What can the super talented writing staff of The Office, many of whom also appear on camera, do to come close to hitting the notes that “Goodbye Toby” did? Well, Dwight can hopefully be counted on for some mirth, and office birthday parties are always funny, especially when alcohol is involved. Andy can always offer a ballad. Perhaps David Koechner can reprise the role of Packer, Michael’s buddy, who is always good for some laughs.
The other night we waxed pessimistically about The Office, declaring it had gone stale, and that there wasn’t much they could do to freshen itself up for the season finale. We made a few suggestions, but mostly listed complaints, and left off by saying we hoped we were wrong.
The media leak that had caused a stir, and which we thought was started by Andy and Darryl, we learn was started by more than just those two. Kelly also contributed to the leak, mentioning that Sabre printers caught on fire via tweeter, skyping, instant messaging, email, text, and video chat. One of our many complaints of the show had been that Kelly had little real involvement with the plot of late, and that her comedic talents weren’t being utilized. Take that, Crack.
We also complained that of late, Jim and Pam haven’t been funny–another aspect of the show that changed in the finale. Pam takes Jim into the stairwell to tell him that she wanted to to go in and tell Michael and Jo (Kathy Bates)–there to figure out who the leak is, despite Michael assuring her that none of his people are the leak. “I know these people. I know their birthdays and what kind of streamers they like and what their favorite cake is.” says Michael. Jo replies, “Michael, that’s just birthday information.”
“This is good,” Jim deadpanned, “this is a very good idea, that you get all the bad ideas out now.” But next we see Pam in Michael’s office and she’s fessing up, to Michael’s dismay, who counters that his mind is working “a mile an hour”, to which Pam replies, “that fast?”
A surprise star of the finale was Nelson Franklin, who plays Sabre’s IT guy Nick, who goes on a goodbye speech diatribe, in which he chides people for not knowing his name, and then is called “sport” by Jim and “champ” by Dwight. But Nick gets his revenge. He tells the office that he has seen all of their hard drives, names Andy as the snitch and in a hilarious moment, calls out Darryl.
“Darryl, you’re on facebook. Why you tell people you’re not on facebook? People wanna be your friend, man!” We hope that Nick isn’t really leaving, as he said, to teach inner city kids in Detroit, whose character in the end turned out to be a real gem.
But the real star, who delivered despite our pessimism, was Steve Carrell. His character, Michael Scott, the oddest boss on television, had his best yet chemistry with Kathy Bates, playing Sabre CEO Jo Bennett. The two finally had some quality time together, after Michael, who initially told Jo he wished prison and murder on the person responsible for the leak, and then returns to her to tell her that they should go easy on whomever caused the leak. Jo knows Michael isn’t telling her something, and they then drive off somewhere together, alone. We next see them on Jo’s plane. Jo tells Michael to “tell momma what’s wrong.”
Michael bares his soul to Jo, and reveals it has been a bad year, that his Blockbuster Video stock is down, that his favorite restaurant closed down, that his new favorite restaurant “really sucks”, and that he misses Holly (Amy Ryan, The Wire). Then Michael agrees to go to the press and apologize for Sabre’s faulty printers, saving Jo the embarrassment of being the face of their corporate disaster.
We had hoped for Packer (David Koechner), and we got him, if only by phone. We shot for a ballad from Andy (Ed Helms), who sang for us to try and convince us he came from a long family line of non whistle blowers, so famous for it in fact that Woddy Guthrie wrote a song about them: “Oh Mr. Bernard, Mr. Bernard, who have you silenced today?”
We even complained about the absence of David Wallace (Andy Buckley) from the cast, who popped up in a brief cameo.
The Office might not have topped in what our opinion is its best finale ever, “Goodbye Toby” with its season 6 finale, “Whistleblower.” But the episode did help renew our optimism for one of our favorite comedies, going into what may be its final season.