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’!