Community: Heroic Origins (S4E12)

 In the interest of efficiency, honesty, and continuing to do whatever the hell I want, I’m going to open here with all anyone really
needs to know about this episode of Community: It’s, without a doubt, the worst, most contrived piece of work the show has ever put together. I’ve never enjoyed an episode of this show less or been frustrated by one more. This episode shows me, without a shadow of a doubt, that the writers have lost their footing and lost their way. After the first episode of the season, I accepted that the show had moved on to a different era. Things weren’t going to be the same and that was going to be okay. And I say it was “going to be” okay, because, ultimately, I was very wrong. Every Thursday (or Friday on Hulu), I’ve tuned into the show that was once my favorite and left, at best, pleasantly surprised. I stopped feeling like I was watching something really important, and started being happy with it when it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it was going to be. There were episodes that showed hope throughout this season, there have been moments where it feels like the writers have redefined the show into something that they can really work with, but this episode, to me, feels like a nail in the coffin. I won’t stop watching - I’ll probably never stop watching - but this episode is the one that put me over the edge.

    Or maybe I’m being over dramatic. But it’s my review and I’ll be over dramatic if it suits me.

    The premise of the show, that Abed has put together some sort of matrix that definitively proves that the Greendale 7 were all destined to be the close friends that they are now, is ridiculous. This show has the ability to get away with an incomprehensible amount of ridiculousness, but this was less believable than a paintball war or a stand-off between Pillow and Blanket forts.

    I’ve spent a bit of time grasping at why, exactly, this is. If a show can pull-off those types of feats with the ease that Community appeared to have, this shouldn’t have been a problem at all. But in that sentence is where the problem lies: ease. Never, in the show’s 3 ½ season run has it felt like the entire team - writers, editors, actors, director - were trying so goddamn hard. The effort was desperate and, worse, it was transparent. The way that the characters reacted to the unfolding of events spits in the face of what we knew about them before, and with the exception of a few brilliant one-liners, the episode was a true waste of 30 minutes.

    On top of that, the episode was relentlessly predictable in a way that the show almost never is. The specifics of what was happening were secondary to the general plot thread being really, painstakingly obvious. The show telegraphed its hand early and often, throwing subtlety out the window and into the dumpster. Presumably, they lit the dumpster on fire. It’s not that the show only had one way to go, it’s that there was never a chance they were going to explore any other avenues than one that would feel good and tie everything up with a perfect bow.

    And there again, is where another problem lies. All of the characters end up mad at each other for the ways that they changed the course of the others’ lives, and then forgave each other much too quickly. So, in the end, I didn’t understand why all of them were so upset about everything in the first place, and then was mad at them for forgiving their friends so quickly for seemingly no reason at all.

    Simply, the characters’ motivations don’t make any sense, and it seems fairly evident that the writers don’t care about making the characters’ motivations make any sense.

    Maybe I’m still holding Community to too high of a standard. Maybe, because I’ve so aggressively romanticized the series that I can’t accept the new turn that it’s taken. Maybe I’m just wrong and this was a really okay, or even good, episode. Maybe I’m being over dramatic. But I have a feeling I’m not. I have a feeling that this really is going to be the nail in the coffin for the show. NBC won’t keep a middling show, and this show doesn’t feel middling anymore. Who knows.

    Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong.