Revisiting The Office's Final Season Dos and Don'ts

By Nick Campbell

Feb 07, 2013

The Office's double-header last week (and sitting on the eve of Andy's return, which happens tonight) brought some explosiveness to the series. Some of it not exactly welcome.

"Junior Salesman" and "Vandalism" gave us a peek into Dwight's friends (Mose sighting!), some Jim and Dwight antagonism/teamwork, and a crazy-eyed Pam (my favorite Pam), but the clear focus was to establish a new point on what had traditionally been a straight line between Pam and Jim. I don't know if we should call it a triangle yet, but the introduction of Brian the Boom Guy surely does give Jim and Pam another obstacle to overcome in the event you didn't feel the tension of stress and distance were enough. That's a check on our list of The Office's Final Season Dos and Don'ts.

Yes, before this "farewell season" began, we made a few, uh, suggestions for how the show could wrap things up with dignity and class. Those were the halcyon days, before Nellie grew bland, before Andy was villainized in absentia, before we were encouraged to 'ship Erin and Pete. One of our directives was to test Jim and Pam so that we could fall in love with them again, even going to so far as to propose an affair, either real or imagined. It looks like that was already on the agenda.

And now that the show has entered the homestretch of its final season—in fact, the series finale has just been set for May 16—we've decided it's time to revisit our list of demands humble decree and assess how closely the show has followed along. Overall, it hasn't. At some points, we've been outright defied. So we've also provided a few amendments in light of what we have left.

Original: DON'T explore every permutation of intra-office coupling.

With Kelly and Ryan gone and all the other women in the office tangled up in stable relationships (doomed as they might be, Angela), Nellie and Erin are left to bear the torch of dating nuttiness. Erin and Pete have emerged as an unforeseen pairing (Pete was apparently added to the series just for the Jim jokes and to provide new meat), and Nellie has teamed up (sort of) with the Scranton Strangler. I mean, Toby. Man, that guy's really taken a turn for the weird, right? He's always been awkward and a tad creepy, but when he brushed Nellie's hair off her neck during "Customer Loyalty," I got the bad kind of chills. And then, of course, there's the whiff of a pairing between Pam and Brian (see the item below about the documentary crew).

Amended: DON'T let Toby kill every woman in the office.

Original: DO let us fall in love with Jim and Pam again.

Jim and Pam needed a hardship to overcome in order to show us how strong their bond is. Complacency is an enemy on television and Jim and Pam, being as close to television soulmates as we've ever seen, don't have much to contend with besides the quirks of their coworkers. I suggested a real or imagined affair and, initially, it looked as though the show would be going a different route. While I argued that the fight they had in "Customer Loyalty" was petty and didn't deserve the attention it received from the documentary crew (a point of debate), it doesn't mean Jam isn't having any less of a hard time. To me, that's mission accomplished. This thing with Brian adds a wrinkle and makes the molehill of general, distance-induced tension into a possible mountain of marital fidelity, whether or not Pam or Jim do anything about it. We have our obstacle. I'm ready to fall in love again.

Amended: DO finish this thing with Jim and Pam out right.

Original: DON'T make me watch any more scenes in a maternity ward.

Not a single pregnancy to end out the series! Unless the Erin thing takes a crazy turn and Pete is able to impregnate women by touching their hands while watching Die Hard (admittedly, a movie that'll get your testosterone up), I think we're in the clear here. We did get a scene to open this season with Dwight and Angela finding out the father of her baby isn't Dwight, which took place in a clinic, but the jury's still out whether Dwight got the right baby's DNA to test. I wouldn't mind if the kid turned out to be Dwight's. While I'm exhausted by so many of the characters on The Office pairing up, there are worse things than letting Angela and Dwight find each other. They're the non-Jam OTP.

Amended: DO make that baby a Schrute baby!

Original: DON'T make Todd Packer your Janice/DO bring people back with style.

The show has done a great job with this so far. Todd Packer hasn't been around much (at all?) and other major characters like Roy and Jan have had episodes where they contribute to the plot and aren't reduced to small quips just to get them in. Roy's wedding was the catalyst that provided us with Jim and Pam's current hardship and Jan gave Clark something to do for a while (PHRASING) while Pete shifted from being Clark's reluctant partner-in-crime to an instrumental fork in the Erin/Andy relationship. More of that please with Karen? And how are you going to do Michael Scott at the end without Steve Carell around to defend himself? Make him evil like Andy?

Amended: DO get creative with Michael (you'll have to).

Original: DON'T show me who is making the documentary.

Well, this was just a slap in the face. Outright defiance. After Brian first made his appearance, it was easy to see that revealing the documentary crew was a moment that was simply burning a hole in the writers' pockets. I wished they would've stayed out of it and remained objective. But now we have a name and a face, at least to the boom guy (and faces for few others, now that we've witnessed Brian's tangle with Frank). I'm torn on this situation: making the documentary crew a visible character on the show (rather than just a suggested character that shapes our perspective) is not ideal but, if you're going to do it, now's the time. The idea of Brian falling in love with Pam for the same reasons Jim did—her siren call of being looked at in a closed environment—is not a bad one. I just wish the show had executed it better.

Amended: DO make this breach of structure and formula worth it.

And one new one in light of recent events:

DO give a nod to the U.K. series finale with the American season finale.

Roseanne Barr was recently cast as an agent for Andy's show business career. Dwight in "Junior Salesman" was at his most Gareth. Jim and Pam are suffering a division and static like they've never experienced before, one that could escalate into some very tough conversations and a fight heretofore unseen between two people on this show that are destined to be together. The Office looks like it's setting the table for a U.K. series nod, which could be a beautiful thing. The first season of the American version closely mirrored Ricky Gervais's original vision, but diverged in Season 2. From that point on, partly out of necessity since a single season of American television is almost twice as long as the entire run of the U.K. Office, the series stepped away from it roots and became an animal of its own. It's hard to even compare the two anymore since the casting, writing, and direction of each show are so different. But as we close in on the end, I wouldn't mind seeing a small nod or even a grand curtsy to the show's lowly beginnings by putting the American counterparts in positions very similar to their U.K. ones. If Jim gets Pam a set of oil paints with the words "never give up" written on it, I'll fall out of my chair.

At this point, what are you hoping to see happen by the end of the season?

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  • hbf716 Feb 17, 2013

    I would love to see Angela's baby be Dwight's. This past episode really highlighted their great chemistry. I would also love for Michael Scott to be around when Toby is revealed as the Scranton Strangler. Boy would he feel vindicated for all those years having to tolerate icky Toby. I'm not worried about Pam and Jim - they will be okay. And finally, eventhough I can't stand him, I would like Andy to find true love. Deep down he is a great guy and I think he would be less douchey if he found the right woman. Just please don't let it be Erin because I like her with Pete.

  • mauriciohinca Feb 09, 2013

    I feel that the show has been on the decline since Steve Carell left, but it has picked up and gotten a little better since the xmas episode. Its also better without Ed Helms.

  • ted2332 Feb 08, 2013

    I don't think I have ever hated a TV character as immediately as Brian the microphone guy.
    I don't like seeing the "doco" crew and I hate it that he is into Pam.
    It is so wrong on both levels.
    I want Brian to just p off.

  • nesperanza Feb 08, 2013

    If you're soooooo good at devicing plots... why aren't you working in the office writting staff instead of writting a crappy article for the web? Looser

  • NicholasCampb Staff Feb 08, 2013

    If you love The Office so much, why don't you marry it?

  • brianreilly Feb 08, 2013

    I loved this show! Micheal and holly's relationship dwight and jim, jim and pam. but just stop it already ! its sad to see what it has become. It has to go to the farm, like petes former dog !

  • NicholasCampb Staff Feb 08, 2013

    I wish I could say it's limping valiantly to the end but it's more crawling through a dinner party with no pants on. It can be funny but generally you watch in shocked horror. I still have hopes and feelings for the ending of the program but my bar is far lower.

  • GHOST_DOG_DMC Feb 08, 2013

    I hope Pete and Nellie elope together and are never heard from or mentioned again.

  • tv_gonzo Feb 08, 2013

    I don't like how Jim is out of character this season. He usually is very attentive and observant of Pam's feeling and now all of a sudden he is completely oblivious and blind to her continuing meltdown. (Something very similar happened to Luke in Gilmore Girls season 6. I didn't like it then, i don't like it now)

  • NicholasCampb Staff Feb 08, 2013

    That's an interesting point. Both seasons introduced new distractions to formerly attentive boyfriends/husbands, April for Luke and Athlead for Jim. Both men are also in stable careers with little change in their lives while they live, seemingly forever, in small towns. While being attentive to Lorelai and Pam used to be the only things going on in their lives, anyone could be consumed by changes that happen to these men and it's a particularly daunting task for these guys who aren't used to such devastating change to deal with their situations gracefully. Both have failed. It's hard to watch ideal men fall on their faces.

  • mrjimmyjames Feb 08, 2013

    I'm enjoying the meta-love triangle that they're creating now with Brian and I do hope that they'll continue to unveil everything behind the camera and about the documentary. At the same time, the UK's epilogue episodes/Christmas specials were so great. So, while I don't want to see the show cheaply copy everything from it, it would be nice to see some parallels to it especially when it comes to the cast reacting to the documentary's airing, which I've heard will start to happen in the last episodes.

  • NicholasCampb Staff Feb 08, 2013

    I agree. I don't need it to necessarily copy everything. Just a subtle nod to the original finale wouldn't be out of the question. Maybe a joke, a suggestion, even something in passing. Just a thing to remind us of our roots.

  • whatsupgal Feb 07, 2013

    I am hoping to see Michael Scott again. How great would it be to see his wedding?! Did Steve Carrell rule out doing any appearances in the final season(s)?

  • danmat101 Feb 08, 2013

    No, Steve Carrell himself said he's very unlikely to return.

  • robinh4 Feb 07, 2013

    I'm hoping Jim and Pam stay together. Because it would be like a slap in the face to us Jim and Pam fans. We've watched their relationship develop over all these years and to just have them break up at the end would be feel like I've wasted 9 years of watching this show. The UK version ending sucked. Nothing was worked out.

  • BrianSchmittg Feb 07, 2013

    Um, did you watch the christmas specials?

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