As NBC’s The Office nears the end of its eighth season this spring, so many things remain up in the air — both in the sitcom’s plot, as well as behind the scenes — that what are we to make of a season nine, if there even is one?

For those of you not following along, let’s recap.

On the show:

  • Erin essentially abandoned her job as the receptionist to stay in Tallahassee, while Andy did likewise to win her back. In his absence, Nellie filled the vacuum and anointed herself office manager in Scranton, with the apparent blessing of company CEO Robert California.

Behind the scenes, meanwhile:

That’s a lot of balls up in the air for the network and the show to juggle. Sounds like NBC is preparing for the end; nay, even encouraging it?

Just think.

Could stalled contract talks with some of the key cast members be a power play?

Would FOX greenlight Kaling’s comedy just to sabotage NBC’s “best”-performing sitcom?

Should NBC simply go ahead and move forward with the Dwight Schrute beet farm spin-off for next midseason? And in doing so, should the network try to negotiate a short 13-episode ninth and final season for The Office to wrap things up?

How do you want to see this play out?

P.S. (UPDATED 7:17 p.m. Thursday) Warner Bros. just announced not only that The Hangover Part III will come to a cinema near you in May 2013, but that production of the movie (which co-stars Ed Helms) will begin in September 2012. So don’t expect to see Helms in that much of The Office‘s ninth season.