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Worldly Distractions: Community 5.13 - Basic Sandwich




COMMUNITY -- "Basic Sandwich" Episode 511 -- Pictured: (l-r) Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley Bennett, Jonathan Banks as Professor Hickey, John Oliver as Professor Duncan -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

Okay, I'm not going to get into the same wailing as last year, because I thought it would be the series finale, and we all know it wasn't. On the other hand, this really could be the end of the show. So, let's just say that it's been a really fun season (better than Four, anyway, but getting punched in the face is better than Four), and an incredible adventure all the way. Let's see how this season finishes.  Will they save Greendale? Probably.


We learn about the origins of Greendale via old video footage and narration from the Dean. Russell Borchert (Chris Elliot), recently wealthy through the invention of the 9-track tape, founded a computer school back in the day. However, he was forced out due to his unnatural affection for computers. The city took over Greendale, and a shitty community college was born. However, Borchert supposedly left a treasure on the property. It is supposedly hidden in a secret computer department on the campus. If they can find it, they can possibly buy back the school from Subway. The quest is on! Opening credits, after a few dick jokes.

While Chang listens at the door, the group finds the approximate spot for the hidden stairwell, but when Hickey breaks through with an axe, they only find wires. Duncan, of course, promptly electrocutes himself. They start to argue. Jeff chooses this moment to break the news about his engagement to Britta. Everyone is shocked, especially Annie and the Dean, but there's no time to argue. Abed has uncovered the stairwell, and School Board representatives are banging down the door.

When they do get in, however, they find Shirley, Hickey and a near-comatose Duncan cheerfully holding a tea party. The others are in the stairwell, hidden under the carpet. While Britta and Jeff bicker (oh, and search for the treasure), Annie admits to Abed that she's not so sold on saving Greendale now, with Pierce and Troy gone and Jeff and Britta getting married. Abed tries to comfort her with an extended sitcom analogy, predicting that the Winger-Perry spinoff will be cancelled in about six episodes - as long as they find the treasure. He also thinks Annie's about to kiss him, but hey, this ain't Star Wars paintball.

The Dean has unearthed some treasures, including a toy rocket launcher, but not the treasure. He chokes on one of the pieces. The gang blatantly ignore this, waving their flashlights around as Jeff and Britta engage in PDA and Annie rolls her eyes. The Dean coughs up the item and yells at them for ignoring his near-death experience. Solving a riddle involving a jukebox, they manage to open the door and find a perfectly preserved piece of 70's nerddom. It doesn't take long to find Borchert's gold. The only snag? Borchert himself is there to guard it. Abed updates him on major pop culture happenings. The mad professor charges. Fortunately, Jeff manages to subdue him in seconds.

Hickey, Shirley and Duncan have been apprehended, and are interrogated by the School Board. They give up nothing. One of the School Board members stares into their eyes, hallucinates, and has a revelation. The missing Committee members are on the roof. Apparently, they stole a hang glider and are now at a Greek restaurant across town. The villains run to stop them. However, they are interrupted by some mechanics, who tell them that they found a trapdoor next to the vending machines. Oops.

Borchert has come around a little, and tells them of his survival (huge stockpiles of food, toilet paper and cocaine). However, he refuses to let them touch his computer...which is named Raquel. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Jeff almost convinces him to break up with the machine, but Annie is unsure of their goal at all. She asks them to respect Borchert, because Greendale isn't worth it. In exchange for their kindness, Borchert offers them his money stash - a duffel bag full of Gerald Ford Dollars. Greendale is saved!

Or at least, it is until Chang and the School Board catch up with them. They take the money and kill "Raquel" with a magnet, shutting the doors to the room and trapping the Committee forever. To pass the time, Borchert shows them his cool programming tricks (which Britta can defeat in about 0.8 seconds on her phone). Apparently, his computer can respond to human emotion. He mentions that he started Greendale in the process, which prompts an idea from Jeff. He digs around in some papers and finds out that the school legally belongs to Borchert. Wait, didn't they know he started Greendale already? Why didn't they pursue this before?

Anyway, he's found the contract, Greendale is saved, yada yada. The only problem is, Raquel is still frozen so they can't get the doors open. Borchert suggests that "a burst of passion" might revive her. Jeff asks them all to turn around. At first I think he's going to expose himself, but instead he puts on some sensors, looks at his friends, and remembers all the good times they had together. So the power of love opens the door, fortunately not frying Jeff's brain in the process (though it does give the Dean unrealistic hopes). They run to save their school.

Subway holds a ceremony celebrating the new university. Just as they are about to formally take over the school, Jeff shows up with an old contract and a tenuous knowledge of legal procedure. Borchert is the new Vice-Dean, and Subway has no authority. Since they "don't do conflict", they back down pretty quickly. Greendale is - finally - saved.

The School Board rants, Starburns puts on Dave Matthews, and everyone has a dance party. Duncan is back to normal, Jeff and Britta call off the engagement on a flimsy pretext, and Hickey expresses his sincere admiration for Shirley (and admits that he actually was thinking of a hang glider). A Native American man who looks exactly like the famous commercial claims that Greendale's only owner is the land. For his treachery, Chang is invited to join the School Board, then tasked with delivering the Gerald Ford dollars to the school bursar. It never gets there, of course.

Abed and Annie discuss how they never got to celebrate Halloween and Christmas, but they'll "definitely be back next year". Abed suggests that if they aren't back next year, it's because of an asteroid destroying the world..."and that's canon". Annie marks off the task of "Save Greendale" as done. Jeff bangs his gavel, and the season is DONE.

Tag scene: A fake promo for a new show starring the School Board and Chang, which basically spends its entire screentime poking fun at NBC.

So, as a season finale? It was okay. The story was interesting enough, and I liked Abed's meta commentary, though it does grow tiresome. At the same time, though, the episode felt as if it was painted by numbers. The Britta/Jeff thing was lazily written out, the storyline came to a perfunctory end - and save for what Abed said, there wasn't really a fun stylistic twist or anything to hold our attention. I've said this many times before, but Community is at its weakest when it gets too wrapped up in its own mythology. Here, it made exactly that error. Still, this past season has been good and I'm glad we've had it. With any luck, tune in next year!

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