Most television shows aren’t hits, and when they’re not that means very little certainty that they’ll be around for another year. Especially in the last few years decisions over what will return have really come to down to the wire, such that while the current season is right now winding down we’re still getting announcements about which shows have and have not been given another order. So when the final episode of Community was being written, it seems unlikely they knew that on March 17 the show would be picked up again—less than two months ago our little-watched show (relatively speaking) was on the cusp of cancellation.
So the finale to Community’s second season ends not just like a season finale, leaving us wondering what will happen to characters later, but more like a show finale. Continuing from where we were last week, the dreaded ice cream cone is soon revealed to be the dean of City College, Greendale’s rival, and the whole competition is just to screw over the school with the expense of cleaning up after paintball. With this learned, the cast does the only thing it can and bands together in a way that brings out incredible amounts of fan service while still maintaining a fairly suspenseful situation as to how they get out of this mess.
For obvious reasons “For a Few Paintballs More” feels less like a self-contained episode than normal, but there’s also the way it’s billed as a semi-conclusion to the show as a whole that makes its form a bit different. Its premise was already set up last time so there’s very little development. This means it’s structurally different and we have more time for screwing around and randomness, which just so happens to be what the show is best at.
It might be nothing more than me being in a better mood this week than last, but I preferred this episode to last week’s because of that difference. “A Fistful of Paintballs” was “Modern Warfare” in a cowboy theme, but “For a Few Paintballs More” was something else entirely. Paintballs were still there, and as usual they were used wonderfully, but here there felt like something more was at stake (and I don’t mean the few paintballs). And there was in fact quite a bit at stake, as we saw with Pierce leaving the study group for good at the end of the episode. This tonal shift made it not just another theme episode but a theme episode with some real heart and change.
About that change—I really do believe that Pierce is gone for good. Dan Harmon’s not one who believes sitcoms should return exactly where they began at the end of an episode, yet while Shirley’s had her child it’s had little effect on the show as a whole. There’s a need to make the third season different from what came before it, and my guess is that this is the first step in that direction.
Part of why there’s that need is because in almost every way the second season of Community was better than the first and it’d be hard to keep things the same without just repeating things. This season of Community was the show I most looked forward in the fall of 2010 and with this strong end it looks like that’ll be the same for fall of 2011. See you all there.
• I didn’t write much about the Annie/Abed stuff largely because I don’t think much will come of it in the future, especially since Abed already kind of has a girlfriend (or at least a stalker). There’s always a chance, though…
•”Why would someone who gets paid to do things be at Greendale?”
•Other than the Han Solo bit and the enemy looking like stormtroopers, there wasn’t all that much Star Wars here. I’m kind of glad about that, though, since it would have gotten in the way of the episode.
• I was a fan of the Star Wars intro, though. As always, their episode-specific intro was perfect.
• “Dammit, Shirley, forget your newborn child and think about the people that need you.”
• “Go Jeff Winger’s study group!” – The Dean needs to get this made as a banner.
• Welcome to Greendale: you’re already dead.
• I’ve said it before, but Danny Pudi is an incredible mimic.
• “Are we the little rascals?” “I was.”
• The knock-off John Williams music worked great in that it was subtle.
• “Commencing operation Actual Operation.”
• The paintball mini-gun is amazing. I have no interest in weapons, but good lord do I want it.
• “I’ve been in a few real wars … this one is actually the most terrifying.”
• “He uses some kind of crystal instead of deodorant.”
• “You know I’ve been coming to this school for 12 years?” – No… no we don’t. Here’s hoping we still see plenty of Pierce next year.