Last week, Community aired the first part of its fifth season finale, which was entertaining enough but also played into some character stereotypes and in general didn’t feel like it had a ton of direction. Does the finale itself fall into these pitfalls? For a show that is perpetually in danger of being cancelled, the way this episode does or does not succeed is rather important. So, let’s recap.
Britta, Abed, Annie, Shirley, Jeff, the Dean, and Ian Duncan (?) discuss the first Dean, Russell Borchert, who fled in a computer-lovin’ scandal. Apparently, he hid a great amount of gold, which he left a map to in the Dean’s office. Buzz returns with blueprints for the school, and they embark on a search to find the treasure in order to save the place from Subway. They find a potential spot in the wall; Buzz breaks it, Duncan gets electrocuted by wires, and the Dean lets sparks/fire consume it in hopes that it will “spell out the next clue.” Everyone is clearly desperate.
Jeff announces his impending marriage to Britta, which upsets everyone until Abed finds a secret trap door. Everyone but Buzz, Shirley, and Duncan goes down the trapdoor, and the remaining group members find themselves in a catacomb-esque underbelly of the school. There’s actually a nice moment between Annie and Abed, where Annie describes her fear that they’re saving a different Greendale than the one from their first few years. But Abed knows that people change, and they shouldn’t fear it like Britta and Jeff, who are clearly searching for long-term safety.
The group finds a secret lab by opening path through a jukebox, where they find the gold treasure and a very hairy Dean Borchert. They try to convince him to break up with his computer girlfriend, but Annie tells them that his oddity is no worse than theirs, and they should respect that in the same way they expect people to respect them. He gladly leaves them his “Gerald Ford dollars,” millions of them, in order to save Greendale.
Sadly, Chang and the school board find the group and the secret lair. Chang makes a quip about being mentally ill, which would be funny if the writers didn’t cheaply exploit it all the time. The evil dudes kill Borchert’s computer girlfriend, who also controlled all mechanisms, locking them inside. Abed and Britta tell Borchert about the evil of the upstairs world, with people who use emoticons (real insightful social critique, guys) talking to each other online, which invalidates his attempts to create computers that feel emotions. Yeah, it’s kinda muddled.
Jeff uses his emotions through his love for others to get the computer to open the doors, in a shameless emotional ploy, which allows them to get upstairs in time to save the school from the Subway deal. Borchert’s contract, which demands he be a consultant on any deals, makes the whole merger seem distasteful to the Subway execs, saving the school. Everyone celebrates, Jeff and Britta cancel their marriage, and there’s a lame joke about Native Americans originally owning the land. Abed makes a joke that, if they don’t return to Greendale, then an astroid destroyed all civilization. “And that’s canon,” he adds, looking into the camera.
Well, that’s a fairly unsubtle ending to the season, and the episode is definitely hit or miss throughout—perhaps in keeping with the hit or miss nature of this season. Still, looking back, that’s a statement that applies to most of Community seasons, so I guess the show is back on track. I’m excited to re-watch season five in order to see if it stands upon reviewing much like some of the previous seasons have. I don’t know if the two-part finale will stick out, but I’m hoping that some of the more human stories from this season will.