Community season 4 episode 13: Advanced Introduction to Finality

Review Emma Matthews 15 May 2013 - 08:18

The final episode of a disappointing season of Community finally rolls around, and Emma is... disappointed

This review contains spoilers.

4.13 Advanced Introduction to Finality

So, graduation has arrived, and with it, the end of Community’s fourth season. As the season as a whole has been incredibly disappointing, it was fitting that the season finale – once thought to have been the show’s swan song – was a low key, almost apologetic affair, more than in-keeping with the episodes that preceded it. Hugging and learning abound, but where’s the funny?

Despite the presence of the evil group, and a novel way to make paintball cool again, Jeff’s sci-fi graduation maintained the level of mediocrity that has become Community’s habit over the last 13 weeks. Even the smattering of what used to be Community staples – the aforementioned novel paintball, myriad sci-fi references, Winger in his pants, the Dean in a dress, insulting Britta – couldn’t raise Introduction to Finality even slightly above meh. Admittedly, hopes for the episode were never high, and it certainly wasn’t as painful as some of the episodes this season, but there isn’t a Community fan out there that wouldn’t have swapped the budget-blowing VFX for some good, old fashioned Community-style laughs.  It came close a couple of times – Troy’s ‘all for one’ ditching of the old man, and the half-decent Troy and Abed in the Morning had overtures of the comedy we love, but this isn’t opera, and overtures just don’t cut it.

What really hurt this episode though was the parallel between Jeff’s early graduation, and therefore the premature splitting up of the group, and the departure of Dan Harmon and the premature destruction of the show. Even Jeff’s speech was a diet version of what it should have been – brief, overly sentimental, and well, just a bit dull. For a man that’s spent most of his life bending the world to the will of his words, his final study room monologue barely got him a diploma. Having determined to force Jeff to learn lessons and ‘grow’ as a person this season, the show’s acerbic, smart, often shirtless heart has been ripped out, and no amount of well intentioned, right direction episodes can possibly compensate for that. Similarly, splitting up Troy and Abed for half the season removed all traces of the silly, surreal, wholly endearing boyish charm of TV’s straightest man-man couple, and subsequently, removed all the warmth that came from that coupling, and its place in the group. Even the Dean was less than this week – who would have guessed that he would, ahem, graduate Jeff in anything other than an enormous frock?

Much has been said in these reviews about what the show has been lacking, how insulting the fourth season has been, and all its attendant issues – truncation, postponement, and evisceration – but as this season is finally over, we’ll avoid any more repetition. We all know what we’ve witnessed over the last 13 weeks, we’ve seen first hand how market forces crush creativity, and we’ve all been saddened by the whole sorry mess. The fact that somehow, this version of the show has been re-commissioned for a fifth season is a conversation for another day, and although the heady days of Goodfellas, Omar and French plaits are long gone, we should be immensely grateful that Community, in its original form, made it to air at all. Surely, a minor television miracle.

Six seasons and movie may have always been an unreachable goal, but for three seasons, this show was the best thing on TV. And for that Dan Harmon, the writers and cast, we are forever in your debt. However terrible season four, and whatever horrors season five has in store, we’ll always have the dreamatorium. It’ll be a long summer, and not all of us will make it back, so til then, let’s congratulate ourselves on not only making it to Jeff’s graduation, but for having been part of the small, forward looking, reference appreciating, Troy and Abed loving, Pierce hating audience that was lucky enough to get it.

Those of you who transferred from other places later in the course have no idea what you’ve missed out on – we suggest some very heavy Community revision over the summer, and then we’ll test your resolve come next semester. For the rest of us, happy graduation! Nobody worked harder for it than us... And no one will blame you for not coming back. Have a great summer!

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