A video game, an elaborate heist and the appearance of evil Abed.
Despite an unwelcome winter hiatus, a supposed feud between its creator and cast member and fans fretting about its renewal fate, Community
managed to end its memorable third season with a trio of comedic brilliance. With three episodes packed into a single night, there was so much Community
to experience, it was almost overwhelming. To help you process all the goodness from the conclusion of season 3, here's a review of each episode.
"Digital Estate Planning"
once again delved into the world of animation in this episode, which largely took place within a video game created by Pierce's father Cornelius, as his last gift to his son. Of course, being somewhat of a "diabolical old fossil face," Pierce's father added a twist: his son's inheritance from his moist towelette empire can only be won if the study group can beat the game.
Working together, this would be a simple enough task (especially with Troy's years of video game experience), but it turns out Cornelius' assistant (and later to be revealed scorn son and half-brother to Pierce) Gilbert Lawson (played by Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito) also wants the inheritance. Having seen the video game developed, Lawson knows all the tricks to the game and though the study group tries their best, he ultimately wins. But when Cornelius' character in the game makes it clear he doesn't view Lawson as a son, the study group comes to Lawson's rescue by arriving full force to defeat Pierce's evil father. At the end, Pierce and the group agree that Lawson deserves the inheritance after having suffered by their impossible father for so long.
Shirley and Jeff's shared vanity when it comes to their video game avatars and the presence of weight sensors in their chairs
- Pierce slow to get the feel for the game (initially stuck in corner) and trying to destroy the others but digging himself into a suffocating hole in the ground instead
- Shirley and Annie teaming up to get weapons and Annie teaching Shirley that video game morality is different (meaning it's OK to kill characters)
- Abed and Hilda: Abed quickly falling for a girl in the game who only has three patterns of stimulus and has information on hundreds of random topics ("impervious to lava" and "underwater exploration"), a story that continues throughout the episode
- Abed's army of baby Abed's, who have his eyes and Hilda's bonnet and all recite "cool cool cool" and write their own custom-code
Though it's clear this episode was about pushing the visual boundaries of TV comedy, it also helped solidify Pierce's place in the study group once and for all - the group came to his aid, and he finally accepted his place in the group as the slow (but still cherished) one. The fact that Pierce was able to pass the goodwill along to his newly discovered half-brother made the ending that much sweeter.
"The First Chang Dynasty"
The infamous Greendale Seven decide it's finally time to infiltrate their school with an elaborate heist at Chang's birthday extravaganza. Troy's inside man reveals the three obstacles to rescuing the Dean (and proving their innocence):
Chang's #2, Joshua (whom Britta easily lures away with two days of Facebook flirtation)
- The basement key pad -- the codes for which are stored in Chang's guarded office
- The second lock to the Dean's place of capture -- the key for which is hanging on Chang's neck
With this intel, the group formulates their plan where they each play a key role:
Shirley: disguised cake caterer who stealthily clogs the toilet with a whole chicken
- Troy and Abed: pretend plumbers who arrive to fix the toilet, but actually hammer through the bathroom wall to get into Chang's office and retrieve the keypad code
- Annie: disguised as one of Chang's security and enters the keypad code
- Jeff and Britta: pretend to be Ricky Night Shade, the rock 'n roll magician, and his assistant at the party, where they pull a magic trick on Chang to retrieve his key
- Pierce: ruins the whole plan by arriving in his swami costume and blowing everyone's cover
But it turns out the group planned their heist Ocean's 11
style, where "the failing plan was all part of the plan": Pierce pretended to blow their cover so Chang would rush over to the fleeing Dean he saw on his monitor - this was actually a misdirection, as it was actually his "doppel-deaner," while the real Dean was being safely whisked away by the study group.
But when the study group still gets caught (for real this time), Troy is forced to use the AC repair school's help (in exchange for his enrollment) so they can prevent Chang from blowing up the school records (and proof to his wrongdoing) in a feigned fireworks accident. Chang is outted by the board, flees and the real Dean is reinstated. At the end, Troy must leave the study group to move to AC repair school housing, resulting in a series of sad goodbyes, ending with Britta (a kiss on the cheek and a lock of her hair) and Abed (to whom Troy whispers "I know you hate when people do this in movies," making the robotic Abed tear up with emotion).
"Introduction to Finality"
Continuing the narrative from the previous episode, the season finale is free from any major theme - there is no paintball war or risky animation or elaborate homage - it's simply a character-driven story that manages to intertwine all the characters' plots in an ultimately heartwarming conclusion.
Abed is struggling with the loss of Troy, so he agrees to being "therapized" by Britta. But before she can help (or do damage), evil Abed from the darkest timeline overtakes our Abed in an attempt to turn our timeline into the darkest. Britta is no match for evil Abed and after darkening her timeline by 10%, he leaves to cut off Jeff's arm (because evil Jeff is armless).
Meanwhile, the Dean announces the Subway in the cafeteria will be replaced by Shirley and Pierce's sandwich shop, but when only one of them can sign as official owner, they take the matter to Greendale court, pulling in a reluctant Jeff (who just wants to pass his summer bio final) to represent Shirley. Pierce hires Jeff's old nemesis Alan (guest star Rob Corddry) and the court examinations get intense as the two alternatively try to undermine Shirley and Pierce. Alan then gives Jeff an ultimatum: either throw the case, or he won't have a job at their old law firm after Greendale.
On the other side of campus, Troy is trying to adjust to life without his friends and in the strange world of AC repair. When Vice Dean Laybourne (guest star John Goodman) mysteriously dies from a freon leak, the new Vice Dean Murray releases Troy from the school, but something feels off. Despite missing the group, Troy decides to stick with the school and challenge Murray to the sun chamber, where two repairmen face off in fixing units while the temperature increases to deadly degrees. As "The Truest Repairman" (a prophetic messiah of AC repair), Troy easily defeats Murray without breaking a sweat (literally), forcing Murray to accidentally reveal that he killed Laybourne out of greed.
The episode culminates in the Greendale court classroom when Jeff delivers his most inspirational speech on friendship that carries over to evil Abed (who's ready to saw off Jeff's arm, but disappears with Jeff's encouraging words) and Troy, who decides to help Murray in the sun chamber and rightfully deliver him to the police. While Community
has often touched on the theme that people (and their problems) don't change, this ending seems to support the contrary: Jeff finally chose his friends over his law career, Abed admitted he needs therapy (with Britta's "help") and Pierce even called out someone for using "gay" derogatorily.
In the last montage of scenes (played nostalgically to the show's theme song), Shirley and Pierce get their sandwich shop, Jeff passes bio and musters the courage to search for his dad, and Abed (sort of) lets go of the Dreamatorium to allow Britta to move in (and continue her relationship with Troy, which cannot be denied after the pair's shared moments in the last two episodes). Even Star-Burns is shown happy and alive, having faked his death. Yes, there is one clip thrown in of the City College Dean plotting to overtake Greendale with Chang watching from the vent - which allows for more mayhem to go down next season - but overall it's a feel-good ending, which, given this darkest season (and timeline, for fans), is the type of ending Community
(Images courtesy of NBC)