that they go on to become a happy little family… except for once in a while when Erin casually and innocently drops some strange and sad memory about her childhood because that's how Erin is. And then she's happy again.
"Aw man, I never thought I'd say this but I think I ate too much bone marrow."
Moving on to Dwight and Angela's wedding. The festivities began with Dwight's bachelor party, which had his best man Jim running the show. With accidental murders and whore-houses set aside, much to the chagrin of Zeke and Clark, Jim and the guys headed off to a field where Dwight was allowed to blow stuff up with a bazooka. Kind of awesome, Jim. Guten Pranken indeed!! Later, they went out to a German restaurant, where a stripper - nay the stripper - tried to get Dwight's attention off of food for a few minutes, but failed. I like to think that there's just one stripper in Scranton, and it's that woman. She appeared in the "Ben Franklin" episode years ago when Bob Vance was getting married to Phyllis. Tonight, Dwight apparently didn't remember that the "waitress" who wasn't bringing him his onion loaf once made cold calls for him as a way to work off what they paid her after Michael called Bob's bachelor party off mid-striptease. Memories.
But there isn't just one stripper in Scranton. There are at least two. The second one is Jake Palmer, Meredith's son, who seems far too young to be rubbing his almost-naked body against Angela. But there he was, doing his thing while his mother cheered him on and made everyone uncomfortable. At least she's supportive? Angela getting kidnapped and thrown in the trunk of a car by Mose may have been a mercy after that. At least he didn't put her in the freezer, right? That was all part of the tradition of snatching up the bride and bringing her to a bar, which is how Jim got Dwight to bury that hatchet with Kevin, which he kind of did.
Rachael Harris appeared in the finale as Angela's supportive sister and the two showed off their secret language - an obvious indication that they've probably never been nearly as likable to outsiders as they are to each other. But there was a moment later on when Angela was berating Phyllis for letting Mose kidnap her that Rachael gave her sister a look and Angela promptly apologized to Phyllis. Knowing Angela as we do, that moment tells me Rachael is probably the only person on the planet who truly gets Angela and can affect her on an emotional level with just a look. I love that. Kinsey and Harris make an adorable pairing. But we knew that already.
We've been waiting to see if Steve Carell would show up for the finale. There'd been rumors, but no official confirmation. As hopeful as I was that we'd see Michael Scott in the episode, I actually forgot to keep an eye out for him, so I'll admit, I was completely surprised when I saw him standing there when Jim revealed to Dwight that he couldn't be his best man anymore. Michael's arrival was perfectly timed. It didn't steal the show, but it enhanced it wonderfully as he took over Best Man duties and completed the picture. Jim really did go above and beyond with his good pranks.
At the actual wedding, guests arrived with cats for Angela, Phyllis carried Angela down the aisle on her back and everyone sat on bails of hay while Angela and Dwight stood in their own graves as they were married. Dwight once said that was a Schrute family tradition. "Makes funerals very romantic," he once told the camera. "But the weddings are a bleak affair." Dwight and Angela's wedding was anything but bleak. There were hooks to carry the hay bails, and later there was dancing, including Dwight swinging Angela around as though she were a doll.
"I feel like all my kids grew up, and then they married each other. It's every parents dream!"
Toby sobbed on Pam's shoulder at one point during the reception, and at another, Pam learned that Michael now has two phones to hold all of the photos of his kids. Things with Holly have apparently been going really well in Colorado. It sounds like Michael's living the dream… with a family plan.
And Michael isn't the only one with kids. Ryan has a baby. He showed up with the most adorable little baby named Drake. Drake has a strawberry allergy, which Ryan exploited by making his baby ill so that he could hand him off to Kelly's boyfriend (husband?) and then whisk Kelly away to parts unknown. Yes, Ryan abandoned his son to run off with Kelly. Lord only knows where they're going to end up. As for the baby, Nellie took him. She's been in the market for a child for some time now, so this was just perfect timing. She'll presumably take him with her back to Poland, and that's ok. Ryan's the kind of guy who would purposely give his baby an allergic reaction just to get Kelly alone. He has no business raising a baby. Drake is better off with Nellie.
After the wedding, Jim and Pam returned home to find Carol there showing their house to a couple. Carol, as you may recall, is Michael's ex-girlfriend and former realtor (played by Nancy Carell, Steve's real-life wife). It was then that Pam revealed that she's trying to sell the house so that they can move to Austin and he can return to the sports business. As she put it, Jim bought the house without telling her and now she's selling it without telling him. The couple standing nearby decided to buy the house on the spot, which allowed Jim to quit his job later at the office. Only Dwight wouldn't let him quit. He fired them both so they could get severance and encouraged them to come back to Scranton and visit sometime, offering them his barn, of course.
"I wish there was some way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them."
The series ended with the old Dunder Mifflin crew reuniting in the office one last time. Like any work place, nothing stays the same forever. The work changes. People come and go. But there are memories made. Anyone who's ever worked at a job they didn't love can still likely think of things about that job that they enjoyed, and a lot of that comes down to the people. Jim is a prime example of that. As he put it, "Everything I have, I owe to this job. This stupid, wonderful, boring, amazing job." Jim never loved the work he did. He was never particularly proud to sell paper. But so much about what's great about his life is centered around the time he spent working at Dunder Mifflin. I love that he recognized that, especially as he's about to move on to pursue his dreams, his family in tow.
As finales go, The Office's conclusion hit the mark. On a personal note, I've loved this show since the beginning. Even in that awkward first season, where the series was a bit too close to the original and hadn't quite found its own identity. Maybe part of that stems from my own stint working office jobs and knowing that the humor is often found in the strangest moments if you're willing to notice them and appreciate them. The Office was always really great at capturing that humor. And it always left me smiling and satisfied.
That's what she said.