Is The Office Throwing Red Herrings at Us?

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Okay, just one more little thing about Thursday’s Michael Scott farewell episode of The Office. (The guy took off to Mountaintown, CO forever. The least we can do is devote a few posts to the occasion.) So, while we were obsessing over that shot of him adjusting the Dundie on his desk, the rest of the internet was theorizing about the “tiny mystery story” series creator Greg Daniels teased in a recent interview.

Most everyone seems to agree the mystery is that Erin, who doesn’t know her biological mother, will discover that she’s the daughter of Phyllis, whom last night we learned gave up a baby in high school. Everything about this—their ages, the fact that they’re both kind of look alike, the fact that the news about Phyllis’s pregnancy kind of came out of nowhere—seems to add up.

BUT. These Office writers are no dummies, you know? Maybe the whole Phyllis-Erin connection is a red herring, craftily planted to send us all running in the wrong direction, when the REAL tiny mystery was under our noses all along. So what is that mystery?

In last week’s episode, "Michael's Last Dundies," Toby, while accepting his Extreme Repulsiveness Award, reminded us that he was part of the jury that found the alleged Scranton Strangler guilty and sentenced him to death. THEN Toby said that he's "not so sure he's guilty anymore.” After his menacing bathroom breaks last night, suspicion has now fallen upon the prodigiously adam's-appled Gabe. Maybe we've been watching too much The Killing lately, but there's a far more straightforward answer.

A season earlier, in an episode entitled “Murder,” Michael made the staff play "Belles, Bourbon, and Bullets"—a murder mystery role-playing game set in Savannah. Everyone eventually got into it...with the exception of naysayer Jim and one other employee—who arrived to work late, then fled the scene when he was told he was a suspect in a murder investigation and didn’t realize it was all a game.

That character? Creed Bratton.

Creed Bratton, ladies and gentlemen, is the Scranton Strangler.

Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

(Skip to 5-minute mark.)

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