Is The Office Throwing Red Herrings at Us?

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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May 05, 2011
I honestly thought it might have been Jim Carrey in the Finale episode
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May 02, 2011
very interesting, maybe they are both true
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May 02, 2011
I kinda like the idea of DeAngelo as the strangler and given his increasingly erratic behaviour it wouldn't be surprising there's obviously a lot of pent up anger in that guy. Creed would make a believable killer, Gabe I'm not sure but if it was either of them it would be a really odd direction for the show to go.
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May 01, 2011
"These Office writers are no dummies, you know?"

mmm...They're not geniuses either, not for some time now.
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May 01, 2011
As for motive, Deangelo makes the least sense. Why would he do it? He doesn't even live in Scranton, hasn't been in the area for more than a few weeks. They've been making references to the Strangler since season 6 and the Deangelo character didn't exist yet. To those who say there's no conspiracy/mystery, in this particular case I disagree. The producers teased a mini-mystery. I wouldn't have thought twice about this recurring plot if Toby's mentioning of it at the end of Michael's Last Dundies wasn't so jarring and random. They obviously meant to draw attention to it so people would speculate. Maybe it won't turn out to be someone from the office but I'm sure we'll be learning the identity of the Strangler soon.
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May 01, 2011
Deangelo as the Scranton Strangler makes the most sense simply because Will Farrell isn't going to be on the show indefinitely and he wouldn't have agreed to do it at all without a pretty outrageous exit planned.
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Apr 30, 2011
You guys in the US and your conspiracy theorists, ever think that maybe that bit with Creed was just a funny bit added by the writers. For any member of the office to be the strangler would be really jarring to the comedy in the show, and would take the whole programme in a weird direction, even Gabe as well he was acting odd but to add a killer into the sitcom dynamic like that makes zero sense. Erin being Phyllis' doctor makes more sense, and the idea about The Office ending this year would be welcomed by this viewer but I didn't think networks worked like that they renewed it for another year and that whole thing would have to be a fake as well as every actor hiding the fact that they would be out of work, too far fetched even if it would be the best way to do it.
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Apr 30, 2011
I agree with everyone that fan1983's idea would be awesome!! But I also agree with adamonfire that NBC well stretch it till the ratings run dry. Hopefully the creators really are pulling a 'michael' on us and that they stood firm. One can dream, can't they?
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Apr 30, 2011
In what way do Erin and Phyills look alike? They look nothing alike.
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Apr 30, 2011
Yeah, NBC can't just un-renew it like they did Southland, nor would they. It's their flagship comedy because it gets the best 18-49 numbers. There's absolutely no way they wouldn't see how it performs without Steve Carell for another season.
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Apr 30, 2011
Ending it without saying it's ending will NEVER happen for one simple reason - ratings. NBC would not let this happen - imagine how different the numbers would be for MASH or Seinfeld if they "just ended". C'mon.
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Apr 30, 2011
chewyjr - That is a genius thought about Pam cheating. It was really weird that she went to a movie theatre during work. But I think "Jam" is stronger than the power of an affair!!
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Apr 30, 2011
I've read theories that Will Ferrell's character, DeAngelo, might be the strangler. I'll be surprised if he is, but that's one way to write out his character.
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Apr 30, 2011
or maybe the actual Mystery is Pam cheating on Jim. Cause that one scene on last nights episode was just really out there where Pam goes into a movie theater while she's supposed to be out looking at shredders. Then Jim didn't really seem to know where she was when trying to contact her to get back to say goodbye to Michael. So who knows...
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Apr 30, 2011
Depending on the last episode of the season I'll agree with @fan1983's idea!
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Apr 30, 2011
that would be interesting
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Apr 30, 2011
Although I like The Office and wouldn't mind seeing it back for another season, fan1983's idea would be totally awesome.
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Apr 30, 2011
as much as it would hurt, fan1983 is right, that would be of epic proportions
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Apr 30, 2011
Or are ALL story lines a red herring, and the show is actually ending THIS season? Think about it, perhaps the creators of the show are doing to us what Micheal did to his staff. He told them that he was leaving a day later then he was, then took off without telling anyone.
It certainly would be historical television for a beloved show to end without telling it's viewers that it's going.
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Apr 30, 2011
Yes they most definitely are throwing out more and more of these. Whether or not they're just red herrings, hopefully we'll get to find that out before next season. I'd actually be pretty cool with it if Erin was Phyllis' daughter... that would be an interesting new dynamic. And as much as I could totally believe Creed as the Scranton Strangler, it would just be terrible for him to get caught and get less screen time. If they managed to keep him in the show with prison visits, now that could be some funny stuff... all I know is everyone could use more Creed. Gabe as the Strangler on the other hand... nobody likes him anyways and people would just welcome it. It would explain why he's so strange and off-putting and would scare Erin so much that she'd seek comfort from Andy in a more genuine way. Then again I really have been watching too much of the Killing :P
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