Community: Advanced Introduction to Finality
by Stephen Janes (@stephenkjanes)
The season finale of Community usually features an epic battle with the lives and property of Greendale being at stake. This season finale did include a battle, but it was very far from epic, which accurately describes the feelings of this episode as a whole.
The focal point of this episode was the darkest timeline, which was originally mentioned during a season three episode (“Remedial Chaos Theory”). Led by evil Jeff, the evil study group attempts to take over the main timeline and prevent Winger from graduating. The timeline jumping and variants of each character felt very cramped for one episode, which really affected the flow of the main story. This idea really wasn’t terrible for a season finale, but I feel it would have been much better as a two-part finale.
I think the biggest problem this episode had was it tried to be campy with not enough time. I know a lot of fans of the show that wanted to see more from the alternative timelines but in a more detailed fashion, unlike this. Another negative mark was how sudden the darkest timeline appeared and became a factor, not to mention some missed opportunities. Evil Winger arrived in the main timeline just like The Terminator, no clothes and no words. Since he arrived in the Dean’s office, I was really hoping to see a confrontation between the two and how that would play out. This was, however, just one of a few missed opportunities at comedy gold.
Having Abed see through the evil doppelgangers was a perfect testament to his character. He immediately called out evil Jeff and evil Annie before either of them could make their move on him and his interactions with evil Abed was well done. Going off of The Terminator theme I mentioned earlier, it would have been fun to see Abed try and protect Winger and the rest of the group a la Kyle Reese, but only so much could have been done in a short time. Aside from Annie, the rest of the group wasn’t that interesting and only provided small gimmicks for jokes.
With everything going on, Winger kept contemplating his refusal to go through graduation because of his fear of moving on from Greendale. As a character, Winger is often blunt and defensive regarding his own weaknesses, so it was a refreshing change of pace even for him. Winger was mainly afraid of regressing to his old self but was convinced this would not happen by his study group. At the end of the episode, he decides that he will go to work for smaller law firms in the area so he can occasionally visit his friends.
For a season finale, this episode was rather weak and rushed. This episode did bring back the paintball guns, albeit in a different fashion, so that was a nice nod to previous season endings. Overall, this episode had so much potential but poor timing and bland execution really killed it. I did get a few laughs out of this episode, but none of the punch lines really stuck with me like previous episodes. As mentioned earlier, this episode would have been better stretched into a two-part finale to really allow the darkest timeline characters to develop and become more of an antagonist.
I do recall that this season did not include any ongoing major plot points like season three, which could explain why this episode was aired the way it did. This episode does mark the last time we will see Chevy Chase portray the role of Pierce Hawthorne, whose last minute graduation was a disappointing way to write off the character. Although he was mostly a non-factor this season, his character will be missed for the robust timely jokes and ‘wild card’ moments.
Season Four is complete and while it might go down as the weaker season in the series so far, it was rather entertaining overall. The production was also cut short for this season due to NBC’s indecisiveness, which could easily explain many of the flaws. We do know that Dean Spreck and Chang should have bigger roles next season and if done right, could bring Community back to the level of greatness it achieved during season two.
While there is currently no word on whether or not Community will get approved for a fifth season, there are a number of rumblings from NBC that suggest we will see Greendale again.
Episode Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Season Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars