Friday, May 10, 2013

4x13 "Advanced Introduction to Finality" (I Don't Wanna See You Go But It's Not Forever)

"Advanced Introduction to Finality"
Original Airdate: May 9, 2013

No matter how prepared you think you are to say goodbye, I would argue that you can never be truly ready. Even if you are anticipating change in life, saying farewell to current comfort, current stability, or familiarity is intimidating at best and downright paralyzing at worst. When I was a junior in college (what feels like eons ago, but was only, in actuality, four years ago), I transferred from a college I had been attending in West Palm Beach back home to Orlando. Since I was a poor college student who had been attending a private school and The University of Central Florida was a fifteen minute commute, I moved home. And that is where I have been since, slowly saving up money to move out on my own. In less than a month, I’ll be moving across town to live with my friend Leah. And it’s going to be a great opportunity. I love my family, but I’m ready to live on my own. Still, saying goodbye – even when I am only twenty minutes from them – to my family is going to be strange. It’s a weird shift in dynamic and no matter how much you prepare yourself for it, inevitably a part of you mourns what once was and is scared of what’s to come. These days, my co-workers and I like to lament our college days. We miss being able to sleep in, make our own class schedules, and discuss literature. At the time of graduation, we were more than ready to bid our university farewell – we couldn’t WAIT to exist in a world where we didn’t have to take finals or write papers anymore. So… what happened between then and now? Why was it so easy to say goodbye then, but so hard in hindsight? Maybe Jeff Winger could answer this for us, because it’s this very dichotomy – the exhilaration of a new adventure and fear of the unknown – that grips him throughout “Advanced Introduction to Finality.”

As I write this, I am still uncertain as to whether or not it will be my last (live) blog-review for Community. If “Advanced Introduction to Finality” is the series finale of our beloved sitcom, then I would – if I am being completely honest – be fine with the way the show ended. Though not every question was answered (thanks to @TweetingKerry, I completely forgot about the Dean Spreck sub-plot), the show ended the way it began: with Jeff Winger learning a lesson from six individuals about how to become a better person. And I genuinely think that Megan Ganz conveyed Jeff’s journey throughout the episode, peppering it with his insecurities so that when we listen to Jeff’s final speech, we feel a tug in our hearts (and in our tear ducts) because this man that we met four years ago has “returned to [his] familiar situation, having changed.” That, dear friends, is character development. And that? Well, that is beautiful.

We take a step back from everyone else this week and focus on Jeff which is actually a lot rarer than you would think. Yes, there are evil!study group sub-plots (none of which actually exist, mind you) and some scenes sprinkled throughout involving the real study group members and Dean Pelton, but this episode was about one person and one person alone: Jeff Winger. Just like the pilot, we run around Greendale with the man, only this time Jeff isn’t looking to cheat his way OUT of Greendale. No, he’s looking for a way to stay IN. I’ve noted this a lot before in past reviews (specifically “Course Listing Unavailable”) but for all of the griping and complaining that the study group does about Greendale and all of its quirks… they miss it when they are expelled. They become legitimately depressed. They don’t know how to function without the place that, mere days earlier, they called “a prison.” And Jeff? Jeff consistently belittles the school, always talks about how thrilled he will be to leave its walls someday and return to his former success as a lawyer, but… something happens: Jeff realizes he doesn’t actually WANT to leave. And that small kernel of realization (as well as self-doubt and fear) takes root within him during this episode, so much so that he constructs an alternate reality in his mind to avoid dealing with the repercussions of his impending graduation. No, you read that right: this is not ABED, but JEFF. The beauty of Community as a series has always been that it manages to take characters we know and love and parallel them in ways where we are illuminated to their innermost thoughts, fears, and feelings. We know what makes them tick, essentially, when we see them placed side-by-side. Sometimes the realizations are unsettling. And sometimes they’re downright touching. At any rate, we have come to presume that Abed is the most emotionally and psychologically unstable. But recall “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” – as Britta’s psychological tests reveal, Abed is the most SANE member of the group. And, per Britta’s remarks in this episode, he has come to define the differences between reality and fantasy.

So why is JEFF the one fantasizing about the darkest timeline? Why is he immersing himself in the idea of another world? Perhaps it’s because Jeff is more fearful of change than he lets on. The first appearance of the evil study group and the darkest timeline was in “Remedial Chaos Theory.” At the end of the episode, Abed’s spidey senses tingle, alerting him to these alternate realms. Evil!Abed resurfaces a few times in the remainder of the season, first in “Contemporary Impressionists.” Abed’s evil alter ego appears in the Dreamatorium, right after Troy scolded Abed for his behavior earlier that night. Alone, vulnerable, and afraid of the future, Abed listens to his evil counterpart as he explains the advantages to traveling alone without Troy or his other friends. The alter ego caters to Abed’s desire for both control and self-sustainability. In “Introduction to Finality,” evil!Abed rises once more, intent on making the prime timeline into the darkest one. But the means by which evil!Abed caters to Abed is the same – by exploiting the filmmaker’s fears and insecurities about change. And truly, that is why the darkest timeline appeals to Jeff. If he can escape the decisions he has to make, if he can postpone leaving the people he is so comfortable being with, then maybe they won’t actually happen. And that’s why Abed and Jeff are so similar: both are afraid of the future. Abed has learned this year to slowly adapt to change. Jeff, the audience presumes, has always embraced change. But it’s only when faced with making a decision that we realize we aren’t ready to make a move after all.

This episode was written by Megan Ganz (@meganganz) and she is the only person I would trust to write a fitting farewell to Jeff Winger, while simultaneously incorporating the absurdity that makes Community what it is, at its core. Ganz has always been someone I have admired on this show because she fundamentally understands these characters: she knows what terrifies Jeff, she knows what he needs, and she is the one who wrote the episode that I argue is where the study group first began to function as a single unit – as The Greendale Seven (“Cooperative Calligraphy”). She did what I didn’t think was possible, going into this episode: she took a concept that should have been – that COULD have been – completely absurd and turned it into something fundamentally significant for the hero of the series. I was apprehensive when I read about how the finale would involve the darkest timeline, I won’t lie to you. And I was STILL apprehensive going into the episode. And I was STILL apprehensive half-way through the episode. But then, after the credits rolled, slowly the pieces began to click. Then I re-watched the episode in its entirety, knowing all that I had known about the existence of the darkest timeline within Jeff’s mind, and everything made sense. Which is why I always (ALWAYS, I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH) encourage you all to re-watch an episode at LEAST once before you cast a final judgment. One viewing just simply isn’t enough for Community (or any other show, but especially this one). So throughout this review, I will praise Megan Ganz and the way that she handled the season-maybe-series finale of the sitcom. If you don’t like it… well, I suppose there’s always The AV Club.

Do you have your official Greendale diplomas in hand, too? Well then it’s time to recap the plot of our episode! The episode opens with Jeff at his old firm, chatting with a guy named Mark (who we saw last week in the flashback to Jeff’s early lawyering days). The pair jokingly discusses Greendale and then Mark offers Jeff a job – a return, as it were, to his old life. And we think that Jeff will leap at this opportunity – we presume he’ll be ecstatic to return to the courtroom, trying cases and sitting in his large, comfortable office. But… he’s not, and that surprises both himself and us just a bit.

“Just shake my hand, idiot. It’s simple,” Mark says. This is the first shred of doubt we have seen in Jeff in a while in regards to his future and decision-making. At Greendale, everything was pretty simple for Jeff: decide which blow-off class to take; decide how to fix the study group that week; decide how to avoid Dean Pelton’s ab touches, etc. But when Jeff is thrust back into the real world – back into the life he thought, for four years, that he really wanted – he realizes that his decisions aren’t going to be EASY anymore. Ethically and morally, Jeff took the low road (his was actually more of a dirt path…) in his career, and no one has forgotten that. So when Mark offers Jeff a job, he offers old!Jeff that position, not new!Jeff.

Ah, yes. Remember new!Jeff? The self-proclaimed new version of the lawyer that opened this season? I’d argue that new!Jeff has been developing for quite a while now, ever since he first admitted to loving the group in “Early 21st Century Romanticism.” THAT was a turning point for his character, and one he has been growing from ever since. But the problem is not that Jeff has grown, necessarily. The problem is that the people in his life – the Marks and others – have not and cannot accept this new version. They scoff at Greendale just as Jeff did when he first entered it. They roll their eyes, wondering what he could have possibly learned at a “kiddie school.” So honestly, Jeff is at a crossroads he never anticipated approaching – does he return to his former life as new!Jeff, all the while being looked upon as old!Jeff. Or does he figure out if what old!Jeff wanted and new!Jeff want even line up anymore? What if the dreams and visions and goals that propelled Jeff Winger through Greendale for four years are not really what he wants anymore? Where does that leave our hero? (Apparently, the answer to this is: within the constraints of his own mind, constructing an alternate reality where he can avoid confronting his fears.)

Jeff’s response is: “I like simple.” Because the truth is this – Jeff DOESN’T want to think about the person he was and compare it to who he has become. Because, as I noted above, that means that the motives that governed old!Jeff are not the same ones that govern new!Jeff. That means introspection and analyzation. That means change. It means uncertainty. And Jeff? Well, that’s not on his agenda. But when he hears: “Look around, Winger. This is your new old life,” something visibly clicks and stirs within him. It’s a small switch, but a powerful one.

The next day, the study group waltzes into their room, chatting about the classes they plan to take the following semester. Everyone, it appears, is remaining at Greendale. (Are we just going to forgo the whole “Annie and Shirley battle for valedictorian” storyline, then? Were they trying to obtain that status for the year or for the semester? Should we have been under the assumption that they were graduating the same time as Jeff, or did “History 101” insinuate that Jeff was graduating before everyone else anyway?  … Okay then.) Troy has a year left of Air Conditioning Repair School, though he’s mainly just sticking around to spout off wisdoms to the professors. Abed is finishing up his film major, while Annie laments not being able to get any good Forensic classes because of her abrupt shift in major. We now know, thanks to this episode, that everyone sans Jeff and Pierce is staying at Greendale for at least one more year. And Annie realizes this as the group takes their seats. She faux-panics, noting that she wasn’t prepared for Jeff to graduate.

I think it is insanely adorable that the study group put together a little party to celebrate Jeff’s graduation. The study group has come so far since “English as a Second Language,” an episode that highlighted Annie’s fear of them being separated from one another for the remainder of their time at Greendale. She was terrified of losing the group, of drifting apart, that she kept them together at all costs. And it is a testament to her growth as a character that she is supportive of Jeff’s impending graduation – they ALL are, really. Moreover, they are ENCOURAGING. They cannot wait to celebrate Jeff’s accomplishments. Er, well, or they’re excited to at least celebrate Jeff’s ability to slack off for four years and still pass college.

(I think it’s interesting that Jeff finally settled on a major – Education. This, of course, opens the door nicely for Joel to return, should the series be picked up for a fifth season.)

When the study group asks when Jeff’s actual graduation is, the man shrugs and notes that there IS no real graduation ceremony, since it’s a community college. All he has to do is mail in paperwork and he’s done. It’s that simple. (Ah, there’s that word again.) The study group seems both baffled by and apprehensive of the simplicity of it all, but only for a moment.

It’s kind of endearing that Abed seems to accept their “finale vibe,” in spite of how understated it is. This is the young man who, two years prior, ecstatically planned an elaborate fake wedding for Jeff and Britta. But Abed has grown since then, and he’s come to accept that sometimes things just end – not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Jeff’s doubts about graduation – about leaving the study group, the six people he loves most in the world – begin to seep into his mind, when he insists that he’ll just mail in his necessary forms to graduate… eventually. There’s no rush, he seems to insinuate. And this is ironic, because Jeff Winger could not WAIT to leave Greendale. But now? Well, now the world is uncertain and Jeff is even more so. But there are six people who are not uncertain: the rest of the group members. They’re so supportive of Jeff and his decisions, as well as accomplishments that they insist on accompanying him to the dean’s office. They began their journey together, Troy says, and that is how they will end it, too.

The group arrives at Dean Pelton’s office and watch as the dean reviews Jeff’s paperwork. When he notes that everything seems to be in place, Dean Pelton pulls out a stack of unsigned diplomas and writes his signature.

Jeff becomes more unsettled when it appears that his graduation will be as quick and insignificant as any other moment spent at the school. He, admittedly, anticipated more fanfare, more absurdity… more things he has come to associate with Greendale. To leave without a hitch, to graduate without some sort of hijinks or shenanigans? THAT is what drives Jeff further toward the brink of insanity, as it were. Because the truth is that he’s always felt that Greendale is an absurd place full of absurd people. It’s weird and messy, but that is something that Jeff has always come to anticipate about the school. If he cannot rely on that truth – if the day is normal and mellow – then graduation is a lot more real and a lot more hard-hitting. And that scares him to his core. So he allows the dean and Annie to throw a party. A small party, he instructs, which he must know will only cause Dean Pelton and Annie to go overboard.

But then… Jeff begins to slowly spiral further into his fears and insecurities and actually discusses (well, denies them) with Britta later on that night as they have drinks. The young woman is the one who points out that Jeff must be afraid of graduation and doesn’t understand why Jeff is concerned with the size of the graduation party – why does it matter if it’s a large gathering, anyway? And then, Jeff turns the conversation around again – what about the group, he asks her? How will THEY possibly deal with his absence? Britta insists that the group supports and loves him: they WANT him to graduate. So Jeff digs into his arsenal in a last-ditch attempt to justify his apprehension by bringing up Abed. Recall how I like to discuss Abed and Annie as they relate to Jeff. He consistently protects them and watches out for their interests. He defends Annie against Asian Annie, tiny explosive cars, annoying German students, and defends Abed against bullies and the study group and himself. He cares deeply for everyone in the group, but leaps to the defenses of Annie and Abed. It seems fitting, then, that Jeff would construct a timeline where the sole purpose in staying at Greendale was to help Abed. Or… was it?

The next day, the group decides what class they will take the following semester together (it appears that they all settle on Astronomy, even though @Shenandoh328 pointed out that Troy took Astronomy during their first year. But perhaps he didn’t pass. Or maybe he wants to take a blow-off class. Or maybe it’s a plot hole! We seem to be encountering a few of those lately.) Thanks to a comment made by Britta, Jeff decides that he needs to prove to himself that he CANNOT leave Greendale – that if he does, the group will tailspin out of control. They’re not really better, he argues internally. And so Jeff asks how the party planning is going. When Annie insists that everything is under control, he tells her that she’s done so much already that the group can help out a bit. He reveals a die and notes that they’ll toss it and see which number it lands on in order to determine who brings the soda to the party. (“Jeff, you are now creating six different timelines.”)

The guise, of course, in Jeff’s plan to roll die and determine who brings soda to the party was to cause Abed to spiral into his delusions again. That way, Jeff would be NEEDED. And he would have a reason to stay. Remember the term I always use to describe Jeff? “Selflessly selfish,” is the term that I frequently utilize. It’s this notion that Jeff does things for other people because he wants something for himself. In this instance, Jeff is doing quite the opposite – he’s willing to send a friend into psychological regression because HE is too afraid to move forward. Abed IS set into a momentarily tailspin about the fact that the die doesn’t land on a number. It could mean nothing or everything, and last year that might have sent him into a catatonic or frenzied state. But thanks to Britta’s therapizing (or… not), Abed has recovered.

Everything from the moment Jeff looks at the die in his hand onward is, of course, a delusion of Jeff’s mind (he doesn’t even roll the die in reality). That doesn’t mean, however, that these moments are insignificant or unimportant. Jeff’s “darkest timeline” reveals quite a bit about himself and his deeply rooted insecurities. In his mind, for example, he never leaves Greendale. The evil counterparts never leave Greendale. That’s interesting, and I suppose it could be argued that Jeff’s “darkest timeline” would consist of being trapped at Greendale forever. But truly, everything that occurs within his mind ISN’T necessarily dark, nor is it evil. It’s the notion that I mentioned at the beginning of the review – this dichotomy of old!Jeff vs. new!Jeff and the imbalance, psychologically and emotionally, that this has on the former lawyer. If he doesn’t want to be old!Jeff, but doesn’t feel he’s ready to become new!Jeff (or worthy of becoming him) then… who exactly IS he?

In Jeff’s delusion of Greendale, the dean is preparing for Jeff’s impending graduation by creating a collage board of memorable moments. Of course, since his back is turned away from the door, Dean Pelton doesn’t realize that a (mostly naked) evil!Jeff materializes in the office and heads toward the hallway.

Britta approaches evil!Jeff, who is standing at good!Jeff’s (that’s what we’ll refer to him as throughout the review) locker and asks him why he is trying to avoid graduation (which is also very perceptive of her, but considering she’s actually a figment of Jeff’s conscience, we’ll have to give a half a point where it’s due). The man replies that he genuinely doesn’t know. And I DON’T think Jeff can pinpoint the reason he’s so afraid of leaving Greendale. But by the episode’s end, when he has a conversation with Abed (also, remember, a figment of Jeff’s conscience), the reasoning becomes a bit clearer. There’s a fear, of course, that Jeff represses – a fear of what it would mean if he DID take Mark’s job offer. And this is a fear that begins to take a hold of his mind and spread like poison (or, in this case, evil!Jeff and evil!Annie). And actually it’s a pretty interesting idea – Jeff is, admittedly, scared that the study group is so supportive of him leaving. They’re practically pushing him out the door and that terrifies him because it means that they will be okay without him, regardless of if it’s because they want what is best for him. So Jeff, beautiful and tragic and self-sabotaging Jeff, believes (in his mind) that if he can tear apart the fabric of the study group again and turn them all against him, leaving them all will be somehow easier. It’s actually a rather sad thought that has, of course, occurred to him (since, again, we are in his head the entire episode).

After Britta departs, evil!Annie appears and consults evil!Jeff on their plan. It’s rather simple, the man explains: they need to drive a wedge between good!Jeff and the study group so that he’ll return to his former life as a lawyer and not think twice about accepting the job that Mark offered. Evil!Annie is aboard the plan, fully, and is ready to destroy the group.

The first person that evil!Jeff pushes away is Annie. And it’s rather telling, is it not? Here is someone who – in Jeff’s alternate reality – he is actually WITH, romantically. There have always been two parts of Jeff that are at war: 1) the part that wants Annie, 2) the part that believes Annie is better off without him. Jeff never has been able to reconcile the two ideas, which has made for a rocky relationship between the pair. But in Jeff’s mind, this is still occurring. His “evil” counterpart is with Annie, but the “real” Annie is the one he pushes away. Perhaps he doesn’t feel he’s good enough for her, or he’s scared to commit, but whatever the case… he hurts her because it’s better, remember, for the group to hate him than to love and embrace him while he leaves. And he does this with every other member of the group, too. Evil!Jeff drives people away, not because he is evil, necessarily, but because he is scared. He insults Shirley and Troy in the cafeteria, intent on placing distance and animosity between them and good!Jeff – the Jeff who WANTS to do the right thing, who cannot return to his old ways because he’s grown too much.

Even in his mind, good!Jeff (sure, we’ll call him that) runs after Annie to make sure that she’s okay. I’ll just leave that here without comment. Something always brings me back to youuuuuuuuu.

In Jeff’s mind, Abed heads to the darkest timeline and meets evil!Abed, who isn’t really evil anymore. He explains that he’s abandoned his villainous ways in order to brighten up his own timeline. It’s kind of a nice parallel between how Abed has begun to acclimate himself to the idea of change in order to brighten up HIS own timeline. Evil!Abed (er, we’ll call him Sage!Abed from now on) explains that evil!Jeff returned to his life as a lawyer, but became consumed with the idea that there was still a good version of him that existed out there somewhere. Sage!Abed taught evil!Jeff how to travel between timelines. And here’s where things get wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey because… none of this is ACTUALLY real. Jeff constructs these ideas, these characters, and – importantly – these motives within his own head. The reason that evil!Jeff exists is because Jeff feels that returning to his former habits and ways – being cruel to those around him – will somehow make saying goodbye easier. So he needs to infiltrate every part of him that has grown. Every good and perfect shred of development must be cast aside. Sage!Abed, conversely, represents the idea of what can happen when you leave the people you love in life. Evil!Troy left him to pursue villainy. THAT made Sage!Abed a better person, and the dichotomy present is that Jeff has a choice – does he embrace cruelty once more in order to try and deflect what he is actually feeling? OR does he embrace the intensely scary elements of change and separation and potentially become even better for it?

(Also, nice metaphor: Jeff has all the tools he needs to “beat” that evil demon inside of him. He just has to utilize them.)

Meanwhile, good!Annie was insulted by evil!Jeff and runs into the cafeteria, tearfully yelling at good!Jeff. The man, of course, is befuddled and runs after her, wondering what – exactly – he did wrong. He encounters evil!Annie, in the library, however, and the young woman apologizes for her behavior. She insists that she’s just going to miss Jeff when he leaves (something real!Jeff must think is true), and makes it up to him with a hug. In the hug, however, she swipes good!Jeff’s cell phone. Later on that evening (or the next day, we’re not quite sure), Dean Pelton bursts into the room where Jeff is set to graduate, crying because he was insulted by evil!Jeff.

Evil!Annie enters the room and Jeff is confused as to what exactly is happening, but gets pretty distracted when he sees Annie in a really form-flattering red dress. In spite of his obvious attraction to evil!Annie, good!Jeff is determined to find his study group and fix whatever mess he unintentionally caused. That’s always a theme of Jeff’s, but it’s never more heroic than in this episode because he is LITERALLY battling himself.

When good!Jeff doesn’t seem too concerned with graduation, evil!Jeff enters and decides that if good!Jeff won’t play by their rules… well, then he will just have to be eliminated completely. And I think that it’s pretty touching and rather telling that Jeff is saved by someone he doesn’t even like within his own mind. Perhaps he believes that Chang (er, Kevin? Chang? WHATEVER.) has some sort of redeeming quality about him, if he would construct a self-sacrificial version of the character. So Chang takes a paintball bullet for good!Jeff, which allows the man to flee the room. Evil!Annie is stumped – what now? Their gentle approach – mind games – didn’t work. Suddenly, the remainder of the evil study group materializes and it’s settled: it’s time for an all-out war to destroy their good counterparts.

Jeff heads to La Casa de Trobed in order to convince his friends that evil!Jeff is after him, and he needs their help. Jeff is ready to fully go to war and fight against all of his evil desires and all of his insecurities… but only because ABED is the one to encourage this. He’s the conscience for Jeff this entire episode – the Jiminy Cricket in the back of his mind that knows WHY Jeff felt the need to reconstruct the darkest timeline in the first place. And he is the one who can help set it back to right.

Back at Greendale, the evil study group is on the prowl for their good alter egos, determined to eliminate them before they are eliminated. Pierce appears, and the group is surprised, presuming him to have been dead. The good!study group shows up, guns drawn, ready to go to battle for JEFF. It’s really pretty great that Jeff constructs this timeline where evil alter egos exist, but don’t WIN – at every turn, the good!study group defeats their evil counterparts, and I think that this is a really wonderful way to exemplify to the audience that those are the voices within him – the study group and their impact will not and cannot be eliminated. They are the ones defending him, the ones protecting him, and the ones that stay with him until the very end.

Sidenote: Am I being too pathological if I read into the fact that Jeff’s mind has imagined, not once but twice (“Biology 101”) sleeping with Annie?

Evil!Jeff is the last person to be eliminated, and good!Jeff is hiding behind a couch when Abed approaches. It’s then that Jeff and Abed (er, Jeff) have a conversation about WHY he has constructed this world in his mind. Abed!Jeff explains that his fear is rooted in the notion that Greendale has changed him too much, and he can never return to what he once was. A part of him, undoubtedly wants that to be true – Jeff said in the beginning that he likes easy decisions. Returning to his old firm four years ago would have been a no-brainer and it would have been simple. But… Jeff has grown and matured so much (he admits this to himself in the study room earlier in the episode) that he simply CANNOT return to his old world, knowing what he knows now. And it’s just so beautiful because ABED isn’t the one telling Jeff these things. Abed isn’t the one who is boosting Jeff’s confidence, affirming his self-worth. No, it is JEFF who is telling himself this. He is speaking truth into his own heart, and that is a sign of growth.

Good!Jeff destroys evil!Jeff and the scene fades back to the study room, where Jeff is studying a die he has not actually cast. Much like “Remedial Chaos Theory,” in which Abed catches the die before chaos occurs, Jeff stops himself from rolling it because he realizes something – he’s not afraid anymore. He’s been changed. And though he doesn’t know quite what that means, he’s better for it.

Later, Jeff graduates with the study group and others in attendance and the dean presiding over the ceremony. (I AM SO HAPPY THAT MAGNITUDE, TODD, LEONARD, VICKI, NEIL, GARRETT, AND QUENDRA ARE IN ATTENDANCE.)

When Dean Pelton’s speech gets a tad uncomfortable, Jeff stops him and delivers his own speech. This Winger speech made me cry, which was something I anticipated but… well, not to the extent in which I was overwhelmed by feelings. Jeff has given a lot of speeches throughout the course of the series. I haven’t tallied them all, but I’d venture to say that they fall at least every episode or other episode. As his final Winger speech, Jeff delivers this:

“Three and a half years ago, when I came to Greendale, I met six very important people. … Sorry, seven. And meeting these people changed my life. Yeah. I’m sorry. I – I don’t know what to say. [study group laughs and objects] I’m so used to being the guy who can talk his way out of anything, but… what do you say when you don’t want a way out? What you all have done for me is indescribable. It’s unbelievable. And my love for you is immeasurable, even when you split it seven ways.”

I don’t really know what else to add to this speech (apart from throwing my tissue into a pile that amassed after my viewing of the episode), except this: it is a perfect final Winger speech. Jeff has delivered monologues in the past. He’s gone on tangents and texted diatribes. But this? This is the most honest Jeff Winger has ever been. He doesn’t HAVE all of the answers. He doesn’t KNOW exactly what to say. And… that’s a first, isn’t it? Jeff Winger without closing arguments. Jeff Winger without a perfect speech Band-Aid to repair a problem. But this moment was emotional and it was raw and it was beautiful because of that. This is new!Jeff. This is the exact place where the rest of his life starts.

And in the end, Jeff decides that moving on from where his is at doesn’t scare him as much. Though he leaves Greendale with an Associate of Education, a nearly empty locker, and a lot of paintball memories, he isn’t lost. No, the Jeff Winger who enrolled at Greendale was. Freshman year, Jeff received the opportunity to re-write his life. He had lost his job, his apartment, and his selfishness along the way. And as Jeff sits at the study room table three and half years later, diploma in hand, his time at Greendale has run out. But Jeff Winger now has the love of seven people to envelop him, no matter where his journey takes him next.

And that’s something he can never lose.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
- “You must be excited to get that lollipop.” “Hey. … It’s a sticker.”
- “Of course it is, dummy. We just finished Fall-Spring semester.” “Bring on Summer-Winter!”
- Always read the blackboards and whiteboards! This week, the latter says: “Class schedules have been postponed until further notice. We are working to have them resolved by next hiatus. Thanks for your attendance and continued support! – The Human Being.”
- “Pierce, you have so many credits, they have GRAND-credits.”
- “All for one, and… one dude we can leave behind. Everybody go quickly! GO!”
- “You asked for proof of inseam.”
- Abed’s gesture to Shirley and Annie when he says: “It’s testing really well with women” is perfect.
- “Catherine! Do not even TELL me you dropped that cake!”
- “And… a third reason.”
- “I’ve spent almost four years here, growing and changing and making dioramas.”
- “Did you shoot yourself too? EVERY TIME.”
- “NOBODY sleeps with Jeff! Not even me.”
- “You have friends. No, screw that. You have a FAMILY.”
- Beautiful Ganz-written “Six Seasons and a Movie” note on the chalkboard.

Final Note:

It’s after 10 AM here and there’s still no word on Community’s cancellation or renewal. If this is the last new blog-review I write, let me just say what an absolute honor it has been to write for you guys. When I started this journey nearly two years ago, I could have never – in my wildest dreams – anticipated this. And it sounds cliché and sappy to tell you all that you have changed my life, but… it’s also the truth. YOU have changed me. And it’s not because you send me nice comments or tweets. Not really. It’s because we care about the same thing. The passion of Community fans is something I have never seen matched in any fandom I have been a part of. You all are absolutely brilliant, beautiful, and wonderful people. We may not always agree on everything and that’s okay. You may hate an episode I loved or loved one that I hated. You may ship Jeff/Britta or Troy/Britta or Abed/Annie. You might lament the loss of Dan Harmon, you might pick on Bobrow but… you’re my family. And what Abed!Jeff said in this episode rings true: I made friends just from watching this show and being involved with it. No. I have FAMILY. And nothing – regardless of renewal or cancellation news – can ever take that away from us.

I cannot believe it’s been almost two years since I, on a whim, decided to create a blog specifically dedicated to Community reviews. And you know what? I have NO regrets about any of it. So thank you. Greendale is where I belong, and the beautiful thing is that whether we stick around or not… the door is always open. You can always go home.

And for that, I am truly grateful.

EDIT: (8:18 EST)

You all aren't quite rid of me, yet! Community has been renewed for a fifth season, so I'll see you back here when classes resume in the fall. :)


  1. As always, Thanks, Jennifer. These reviews have been a joy to read. And I hope this is not the last!

  2. Beautiful! I'm so thankful to Commnunity as well for giving me all of these wonderful new friends who I wouldn't have known otherwise. I'm going to be devastated if this was indeed the end but I'm happy we at least got 4 years to look back on.

  3. Community has been renewed. If you check the actors' twitter accounts and various websites, you'll see confirmation of this.
    Also, Gillian Jacobs doing a song-and-dance in celebration. :)


  4. Awesome review! Your insights into the truths of the episode and the entire series touched me deep inside, the day Community died. And on the third day Community rose from near-cancellation to offer the promise of a new season. There is hope in this forsaken world after all! Thank you for your words and all of the love and care you put into your essay. Now I have to read all of your other ones! But please, if you can decipher it, pose the 6 Seasons and A Movie blackboard note in full. The quest for this message is what led me to you - A Still And Quiet Conscience you're my only hope. Save Greendalia!
    Here's what I have so far:
    Six Students to represent Greendale for all
    Seasons ? Spring To apply
    And be confirmed, please leave a note or
    A message for Dean Pelton
    Movie or ? class ? ?
    Remember to ? register ? ?
    Semester by October ? ?