Okay, well, nothing like burning off 90 minutes of your beloved but low-rated sitcom in one night, eh, NBC? So, since I know you neither need nor want to read a summary of three consecutive episodes, let’s just go over the highlights, shall we?
The first episode was the old-school video game episode, where Pierce and the gang compete against Pierce’s late father’s assistant for the family fortune. I’m not sure why this episode didn’t air several months ago (i.e. shortly after his father’s death), but it was still a fun installment. I did have a passing thought of “Futurama did it first!” but this episode brought enough to the table that transcended the potential gimmick of the visuals. (And besides, who could argue with a plot that led directly to the line “Troy and Abed shooting laaaaava!”?)
There haven’t been a lot of opportunities for the gang to rally around Pierce, and in this case, their protective impulses felt earned. From the start, Mr. Hawthorne’s assistant (whom some of you may recognize as the nonchalantly evil Gus from Breaking Bad) had set up such an unfair competition that the gang was righteously indignant. Props for defying expectations with the ending, though I do wish this arc had been better thought out, allowing him to come back for another guest spot.
Anyway, on to the resolution of the Chang-as-evil-dictator arc.
The most meaningful part of this half-hour was Troy’s self-sacrifice. It was great to see John Goodman one last time, and apparently his air conditioning repair school Vice Dean is no longer “going through some stuff” because he’s lost the ponytail. The air conditioning guys can of course get to any corner of the school, and they can help Troy and the study group rescue the Dean. But in return they need Troy to leave his friends and his whole life behind to join his new A/C brethren.
I felt that this was the weakest episode of the three, mostly because Chang’s recent storyline hasn’t really resonated with me for a while now. And, since they were going with a heist movie theme, I was left wishing they’d committed to the theme a little more. Still, the rescue of the Dean was clever and wink-y enough to keep me entertained.
And finally, there was a certain poignancy to watching what the creator and stars of the show thought at the time of filming could very well be the series finale. Of course, we now know that the show’s been picked up for what’s initially planned to be a 13-episode season. (Here’s hoping that some lesser shows flounder by the winter and Community ends up with a full order – and one that airs on a normal schedule and in the intended order.)
The plot of Shirley’s sandwich shop is picked up again suddenly, and like the Pierce episode, it felt like this was a plot line that had been ignored for a little too long. But still! Subway is gone, and so Shirley’s free to open her shop. But she and Pierce can’t agree on who will sign the contract, so it’s off to Greendale Community Court! And it’s time for Jeff to make the ultimate decision as to his priorities: getting back to his old career or taking care of his friends. (Though I must say: Jeff still has to enroll in and graduate from law school before he can work in his old firm again, right? Why was the a-hole former colleague acting like this was about to happen?)
Meanwhile, the A/C repair school is too weird even for Troy, and he’s disturbed enough by what he’s seeing to stick around and try to fix things. (RIP, Vice Dean!) Britta, meanwhile, is trying to fix Abed, while Annie”¦well, Annie did almost nothing this episode, didn’t she? That was a little strange, especially after she’d had such a strong season. I don’t even think she got a meaningful moment in the montage at the end.
In the end, we ended the season in an appropriate way; with Jeff’s ultimate Big Speech and with the group walking off into the sunset back where they started: studying together. I’m really glad that this isn’t The End, though it’s nice to see that this was an ending the people behind the show would have been happy with, if it had been. As it is, I’m content to take just a break for the summer, knowing we’ll see the gang again in September. Until then!