TV Recap

Corporate Madder

On the season finale of ''The Office,'' Dwight prematurely steps into Michael's shoes, Jan gets ''enhanced,'' Ryan sneaks into the New York job, and Jim asks Pam out!

Rainn Wilson, The Office | THE SCHRUTE BUCK STOPS HERE Dwight's tenure as manager was brief but bonkers
THE SCHRUTE BUCK STOPS HERE Dwight's tenure as manager was brief but bonkers

''The Office'': The more things change...

Best. Ending. Ever! Last night's season finale was hands down one of the most satisfying hours of television I have ever had the pleasure of watching. There was nary an ounce of fat in it. The cringes just kept coming as we got resolution (of a sort) on the corporate-job race and entirely new dynamics were established for next season. All major beats were hit, there was real story progression, and there was heart. Man, oh, man, was there heart.

The stellar Jenna Fischer shone as the newly honest and open Pam. Sadly, yesterday we read about Fischer's back injury. Get well soon, Jenna, and rest easy knowing that you've reinforced what a great actress you are and why we love your character. Everything Pam did was spot-on: the impish delight she took in playing along with Dwight (who eagerly jumped into Michael's too-quickly-vacated office and appointed her the secret assistant to the regional manager), her refusal to back down from her waterfront declaration (making her ''kind of a bitch'' in Karen's opinion), the shell-shocked-turned-radiant look she had after Jim asked her out on a date.

As much as Jim's surprisingly bold move pleased me (okay, had me bouncing around on the couch and yelping like a madwoman), it also left me with many unanswered questions. Such as, what happened to Karen? Did Jim just leave her in New York? Did he actually break up with her, or is he just playing this by ear? Were the goofy note and gold-foil medallion that Pam slipped into his folder really what tipped him toward her? Or did Karen's cosmopolitan air, apparent as she plotted out their evening in the city, make him feel out of place? Or was it the combination of the two, on the heels of Pam's gutsy move (way to go, acknowledging that it took her three years to summon up the courage to say how she felt)? And now that we know that Ryan is the one who actually got the job, will Karen have to quit the Scranton office?

Oh, that Ryan. Of course the sneaky little twerp went after the job behind everyone's backs! The only saving grace was that we got to watch him gleefully break up with Kelly. Boy, Michael and Dwight will be so livid when they find out that the fire guy is now their boss. That's fodder for at least a couple of episodes next season right there. Though I do believe that deep down, Michael was happy to get to stay in Scranton. He's never spoken truer words than these in his return speech: ''I am going nowhere.''

But I don't think that Michael will have time to care about any of that now that the once devastatingly authoritative Jan Levinson-Gould has been reduced to a puddle of tears, living in his condo, with her big bazoombas and her stretch pants, waiting for him to come home at 5:15. Just when you think you've seen Jan hit rock bottom, she excavates new ground. I really thought that she seemed sort of peaceful when she walked into the office (why?), wanting to reconcile. Michael was no match for the wonder that was her ''boob enhancement.'' But the curse-strewn tirade she went on before being escorted from the corporate office was much more indicative of her state of mind. I agree with Karen — Jan's nuts!

My howling-out-loud favorite line had to be Stanley's retort about the ratio of Stanley nickels to Schrute bucks: It's the same as the ration of unicorns to leprechauns.

BTW: I, too, have often thought that I would like to have Jack Bauer as second in command of my life, if only he weren't unavailable, fictional, and overqualified.

Creed Creep-O-Meter: 9. I have to admit that I would have loved for www.creedthoughts.gov.www/creedthoughts to be a live page featuring the ramblings of my favorite crazy curmudgeon. But I don't think I can ever again hear ''Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'' without shuddering. This week, as a sort of sendoff for the summer, Meredith earned her own creepiness meter reading of 10 with her slimy come-on to Jim and her discussion of her, um, experience with sexual positions.

The writers, actors, and everyone involved in this show should be very proud of the solidly good season they produced. It was a well-developed arc that stayed true to the characters and paid homage to the Ricky Gervais version while creating a unique experience on a greatly extended run. So it might be a little pessimistic of me to wonder if they can do it again next year with the whopping 30 episodes NBC has announced. A year from now, I look forward to saying I'm sorry I ever doubted it.

Is every one feeling as sated as I am? Let me hear your theories on what'll be going on when we pick up next season. We'll need something to tide us over during the barren TV months ahead. Have a good summer!

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Originally posted May 18, 2007