I think it’s been unanimously agreed upon season 4 of Community lacks the luster and imagination of its former seasons. And while this episode still didn’t quite measure up, in many ways the season finale felt like a throwback to the golden days, alluding to and attempting to reinvent season 3’s “Remedial Chaos Theory” and season 2’s “A Fist Full of Paintballs Parts 1 & 2”.
Here’s what went down: Fall semester has finally come to an end, which means Jeff is graduating, a step no one is quite ready for, especially Jeff. In an attempt to deal with his anxiety, he tosses a dice, resulting in some serious sci-fi time line fiasco with the group’s evil doppelgängers travelling into the “real” timeline in order to destroy them, equipped with Blue Paint Ball Guns of Death. Of course, the whole thing ends up being a construct of Jeff’s imagination, as he’s having trouble accepting that four years at Greendale has made him a “good guy”. Jeff embraces his changed persona, everything is restored to rightful order, he (and Pierce) graduate, and the group eats cake.
Confusing and not really all that funny? Sure, but at least we learned that in the fifth timeline Britta and Troy have a baby named Chewbacca. See, all was not lost.
So, what do we make of this season (series?) finale?
It felt like the writer’s were trying really hard to create a story that would both feel like a proper ending to the series if it doesn’t get renewed and set things in motion should season 5 get the green light. Yes, Jeff and Pierce graduate (how convenient! If we do have a season 5 we have a valid excuse as to why Pierce’s character would be absent!), but the rest of the study group still has a semester to go, not to mention all of the bizarre alternate timelines that could make for interesting story lines.
The season finale didn’t really culminate in anything other than Jeff’s graduation. It made me realize the entire season has lacked any significant plot, which might be excusable if the comedy had been better, but it just felt like the show lost a sense of direction. Shirley’s character seems to have stopped developing now that she’s opened the sandwich shop, Annie was just a strangely sexualized foil to Jeff, and Troy just got shoved aside as comic relief. Britta had a nice moment with Jeff, but even she fell by the wayside after ending a stilted and unconvincing relationship with Troy. Additionally, a huge part of the season was taken up with “Changnesia”, wiping clean a character that had grown over three seasons and resulting in an unrecognizable Chang with little part to play.
Community is a show a about a group of people, a community. I didn’t just fall in love with Jeff Winger (although he really worked that whole sexy magician thing in “The First Chang Dynasty”), I connected to the relationships built between these characters, and how they shaped each other through Spanish 101, fort building, and endless diorama constructions. This season finale (and what may be the series finale) was dissatisfying because it didn’t embrace the group’s journey. Instead, we had a Danny Tanner-esq heart to heart talk from Jeff about how much each of them has shaped him.
At this point, I’m uncertain whether I want Community to be renewed. I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of Greendale, but if the show cannot move forward and respect it’s characters, it might be time to get the diploma and graduate.
Then again, I still hear Abed’s voice whispering, “Six seasons and a movie.”