Posted by Kim and Sage
In 2005 The Office premiered and changed the landscape of the American Sitcom. That’s a bold statement, but I firmly believe it is a true one. It paved the way for 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Community, and Modern Family. It gave us the likes of Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, Ed Helms and Ellie Kemper. It will forever be responsible for etching “That’s what she said” into our everyday lexicon. While it waned creatively in its later years, The Office has given us countless laughs, many tears, and made us cringe with embarrassment on a weekly basis for 9 seasons and I will forever hold it very dear in my heart.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to Dunder Mifflin forever. I’m ready to say goodbye, but at the same time I am not ready. It’s a very strange feeling. The show did a LOT of damage to its legacy the season after Steve Carell left the show. Many, including me, felt the show should have ended there. The Office was not The Office without Michael Scott, no matter how much they tried to make Andy into the new Michael. I was damn near close to breaking up with the show in season eight. I’m glad I didn’t, as despite 11th Hour Trickery, season nine has been a return to form, especially in these final episodes.
Well. Aside from “The Farm”. It really upsets me they wasted one of their final episodes on that piece of crap.
As the finale loomed on the horizon, Sage and I knew we had to do something special to celebrate the impact The Office has had on us. So we set out to choose our top ten episodes. I initially thought it would be quite an undertaking, but Sage and I separately made our top ten lists and when we compared them, we automatically agreed on five. We debated on the other five episodes until we had a list that we felt showcased the best of what The Office has done. And when we set out to RANK them, which we both did on our own, and then compared notes, our rankings were almost identical.
It’s a little scary how much we share a brain.
So here we go…episodes 6 -10. Our top 5 will be posted tomorrow for finale day. Enjoy and please share your thoughts in the comments!
10) “The Search” (Season 7, Episode 15)
This episode is the most recent you’ll find in our Top 10. As Kim said in the intro, the show struggled in later years, even before Michael Scott left Dunder Mifflin for good. “The Search” isn’t the episode where Michael says his goodbyes to his beloved work family; rather, it’s the episode that makes us realize that he’s going to be okay when he does.
Michael goes out on an easy sales call with Jim, sulking the whole time because his ex-girlfriend Holly Flax (Amy Ryan) won’t get back together with him. He demands a gas station pit stop ten minutes from the office, and a panicked Jim is forced to leave him there when his mother-in-law calls with a CeCe emergency. Dwight, Erin, and Holly set out to look their cell- and wallet-less boss. Despite Dwight’s finely honed tracking skills, it’s Holly who leads the group straight to Michael, just by following her own impulses.
What a perfect device to bring those two back together. As much as Michael wants to fancy himself a leader, there’s a part of him that’s adrift and needs to be found. Earlier in the episode, he asks Holly why she’s resisting when she knows they’ll start dating again. (“Why is it such a certainty that we are supposed to be together?” “Why does the sun rise in the morning? Why do magnets stick together? Because everybody says so. Everybody.”) Holly is so right for Michael: dorky enough to find him dashing, yet ever so slightly more grounded than he is. (And come on, Amy Ryan is an absolute treasure.) By this point, we’ve seen Michael pursue plenty of ill-fitting relationships, just for the sake of being successful – for the sake of HAVING a girlfriend, no matter who it is. But when Holly walks out onto that roof, Michael’s face shows that he was expecting to see her, because he knew it would be her who eventually found him.
Most of Michael Scott’s mistakes are made in the wild pursuit to have a family – his most desperate dream. Without a biological one, Michael has thrown all of his energy into creating one at work. And he’s successful! But what’s bittersweet about Michael Scott’s last few episodes is that his more astute coworkers realize that he just doesn’t need them as badly anymore. They’ve been rooting for him as hard as we have, and hopefully tomorrow’s finale will bring us all good news from the Flax-Scott family.
Michael: [to puppies] Hey you guys. Listen to me. Don’t get hung up on just one girl because there are a whole lot of other girls out there. Look over there. See? They look cute. [to parrots] Hello! You guys are so beautiful. You’re so colorful. I wish I could understand you. That’s a metaphor I guess. [To snake] You are disgusting. You’ll never find love. Yeck. [To puppy] Do you think she needs more time or is it never going to happen?
I’m serious. Seriously.
9) “Office Olympics” (Season 2, Episode 3)
“Office Olympics” is a perfect example of what season two of The Office was so good at: making the mundane funny. This episode is pure fluff, in the most delightful way. After all, who doesn’t have some sort of game to keep them entertained at work? Who doesn’t want to blow off work and goof around the moment their boss announces that he is taking a personal day. I love how the episode builds from Jim merely trying to avoid working while Michael is out of the office all day to getting the entirety of the office (save for Angela, quietly judging in her corner and adding to her Pam-Pong tallies) gleefully involved in a full-out day of fun. Season Two is where we really begin to see all the supporting players of Dunder Mifflin (Stanley, Angela, Phyllis, Kevin, Oscar, etc…) come into their own as fully realized characters. They are what has made The Office so rich throughout the years. They aren’t faceless drones, they each have their quirks and personalities and the show would not have made it nine seasons without them. One of my favorite moments in “Office Olympics” is when Phyllis oh so shyly volunteers to compete against Kevin in Flonkerton…and then WINS.
“Office Olympics” is also a great episode for Jim. Up until this episode Jim had been a sly commentator but we hadn’t seen him get truly enthusiastic about anything. As Pam puts it so perfectly, “The thing about Jim, is when he’s excited about something, like the Office Olympics, he gets really into it and he does a really great job. But the problem with Jim is that he works here, so that hardly ever happens.” Even back then Pam saw that Jim’s potential far exceeded what Dunder Mifflin was capable of giving him. I felt like last week’s penultimate episode, “A.A.R.M.” had some wonderful callbacks to this episode, from Jim setting up an obstacle course (that Phyllis gamely participates in) in the warehouse to Pam expressing her fears about Jim again. The difference between “Office Olympics” and “A.A.R.M.” is that Jim now has HER, and as he touchingly said, “that is more than enough”. I DO hope though that we see Jim and Pam moving on from Dunder Mifflin in the finale though.
I would be remiss in not discussing the perfect Michael and Dwight storyline that involved Michael closing on his condo. I love the Michael/Dwight dynamic and Dwight’s utter devotion to him. Michael acts all the time like he is exasperated by Dwight, but deep down, you know he loves him. Dwight may tap into all of Michael’s fears about closing on his condo, but he was also the best person to be there for him in that moment. Dwight wants the best for him, even if it often comes out in the wrong way. Dwight’s talking head at the top of the episode sums up the relationship perfectly: “I have been Michael’s #2 guy for about 5 years. And we make a great team. We’re like one of those classic famous teams. He’s like Mozart, and I’m like Mozart’s friend. No. I’m like Butch Cassidy, and Michael is like Mozart. You try and hurt Mozart; you’re going to get a bullet in your head courtesy of Butch Cassidy.”
And the end of the episode is what The Office does best…showing this dysfunctional family rally around one of their own. Closing on a home is a big deal and Jim creating a medal ceremony (complete with paper doves) for it is the perfect way for all of them to celebrate with him. As Sage just said to me, everyone so quickly shifts from having it be about them to being about him and they’re happy to do that.
Dwight: A thirty year mortgage at Michael’s age essentially means that he’s buying a coffin. If I were buying my coffin, I would get one with thicker walls… so you couldn’t hear the other dead people.