Community season 5 episode 13: Basic Sandwich

Review Caroline Preece
18 Apr 2014 - 10:10

Community's fifth season has come to an end. Here's Caroline's review of what could be the last ever episode...

This review contains spoilers.

5.13 Basic Sandwich

It’s a bit tricky talking about this season finale of Community, Basic Sandwich, without acknowledging the fact that this could be the last time we’re talking about Community at all. Unlike last year’s season finale, which felt like the final straw for a lot of fans and inspired a sense of “that’ll do” that should really never have been applied to a show so daringly, brilliantly original, this second part of last week’s Subway vs. Greendale debacle has the sense of sweet finality to it. But then, maybe it’ll be back, it depends on what fails!

Basic Sandwich embraced the 80s-ness that has run through the show since the beginning, throwing in Jeff/Britta/Annie shipper moments, fourth wall breaking comments from Abed, passing mentions of Pierce and Troy, and a fittingly heroic moment for Jeff that ends up saving the day. In short, it had a little bit of everything Community is about, and it was also very, very funny. The only criticism I can really think to throw at it was the lack of cynicism inherent to the more traditional finale-esque moments, but then I always have room for a good old-fashioned happy ending.

The episode was essentially about the gang fighting against the establishment in order to get a last-minute renewal, avoiding awkward spin-offs like a Jeff and Britta show, and thankfully Subway are always on hand to provide a corporate baddie for series they sponsor. So important to the legacy of Chuck and others, the presence of those humble sandwich artists almost didn’t need to be explained. And Abed didn’t necessarily have to spell out the point of their little mission – to find the founder of Greendale and stop Subway from buying their beloved college – being akin to the fight for great little underdog TV shows to stay on the air.

And the episode was as dense with these brilliant little comments and asides as usual, with conversations about missed holiday milestones, the misguided spin-off, ‘Greendale Computer-y College’, the school’s first racist mascot and, of course, that genius NBC-lampooning tag. Since the death of Troy and Abed in the Morning! (RIP), those 30-second bursts of unadulterated joy have been entirely skippable but, after an episode that dealt so much with the show’s own mortality, it was the perfect way to leave us.

So, was season five the return to form that we were all hoping for, after the major, much-discussed disappointment of that Dan Harmon-less fourth season? The general consensus is that it was but, despite some truly wonderful moments worthy of being discussed along with the first 2-3 years of the show, there’s a definite sense of old age creeping into the show. They may have saved Greendale once again, and there’s not one of us that want to see the show get cancelled just when it was getting back to its best, but it’s also true that a series as ballsy and unique as Community has a limited shelf-life.

The gang accomplished their mission and saved the school but, with the study group missing two members and the unlikelihood that new additions like Hickey are going to be around for a season six, what for? Season five did save Community, and it managed to redeem the show almost completely in thirteen short weeks, but will another season be pushing it a little hard? It’s an argument worth having with a show where the fight to be on the air can sometime cloud the quality of the results, but my feeling is that there’s a little life in it yet. Adversity breeds creativity, after all, and not many shows face as much misfortune as Community has.

Six seasons and a movie is what we asked for and, providing NBC is eager to get their little show that could to 100 episodes, that’s very likely what we’ll be getting. As this season, and this episode especially, proved, the Community writers know what they’re doing, know how to finish off their show somewhat satisfyingly and, despite the bumps in the road, could be rewarded with a fulfilment of that original hashtag-worthy motto. Here’s hoping Abed was right, and we will indeed be back next year. If not, I blame the asteroid.

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, Basic Story, here.

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