On Thursday, The Office ended its nine season run with an excellent finale. It was a great, fitting end to the show, and a nice capper to the ninth season as well, a season that certainly had some issues. While many may be content to leave the show at the finale, perhaps only reflecting upon the moments from the series they enjoyed, I figured I’d continue my tradition of assessing how a season went after it ended. So, here’s a look at season nine.
Season nine was an odd one for The Office. They went into it knowing it would be the end, and with Greg Daniels running the show once more. This was a potentially good thing, as it meant the show didn’t have to worry about treading water or spinning its wheels. It had an end point laid out in front of it. However, that also meant they had to get all the stuff they wanted to crammed in, and also generate stories for 25 episodes. Plus, the cast was switching up again, with Robert California gone and two new guys coming in. Oh, also Kelly and Ryan were gone.
Those two new guys were Clark and Pete, who were introduced in the season premiere “New Guys.” Over the run of the season, neither guy really stuck out, but they didn’t feel necessarily like they were intrusive or like they didn’t fit. Clark didn’t really get much to do other than hang out and be dry and funny, and I like the actor Clark Duke and thought he did a good job. Pete basically just served as a romantic interest for Erin. Everybody loves Erin, everybody, but that didn’t necessarily give Pete depth. Hey, at least neither of them dragged the show down like James Spader.
Obviously, the series finale brought back a lot of old characters, but earlier in the season we got to see Roy and Jan, which was nice. On the other hand, we also had to deal with the documentary crew being a part of the story, which didn’t really work. Mostly because Brian the Boom Mic Guy wasn’t interesting at all. I get the feeling they may have wanted to do more with him, but decided it wasn’t really working, like when Rich Sommer was that guy at college with Pam. Then, of course, there was “The Farm” the backdoor pilot for a Dwight Schrute show that never came to be. That left that episode feeling kind of odd, and to make matters worse, the stuff in the office with Todd Packer was abysmal.
Fortunately, Dwight stuck around, because his presence was integral to the show down the stretch. His relationship with Jim and Pam and his rise to manager kept the show going through some rough stretches. Aside from the finale, the best episode of the season was probably “A.A.R.M.” which was about Dwight as boss.
The overarching storylines of this season had some issues. On the plus side, Andy was gone for as while. After Michael left, and Andy became a bigger part of the show, his character went off the rails. They changed his personality repeatedly. Early this season, it looked like he was becoming a genuine villain, particularly in the Valentine’s Day episode, which irked me. However, by the end that stopped being the case, and they tried to give him a positive ending of his own. Jim and Pam had their relationship struggles. It was obvious they would get their happy ending and their love would be stronger than ever, and that happened. The way it happened was well-executed, though, and some of the emotional beats and dramatic moments did work well.
For a while, it just felt like season nine was only going to be a slight improvement over season eight, which was the worst season of the show. Then, the last few episodes, when the finish line was in sight, were strong, and the finale, it should be said again, was great. So, in total, I would call season nine good. It had the first great episode in a while, and it didn’t have as many lows at the past season or two. There was no Deangelo Vickers or Robert California. There was Michael Scott, however briefly. Even with the end in sight, The Office couldn’t reach the highs of its glory days, but what show can after doing almost 200 episodes, and finishing with over 200? They managed to trot out several good episodes and ended with a top notch finale. That’s probably about the best we could have hoped for.