It's been a bumpy ride for our friends over at Greendale Community College. In real life, this season saw a series of stops and starts, premiere dates pushed back for no reason, loss of actors, loss of show creator, critical skepticism and the need to work around Joel McHale's obviously intense CrossFit schedule (where did he get those abs from?).
On the show, the characters have also had quite a bit of baggage. With their impending graduation looming, a veritable metaphor for the future of the show, members of the study group have found solace in their own escapist behavior.
The season opened with Abed attempting to avoid the group's final hurrah by hiding deeper and deeper within his own psyche. In the second episode of the season, Annie lives out a fantasy where she and Jeff are a married couple on the brink of divorce; even in her dream world she can't get their relationship right.
The school itself goes through a brief delusional period when the Dean aims to woo a rich prospective student by pretending Greendale is a party school. Of course, there is the entire Chang plotline, which is literally about Chang pretending to be someone he is not. Troy couldn't face his and Brita's reality, so he faked a Freaky Friday body switch with Abed to address the seriousness of the situation. All in all these guys live in a world of truth dodging, which is Greendale Community College, a perfect place to hide out from the real world. And that leads to last night's season (series?) finale.
Jeff has been gunning to graduate since the day he enrolled in Greendale, and despite the group's protest, he has taken enough courses to graduate early, and early has finally come.
At the top of the episode, Jeff sits in the swank new office of Marc, his old lawyer frenemy. Marc persuades Jeff to come back to his "old/new life" as a high-powered lawyer fighting for all the wrongs he once fought for. It's tempting and Jeff shakes on it.
He hasn't mentioned this to the study group yet, as they attempt a lame celebration for his graduation. There's a banner and some soda that Troy forgot to buy. Rather than let Jeff have this quiet moment, the group marches down to the Dean's office with Jeff to watch as his diploma is signed, sealed, delivered in person. But just signing a diploma lacks a certain joie de vivre, and so the Dean and Annie decide to throw a diploma-signing/wedding. Yeah, kinda weird thing to do for one person.
Jeff wants to avoid a big soiree at all costs. Over drinks he tells Brita that it's not himself he's worried about being upset over the group's disbandment; he's concerned about the group. Pshaw, says Brita. Get over yourself, Jeff; everyone will be just fine without you, even the fragile-minded Abed. Brita casually reminds Jeff and the TV viewing audience that Abed hasn't even brought up "the darkest timeline" in months, which if you remember (or don't because she retells the whole story) is when Jeff is an evil lawyer who loses his arm and Annie is crazy and the world has gone into dystopian hell. All it took was a roll of the dice to set this timeline spiraling, and this gives Jeff an idea.
An awful idea. Jeff got a wonderful, awful idea.
He finds the study group planning for next semester and his party and suggests that they roll a die to see who should bring the soda. Ah hah, once the die is rolled Abed will surely start spouting his nonsense about the darkest timeline thus forcing Jeff to stay in school to keep Abed from losing it. But who's the crazy one here?
Rolling the die does set off the darkest timeline, and Evil Jeff, with one arm, appears in a naked Terminator-like flash of light. He and evil Annie have come from the other timeline to save Jeff from himself. They must ruin everything so that Jeff doesn't wimp out of taking the lawyer position and thus become his old, asshole self again. It's very Freudian.
So Jeff and Annie start down a path of destruction that involves hurting everyone's feelings along the way, except Abed. Abed is aware of the dueling timelines, of course, but when he approaches Evil Jeff about it he is sent spiraling into the other timeline where he elicits himself for assistance.
Basically, Evil Jeff has taken over and despite his vast followers, he knows that somewhere a good Jeff is alive in another timeline, and it irks him. So that is why he is timeline-hopping, to kill the good version of his persona. Did I say Freud? Maybe I meant Jung.
Evil Abed gives good Abed some weaponry and sends him on his way.
In the normal timeline, Jeff shows up for his wedding/graduation to find that no one is around. He's pushed them all away without knowing it. He is confronted by evil Annie in a hot dress and then the evil version of himself. "Take the lawyer position," they tell him because the balance of the darkest timeline depends on it! The evils are going to need some help and luckily the rest of the evil study group shows up dressed in black leather!
Jeff finds the study group and explains the situation to them. Their evil counterparts are there to kill them, but luckily Abed has brought back futuristic killer paintball guns from the darkest timeline that will send the evils back to where they came from.
It's us versus us. Without much effort, each member of the group sends his or her doppelganger back to hell. Just as Jeff is about to give up, Abed talks some sense into him. The whole thing is in his head. Jeff is just afraid that if he leaves Greendale, he will become the old, dick version of himself. None of this is happening. And so Jeff confronts his evil self head-on. He has changed and that doesn't mean he can't live outside of Greendale; he will always have his friends by his side.
Good prevails and Jeff et al happily attend the graduation/wedding ceremony complete with Jeff marrying a human dressed up as a diploma. So weird. Naturally, Jeff gives a lovely speech about how much the study group means to him and how he has become a better person because of them. Rather than going back to his old life, Jeff decides he'll use his talent for talk at a small local firm that helps the good guys. So, he'll still be in the neighborhood anytime he should want to stop by, basically letting us know that this show has no idea if it will come back next season, but it's possible.
We close out with a perfect evil version of Evil Troy and Evil Abed in the morning. Thank God this show didn't end forever without recalling one of its best running jokes.
The final episode of Community, whether it is forever or not, was very sweet and very, very bizarre, which is exactly as this show is and should be. I can't really think of a better way to have ended it, although I hold out some hope that it is not gone altogether. NBC has got nothing else going on, so maybe this show will see the light of day next season. We shall see.
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Some fun stuff: Abed says, "The graduation wedding mash-up is testing really well with women," and Shirley and Annie say, "Aww." Funny.
Troy comes up with his greatest idea ever, a sandwich called the "Troy-jan Horse," which consists of bread, ham, bacon, chocolate...
At the graduation party, written on the chalkboard, it says "Six Seasons and a Movie," which is a part of the movement to save Community. Some subliminal messaging, perhaps.