Until the promos at the end of “Michael’s Last Dundies” advertised Steve Carell’s last episode of the show to premiere next week, I had secretly longed for Michael to reveal that he was never actually planning on moving away from Scranton.
I’ve only cried once while watching a television show. Being susceptible to entertainment-induced tears is the kind of thing I don’t like to advertise about myself, but in the case of “Michael’s Last Dundies,” I will admit that I teetered on that edge.
I could no longer hold back all the love that has laid dormant through the criticism of The Office when Andy started singing “9 million 986 thousand minutes” in the tail end of the Dundies. The song from Rent chronicles the love of a family of friends who battle with losing one very integral member of their group to AIDS.
As unfitting as the inclusion of a song like “Seasons of Love” might seem in describing a boss moving away, it was impossible to help but feel connected to the office employees in those few minutes of singing. After all, Steve Carell leaving is for us just as traumatic for, if not more than, the imaginary characters of The Office.
Carell, for seven seasons, has been the heart and soul of The Office. I’ve griped and torn away at every little issue in past episodes: the disjointed plots, the unrealistic character developments, the sometimes lackluster humor. But through it all I’ve neglected to notice one thing: The Office is still tolerable greatly in part due to Michael Scott.
But this loss is the sort of thing we will all have to accept. And in his second to last episode, “Michael’s Last Dundies” seemed to create the essential mixture of humor and drama to frame Michael’s going away.
One aspect I must praise that I’ve been quick to argue against for earlier episodes this season is the quality of the jokes in this episode. This can properly be attributed to Mindy Kaling, who wrote and directed “Michael’s Last Dundies” and also plays the role of Kelly Kapoor. After working at Dunder Mifflin for seven years, she seems to really know how to write with the voices of her fellow paper salesmen and women.
Though I don’t claim to be a Star Wars fanatic by any measure, Dwight’s delivery of “Always the Padawan, never the Jedi” after Michael picked Deangelo as his co-host for the Dundies was completely crack-up worthy.
Even better was the nod to The King’s Speech when Michael tries to help Deangelo develop a good co-host speaking voice, having him listen to really loud music on headphones and read from a script for the ceremony. Despite this effort, Deangelo remains equally self-aware about speaking in front of crowds, and also starts screaming rather than speaking his lines. His success was not on par with Lionel Logue’s effects on King George VI, but still an admirable effort.
The Dundies themselves added the most character to this episode. For one, Andy’s “Doobie Doobie Pothead Stoner of the Year” award had a title worthy of its own “Most Creative” Dundie category. Dwight’s “Promising Assistant Manager” award was one joke that I had completely forgotten, seeing as it withered into nothingness over the past few seasons. To remind those who may have forgotten: Assistant to the Regional Manager Dwight Schrute? Or Assistant Regional Manager Dwight Schrute? Ring any bells?
If there’s any hope for The Office post-Michael Scott, I can only hope that these reminiscences on past jokes will grow to be the new heart of the show. The loss could be destructive, but that doesn’t mean we should all lose faith in Dunder Mifflin. Yet even with this positivity, I still worry for the future Office.
We may have only one episode left with you, Carell, but can I still have my fingers crossed that this is all an elaborate ruse?