Chekhov's Gunman


“…And Pierce Didn’t Matter”- Community Season 4 Episode 12 Review- ‘Heroic Origins’

Study Group Yogurt Community

I’m not even sure what to say. It was a better than fine episode that I enjoyed a great deal, a standout episode from a run of really solid episodes at the end of a mostly solid season. I enjoyed a lot of the depths explored tonight, and found it to be enjoyable throughout, except for maybe Abed’s “Shaman speech” to Chang at the end of the episode.

But despite “Heroic Origins” having plenty to talk about (Magnitude’s origin!!!), all I can think about is how this was, in all likelihood, the second-to-last episode of Community we will ever get, about the last we’ll ever receive. Next week, I’ll review the episode as usual. But tonight, before we know whether Community will be getting a fifth season, I want to talk about things as if tonight were the last step to the end.

What have we accomplished this year? Many, myself included, would have been fine and satisfied if Dan Harmon’s Season 3 finale had been the capper. Obviously, we wouldn’t have gotten the wonderful bits of closure around Jeff’s dad or Troy and Britta’s relationship (never again to be referred to as “Tritta”). But for all intents and purposes, that episode could have been the one to close it all out, the third act of a trilogy of great episodes that greeted us one glorious night last spring. No matter how I droll on and on about how this season has been fine, damn fine even, there will be many who mark “Introduction to Finality” as the last time the show was any good. But I think Season 4, despite its missteps (and they were ample), and despite its obvious attempts at being a shadow version of the show it used to be (at least early on, whereas the more recent episodes have hit their own unique stride), has been a worthy and incredibly enjoyable ride. There were things they got right and things they didn’t. And here those things are.

Things They Didn’t Get Right:

1.)    Troy and Britta- Admittedly, it was a relationship that never really worked. They were characters that shared a mutual attraction, but not an overabundance of chemistry. The writers struggled because, well, this couple would struggle in real life. That doesn’t make up for it being less-than-thrilling television, but the writers did notice its nonfunctionality in time to craft a fitting end to their relationship, probably a better one than it deserved.

2.)    Jeff’s Snarkiness- Especially recently, Jeff has just seemed like an asshole in situations where he used to be a lovable rascal. It’s just been rubbing me the wrong way.

3.)    The Laughs- They just… haven’t been there. No episode has been devoid of a solid, solid joke or two, but we have certainly been low on gut-busting lately. Personally, I miss it. I remember dying in my chair when Pierce got shot in “Remedial Chaos Theory” and at basically everything in either of the fake clip shows. This season has really been lacking in anything that has made me roll. My chortles have been seldom, but well-earned when they come (JUST LIKE MY WIFE! BA-DA-CHA!).

4.)    Memory Loss- Mostly because it cannot be done well. It’s up there next to babies on my list of things that can ruin shows, and Changnesia has really been no exception. The episode centering around Changnesia was fine, but memory loss is the babies of things that can happen to men.

Things They Have Gotten Right:

1.)    The Heart- That dear, sweet ooey-gooey heart, oozing from every ventricle with genuine sincerity and love for these people and their plights. Episode’s like Britta’s dance and that gut-punching Thanksgiving episode nailed the feelings department and nearly sent me running for the tissue box in a way I haven’t felt for a sitcom since [insert any Parks and Recreation episode]. Season 3 had maybe only one or two episodes in its 22 episode run that really got at the heartstrings, and Season 4 has nailed the emotion in spades.

2.)    Pierce- Consider this sour, old bastard redeemed. Seriously. Unless next week’s (oddly supernatural) finale features one or more scenes depicting Pierce committing graphic racial blogging, the CEO of Hawthorne Wipes will leave on a high note, one Dan Harmon certainly wasn’t able to achieve. With one puppet show-related exception, Pierce has been redeemed episode after episode by doing things like helping Britta when everyone else left her out to dry and being very, very honest with Jeff about dealings with emotionally (or physically) absent fathers. I hope they keep it up next week.

3.)    Chang- Despite being saddled with one of the worst afflictions that can befall a TV character (see above), tonight brought Chang back from the edge. I had felt for a while that Chang had gone undeveloped in recent years, but then Season 1 Chang was brought in tonight via flashback and I realized just how far he had come. They did what they should have done long and ago and thrown Chang into the study group, assumedly as a replacement for Pierce should the show continue into Season 5. They pulled him, lubricated and screaming, out of the air vent and into the Study Group, finally granting his greatest wish. Again, something you couldn’t say about Community even a year ago.

4.)    Genre Episodes- None of them were as mind-bending as some of the episodes from the past, but I had a beautiful time watching the puppet episode and being amazed at how anyone could make a body-switching episode work. That being said, the show also became exemplary at….

5.)    Getting Back to the Roots- There was a time when this show was about a bunch of misfits at a community college, attending funny classes and going to dances. I didn’t think I missed that stuff while we were riding the Space Bus or dealing with the Darkest Timeline, but when we got back to it I realized how often I enjoyed their hijinks and missed something simple like a funny teacher. Seasons 2 and 3 were obviously improvements upon the first, but it’s not so bad being back.

Sometime this week, before next Thursday, we’ll know whether or not we’ll ever seen Community again. I have no idea what to expect from next week (except, I guess, a giant mechanical spider, which made every part of my body simultaneously erupt with both uncontrollable joy and absolute terror).

Seriously, did you see the preview for next week, involving two Jeffs and a magical paintball gun? Unless we were looking at the obvious answer—that this was just an Abed fantasy—it appears that Community may have finally gone full retard and crossed over into science fiction. No judgment on my end until it happens.

I, like assumedly the rest of you, will be waiting with baited breath for renewal news. In any case, no matter which way the die lands, I will see you here next week. I have a strong feeling that we’ll end up happy with our Season/ Series Finale.

A-     Found myself exceptionally enjoying this one, despite some issues in Act 3, a really obvious reveal of City College, and a less-than-exemplary Pierce stand-in. One I’ll revisit tomorrow on Hulu

Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future creator of great movies and TV and present creator of awesome macaroni pictures. Check back for weekly reviews of Community and Game of Thrones, our weekly Mexican Standoff, and the Good Stuff.

You can find Kevin on Twitter.

Dean you later! Maybe for the last time!


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13 thoughts on ““…And Pierce Didn’t Matter”- Community Season 4 Episode 12 Review- ‘Heroic Origins’

  1. I totally agree about Jeff’s snarkiness. I don’t remember him being so quick to shut everyone down or flat out mean about it.

    As much as I found myself entertained by the episode, I couldn’t get over the absolute implausibility of all those fated meetings. It was fun to see them piece together a history, but I think there were one too many coincidences for me to suspend my disbelief any longer.

    I’m pretty sure I remember Britta telling everyone that she got kicked out of her anarchist group for trying to organize them, not having the group fall apart after a court case victory the way it happened.

    The fact that Shirley and her husband were at the same night club/lounge on the same day where Jeff and his client were celebrating was a little too much to believe. Not only that, but I felt the audience’s intelligence was a tad insulted with the shot of Shirley talking to Andre and we see he’s wearing the Cosby sweater again. In a fancy place where everyone is dressed nice and sipping drinks, you don’t wear a Cosby sweater. It was the show’s way of beating us over the head with “You can tell it’s Andre because he’s wearing the Cosby sweater!” Blaghhh.

    I admit those are some pretty severe nitpicks, but it just bugged the hell out of me.
    Also to note, I don’t think I laughed once. It was entertaining, but not funny. I’m really looking forward to next week’s episode for many reasons. It looks like it’s gonna be good, and the finales have all been really great. If it’s the last episode of the series, I’m okay with that because if Season 4 as a whole was any indicator, I don’t think I want more episodes.

    • I agree with a few of these nitpicks. The body doubles for both Andre and Pierce were very distracting.

      I laughed a few times throughout, probably the hardest at when The Dean picked up Shirley’s lingerie, the true beginning of something great.

      I’m very hopeful for the finale next week and for the radically unpredictable idea of a Season 5. I think it if happens, it’ll be about as good as Season 4 and if it doesn’t, then we’ll probably have our solid closeout to the series, involving at least some paintball.

      I think with episodes like this one, you just kind of have to accept the conceit and go with it, like any Space Bus or Darkest Timelines that have come before it. It’s a play off of episodes like this one that have been done on other such sitcoms before. This wouldn’t be the first time that the show has hinted that these people are destined to be together.

  2. Maggie on said:

    While there were a few things that made me go WTF?! I think we shouldn’t be as severe about the episode, and the show in general. Something I’ve always liked about Community is that it doesn’t take itself very seriously but, at the same time, it’s a serious show with lots of messages and heart in comparison to other comedies. Sure, I would laugh at Liz Lemon in every single episode of 30Rock, but it never really made me cry or feel for one of the characters. Community has managed to do both.

    The Pierce thing was distracting, yes, but I thought it was a clever way to deal with something that happened off camera. They can’t create a digital Chevy Chase after all, and they managed to add Pierce, a beloved character, to the whole “being connected” plot.

    That being said, I do have my own nitpick about this episode, particularly about Chang. I think he was resolved too easily. Understandable since only one episode is left and they have to move the plot along. But it was just so easy! I mean, it seems like Abed knew from the beginning who Kevin was but he never mentions anything, plus they explained his entire behaviour in season 3 with “You have lab monkey disease”. Really? It works but to me it’s just TOO easy.

    I did laugh a lot this season, and I’m sure I’ll keep on laughing and clinging desperately to this show if a new season is made. Seeing Magnitude’s pop pop origins made laugh maybe far more than it should have, or seeing Annie go through a window, or Troy’s ridiculous over the top popularity. Along with that, it broke my heart seeing Troy bully Abed. It was, all in all, a good and a very Community episode, with some laughs but, most importantly, a lot of heart.

    I’m really crossing my fingers for another season.

    • Sometimes I think it’s time for the show to end, and then I think about my life without new Community and I just simply don’t want to live in that place.

      • LuvLuvBrittaPerry on said:

        Same here. I do find myself wishing for next week’s episode to be the very last of the series. Then I start thinking I love these characters too much and I don’t want Community to be over…

      • With a cast like this, the show couldn’t only get so bad. I think Community could go on for a few more years and still be high quality. At this point, why not just go for Six Seasons and a Movie?

  3. adam on said:

    what is the song playing in the yogurt place

  4. JiDo on said:

    Did no one else notice Troy’s self inflicted injury to stop playing football? Previously the story was he hurt his shoulders doing a keg flip, but in the 2nd last episode, he hurt his football knee?

    • There are a few differences between what we see in this episode and what has been told to us in the past, yes (See: What Annie looked like in high school). I’m sure it should bother me, but, in the grand scheme of things, does stuff like that really matter? Hyper-continuity is always appreciated, and this may go on to bug me in the future, but right now it doesn’t rub me too far in the wrong direction.

  5. Pingback: Community Season 5 Wish List | Chekhov's Gunman

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