|The Office – “Goodbye, Michael”
The weird thing about TV shows, especially long-running TV shows, is the insane amount of character development that can happen through years of new episodes and writers. Inevitably, everyone gets together, becomes friends, has fights, breaks up and so on. After its all over, it’s amazing how far characters have come. Who would have thought, after seeing The Office‘s pilot, that Michael would evolve into the good-natured, well-loved boss that he is today? That he would be close friends with the married Jim and Pam? That everyone would care so much when it was his time to go?
This should have been the series finale. Season seven of The Office has done a great job reinforcing Michael as the show’s driving comedic force and shown that pretty much everyone else on the show is played out. Yes, there’s the slow-moving romance between Erin and Andy, and the looming “who will be the new boss” cliffhanger, but everyone is pretty much where we want them to be. I imagine a lot of people who haven’t been paying as much attention to The Office these past few years could use this episode as an opportunity to leave the show forever. I wouldn’t blame them.
What I really appreciated about “Goodbye, Michael” was its homages to both early episodes of the American Office and even the British Office. Little touches like Michael putting the Dundie on his desk like in the opening credits were sublime. The biggest surprise for me was the scene at the airport, starting with Michael’s monologue that mirrored Tim’s from the original series. Then, just like Tim, Michael took off his microphone and shared an embrace with woman who is probably his best friend. It was a genius tribute and proof that Michael is so much more than the American David Brent.
The episode did spend some time developing two Andy-related plots for the future. Gabe is upset about the horrible way he was dumped last week and is lashing out at Andy, which I guess was supposed to be funny. It all paid off when Michael gave Gabe some truly terrible advice towards the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Michael has also given Andy all of his clients, and Andy goes with D’angelo to meet with one of them. Is this setting up Andy as one of the candidates to be the new boss? That’s a pretty crowded field, with Jim and Dwight already there and a ton of guest starts on the horizon.
So Will Ferrell’s character is starting to come apart. He’s having trouble coping with his desire to eat unhealthily and its revealed that he only got the job by saving one of Jo’s dogs. In fact, he appears to be totally incompetent. Quite the departure, since he seemed perfectly fine just a couple episodes ago. I imagine Ferrell will completely abandon his straight man style next week and return to his more wacky tendencies. That will be either terrible or hilarious. For what it’s worth, I did enjoy the conversation in the car. “Andy, do you know how to high five? Because if you do, now’s the time.”
So long, Steve Carell. You made this show great and it will struggle to find a voice without you. Too bad they never got Paul Rudd in there with you, so you could have acted with the whole Anchorman news team.