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Community Recap: Wait, This Is the Finale?

Can you believe it, Greendale? The end of the school year already! It’s quite a journey we’ve been on together over the last nine months: watching as a mismatched assemblage of weirdos formed first a Spanish study group and then (SPOILER ALERT!) something close to a family. A show that started out as a nonstop barrage of zippy, pop-culture referencing punchlines delivered with all the subtlety of an ADD-addled 8-year-old at a Little Miss Sunshine (reference!) pageant evolved into something much richer and more demonstrably human. And a comedy that began as meta transformed into character based and then ended up kinda ham-fisted and rom-commy. Wait, what?

As others have noted, last week’s penultimate episode really felt like a season finale, what with the whole resolution of whether the group will still be together next year. (SPOILER ALERT! They will.) This week’s felt like the season finale that only a mind as TV soaked as Abed’s would have demanded: a self-aware half-hour that pleasantly mocked all of the various things Community experimented with over the past 24 episodes (Pierce and Troy will be friends! It was a good idea for Jeff to date that Statistics Professor! John Oliver will get away from The Daily Show enough to be a regular!) before taking a weird left turn and doubling-down on the No. 1 thing we thought the producers had been wise enough to drop, namely the forced pairing of Jeff and Britta. So allow us to say: This was a weird move!

A few weeks ago, during the paintball masterpiece, Community found a way for Jeff and Britta to get it on without upsetting the status quo; they had their table-sex cake and ate their zombie-movie parody too. (Huh?) Or, in Britta’s words, Jeff was allowed to experience “Flavor Country.” And then last week no one talked about it, which was awesome! You got away with the impossible, Community! You successfully steered away from a case of cutesy “will-they-or-won’t-they”–itis! (Or, in case Abed is reading, you avoided the Sam and Diane! Or the Maddie and whatever-Bruce-Willis’s-character-was-named-on-Moonlighting!) But then this week, Britta — who in the last few weeks has finally emerged as a funny, independent character who doesn’t exist solely to tweak and flirt with Jeff — announces she loves him? I mean, sure the abs are nice. But loves? Relax, Community. You got renewed. Relax!

Sorry to harp on this one bizarro plot development, because so much of the rest of this episode was great. We loved the opening moments referencing all of the guest stars we’ve met along the way (John Michael Higgins leaping through a sprinkler! Leonard either having a stroke or practicing tai chi!). John Oliver killed as Professor Ian Duncan; not only was he hilarious in his own right, but he actually works as a successful foil for the one-note, roll-of-quarters-having, Lost-referencing Professor-no-longer Chang. Also: The Dean is a plushie with a dalmatian fetish! Chevy Chase sang a song! Abed had a kegger! All good!

Better than good? Troy! Call us simple, but the biggest LOL of the entire episode was the shot of Troy, alone, eating his enormous cookie with the word “Con-trans-ulations” on it. And then the cookie stayed with him from scene to scene! Getting smaller! Because he was eating it! Good. Times. In fact, Troy with his cookie was the only relationship we really cared about this episode. We didn’t dig Britta and Professor Statistics catfighting over Jeff for no good reason. And while we appreciated the unexpected zag at the last moment — we were counting on a zig! — we’re not sure we’re totally onboard with Jeff making out with (20-year-old!) Annie, either. Yes, they have chemistry. Yes, Annie is awesome. (And Delaware doesn’t deserve her!) But it didn’t really feel necessary. Community improved enough over the course of the season that not everyone needs to be in love and kissing all the time. It’s not Grey’s Anatomy! (What’s that, you say? Grey’s Anatomy’s finale was about a rogue gunman wandering the halls of a hospital murdering people? And everyone got shot? And there was a — what? — a miscarriage too? Yeesh! Give me a Trannie Dance any day of the week.)

But the writers have, what, at least nine days off now before they get back into it. Let’s send them off with well-wishes. No more hairs to split or nits to pick. We’re going to miss Community over the long, hot summer. Heck, we’ll even miss you, commenters! What with the listing of jokes that we forgot to mention and telling us we have PMS when we complain about things even though we’re dudes. So let’s end, instead, with a standard yearbook message, one we’re still not tired of writing:

Dear Community,

Related: Read our interview with Joel Mchale in which we talk about the paintball episode, hooking up with Britta, and his six-pack.

Your pal,
Vulture

Related: Read our interview with Joel Mchale in which we talk about the paintball episode, hooking up with Britta, and his six-pack.

Other Recaps:
Alan Sepinwall agrees that last week served as a better season finale for a generally strong season.
At the AV Club, Todd VanDerWerff feels like too many things were forced.
Jeff and Annie’s potentially sleazy kiss has Margaret Lyons of EW saying “Ye gods.” Really!

Photo: NBC