Community – Season 4, Episode 13 “Advanced Introduction to Finality”, Review

Rating. 0.7


In 1996 Marvel released an ill-advised promotional superhero that was at best a failed venture. His unfortunate name was Combo Man and, much like his title suggests, he was a combination of all of the leading Marvel superheroes. With the hands of Spider-Man, the face of Iron Man, and knees of the Human Torch, what couldn’t Combo Man do? He couldn’t stop himself from sucking, that’s what.

I couldn’t help but think of Combo Man while watching “Advanced Introduction to Finality” tonight, because blending a bunch of good and separate ideas together just doesn’t work. All of those superheroes work well independently, so there’s absolutely no reason to force them into one clumsy entity. The same can be said of episodes of Community.

That’s half the problem. The other half is the difference between viewing a print of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, and actually walking into the church and basking in the mural’s glory itself.

It’s the disparity between creating a good idea and replicating a good idea. Knowing that the fans had a special place in their hearts for “Remedial Chaos Theory” as well as the three paintball episodes, the showrunners blended them and created a Frankenstein’s monster of misguided fanservice and lazy storytelling that may very well be the worst episode of the series. It is the equivalent of microwaving your three-day-old restaurant leftovers, only to find they’ve gone bad.

This episode was some kind of nightmareish fanfiction, written by someone who watches Community in the same way that they view lesser comedies like Two and a Half Men or The Big Bang Theory. It called too much attention to old jokes and made a lame and transparent effort at being “meta”. “Advanced Introduction to Finality” was a repetitive mess that felt like a mashed-up and pathetic rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin’!”

“Advanced Introduction to Finality” was masturbatory, pure and simple. This episode desperately wanted the fans to revel in how well it spoke to them and proclaim that in its last moments of life, Community managed to leave a lasting impression. The writers were patting themselves on the back saying “good game” to one another while the rest of us stared in disbelief over what had just transpired on our television screens.

You can’t wrap up a series in ten minutes. You can’t spend the first two acts of an episode in a dream world and then tell a totally different and much more material story in the third. You can’t leave us without a send-off, a beautiful farewell of sorts.

I needed to say goodbye to everyone, not just Jeff, the Man Who Wings Speeches. I didn’t get to say goodbye, instead I watched a finale that spent two thirds of its short run time in a fantasy world which had no bearing on the events that played out after. This was an amalgam of misguided fanservice that failed to leave any of us with a semblance of closure.

The most unforgiveable aspect of this whole mess is the fact that this could very well be the series finale and my beloved Community will have no more opportunities to redeem itself. Britta is no longer the worst, it’s Community.

NOTE:  Disagree with Blaire? Check out guest contributor Ricky Diaz’s defense of ‘Community’!

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  1. I didn’t even think of this as the series finale. The show ended last year and that’s that. Introduction to finality was as good a sendoff as any and, to be fair, it’s not even nice to all that Community used to represent to consider this season as part of the same thing. Season 4 was simply a very sad, sad joke. I’m actually glad it happened because it helped me mourn the show’s end. Seeing how horrible such a perfect thing can be, helped me appreciate more that it even existed in the first place. So, by now I’m just glad it finished. I just really, really hope they don’t renew it. Now, that’s a cause for flashmobs.
    Oh, and besides, with Community how it was this year, what we saw tonight wasn’t the darkest timeline. This is.

    • Excellent points, Luis. I’m in the same boat: this is the darkest timeline, Community is the worst, and if it were renewed it would be a complete and utter tragedy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

  2. I’m sorry but I completely disagree with this entire post. The writers have developed an overlying story and if you see on the chalkboard its labeled as GCC #411 which means this episode was initially intended to be the 11th episode of the season. There was a plan for this, this probably would have served as the episode before a hiatus before the actual hiatus occurred, I believe this episode was supposed to be a segway to a bigger and better storyline in which a shift in the dynamic has occurred due to the fact that Jeff will not always be present, I strongly feel that this season may not have been the best, but it none the less has been incredible television. This situation reminds me of the Arrested Development ordeal, Season 4 feels exactly like Season 3 of AD, pounding in thoroughly entertaining allbeit old humor in order to show what the show is about in a last ditch attempt for ratings and salvation. I believe the show did what they could with what they were given, 13 episodes which began mid-season, and tried to create some abridged ending point for their dedicated viewers. While I completely acknowledge the points you have made, I feel this is nitpicking at an episode which was a forced and unplanned ending. Just my two cents.

  3. I think this is some unnecessary hate towards a show that has brought all of its fans so much happiness and joy over the the past several years. While I agree that Advanced Introduction to Finality wasn’t the best episode, it was an improvised ending. If you watched season 4 up to this point you know that there were other storylines, like City College’s “destroy Greendale” plan, that were supposed to be played out this season. But, because the season was cut short the writers had to throw together an ending that would satisfy the fans, satisfy the critics, and wrap up what has been a magical series. I loved it.
    And I don’t need a goodbye for everyone in the show, I know where they are going. Shirley has her family and started her business. Troy is the messiah of ac repair. Annie will become a forensic detective or whatever. Britta will become a therapist, scary as that seems. Abed will go on to do something amazing, because he is Abed. Pierce graduated and this season he was able to become close to his half brother Gilbert, he has a family. Jeff will go back to being a lawyer, but at a smaller firm. And best of all they have each other. The finale may have been hard to follow for someone who hasn’t watched the show, but if you are jumping into Community now its too late and it doesn’t matter if you get it or not. It ended like it started, with a Winger speech, but for completely different reasons, and I know why its different, because I’ve been able to see the characters grow.
    I feel like I’m rambling at this point, but Community was great, Advanced Introduction to Finality was great, and if this is the series finale, I’m happy because they have each other, and I have Community.

    • Hi Nate, thank you for your comment. I would like to clarify to all of my readers that I have been watching Community almost since the beginning (my first episode was “Physical Education”) and have seen every episode multiple times.

      I am a huge fan of the series who was disappointed in the end product. I understand they had budget, time, and episodic constraints this season. When I am writing a review I’m not writing about the show’s struggles, I’m rating the product they presented. I can’t give a pass to something awful just because it was thrown together very quickly–rather I should be judging its quality for this very reason.

  4. I agree that they shouldn’t really have had the paintball aspect incorporated into it. And also that it spent two of the acts in a make believe world. I mean, if this wasn’t the finale, I think it wouldn’t have been a bad idea. But I whole heartedly disagree on it being 0.7 Where you even get those numbers confuses me somewhat (agree to disagree I suppose). The problem was it being focused mainly on Jeff, and not the group itself. I hope nbc brings back Harmon and we get some proper episodes, or netflix or some cable channel picks it up (w/ Harmon). But I can only hope.

    • Hi Jenny! Thank you for the comment. The rating is based solely on our personal enjoyment. For instance, I would rate “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” with a 10.0 because it is the single most enjoyable episode of Community for me personally. Given that I did not enjoy anything that occurred in “Advanced Introduction to Finality” *, I gave it a very low rating.

      *I did chuckle with boozed up Darkest Timeline Shirley.

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