“Sometimes, goodbyes are a bitch.” So says Jim Halpert to Michael Scott in Steve Carell’s final episode of The Office. Yes, they certainly can be quite the kick in the pants, and while my partner in crime was disappointed in this episode (which I can understand – it was very quiet and anti-climactic), I felt the Scott sendoff was poignant and fitting.
The episode was light on the laughs, and the more I ponder on that, the more suitable it seems. This wasn’t Jim and Pam’s wedding, which was funny, heartfelt and absolutely soaring with joy (Can you tell I loved that episode?). This was a farewell to a character who we have literally watched grow and shift before our eyes. David Brent, the UK counterpart and Scott prototype, was a right bastard, kind of despicable, and had basically no redeeming qualities whatsoever (in his defense, he only had 13 episodes to even exist). Scott started out this way, but little flickers of decency would sometimes shine through. As the years have gone by, and most notably with the introduction of Holly, these flickers have grown, while shameful moments have become less frequent and more harmless. We’ve actually watched him become a decent guy, who you want nothing but the best for.
What I liked most last night was that the writers made his leaving such a relatable experience. There’s always a moment that brings it all into focus and makes you think, what the Hell am I actually doing? For Michael, this happens when Oscar casually asks him where they should send his last paycheck. You can see it all on Carell’s face – “They need an address because I won’t live in my home anymore oh mygodI’mgoing tolivesomewhereelseandeverythingwillbedifferentandchange” – commence the freak out. As he listens to his co-workers random, mundane lunch conversations and begins to cry, I couldn’t help but get it. It’s all those little daily nothings that add up to the huge something that is the story of your life, and it takes significant events to help you grasp, and appreciate this for all it’s worth. It breaks Michael’s heart to realize what he has taken for granted and is now losing – the daily comfort of knowing a group of people, keeping up with their lives, and sharing the same experiences. For Michael Scott (and many of us, as much as some would be loathe to admit), “The people that you work with are just, when you get down to it, your very best friends.”
As Michael watched the final minutes tick by on the clock, I realized that I had only a few more minutes with this character as well, and it literally made my heart ache. The last scenes being moments with Jim and Pam felt right to me; these are the characters who should care the most about Michael leaving. He was a constant during the most significant events in their lives – relationship, marriage, the birth of their child. Of course they’re sad to see him go.
Michael didn’t get to say the perfect goodbye to all of his friends, he got cold feet for a moment, and overall, the episode was anti-climactic and almost serene. But this is how it goes in the real world, you leave those you love behind for new experiences and new people, and life goes on. As sad as I am to see Michael go, I can only imagine what awaits in Colorado. I wish him nothing but the best.