“…And Pierce Didn’t Matter”- Community Season 4 Episode 12 Review- ‘Heroic Origins’
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.
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Dean you later! Maybe for the last time!