‘Community’ Season Finale Review: “Basic Sandwich”
Tonight brings the season finale of 'Community,' which could very well be the series finale. Will we get six seasons (and a movie)? It's still unknown, but prospects are good. That said, it's hard not to watch tonight's episode and see where it could leave our characters permanently.
Following up last week's episode "Basic Story," Abed, Annie, and Dean Pelton end up sucking the gang in to look for buried treasure while Jeff and Britta are reticent to participate because they're planning to get married though -- as always -- they join in. This leaves Shirley, and professors Hickey and Duncan with much less to do as they get interrogated by Chang and the two board guys who are finally given names, and one is given mental powers!
Eventually the gang does find the missing Dean (Chris Elliott) and his millions, and they do save Greendale. But more importantly -- for the first time in a long time -- this season finale dances on its own grave. Season 3, the last "real" season, ended on a note that was meant to be a possible closing out gesture, a season finale that could serve as a series finale, but here there's a party as Greendale has been saved for now, even if it's eventual closure could be right around the corner. The show, which has never been afraid of erring close to pretension, has found a perfect metaphor for living. Though maybe it just really likes Rodney Dangerfield's performance in 'Caddyshack.'
Abed spells out that this might be a possible finale as his way to understand what's going on, which straddles the line between clever and obvious, but it works in the context of the show. This season has been a little more aware of itself than usual, or perhaps is less afraid of embracing its more out there ideas, but this also ties into the show's existentialism. He spells out that Jeff and Britta want to spin-off and that if Greendale stays as it has, they won't get married. But the way they high-five, who's to say if we couldn't see them together in some capacity next year.That's the fun of it. But that the school is saved because of Jeff's feelings for his friends, that's where the episode hits closest to a closing note. He loves these characters just as much as I have grown to love them over the last
four because last season doesn't count five years.
Indeed, much of this episode was dedicated to anti-closure. The only thing resolved is that Greendale will be around, which is -- in a perfect way -- the best way they could possibly end the show if it comes to that. There's no need for a finale to suggest everything is over if the show will be around for as long as there are DVDs and re-runs.
Looking over the season, there have been some lesser episodes, though for a season that seemingly started in chaos with the loss of Chevy Chase, and Donald Glover's eventual departure, the show was at its best when it was against the wall and problem-solving. In fact the weakest episodes of the season were usually when it didn't have to apply drywall. Season five was a lumpy run, and Jeff as a teacher never really gained any traction on the show in the way that his life as a student did, nor did we get the sense why these people would be so committed to their fifth year in a community college. But the highs of this season -- when the show found its groove -- were as great as the best episodes of any of the previous seasons, while even the uneven episodes always had at least one great moment. Vince Gilligan's cameo, Koogler, the ass crack bandit, the hot lava episode, and Walton Goggins/Pierce's Will are sequences/episodes that are all timers.
So I'm hoping the show comes back, heck I'm hoping to get to that sixth season -- or perhaps a seventh if creator Dan Harmon claims the fourth as a mulligan -- and a movie. But if not, tonight was more wake than funeral, and that was exactly what was needed.