'The Office' season finale: Or, how Andy got his groove back

ed-helms-the-office-s8-finale-nbc.jpg"The Office" has had a difficult season, both in the ratings, where it's down a good amount from last year, and creatively, where it has struggled to find a center after Michael Scott went off to be happy.

For part of the spring it looked like the show, while pretty much a foregone conclusion to come back in the fall, might go through another creative overhaul as several regulars were at the end of their contracts. We're not sure the show could have survived that.

Ed Helms, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer have all re-upped for next year, so that hurdle's out of the way (although this was likely Mindy Kaling's last episode since her FOX pilot got picked up). "Free Family Portrait Studio" also ended the season on an up note, restoring a semblance of order without negating the season's worth of episodes that preceded it.

We have one rather large nagging concern: David Wallace was part of the executive team that ran Dunder Mifflin into the ground before Sabre bought it, so he might not be the best kind of savior. But we're willing to overlook that -- so long as it's acknowledged next season -- because Andy's arc in the last few episodes, where he's found some residue of confidence, has been one we've been waiting for all season long.

Naturally, his delicious moment didn't go the way he thought it would, and he's too nice a guy to crush Nellie after he takes his old job back, and after she plays the Bard Card. That sets up Catherine Tate sticking around for Season 9, which could be a good thing, provided the show uses her judiciously and doesn't overplay.

It also seems fitting that Robert California's last act as CEO is to extract $1 million from Wallace so he can go a three-year sex tour, and that his name isn't necessarily Robert California. We're not convinced his name is Bob Cazamakos either, but considering he told Andy last week "You don't even know my real name," anything's possible.

The B-stories -- Dwight running his portrait studio as a way to get a sample of Angela's baby's DNA and Darryl making a last play for Val -- also clicked pretty well. Anything that gets Mose back for a minute is OK with us, and Jim's paranoia about Dwight's plan was well-founded, just misplaced. And for whatever reason (the height difference, maybe?) the weird, toxic Dwight-Angela relationship has always made us laugh. And also cringe, but laugh.

And good on Darryl for keeping cool in front of Val's boyfriend. Patience can pay off, and it did here.

We're not sure what next season will bring on "The Office," but after watching the finale we feel a little better about its prospects. What did you think of the finale?  
Photo/Video credit: NBC
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