Friday, April 29th, 2011

The Office Recap: "Goodbye, Michael Scott"

“You should never settle for who you are.”

After almost a year of torturous news and speculation since Steve Carrell announced he’d be leaving The Office, last night we got our final dose of Michael Scott. And when there's no more Michael Scott, it also means there's no more Michael Scarn, Michael Scotch, Michael Klump, Caleb Crawdad, Ping, Rapper Mike, former Fundle Bundle cast member, best Dundies host ever, and so many other great roles and alter-egos Michael has had over the past six years. What could have been a loud, dramatic goodbye party episode filled with emotions and varied reactions was instead a quiet and graceful exit, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

“Goodbye, Michael Scott” follows Michael's last day in the office, which everyone else thinks is his second-to-last day. Even though Michael initially plans on telling everyone he won’t be back the next day, at the last minute he decides to do the opposite. This avoidance of unnecessary attention and drama is a huge change in Michael’s character, and to watch him tell the revamped Party Planning Committee that they can choose the food for his goodbye party (which he knows he’s not attending anyway) was a fantastic way to see the new Michael in action. He manages to get a special goodbye moment in with every Dunder Mifflin employee, and he gives them each a personalized gift. He gives Darryl his Somehow I Manage manual, he gives Ryan his St. Pauli's Girl sign, and my favorite was his gift to Kevin — a caricature of Kevin as a pig eating pizza that Michael rips up then follows up with “Don’t be a caricature, Kevin.”

For Steve Carrell’s last episode, “Goodbye, Michael” sure puts a lot of focus on the other characters. Erin’s breakup storyline with Gabe continued this week with Erin unsure about whether or not to pursue Andy (or any relationship for that matter). Gabe is overcome with anger over Erin and Andy and he threatens Andy in the bathroom, but in true Gabe style, is not taken seriously by anyone. Second, Deangelo and Andy meet a client and prove that they are a terrible salesman and a great salesman, respectively; Andy's assertiveness with the client hints that he could make a good manager while Deangelo's horrible sales tactics and losing battle with a destructive food addiction hints to an approaching Deangelo meltdown. And then there’s Dwight, whose growing anger with Michael is finally addressed through both a heartfelt recommendation letter and paintball gun fight behind the warehouse that mends their relationship just in time for them to never see each other again.

The worry that Michael won't get to say goodbye to everyone or that the office won't find out it’s his last day creates a sad suspense throughout the episode that is only magnified by the Erin/Gabe and Andy/Deangelo tangents, and I was so happy to see Michael’s last meeting in the conference room as an opportunity for him to just enjoy the place while he’s still there instead of make a dramatic announcement. Michael doesn't want his last day to be a special day — he wants it to be the most typical day possible, so instead of creating a situation where he is the center of attention, he observes his coworkers and the little day-to-day things he'll miss the most, even if it's just a breakroom discussion about buying a new shredder. “The people you work with, when you get down to it, are your very best friends," Michael says, and even though not everyone would agree with that, it's always been the thought that's driven Michael throughout the past seven seasons of The Office.

Probably the best part of the episode is the end when Michael officially leaves after addressing the cameraman and giving back his microphone. Just when I thought I would cringe from all the sappy sentimentality, The Office proved it knows how to best devastate an audience just by turning off the sound. Check it out for yourself below:

Thank you for everything, Michael Scott. It's been a long, fun, hilarious ride. And yes, that's most definitely what she said.

Megh Wright misses Harrisburg, lives in Brooklyn, and answers phones in Manhattan.

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  • JoshUng

    After last week's episode, and the previews for this episode, I was definitely worried that this would be a terribly sappy episode. But it managed to be very touching without being sappy.

    Michael and Dwight playing paintball was one of the more touching things I've seen on TV in awhile. And overall, you're right, a big, but understated part of the show was how much Michael Scott was different than he had been all series. The guy loved being the center of attention, and this was his perfect opportunity, and not only did he not embrace it, he actively avoided.

    I really did like the part at the end where Michael tells the camera man to let him know if they ever air.

    I also thought it was interesting in the previews that they spoiled that Deangelo wasn't going to be around long. I don't think anybody really expected him to stay permanently, but it was odd.

    • http://twitter.com/bradfordevans Bradford Evans

      I thought this episode was really well done. I definitely agree with you, Josh, about the previews spoiling things. I mean, we knew Will Ferrell wasn't gonna stick around, but they ruined the surprise of Dwight temporarily taking over after he leaves.

    • Megh Wright

      @Bradford Evans @JoshUng Agreed. Spoiling the Dwight thing was super cheap :(

  • Shannon Garcia
  • Shannon Garcia

    I agree, this episode wasn't as sappy as I expected. Basically, it's not meant to be sappy. If anything, the audience is left to feel happy for the Michael character, because Michael seemed happy and satisfied near the end.

    I can't wait until they have a spin-off show about Holly and Michael's new life in Boulder.

  • Hank@twitter

    How did Pam get through airport security? Too many airport goodbyes have burned this into me and took me out of it at the wrong point.

  • millicent

    The radio silence at the end was an obvious callback to the end of the BBC Office, but it crystallized the fact that the central relationship in the office wasn't Michael-Jim or Michael-Dwight; it was Michael-Pam. That was neatly done. I had the same issue as Hank with the airport security and wanted her to hold up a plane ticket to Las Vegas or something.

  • Joan Matelli@twitter

    In certain situations you can get a "gate pass," which lets you go through security without a boarding pass. I got one to bring my niece to her gate and wait for her flight with her when she was flying alone. Not sure if they would have issued Pam a gate pass just so she could say goodbye to Michael, but it's not impossible either. And if she did go to all that effort to say goodbye to him, it makes that scene extra touching.