Community season finale recap: Endings and Beginnings

The Community multiverse fractures as Evil Abed escapes the darkest timeline. Living in the brightest timeline? Us, for watching this genius finale.
Ep. 20 | Aired May 17, 2012

Amazingly, these two did not come from the darkest timeline.

The philosopher Steve Martin once said, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." Basically, that it's almost an impossible task to fully translate the brilliance of one art form into another. Well, at this point I feel the same when it comes to writing about Community. How could I possibly capture in a mere recap the 90 minutes of insight, innovation, and, above all, hilarity, that we witnessed on TV last night? It seems a fool's errand even to try. So I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint those of you in our live chat who asked me to write a 15-page recap today. However, as some of you predicted you will get not seven, but twenty-one Lines of the Night. Count 'em, baby!

I will say, though, that if the three episodes that aired last night--"Digital Estate Planning," "The First Chang Dynasty," and "Introduction to Finality"--had been the finale of the series, not just the season, I would have been satisfied. Because they were that frickin' good. First and foremost, they were about character, and I can't think of another show on TV right now whose characters are this distinct, this fully realized, given such a degree of both internal and external life: Jeff and Britta's bipolar shame/shamelessness; Troy's shaky, evolving sense of manhood; Shirley's spiritual yearning and hard-headed pragmatism; Pierce's daddy issues; Annie's need to find love and acceptance; Abed's purposeful denial of reality. That's why I don't understand the critics who say that Community time-stamps itself with all its pop culture references, that it's doomed to be dated. That would be true if there weren't such vivid characters upon whom to hang those pop culture references.  But luckily for us, there are.

Before we get any further, however, let me take this moment to extend a big EW "Thank You!" to Gillian Jacobs for participating in our Community live chat during the finale last night. You really are the best. I was amazed, though, to learn from Gillian during our chat that everybody separately recorded the vocals for their videogame avatars in "Digital Estate Planning." It's a testament to each of the actors' intuitive understanding of their characters, and the ways they interact with each other, that it sounded more like an old-time radio broadcast, with everyone in the recording booth together at once.

NEXT: The study groupers become the people they were always meant to be inside Daddy Hawthorne's eight-pixel world.

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