When Community was first announced, it was often compared to The Breakfast Club, and justifiably so. The premise focused on seven strangers who all fit different archetypes being slammed together through self-imposed detention—Spanish study group—and bickering and bonding over their differences and similarities. But The Breakfast Club only ran for 97 minutes, and with "Basic Sandwich," Community just finished its 2,112th (roughly). Point is, the Greendale gang—now with a couple newer members, because one left and another died—are no longer strangers. But that doesn't mean Community has dispensed with its affinity for '80s movies, a film genre that Abed (and by association, series creator Dan Harmon) particularly adores. No, "Basic Sandwich" and its predecessor "Basic Story" felt like odes to flicks like Revenge of the Nerds, Meatballs, Animal House (okay that last one was late-'70s), and any other movie about a band of geeky outsiders fighting the establishment, the cool kids, and/or educational hierarchy.
After all, Community did choose to focus on the "Save Greendale!" storyline for this two-part season (and possibly series!) finale. "You can't take what's ours" is a clear theme that the aforementioned movies made good use of, and by golly, I thought it worked quite well here, too. Pop-culturally speaking, Community is a love letter to everything that preceded it—so when School Board Carl screamed at the new Greendale Eight about the college being a waste of space just waiting to be turned into a parking lot, and Dean Craig Isadore Pelton defiantly responded, "Yeah? Well around here, we call that Wednesday," I half expected Starburns to start blasting "I'm Alright" by Kenny Loggins on the boombox (though the trademark DMB worked, too).
Everything leading up that victorious moment fell nicely in line with the set-up of last week's "Basic Story," so if you didn't care for that episode—and looking at the results of last week's poll, it appears many of you didn't—you probably didn't care much for "Basic Sandwich," either. All told, I think both episodes comprised a very funny hour that didn't go as far off the deep end as many Community episodes do, yet still stood out from the rest of the comedies on network television. As a whole, the Season 5 finale wasn't a full-blown parody of anything, it didn't have any real gimmicks, and it never unlocked the level of genius reached by episodes like "Remedial Chaos Theory" or "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"—but there was enough wackiness to make it feel like part of a Dan Harmon sitcom (School Board Richie mind-robbing Hickey was so damn funny), and that's a middle ground I'm more than happy to watch. Plus, "Basic Sandwich" made me laugh, and that's why we're all watching this thing, right?
Let's spend a few minutes on the shipping stuff, because it was pretty juicy even though I'm not exactly sure what happened. Jeff and Britta continued their game of Marriage Chicken while alternating between immature fighting and passionate canoodling (they have what we call a "high-intensity" relationship). Their antics actually reminded me of their behavior in Season 2's "Mixology Certification," where they yelled at each other and then drunkenly made out, which happens to be exactly how I like to see Britta and Jeff act. Annie delivered an emotional speech about the members of the group letting each other have what they want, which was a direct message to Jeff that she was letting him run off with that tramp Britta so that Annie could move on, and it felt like a death knell for the Annie-Jeff shippers.
But when Randall Borchert's (Chris Elliott) emotional-powered lovebot Racquel needed a jumpstart and Jeff—of all people!—volunteered himself as the man with enough feelings to juice her up, he surveyed his friends and recalled a moment of dialogue he shared with each of them. Annie's was last, and as Jeff recounted their adorable "M'Lord"/"M'Lady" exchange from Season 1's "Football, Feminism, and You"—a key moment for Jeffnnie shippers—Racquel sprung to life. Was the power of Jeff's emotions generated by the sum of his memories of his friends? Or was it specifically tied to Annie? We shall debate this until we vaporize when the asteroid destroys the Earth (it's canon)!
Now we head into the unknown with "Basic Sandwich" possibly being Community's last episode ever. It may not've been the best note to go out on, but there was a spirit to "Basic Story" and "Basic Sandwich" that felt as Community as any other episode of the series. If nothing else, they gave us a much better "possible series finale" than Season 4's "Advanced Introduction to Finality."
And suddenly, I'm sad. Season 5 wasn't the perfect bounceback from Season 4, but it contained moments of brilliance. More importantly, it was very necessary for the healing of my heart and the construction of fond memories of this network comedy that bent rules, felt wholly original, and defied reason and odds. If Community DOES get canceled (depends on what fails!), I'll certainly miss it; this weird and wacky show deserves to be remembered as one of the best.
So many funny moments! I'll run down my favorites:
– "Today's Now Is Yesterday's Soon."
– Duncan on the blueprints of Greendale: "It's so clear now, the school looks like a penis."
– "What does this look like, an hour-long episode of The Office?" OH SNAP #OFFICESLAM
– The shhhhhhhh-ing was great, especially Britta's first shhhh at Jeff and the face she made to accompany it.
– "Open the Door" by The Secret Doors and the best musical lyric ever: "Specially timed to the duration of the opening process." And then, from the subsequent "Close the Door": "Faster than it opened, for dramatic effect."
– Richie's mindmeld with Hickey was, again, fantastic. "I robbed your brain, I robbed it!"
– In fact, Richie and Carl (yes, they have names!) have suddenly become two of my favorite characters. If Community ever gets a spin-off, it should be those two.
– Abed's suggestions for a Britta-Jeff spin-off were all NBC-ready titles: Better With My Worst Half, Awfully Wedded, Tying the Not, and #Couples People Problems.
– And of course there was the NBC-destroying end-tag sizzle reel, which was a great way for the show to dare the network to cancel it. #IRONSIDESLAM
– Please pardon this interruption for a flashback to a February edition of News Briefs, in which reported that BJ Novak would guest-star in the season finale and that his role was being described as the "star of a sexy TV series." Indeed!
– And now, everyone tap your heels, rub your nipples, and repeat after me: "Community will be back, Community will be back, Community will be back..." Repeat until you faint and it will be true.
What'd you think of the Season 5 finale? Are you happy with it as a possible series-ender?
AIRED ON 3/24/2015
Season 6 : Episode 3