"Goodbye Michale, Part 2" Episode 722 is the last episode...

"Goodbye Michale, Part 2" Episode 722 is the last episode in which Steve Carell stars in the NBC show THE OFFICE. Pictured: (l-r) John Krasinski as Jim Halpert, Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, Steve Carell as Michael Scott. Credit: Chris Haston/NBC/

After seven pretty great seasons, we come to the end, in which Michael Scott (Steve Carell -- who else?) says goodbye to Jim, Meredith, Creed, Stanley, Pam, Kevin, Angela, Phyllis, Kelly, Oscar, Andy, Darryl, Ryan, Erin, Toby and . . . who are we forgetting? . . . oh, yes, Dwight. Surprisingly little has been leaked about this finale before it airs, but NBC is taking 50 minutes to play out this long goodbye.

MY SAY In a masterstroke of comic timing and economy, Carell pretty much told us everything we'd ever need to know about Michael Scott in the first few frames of the first episode back on March 24, 2005. Jim (John Krasinski) has come to ask his boss about some project, and Michael says, "So you've come to the master for guidance . . . you come to da mastah grasshoppah!" It was all there: That serio-mock-serio assessment -- characteristically exaggerated -- of his self-worth; the tin-eared attempt at humor (in this instance, vaguely racist humor); dated pop-culture references ("Kung Fu," 1972); and an endearing, guileless need to be liked. (Wonderfully and weirdly, a camera crew was always present, both magnifying and encouraging Michael's narcissism.)

In fact, Michael needed to be loved, and that was the true beating heart of one of the great comic characters in TV history. Except for his mom, Michael had no family to speak of, no real friends, no social interactions other than office ones, and no true love until Holly (Amy Ryan) came along. He once told someone -- I think it was Pam (Jenna Fischer) -- that "your job is to be my friend." The poignancy of the remark is that none of his colleagues, Pam included, would have even known him -- much less tolerated him -- outside of the four little walls of Dunder Mifflin. The poignancy of Thursday night's episode will surely reveal just how much they -- and we -- will miss him.

 

His finest 'Office' hours.

Favorite Michael Scott episodes? How to choose? But here are a few that revealed key facets of his character:

"Dinner Party," Season 4. Jan (Melora Hardin) and Michael, living together, have a dinner party ending with destruction of an 8-by-8-inch "flat-screen TV" as Jan hurls a "Dundee" trophy at it. Shows what he'll do for love, even crazy, dysfunctional love.

"Booze Cruise," Season 2. Michael takes the Dunder Mifflin staff on a leadership training exercise, otherwise known as a booze cruise, on Lake Wallenpaupack. Michael is later tethered to the bow after misbehaving, when Jim confides that he loves Pam; Michael suddenly, unexpectedly, drunkenly, offers some real leadership -- "never give up."

"Gay Witch Hunt," Season 3. Michael unintentionally outs/apologizes to Oscar (Oscar Nuñez), and is scolded by the head office, which puts him "in charge of putting an end to 100,000 years of being weirded out by gays." Michael isn't homophobic. Really.

"The Injury," Season 2. Michael burns a foot on a grill, cooking bacon. Dwight (Rainn Wilson) rushes to save him and has a concussion when his car crashes into the parking lot gate. We learn Michael is a hypochondriac prone to self-pity -- and partial to bacon.

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