It's now Friday morning, and I just walked into work, and before I got to my desk, in the space of about five minutes, a colleague and I just bantered about 20 things that were hysterical about Thursday night's finale of The Office. (Many of you have already listed many of them in the comments below.)
And I don't even think it was the best episode of the year, and as my wife pointed out, it probably wasn't even the series' best Christmas episode - last year's video iPod episode was gold standard. In fact, many of us have fallen so head over heels in love with the show that we're probably laughing at some things that aren't even that funny. But how much does that say about the overall quality of the show?
It's an amazing program. I simply can't recall any work on television that could be so funny while revealing the ugliness of the world - both our prejudices and our heartaches. The plotline that Michael Scott not only didn't realize that the Asian waitress he took to his office Christmas party wasn't the one who he was flirting with at the Benihana's, but that he also had to mark his "new girlfriend" with a pen so that he could distinguish her from yet another waitress, is as gruesome a characteristic as this show has revealed. The show never lets you feel settled with Michael - at some points, he's just that bad, at others, he's practically heroic. I think this range of righteousness is meant to showcase the extremes in all of us. We might not be Michael Scott, but none of us are completely perfect or sour. You just have to keep looking.
As for romance: The Photoshop breakup between Michael and Carol was hilarious, even if Steve Carell was not quite at his best playing the tears this time around. And absolutely, I think it had to be Jan accepting the all-inclusive invitation to Sandals (Scandals?) in Jamaica - her character's probablility for holiday blues is so well-defined by this point that we don't even need to see her or hear her voice to know. (My other theory, I'll admit, is that Michael's guest will be his mother.)
By the end of the episode, Jim clearly seemed to realize that he had better get back on the Pam train before it left the station again - though who knows whether he'll extricate himself from Karen in time. Pam, herself, may struggle with judging whether Roy's conversion will hold, though I think her CIA machinations with Jim may solidify her need for him. Clearly, Pam's not at a place yet where she would fight for Jim, but she might not have to.
But amid it all, so many great moments: Angela going to the mattresses on the holiday party, Kevin's tortured "You Oughta Know," all of Dwight's shenanigans, poor Toby and his bathrobe saga, Ryan's list of excuses and welcome back to Jim in the same breath, and of course, Oscar's "too soon" return.
When an average episode of a series offers this much, you have to be thankful.