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

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?

Comments (28)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
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.
2
Reply
Flag
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.
1
Reply
Flag
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.
2
Reply
Flag
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
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
If you love The Office so much, why don't you marry it?
6
Reply
Flag
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 !
Reply
Flag
Staff
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.
1
Reply
Flag
I hope Pete and Nellie elope together and are never heard from or mentioned again.
Reply
Flag
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)
4
Reply
Flag
Staff
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.
Reply
Flag
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.
Reply
Flag
Staff
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.
Reply
Flag
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)?
2
Reply
Flag
No, Steve Carrell himself said he's very unlikely to return.
Reply
Flag
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.
1
Reply
Flag
Um, did you watch the christmas specials?
2
Reply
Flag
Okay. I know I'm going to get trashed here but oh well....... this show wasn't called "Michael Scott". He was a great character and I loved him and cried buckets when he left, but this show is a strong ENSEMBLE cast, ala Community. I'm just so tired of people (my bf included) saying, "I stopped watching when he left" or "I wish the show had stopped when he left". It's a disservice to all the other phenomenal cast members and characters. Plus if you didn't care for it as much after he left that's your opinion, but if you stopped watching when he left how do you know what you're missing? If you're not going to ride this crazy yet wonderful dysfunctional train until the last stop then that's your choice. I however will be buckled in and waiting for Dwight to bring me his Beet juice energy drink!
5
Reply
Flag
I actually like the show a lot more since he left. All of his scenes seemed rather forced and cringe worthy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the only part of his that I enjoyed was the reactions of the other cast members when he did something awful.
1
Reply
Flag
I agree completely. It's as if a lot of people immediately dismissed the show post Michael without even being open minded about giving the show a shot. Dwight, Jim, Pam, Daryl, Erin, etc. all give plenty of reason to continue watching the show.
3
Reply
Flag
Be fair, Nick, Andy was villainized in presence throughout the season before he up and left, his entire change of personality was unbearable.

You are the man for carrying the torch of the Toby is the Scranton Strangler theory! Your included promo image looks like an ad for a Lifetime movie, home run.

Agreed, Dwight should be the baby daddy, that felt right, and now it feels even righter that Dwight has realized his social circle speaks poorly to his own character.

I think the show can end without Michael Scott or other stunt cameos, and without trying to ape the UK original.

For the final episodes, I'd like to see Jim either start to succeed or fail but either way become renewed with the passion of "trying" again - something the office took from him. That Jim and Pam find a way to live a closer life. That the office eventually becomes either boring or non-existent without its heart and soul - those special people who work there and interact. To see the office either close or continue without a big gimmick, but with enough of a change to warrant the show ending. To have some mainstay characters move on, either retire or change to new careers without a big to do, that's part of office life.

Or just have Dwight evict Dunder Mifflin, that'd be fine too.
More+
4
Reply
Flag
Staff
That is fair. They've used the whole season to make him The Worst. I didn't expect his Worstness to be exponentially more terrible upon his return but here we are.

Aping would be a strong word for what I'd like to see. I'm starting to notice a couple parallels and, if they did an entire episode like the Christmas Special, it probably wouldn't match the rest of the series very well (at least I don't trust this staff to make it work). Any one of those things I suggested would be sufficient in my book.

I like the idea of no gimmick. Life goes on. These people have a place to go but that's the way it works with real people: they just continue to work and live without necessarily any grand revelations or climaxes. They just sell paper.
1
Reply
Flag
Brian.... ugh!
3
Reply
Flag
I want to see that guy again, the Manager before Andy took over. And I want a crossover with at least one character from Community (Abed) vs Dwight in a battle of crazy. Random, I know.
1
Reply
Flag
We need to see Michael happy. I know he left to live happily ever after, but I need visual proof.
5
Reply
Flag
I gave up watching this show after the first 3 episodes of last season. I have proceeded to forget those, and the last few of season 7 and am pretending that the show ended with Steve Carrell leaving the show (as it rightly should have). Do I miss it? Yes. But if this is anything to go by... I'm not missing anything terribly much.
1
Reply
Flag
In total agreement
Reply
Flag
Well, to be honest, they seem to be building to something big, but part of me wants Phyllis to walk by Pam on the way out, say see you tomorrow, Pam shut the lights out, and outside looks at the documentary film crew and says, you guys really have to have enough, put your stuff away and come over to me and Jim's for a good bye dinner.
2
Reply
Flag
Michael Scott...
5
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook