23 May 2013

Thoughts on Community Season 4, Episodes 10-13

Community Season 4 Cast Photo via Hulu

Since the premiere Community's 13-episode fourth season aired back in February, I've been sharing my thoughts on how the season has been progressing since the firing of creator and head writer Dan Harmon. Here's my take on the final four episodes, or the last "act", of this season:

Intro to Knots was this season's Christmas episode, but it aired in April thanks to NBC's scheduling. It was supposedly based on Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, but I'm not familiar with the film so I didn't catch the references. The plot was a bit odd for a holiday installment, as the group winds up holding Professor Cornwallis hostage at a Christmas party over a bad grade while Professor Cornwallis uses psychological trickery to try to get one of the group members to let him go. I would have preferred to see something more festive for a Christmas episode, and to have seen this plot play out at Greendale during a blackout or something similarly atmospheric. This was definitely my least favorite Christmas episode that the show has ever done.

Jim Rash, the Oscar-winning screenwriter who plays Dean Pelton, wrote Basic Human Anatomy as an homage to Freaky Friday. Troy and Abed switching places was hilarious, and Donald Glover and Danny Pudi did a great job playing each other's characters. Oddly enough given the character-switching, this was one of the first episodes I've seen in a long time where the characters really felt like themselves, which makes sense since Rash has been with the show since the pilot. This was definitely my favorite episode of the final third of the season.

I really didn't like Heroic Origins, which flashed back to the character's lives before they came to Greendale. We got to see Annie's infamous Adderall-induced meltdown, but it bothered me that it played out differently from how it was described in the show's first season. I also didn't like the idea that the group was "destined" to come together and were even at the same frozen yogurt shop at the same time when they all separately decided to go to Greendale. One of the things I loved about Community's first season was that these were a random group of people who form a connection in spite of themselves, and this back story sort of erased that premise.

Advanced Introduction to Finality was a pretty decent season finale, but I'm glad that it wasn't the series finale. I liked seeing the darkest timeline return, and thought it was a fitting way for Jeff to deal with his mixed feelings about graduating. I didn't really care that the Changnesia arc wasn't resolved--I'm guessing this was left open in case the show's nine possible additional episodes were picked up. I'm intrigued to see what happens to Jeff post-Greendale, especially since he got a degree in education. I know his stated plan is to work for a small law firm, but since jobs in the legal profession seem scarce right now I wonder if he'll return to Greendale in some kind of teaching capacity.

As a whole, this season was very uneven. I think the new showrunners have yet to find their footing, but hopefully they'll take fan feedback into account going into Season 5. Even though I was often disappointed in Season 4, I'm glad the show is getting another shot to be great again--after all, isn't Greendale all about second chances?

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