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'The Office' season finale react: This time tomorrow

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One season finale ago, The Office put together a search committee to find out who should replace Steve Carrell. Among the main contestants were James Spader, Catherine Tate, and Ed Helms’ Andy Bernard. Yet as tonight’s finale confirmed, there are no real winners at Dunder Mifflin — a year later, they’re all still lingering around Michael Scott’s old desk.

The episode began with a promising cold open centering on Oscar’s attempt to shoot an “It Gets Better” video. But, wouldn’t you know it, Robert California hijacks the moment on multiple levels, reminding all of us why the show should shed the increasingly overbearing character.

Thankfully, an angel named David Wallace heard our (and Andy’s) prayers. That’s right, the future of the company has finally been decided (again, again): Wallace came down from Connecticut and announced his plan to buy the company, reinstall Andy as regional manager, and ship California off to a three-year-long Eastern European sex tour. (Please, NBC, do not contemplate a spin-off.)

Though Spader’s departure wasn’t a surprise, Tate’s fate had been a bit hazier. Things seemed to clear up tonight, however, as Nellie pulled the Bard Card on the Nard Dog, duping him into letting her stay with the company. And stay she should: Tate’s awkwardly aloof creation might be able to make up for Paul Lieberstein and Mindy Kaling’s (and Rainn Wilson’s) inevitable exits. What was left unclear, though, was what all of this means for Sabre employee Gabe, who just found out (on his birthday!) that Jo was liquidating the company.

Elsewhere in the episode, Dwight manned a suspicious pop-up photo studio in the building, prompting everyone to instinctively protect their babies from him. Yet Angela, bless her heart, forgot to protect her baby’s used diaper, giving Dwight his first opening to finally find out if he’s a dad. Signs are pointing to yes, if only because it would spice up his Shrute Farms spin-off. Maybe they could call it Deadbeet Dad? Just a thought!

As we await the result of the paternity test, Angela will have other issues to deal with: in the final moments of the episode, State Senator Lipton played eye-footsie with Oscar. Granted, there’s still a tiny sliver of wiggle room if the show wants to decide that he’s not gay after all, but for now, we’re going with gay.

The other big love triangle was the Darryl-Val-Brendan scenario, which we guess is the closest thing we have to the Jim-Pam-Roy glory days. We’re just going to assume everyone here is Team Darryl, especially after seeing him be the bigger man when Brendan lobbed fat jokes at him (like we just did).

So we now have an idea of what season 9 (9!) will look like — and it’s not bad. With Andy back in the manager’s office and David Wallace’s proven competence as a coolheaded executive — plus Tate’s David Brent-ian talents — the show might finally return to its natural shape and size. But what do you guys think — are the new-old changes enough to keep you coming back for another year, or is the show backpedalling in vain? Will anyone miss Robert Californa’s rape-y vibes? And will the slightly less sketchy Gabe be joining him abroad? Head to the comments to let us know if The Office is working for you.

Read more:

Toby and Kelly (and Dwight?) clock out: Where does ‘The Office’ go from here?

B.J. Novak teases ‘Office’ finale

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