Regardless of whether or not the show does return in some form next season (which is looking quite likely) this is definitely the final episode with the original cast. Fortunately regardless of what may or may not be happening behind the scenes the episode is certainly played as a final episode and is much stronger for it. For me the best way a show can end is to make it so that the show simply wouldn't make sense to continue. Here this was set up in the previous couple of episodes which JD first deciding to move closer to his son and then getting a job at a different hospital. Because of this we already knew how and why he was going to leave, so the job of the last episode was to wrap everything up in not only a satisfying manner, but a funny one too. Thankfully it succeeds brilliantly.
While I feel that everything that happened here could've been crammed into a usual 20 minute episode, doubling the runtime for this occasion was definitely the right way to go. It meant nothing needed to be rushed to get to the next plot point and that every main character could get an appropriate amount of screentime. Although all of the most important moments happened in the second half of the episode there was still some good stuff in the first half.
While the opening 20 mins or so were mainly about set up it still worked well. Turk's over the top goodbye and being introduced to the last patient JD would be treating in Sacred Heart were two of the main points. Of course JD wasn't the only character leaving, Kelso had decided to go back to work and therefore leave the coffee shop he'd spent the majority of season 8 in. As a result he got the first goodbye, which was probably the most realistic one. The moment when JD thought all of the people in the hospital were saying goodbye to him before the reveal it was actually Kelso they were talking to was a nice moment and gave a usual funny reaction from JD. As he himself pointed out Kelso got his emotional goodbye episode last season and so the small sweet scene between the two of them here was enough.
Although we did get a bit of focus on the new interns, the cameras were mainly on the main cast. There were some nice call back gags in here, the obvious one being Dr. Cox's rants. While they could've gone the easy route and used the book of rants as an excuse to use old material they only used one rant while still mentioning it a few times so it worked nicely. The other major call back was to the very first episode and the penny in the door incident. While funny this is the kind of joke that could've been run into the ground easily, but was used sparingly throughout the first part of the episode so that it didn't get annoying.
Speaking of jokes, as is common on Scrubs they ranged from superb to humourous to silly but fun to silly but poor. Fortunately the average was much nearer the superb end of the scale allowing for an episode that was still funny as well as emotional. Scrubs has always had a good balance of having the jokes work well with the drama, but even so it could be easy to overlook the humour in the final episode. Friends is a good example of how a last episode can have far too much drama and simply forget it's meant to be a sitcom. But being a better show, Scrubs doesn't fall into that trap.
Of course the most memorable scenes were in the later stages of the episode. While it was nice to discover that JD had in fact dropped the penny in the door in the Pilot I find it unlikely that the writing staff had thought that far ahead so early therefore making it slightly less important. The best moment with the Janitor was definitely when we finally discovered his name. The fact that he called JD out on never asking his name was a great one as I don't think he ever did, and yet it didn't seem strange! While the Janitor did seem to be being genuine for once his story about having a speech impediment still came off as one of his made up stories. However it was far more believable than most so it didn't take anything away from the hilarious moment just after JD walked away. To have a simple orderly, an extra, someone of no importance be the one to reveal the Janitor's real name was priceless (unless you're cynical enough to think that the Janitor may have given the orderly a false name too).
Arguably the biggest moment of the episode was Dr. Cox revealing his true feelings for JD. While there'd been enough said about their relationship that most people guessed as to how he truly felt about him after eight years it was great to hear him say it himself. Also that JD tricked him into admitting it made the moment even better as not only did he get to hear how Cox really felt but he clearly new he could get it out of him with just a little help from Sonny. The icing on the cake was JD walking away with his hands in the air exclaiming "he thinks I'm an exceptional person" only to hit them on the top of the door. Just another brilliant example of Scrubs superbly combining an emotional moment with a funny one.
So with JD's day finally over, all his goodbye's said it was just him left with his thoughts, the same way we met him all the way back in the first episode (whether that was intentional or not). Of course unlike the first episode he wasn't alone onscreen as he imagined various characters from the show appear in the hallway. The ones picked to appear first, and therefore be more noticeable were appropriate and it was nice to see some of the old characters back, even if just for a brief moment.
Then he turned the corner and saw pretty much every character who had been in more than two episodes over the course of the show. This was a moment that was borderline cheesy, but JD wanted a strong farewell and I guess this was meant to be his way of giving it to himself, and of course the audience. Again it was great to see so many familiar faces show up for the finale and it was very well handled. (Although gotta say that Turk's surgeon boss form season 3 being there seemed a bit out of place as I don't think she ever even met JD!) That they only gave some characters a line was the right choice as it would've made the small scene too cramped otherwise. So funny lines from the likes of Lonnie were nicely balanced with more subtle shots like the nod from Keith. And of course ending on Hooch in a straight jacket with him saying the line "Hooch is crazy" was superb! JD's monologue as he walked past everyone was perfectly suited to the ending of the show. By saying you shouldn't live in the past for too long was his way of admitting a show should go out when it's still hood, rather than waiting around to get cancelled, at least that's how I saw it.
But it still wasn't over. Like I said I felt it was the right choice making this a double episode and the last five minutes or so are mainly why. The ending scene needed to be as long as it was, however the amount of time it would've taken away from a usual 20 minute episode would've been too much. So because of the longer episode we got to see an extended epilogue played out as JD's final fantasy. Having watched these characters for eight years we want to know how they'll end up and so the moments seen on the back of JD's goodbye sign worked brilliantly to show us. Also from a production standpoint as only fantasies it doesn't matter if any storylines in possible future episodes of Scrubs affects them.
So the final episode lived up to everything it had to and gave us a suitably emotional last day for JD. While my understanding is that Scrubs is a relatively underappreciated show in the States, over here in the UK it's huge! There's like four different channels that have the rights to it, meaning that you'll almost always find an episode on at some point every day! Due to that as well as the show's nature to transcend both the comedy and drama genres Scrubs has given us eight years of entertainment, and it'll still be shown on TV for a long time yet!