Episode Title: "Introduction to Finality"
Writers: Steve Basilone & Annie Mebane
Director: Tristram Shapeero
For the final episode of its third season, "Community" jumps ahead a few months to the end of the summer semester, as Jeff (Joel McHale) and the study group finally get ready to take their Biology exam. And when Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) arrives dressed like a construction worker, he's not there to pose as one of The Village People. Instead he tells the group that Subway is moving out and that Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) can fulfill her dream of owning a sandwich shop on campus.
The catch is that only one person can sign the contract for the space and neither Shirley or her business partner Pierce (Chevy Chase) can agree whose signature should be used. As the fight escalates, Jeff pulls back from the group and he refuses to get involved. As Jeff reminds Annie (Alison Brie), he's only at Greendale to replace his fake bachelor's degree and to resume his life as a lawyer.
Ever since "Remedial Chaos Theory," the darkest of all possible timelines has been a recurring theme on this show. But never more than in this episode, as Abed (Danny Pudi) is confronted by Evil Abed, his goatee sporting counterpart from the world which shall not be named. That timeline was created by the brief absence of Troy (Donald Glover), who was lost to Abed and the study group at the end of the last episode. While Evil Abed is clearly a construct of Abed's own mind, he seems to know exactly what happened in the darkest timeline, including details like Pierce's death, Annie's insanity and the way that Jeff lost an arm. But I guess when you're a fictional character you can have metaphysical awareness of your own branching timelines.
While Abed may be the sanest of the study group, Troy is apparently his anchor to that sanity. Without his closest friend, Abed allows his evil counterpart to take control before applying a fake goatee to his face and terrorizing Britta (Gillian Jacobs) during their brief therapy session. At no point does Abed actually threaten or physically harm Britta, but he is able to shatter her confidence and scare her.
Meanwhile, Troy is stuck in the Air Conditioning Repair Annex and doomed to live apart from his friends for a career that he doesn't even want. Evil Vice Dean Laybourne (John Goodman) takes Troy aside and shows a slightly less evil side of himself when he declares Troy to be a messiah among A.C. repairmen. Did I say less evil? I meant balls to the wall crazy. And we thought that the regular Greendale campus was weird!
This season also established a unique bond between Shirley and Jeff that even he can't deny. When Pierce hires a lawyer to represent his interests in Greendale Summer Court, Jeff reluctantly agrees to stand for Shirley… provided he can still make his Bio final. Unfortunately for Jeff, Pierce's lawyer is Alan Connor (Rob Corddry), Jeff's former rival who exposed his fake bachelor's degree and cost him his career as a lawyer
Alan actually appears to be a pretty good lawyer and Jeff is caught off guard when he learns that Pierce put up 100% of the money for the sandwich shop; which should give him the controlling interest in it. But Jeff knows Pierce and he just lets him recite a few racist jokes on the witness stand before the entire courtroom is pelting him with trash. At the same time, Evil Abed is on an evil rampage and he's coming to cut off Jeff's arm in an attempt to recreate the darkest timeline.
But before Abed can get that far, Jeff has to face a moral dilemma. Either he throws the case and lets Alan win or he'll be blackballed from his former law firm and his career as a lawyer will be over. And it seems that Jeff was willing to go along with that until Shirley told him that he should get what he wants and that her case shouldn't get in the way of that. From that we see the long awaited birth of Jeff Winger as a good person and not just a sarcastic jerk. But still sometimes very much a sarcastic jerk…
Jeff gives a speech about helping other people that not only inspires Pierce to drop the lawsuit (and Alan's law firm) but also breaks Evil Abed's hold over Abed's mind, allowing his good self to regain control. Shirley and Pierce reconcile and decide on one thing: Jeff should sign the Greendale contract as a representative for both of them.
Back at the AC Annex, Troy is drawn into a bizarre situation when the Vice Dean is killed during a repair job by a rookie mistake that he never would have made. To confirm his suspicions, Troy interrupts the coronation of the new Vice Dean and challenges him to a dangerous AC repair face-off in "The Sun Chamber." Naturally, Troy wins without even trying and he gets the new Vice Dean to confess to murdering his predecessor. Troy even rebels against the cult-like atmosphere of the Annex by insisting that they turn the new Vice Dean into the police and that they allow their students to have lives outside of the school.
Which brings us back to one of the great love stories of "Community." Britta expects the returning Troy to take her into his arms, but Abed is the first one that Troy embraces. Troy and Abed have a strange and powerful friendship that helps them both function as human beings. If that's not a kind of love, then I don't know what is.
The creative team of "Community" must have realized that this was nearly the end of the series, as a closing montage wraps up a lot of the long running story arcs. Jeff aces his final and gets the courage to look up his long absent father, Chang (Ken Jeong) reappears in the vents of City College, Star-Burns is revealed to have faked his death, Pierce and Shirley get their sandwich shop on campus and Abed takes down the Dreamatorium as Troy moves back into the newly restored room.
And yet, one area of the Dreamatorium remains in Abed's blanket fort. The TARDIS sized Dreamatorium glows brightly when Abed enters it… because Abed is magic, of course. The whole show is as well. If you've been watching "Community" for any length of time then you know that it takes place in an exaggerated reality. When strange things happen, just say "It's good that Abed did that, it's real good."
"Introduction to Finality" was a very satisfying wrap up to another creatively strong season of "Community." If this had truly been the series finale, it would have gone out on yet another high note. And while the show will survive for at least another season, there are some dark clouds on the horizon. It is heavily rumored that "Community" creator, Dan Harmon is being forced off the show for various reasons unrelated to his feud with Chevy Chase.
If these stories about Harmon's departure are true, NBC and Sony would be a making a huge mistake. As much as this show is the product of an amazing cast and talented writers, directors and crew members, Dan Harmon IS "Community." Who else could give us a show that could go in so many different directions on a week-to-week basis and still remain the funniest comedy on TV?
So to anyone reading this at NBC and Sony, I want to remind you that "Community" is something special and it should remain that way. Shows like this one don't just fall off an assembly line of bland sitcoms. "Community" deserves to live on with Harmon in the driver's seat because it was his vision that brought all of us together as a group of fans.
We are all "Community."