The bad news is that Michael Scott exits stage right tomorrow night. The good news is that Steve Carell's last episode is going to be a gold mine of Dunder Mifflin goodies for us long-time fans, and as series director Paul Feig promises us: "Everyone gets a moment that you would want them to have."
So does tomorrow night clear up the Dunder Mifflin line of succession? Will Michael Scott and Toby finally hug it out? And how does the World's Best Boss say farewell to Pam and Jim? Here's what we can tell you:
Q&A With The Office Director Paul Feig
How do you balance the end of Steve Carell's run as Michael Scott with the push to remind viewers that the show will go on?
You treat it very honestly; that's what I love about the episode, they treated it very honest. I feel it's exactly the way it would go with a boss like Michael leaving Dunder Mifflin. If you think back on this he's been a very odd boss. The hardest part was balancing out our real-life love for Steve, who is the greatest man in the world—the nicest person in the world, you can't imagine working with somebody nicer than him—with how you would really react if a boss like that was leaving. The hardest part for Greg Daniels, who wrote the episode, and myself, being on the set, was making sure that we didn't get sadder than the characters on the show would be.
So where does the emotion come from in the episode?
The emotion comes from how Michael deals with it. For him, this place has always been more of a family for him than other characters in the show have ever felt. It's a big moment for him.
Is Michael Scott growing up?
I like to think he is. What I've loved about the show is how they have let him grow. If you track the seasons—even though he backslides like anybody in the world. It's your personality and you're stuck with it. He's learned and done the right thing and done the wrong thing but he's tended to do the right thing more than he's done the wrong thing. I think it leaves him and everyone in a very good place. It leaves the rest of the show in a great place to continue on strongly and to continue to develop everyone's character and send Michael off in, I think, a very satisfying way.
How was it for Steve to play this episode, considering he really was leaving?
He was a prince. It was very hard for him in the sense that everyone around him was so emotional and he was extremely emotional, too. It was hard for everybody but at some point you just have to get through the day. Once we wrapped, they gathered everybody on the sound stage and they did presentations to Steve and people brought presents and presented him with things. We showed tapes of outtakes and then after that a bunch of us went to another party for him that the cast threw, and that was more sendoff stuff, and John Krasinski put together this amazing video where he got real-life fans of the show and celebrity fans of the show to do a tribute to Steve. I was exhausted at the end of that day. So I could only imagine that Steve was just emotionally raw and numb. But it was a proper outpouring of emotion for a man who is completely deserving of getting that much [attention].
I know you and Greg Daniels take the documentary conceit of the series very seriously. Does the documentary crew behind the camera get a special goodbye moment?
Again I can't say much, but for me directorially, and for Greg and for Paul [Leiberstein] and the gang, the documentary reality is very important to us. It's easy for the audience to forget about that, as you should, but even when it comes to setting up cameras [we talk about how] you could never have a camera where the other camera would see it. There always has to be that logic and that logic carries very realistically into this final episode for Steve. It is documentarily honest.
Where do we land at the end of the episode in terms of who will ultimately run Dunder Mifflin?
It allows the show to continue on. It's almost easy to forget that this is not the last episode of the season. There are still three more episodes afterward. This fits perfectly into this not being the final episode of the season.
For a lot of people Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim are the heart of the series, and they've always had a special moment with Michael. Do they get a special moment together?
I'll say [pretty much] everyone gets a moment that you would want them to have.
Months ago head writer Danny Chun told us that Michael gets the ending he deserves, but to clarify is this the exit Michael deserves or the exit Steve deserves?
I think it's both. But what I love is I think it's the perfect exit that Michael deserves. Can I amend that last statement? I should say pretty much everyone gets their moment with Steve.
Is Toby around for this one? I think we need to see that scene.
Toby's always around. [Laughs.] What I like is everyone gets a nice resolve. You don't feel shortchanged. But I want to still qualify that. I would just say pretty much everyone.
What are you most excited for people to see in this episode?
I hope they will feel the true emotion that this situation in real life would have. When a boss left, someone you've always been slightly unsure about but still love because of the Stockholm syndrome—where people you're stuck with everyday for seven or eight years, whether you want them to or not, they worm their way into your hearts—how would you feel? You get used to people and you fall in love with their foibles, their pluses and their minuses. What I'm proud of and what I hope people take away from this is saying, "That is exactly what would happen."
What kind of ending does Michael Scott deserve? Which goodbye are you most looking forward to? Hit the comments!
The Office's "Goodbye, Michael, Part Two" airs Thursday on NBC at 9 p.m.