Steve Carell’s final episode of The Office, titled “Goodbye, Michael,” proved to be a truly wonderful and extremely emotional farewell for one of television’s most beloved characters.
As the episode began, it was hard to see exactly how the departure of Michael Scott was going to be handled from a storytelling standpoint. With Michael and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) waxing poetic about possible ways to avoid being eaten by Colorado bears, the opening (with its abrupt ending) failed to lay the comedic and/or emotional groundwork for what was to come.
And that, for the most part, is how the first half of the special extended episode felt. While the audience knew that this was Steve Carell’s final episode, the actually implementation of that story felt, at times, lacking in both sincerity and hilarity. That is, of course, until Michael revealed what was actually happening.
Up until that point, Michael had been going around the office to talk to his long-time co-workers. Unbeknownst to them (and the viewers watching), today was actually Michael’s last day. While it’s almost certain that everyone watching felt their heart drop at this revelation, the explanation for Michael’s ruse was never full explained, so there were times when the subtle confusion of this plot aspect took away from the more emotional scenes – although, not by much.
In an attempt to break-up the hour-long farewell to Michael, an additional storyline with Andy and Deangelo Vickers was implemented. Given the need to make this extended episode feel evenly paced, and acknowledge to the audience that while Michael Scott's story is coming to an end, The Office is not. So, one can understand the purpose of this episode’s sub-plot. Whether or not they could have chosen a better story for this purpose remains to be seen.
With the love-it or hate-it opinion in regards to Will Ferrell's appearance on The Office as Deangelo Vickers, perhaps other characters should have been chosen - especially since Will Ferrell will only be around for a two more episodes. That being said, the need for removing Deangelo from the office while Michael was saying his goodbyes was integral, so perhaps it wasn’t all that bad. Plus, Andy’s (Ed Helms) pink pants were great.
Saying goodbye to a beloved character on a television series is always tough, and while the special extended episode of The Office served to acknowledge the importance of what was happening, perhaps Ray Romano was correct when he decided to make his last episode of Everybody Loves Raymond just like the previous - 30-minutes long.
Much of the hour-long episode of The Office was spent with the characters of Dunder Mifflin being unaware of Michael leaving ahead of schedule, so many of the sincere goodbyes that could have taken place were muddled with frivolous episodic filler. By the time Jim became aware of what was happening there were only 15-minutes left in the episode (including commercials).
While it should be stated that the scene between Jim (John Krasinski) and Michael was absolutely heartbreaking and extremely emotional to watch, I couldn’t help but wish that there would have been more of that type of sentiment through-out.
Even though Dwight did become choked up while reading Michael’s letter of recommendation, and Pam (Jenna Fischer) beautifully swept in towards the end with her emotional farewell, there was still an underlying feeling that the producers of The Office were trying to downplay Steve Carell’s departure, in hopes that it would prove to the viewers that the series can continue without him.
With a slew of familiar characters to choose from, “Goodbye, Michael” could have been a tear-jerker from the start. While that most certainly wouldn’t have made for an entertaining farewell, it would have tapped more into what the audience was actually feeling – and we didn’t even work with Michael for all of those years.
As Michael flew away to be with Holly in Boulder, Colorado, one couldn’t help but wonder what’s next for The Office. Even though the series has many guest stars slated in the coming weeks, it’s going to be hard to see that office without him in it.
Even with all of its faults, “Goodbye, Michael” was still a truly wonderful way to say goodbye to the world’s best boss.
The Office airs Thursdays @9pm on NBC
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