‘The Office’: Amy Ryan Inspires Season-Redeeming Finale

Photo: Courtesy of NBC
Show
The Office
Episode Title
Goodbye Toby
Season
4
Episode
14

This season-ending episode left us with about five different cliffhangers, but the most important one — the only one that matters, really — was that, Holy crap, Amy Ryan is coming back! The Oscar-nominated, Wire-branded actress, who starred as Dunder Mifflin’s new human-resources rep last night, fell right into the gang — and then some. Competent, daffy, diplomatic and, yeah, even a little vulnerable, Ryan classed up every scene she was in, whether flirting believably with Michael (talk about an award-worthy feat) or, hilariously, dealing with the “slow in his brain” Kevin.

Even though Ryan’s Holly was brought in to replace Toby permanently, it’s thought that Ryan won't be able to sign on full-time next year, which is a shame: She raised the show's game last night. Everyone had a Real Actor moment: Steve Carell reacting to Jan’s sudden sperm-bank pregnancy (Jan is now officially more evil than the smoke monster); John Krasinski getting frustrated as Jim is usurped by Andy’s proposal to Angela; and, most excellently, a melancholy Rainn Wilson accepting that said proposal was his “own fault.” For a season that has struggled to regain its rhythm after the writers' strike, the finale was surprisingly efficient in wrapping up story lines and sending us careening in random new directions.

Michael's planning on raising Jan’s surrogate child was the main revelation, which is almost depressing. Jan has become so loathsome that it’s difficult to believe even doormat Michael would allow her in his life. (Besides, Michael … that’s Amy freaking Ryan over there!) Here’s hoping Michael changes his mind, just to save us the specter of a pregnant, cranky Jan. Andy stepped over Jim’s planned proposal with his own to Angela, but you have to think that’s not going to stick, what with the (oddly gruesome) last shot of Dwight and Angela doing a little cubicle humping. (We're guessing "Rainn Wilson sex scene" is not going to be heavily Googled today.)

The final cliffhanger involved Pam heading to New York — oh, poor, sweet, innocent Pam … stay away! — to study design at Pratt for three months, with Jim just missing his opportunity to get a ring on her finger before she left. All we ask is that Pam not return from New York like some female version of Ryan, all coked up and jail-bound. Sending Pam off to NYC could turn her into Sex and the City's Charlotte … or even Samantha. We’re really not ready to see Pam in the meatpacking district. At all.

But now we have a whole summer to mull it over. —Will Leitch