Community: "Advanced Introduction to Finality" (Episode 4.13)
“Advanced Introduction to Finality” was the perfect end to such a strange, bifurcated season of television. I’m guessing that few people will find it satisfying, but that only makes it more akin to the 12 episodes that came before it. That being said, it was probably the funniest episode we’ve seen this season since the first… only intermittently, and with flaws so large as to practically ruin anything interesting about it—much like what season four did to the rest of Community.
The episode begins with plans to celebrate Jeff’s graduation, plus confusing information about when Greendale’s school terms end. The rest of the study group is finally happy to see Jeff graduate, and he speaks with his old law partner about working with him again. Everything is going swimmingly until the Darkest Timeline versions of Jeff and Annie invade the normal continuity with plans of ruining everyone’s regard for Jeff. Why? Well, because they’re evil, that’s why, mwahahahahaha!
Anyhow, they cause a ruckus and end up sending Abed to their own continuity, where he meets up with the Darkest Timeline Abed and the two of them bond. Darkest Timeline Abed is sick of all the shenanigans and would rather help his doppelganger out. At the same time, Darkest Timeline Jeff and Annie manage to irritate the study group up until Jeff finds out about his doppelganger’s existence. He’s nearly sent away like Abed, but Chang jumps in and takes the paintball bullet for him while screaming “friendship.” It’s less stupid onscreen than it sounds here.
And that’s kind of the thing about “Advanced Introduction to Finality.” It sounds incredibly up itself and way too self-involved with its own mythology, and it certainly is all of those things. But like last week’s episode, that part of Community works here, because until things get too reliant on The Matrix they’re unique and novel, not just for the show but also compared with anything else. The evil doppelgangers are a lot of fun to watch, and getting all of that business resolved really adds to the show. It’s silly and cartoonish, but so is Community, and for once this season the writing level was able to sustain the ridiculous premise.
And then…. it was all a dream. No seriously, all of what we just saw since the first meeting in the study room was just a dream, a waste of time that was meaningless. Even, apparently, the lengthy subplot with Abed that Jeff would have had no knowledge of whatsoever, was just a dream, and we get a lame speech to sum things up—and oh boy was it bad. Is there any lamer way of coping out than saying that the last 20 minutes of your time were a complete waste? Unless you’re The Wizard of Oz, you’d better have a very good reason to try that kind of nonsense.
It’s a good way of summing up the season, though. When finally the show was bringing something new out, a story that was only a tiny bit informed by parody, and bringing strange changes to the world of Community, it was written out of the show before anything too interesting could happen. At this point it’s silly to pretend that Community would be unwilling to do something so crazy, and instead it just cheapens the episode, to the point that it went from my favorite this season to just another disappointing slog. The episode disregarded everything that came before and ended with cheap, unearned emotions—another season four trademark—and a perfunctory wedding/graduation that mostly seemed like a way of finally writing Chevy Chase off the show for good.
“Advanced Introduction to Finality” ended with “Six Seasons and a Movie” written on a chalkboard behind the cast, but does anyone really want that anymore? I’ll keep watching Community if it somehow remains on the air, but I’d be happier to hear it ends here, with Jeff’s graduation, rather than ecking out increasingly meager laughs from a decreasing cast of leads. The finale’s writer, Megan Ganz, has even left the show, making the staff who was around during Dan Harmon’s day even smaller. Community went through such a qualitative downshift during this season that it’s hard to be optimistic about the show’s future—it was like jumping from season seven of The Simpsons straight to season 15. Sure, the characters are still there, but everything else is hollow, despite the few bright spots still lingering on the show. At the end of its fourth season, Community is still watchable, which is an accomplishment and a bit of a surprise. However, continuing it at this point seems unnecessary, and it seems less likely than ever for the show to return to its former heights.
• …and Pierce is back. Because this season is a mess. There, I said it. I much prefer to have him leave for good than making up a lame excuse every other episode.
• Joel McHale’s Batman voice—good or bad?
• “I may not be good with facial expressions, but I know an evil doppelganger when I see one.” – This episode was so good until the end that Abed’s storyline didn’t irritate me.
• So in the evil timeline, Jeff took over whereas in the real one, Abed took over?
• “Annie, why are you acting like a mistress in a Lifetime movie?” – I can’t be the only one who wants to see said movie.
• “I spent almost four years here growing and changing and making dioramas.”
• OK, where was the giant mechanical spider? What’s up with that? I was promised a giant mechanical spider.
• This was a hard episode to rate. If our system allowed it I would put a 90 for the first half and a 35 or so for when the “it was all in your head” garbage hits.