Toby leaves the building, Pam is accepted by an New York design school, and Michael may be ''a kind of a daddy''
Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)
S4 E14
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”Oh, hello, Mutter. Good news, I’ve married. Tell Vater…”

I bow down to the writers of last night’s episode of The Office, Paul Lieberstein (a.k.a. Toby) and Jenny Celotta. What better way to start off the fourth-season closer than with a classic Jim/Pam prank on Dwight — complete with an allusion to Dwight’s creepy Amish/German/Roman Catholic/who-really-knows ancestry? (I’ll never forget when he said his travel visa was protested by the Shoah foundation in ”Dunder Mifflin Infinity.”) Then to follow that intro by kicking it old-school with an episode set almost entirely at Dunder Mifflin, with Michael chasing a lady (guest star Amy Ryan as the new HR rep replacing Toby), Phyllis and Angela fighting over party planning (sorry, Monkey, a bouncy house beats butter-cream cake any day), and both Jim and Pam (almost) getting what they want out of life? Timeless.

I hope we can all agree that yesterday’s show was tops. Just one complaint: not enough Oscar! Not enough Stanley! Not enough Kelly or Darryl! Maybe next year Greg Daniels, producer extraordinaire, can get NBC to give him an hour and a half for the finale. I wouldn’t have lost a second of last night’s goings-on, I just feel a bit sad that, minus Leslie David Baker’s Stanley, these excellent actors/characters haven’t been highlighted nearly enough since the series’ return in April.

So where should we start? Dwight’s cousin Mose hiding a raccoon in Holly’s car, or Meredith knowing how to break into it? Angela having only two pictures of Toby, both taken in the office kitchen? Or Michael carrying his senile Nana’s birthday money in a secret compartment in his shoe? (A Get Smartallusion?) Creed asking the cameraman, ”Really, what do I do here?” Or Jim setting up the perfect night — fireworks! — to ask Pam for her hand in marriage?

I pick Jim and Pam. Unlike with the previous three seasons, I don’t feel that their story line concluded on much of a cliffhanger — this is a good thing, not a bad one. Sure, Jim didn’t get to propose, and damn, she looked sad (which always makes me sad — Jenna Fischer does the best ”hurt” face since Marcel Marceau, and his was painted on). But I still think he’ll do it at some point. Plus, I was so high from Pam’s acceptance to Pratt’s design school and Jim’s unflinching support of her career (hateful Roy didn’t want her to take courses in the city) at the beginning of the ep that it was hard to get too disappointed at the end.

NEXT: Ryan’s fate

Jim and Pam are so happy, so functional, and so well-suited that I can’t imagine how the show’s writers could ever throw a wrench in their love affair and make it seem deserved and natural. My only fear is this: Pam said that she wouldn’t go to New York if things weren’t so solid with Jim. If his inability to propose last night gets her doubting his feelings for her, does that mean she’ll punk out of school? I hope not: We’ve invested a lot in her growing up and moving on from DM. That said, have PB&J become ”snoozetastic,” as Office watcher Mr. C. Nashawarmaty called them?

I don’t know, but I’m intrigued by Jim’s newfound interest in his job — because it shows a whole different side of him (and of John Krasinski). First, let’s face it: Funny as he is, Jim is too old to act such a fool all the time. We don’t want him to become Michael. (Speaking of which, Mike and Dwight’s hazing of Amy Ryan’s Holly reminded me a tad of how Jim treats Dwight.) Second, I’m glad Jim had the goolies to tell Ryan to stick it. That’s something Michael could never really do to the DM bosses. He just bent over and took it from David Wallace and Ryan in ”The Deposition.”

Kudos to those of you who predicted Ryan would be arrested in a business-related scandal (Oscar: ”The real crime, I think, was the beard”). I had three favorite parts of this episode: one, when Toby told Mike he had to do the exit interview and Mike said, ”I am now his cruise director and my name is Captain Bruisin’ ”; two, when Angela warned Phyllis, ”I hope you had fun today, because you’re never, ever throwing a party again”; and three, when Creed saw Ryan, his big boss, getting arrested on the YouTube video and remarked, ”Look, it’s the temp.” I bet dollars to donuts we’ve got a bunch of hilarious prison visits in our future (”no touching!”) and maybe even an Office trial. But will we survive without Toby? I, for one, won’t miss his baby-diarrhea-yellow-brown suits or his weird crush on Pam. I thought Michael’s over-the-top hate for him was crafted into a well-done send-off for the character — if he is, in fact, leaving. Dwight saying he wrapped Michael’s going-away present for Toby — a rock with a nasty note! — nearly had me on the floor, as did Michael mouthing that he would kill Toby if he criticized DM. And I appreciated the throwaway line when Dwight said he thought the cruel gift was ”over the line” — mainly because he was disagreeing with Michael, just as the latter had told him to start doing.

NEXT: Lord of the ring

Oh, Dwight. How I hated you for murdering Angela’s cat Sprinkles, but how deftly you’ve won me back in these last few episodes. Was it the hurt in your eyes every time you saw Angela with Andy, or how hilarious it was for you to tell Holly that Kevin was slow and in a special-work program? (Note to the ladies: The way to get a guy to know you’re interested is to treat him like he’s mentally challenged.) What was Andy thinking, asking Angela to marry him (and stealing Jim’s fire)? Or proposing with a ring he’s been carrying in his wallet for six years — okay, now that is weird. As soon as I heard those sex moans coming from inside the office at the end of the episode, I knew that Angela was already back in Dwight’s arms (or his pants, whatever). Andy is the new Karen. We can be sure Angela’s archenemy Phyllis is not going to keep her discovery a secret very long. Unless she uses it as blackmail to become the permanent Scranton-branch party planner.

Finally, I leave you with my biggest quandary: Do we want Michael with Holly, or do we want him with Jan? At first I thought Holly’s flirting was just humoring him in that ”I’m trained in HR” way, but then when she glanced back at him while walking off with Kev I knew: After one day, she fancies the pants off the guy. He was going to make her a mixtape, after all (the look on Oscar’s face when Michael said that was great, and almost as priceless as Stanley dancing with a beer in his hand in the background of the party). What, on the other hand, is crazy Jan doing having a baby? The Scranton branch of A Pea in the Pod better stock up. (How fitting is it for shopping-addict Jan to have picked her frozen pop from a sperm-bank catalog?) Her conversation with Michael was the most well-crafted scene of the night: She told Michael he’d like the sperm bank because it was next to IHOP. And Carell, to his credit, left me wondering: Is Michael going back to Jan because he’s weak or because she’s now giving him what he wants: a child? In his words, ”I’m going to be a kind of a daddy.”

Thus, now not only do we have prison visits to look forward to, but also Lamaze classes and an Officetyke. Let’s just hope the anonymous daddy doesn’t turn out to be Creed — you know he’s the type to deposit in a sperm bank. My only request: That with the webisodes coming in July, NBC posts the lyrics to ”Beers in Heaven” and ”Total Eclipse of the Fart” on its website.

So guys, what did you think of the finale and the season itself? Up and down? Fitting? So-so? And what are your predictions for next year? And BTW, have a great summer. ”His horribleness has left the building.” Goodbye, Toby!

Episode Recaps

Michael Scott, The Office (Steve Carell)
The Office

The mockumentary-style sitcom chronicles a group of typical office employees working 9-5 at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

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