The Office Season 9 Review: A Worthy End to a Classic

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After a rough first season without Michael Scott, The Office had a bit of a comeback for its final year.

Right off the bat, it was obvious. Season eight was over. Robert California was gone. The end was coming. The cameramen spoke for the first time in the premiere and we were thrust into an ambitious final season.

The Office seemed to be back to its old ways with some early episodes that brought back the laughs and the heart. Episodes like Andy’s Ancestry and Work Bus set the tone and righted some of the wrongs of season eight. The best example? Nellie, the previously annoying and hateworthy character became endearing while still darkly funny.

The entire season brought back some classic characters, such as Roy, Jan, and of course, Michael. Jan’s appearance in The Whale was the stuff of classic Office. It was specially surprising how well done her return was because Michael wasn’t around. Instead they played with her role as a mother and her implied affair with Hunter, to great affect I might add. 

Dwight Christmas was another classic that sent off one of the best recent holiday traditions on TV in perfect style.

Of course it wasn’t all perfect. Episodes like The Target the the failed pilot of the Dwight spinoff, The Farm, rank among the worst Office episodes ever. Some things about season eight were still left over it seemed, but they were rare.

It was also incredibly odd that Andy was missing from the middle third of the season. Of course Ed Helms was off filming The Hangover Part III, but character wise it really didn’t work to have him gone for so long and not get fired immediately. Although it did allow Erin to realize how wrong they are together, and begin to date new guy Pete (or Plop).

The second half of the season brought on a huge moment for the show, the reveal of the documentary crew. While the Brian subplot really went nowhere and was kind of terrible, watching everyone else react was really quite special as the airing of the documentary drew closer.

But while on the topic of Brian, it’s time to talk about the rocky road Jim and Pam took this year. Right from the start, Jim is preparing to leave Dunder Mifflin to join Athlead (later Athleap), a sports marketing company he college buddies are starting. He doesn’t even tell Pam at first. Their relationship was odd this season but still felt real. The phone conversation they had just before the reveal of the boom mic hardly felt like television. These guys have a real marriage, not a fairytale one, and that leads to some issues.

Of course Brian lead to some speculation that they might get a divorce. This was really only present in a few episodes, but it far less compelling than the drama stirred up by Jim’s new company.

The writers smartly gave us insurance three episodes before the finale in Paper Airplane, that these two will be together forever. It also worked to bring Jim back to Scranton, reuniting him not only with Pam but with Dwight.

Their friendship led to the phenomenal two episodes preceding the finale, Livin’ the Dream and A.A.R.M. Something just felt right about Dwight becoming manager, even after all his failed attempts. Maybe it was the fact that Jim told David Wallace there was no one better.

A.A.R.M. was absolutely the best episode of the season, finishing several storylines in beautiful fashion before the finale. Dwight and Angela being one of the best examples.

Now, the finale was a mixed bag for me. The notion of setting it a year after the documentary aired made a lot of the little wrap-ups feel like footnotes. It was odd to me that so much had changed in that one year and we didn’t get to see it. We didn’t recognize half the people working there, after the same people had been there for nine years.

The first half had to bring us up to speed when it shouldn’t have. It made it feel more like a season ten finale than season nine.

That being said, once we got to Dwight and Angela’s wedding, Michael’s cameo, Kelly and Ryan running off, and that last round of interviews, it was sob central and a near perfect sendoff for the series. Pam last line, “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” sums up the show perfectly. In the end, that’s what The Office has always been about.

One of my favorite moments in the entire series is when Michael goes to Pam’s art show all the back in season three. It captures the essence of what the show was so perfectly while not being this huge moment. Another great example is that one of the best couples in television history got engaged at a gas station.

You see comedies like Two and a Half MenThe Big Bang Theory, and even to some degree Parks and Recreation going for these big grandiose moments of humor or sweetness. The Office may have lost almost all of its subtly in season eight, but it regained just enough of it to send it off right in season nine.

No, this is not one of the best seasons. Michael was still greatly missed. There were some awful episodes. But in general, it was a big improvement. And that cannot be ignored. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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