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Worldly Distractions: Community 5.12 - Basic Story





Holy crap, can you believe the season's almost over? This is the first part of the finale! Where did the time go? Well, your loyal recapper is here to document it all. Let's see what Greendale and its inhabitants are up to.

The committee is slowly ticking through its tasks, and the school is coming along. Everyone sits back in satisfaction, except Abed, who just looks mildly confused. He's disturbed by their contentment, because problems are necessary. Everyone chides him, so he lets it go. They sit in silence. Just then, the Dean breaks in with an announcement about how wonderful everything is. Abed rolls his eyes. Opening credits.

The Dean gets a visit from the Board, who announce that there's an insurance appraisal tomorrow. This, of course, threatens Greendale's infamously shitty existence. Meanwhile, the study group has been playing video games for thirty minutes, and Abed's bored out of his gourd. The Dean bursts in with his scary news. Abed calls for action. After everyone figures out what an insurance appraiser is, they get to work. Everyone reacts in their usual way - Shirley mentions Jesus, Annie rolls out a plan, Hickey talks about violence, and Jeff makes a long-winded speech about how the school is "addicted to crisis", Britta comes out with something totally irrelevant. Jeff thinks they should relax, but Abed wants a story, so a story they get. He launches a plan to make a fake world-renowned physics department. The Dean has to learn Swedish on the fly, Hickey needs to collect some criminal friends to be actors, Annie needs to make a particle accelerator out of Kleenex boxes...Jeff interrupts him right there.

He drags Abed into the hallway and insists there won't be a story today, but Abed tells him that there's already a perfect setup, so they have no choice. Jeff tells him that if there is a story, that means they're in trouble, and he just wants peace for once, so there's no story. Abed agrees, no story, and the episode continues - in real time. It's pretty fucking dull but kind of awesome too.

While setting roach traps in the office, Jeff and Annie find a wedding ring (it belonged to the Dean's mother), which prompts a conversation about settling down. Annie suggests that since Jeff has a stable job and people he's attached to, maybe he has settled down. Jeff vehemently denies this, claiming he only loves Scotch and himself. He is especially not attached to Greendale, which is why there is no story, and the inspection will be "the most boring thing to happen here since Britta dated Troy." Zing. 

Abed continues to declare that there's no story, but realizes he has no centre now. He decides to seek the best way to break out of the story, declaring he'll find the answer in the teacher's lounge - thus creating a story. My head hurts already. The inspector ("Ronald Muhammad", played by Michael McDonald) arrives, and everyone tries to put on a happy face. He drones on about liability. Jeff tries to look stonefaced, but Shirley sees right through it and tries to comfort him. Naturally, he dismisses it. She appeals to his fondness for Greendale, describing it as his great strength. Meanwhile, the appraiser is trying to convince them that the community defines a "dog" as anything with four legs and a tail, and every animal is just different a different size of dog. Don't ask. Quoting Dante, the inspector enters the school.

Still searching for a way out of the story, Abed begins to break down, but then remembers that it's conflict, which technically makes it a story. An apparition ("Abed-with-a-beard") appears and tells his non-bearded counterpart to keep on fighting the story. Geez, you couldn't just make a Community version of Waiting for Godot? 

The tour goes well, finishing in the cafeteria, where Ronald attempts to tip a vending machine. The Board shows up gleefully expecting bad news, but are dismayed to hear that Ronald has given it a pass. Everyone's thrilled, including Jeff. Starburns starts up a dance party. The board members, recovered from their temporary shock, realize that they can "finally sell it". The celebration abruptly stops. Per the board members, the school isn't worthy of its valuable property, and they're going to hand it over to the private sector. As they walk out discussing the various brands who might like the property, Abed comes in and proudly announces that the school is story-free. Everyone stares in shocked silence.

The Dean, in despair, tries to commit suicide by pulling the vending machine onto himself. Jeff drags him away and tries to talk some sense into him. However, upon realizing that all their efforts to save Greendale were in vain, he falls into despair as well. Hope is lost. This doesn't stop Starburns from trying to play Dave Matthews, however.

The Subway flag is raised, and the Dean announces that Greendale will become a Sandwich University. How the hell did they even get Subway to sign up for this? I'm charmed, but talk about bad publicity. The school we love is dismantled. The students shuffle around, lost. Annie comes up with yet another plan to save Greendale, though it doesn't seem to consist of more than tweeting. The others gently try to tell her that it's pointless. She bursts into tears. Abed says they can save Greendale with buried treasure. Jeff dismisses this, however, and disbands the Save Greendale Committee. As he's bringing down the gavel, Chang unzips his jacket to reveal a pro-Subway t-shirt, admitting that he's worked for the enemy all along. Gee, Chang was evil after all! Who would have thought?

The Board members show a Subway exec around and tell him how much they hate Greendale. While they leave the Dean to cry half-naked in his office, Annie shows up with Abed and tells them exactly what she thinks of them. They treat her with all the condescension you'd expect. We learn that Greendale is still Greendale for two more hours, which I suppose will be part of the plot later on. Abed ties the execs up with pedantic questions about bread. Annie goes to check on the Dean, who is clinging to a few desperate delusions. His world has been yanked out from under him. Abed and Annie try to help him pack up. They find some interesting photos of Greendale's past, like their 1987 anti-segregation rally and the legend of a professor who made love to a computer and died of a computer virus. He's now super famous and wealthy, and presumably played by an appealing guest star.

On the picture, Abed notices a plate that literally says "The truth is behind this picture". Curiosity piqued, he removes it to find a little space in the wall with a scroll. Whatever it says, it's shocking.

Subway offers Jeff a job teaching Sandwich Law, which would entitle him to $5 foot-longs for life. He goes to find Britta. They discuss their future plans, but are both pretty down. Britta admits she's worried about Abed and Annie, who were both so invested in Greendale (which Jeff attributes to being part of the "adulthood begins at thirty" generation). They both see a bright side to the end, however - they're ready to move on. The conversation turns to their shared sex life, which they agree was a good accomplishment. However, they wonder if they did anything else of note during those five long years. After a long silence, Britta goes to clean her locker, but Jeff stops her - and proposes. WHAT? Where did this come from?

After a speech on how they should "do what people do" and a long, cynical discussion on what their marriage will be like, Britta accepts. Guys, I'm not liking this. It's from absolutely nowhere. At least it'll probably last, like, half an episode tops. They kiss, agree that it feels right, and decide to leave Greendale behind forever - but not before one last study room quickie. However, this is rudely interrupted by Abed, Annie and the Dean, who have found a way to save Greendale yet again and are practically dancing with excitement. You see, there's treasure on campus!

As they do the Buried Treasure Dance and Jeff wears the scowl of The Man Who Just Got Cockblocked, Chang sneaks up to the study room door and takes some notes...

Tag scene - Hickey and Duncan get drunk and bond. Turns out Duncan is from the village in England where Hickey was stationed. Huh, didn't think Hickey was that old. Are you confusing your generations again, Writers of Hollywood? Anyway, they indulge in a lovely English duet. Unfortunately, when it comes to light that Hickey lost his virginity in the same pub where Duncan's mother was a hooker, things get awkward. Fortunately, they are relieved to establish that Hickey shagged Duncan's aunt instead. Though now that you mention it, Duncan has a cousin who's an awful lot like Hickey...

Well, it's hard to review this episode, as it's half of a two-parter. Remember when they divided those into different weeks? The playing-with-a-story idea was interesting, but kind of half-baked in its execution. The Britta-Jeff engagement was weird, but so typically them (remember how impulsive they get) that it worked. It had a nice gag or two here and there. However, there really wasn't much to the show as a stand-alone. I guess we'll have to wait until next week for the epic conclusion, which may well be the series finale. Is this how Community will go out, guys? Only time will tell.

And I still want to know how the hell they got Subway.

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