[SPOILERS ahead for Community season 6, episode 13.]
Community has never quite been able to deal with the idea of saying farewell. Nearly every season of the show ends with the characters hinting at seeing each other again in a few months. However, as the sixth season of the show comes to a close, the Save Greendale Committee (or as they shall forever be called from now on – the Nipple Dippers) are forced to sit back and think about what next year might bring. The series has become known for its meta humor and crazy plot devices, but with “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” the writers use the same kind of technique to help themselves (and the audience for that matter) come to grips with the idea of letting go – in what might not be the show’s best or funniest episode, but easily most emotionally satisfying season finale to date.
Many of the characters of the series have all struggled to hold onto what they once were in some way. In the beginning, it was Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and her marriage, Britta (Gillian Jacobs) and her activism, Jeff’s (Joel McHale) lawyer lifestyle, etc. – but as the series progressed and the study group became closer, the real thing they found themselves holding onto, was each other. However, as each of them grow up and begin to move past the community college phase of their lives, the characters have struggled to come up with ways to stay together.
It became evident fairly quickly that “Emotional Consequences” would be tackling this dilemma head on when Elroy (Keith David) was asked if he would be coming back next year and vaguely responded with, “Probably… maybe.” This as first seems like just another meta joke on the seemingly constant rotation of the groups’ members these past few seasons. However, the longer the episode continues and the characters, both new and old, begin to pitch their ideas for what they might do next year, it becomes clear that the characters (and the writers) might not be looking at the future with the same kind of rose-tinted lenses they have in the past.
The pitches themselves were funny and filled with as much self-referential humor as possible in the beginning, with nice cameos from returning cast member Yvette Nicole Brown and Seth Green as a billionaire tech genius who bought the campus. However, as more pitches and ideas were thrown into the conversation – the more psychological and specific they became. The stand-out idea possibly going to Britta, who imagined a season with the group solving world problems and the Dean being openly transgender (envisioned with a slow, melodramatic version of the show’s theme set to images of war and environmental disasters).
If there was any question though, the episode belongs to Jeff, as he’s shaken by the news that Annie (Alison Brie) will be moving away to begin her internship with the FBI, leading him to pitch his idea for season seven – the group together and happy, with Annie wearing dresses like she used to. It’s simple and everyone loves it, making it seem like everything might work out for Jeff in the end. That is until Abed (Danny Pudi) tells the group that it never mattered in the end anyway because he’s moving to Los Angeles, to work for FOX. Everyone else congratulates him, but Jeff leaves – and the episode cuts to one of the most emotionally cathartic moments of the entire series.
It’ll be hard to find a Community fan who wasn’t emotionally shaken by the image of Jeff standing in the study room by himself, staring at the empty study group table. Luckily for him though, Annie remains the one character who can always see through his facade as she walks in and they have a conversation – and it’s an honest one for once, with all the cards being laid out on the table for both to see.
The conversation they have is bittersweet and filled with pop culture references (“Those boring Marvel movies“), as Jeff talks about how much he wishes he was young again, while Annie wishes she was old. He tells her he regrets letting her go, and in one of the best lines of the episode, Annie tells him she thinks he should kiss her goodbye, or he might regret it for the rest of his life. It becomes clear that much to the chagrin of Jeff and Annie shippers, the two characters might not end up together after all, as she tells Jeff that maybe he needs to accept his age… and let the kid stuff go. For once, there is no rousing monologue at the end of the episode – there’s just hugs and goodbyes as the rest of the group comes in and they say goodbye to each other, with Chang (Ken Jeong) finally announcing that he’s Gay, like real Gay.
So season six of Community ends as Jeff drops Abed and Annie off at the airport, before grabbing a drink with the rest of the group. It’s simple and moved along by Lord Huron’s “The Ends of the Earth”, and could very well serve as a satisfying conclusion to the series. Whether or not this is, in fact, the last fans will see of their favorite community college group is unknown for now, as #andamovie appears during the credits of the episode, providing – at the very least – an inkling of hope for fans that this might not be the end.
Nearly every season of Community up to this point has ended with an air of ambiguity around its future, as Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna remained unsure of whether or not the series would be picked up for another season by NBC. That ambiguity was needed for those finales too. That air of mystery remains present in the season six conclusion, but it’s hard not to watch this last episode and feel (at long last) a real sense of finality.
Community season six can be seen in its entirety on Yahoo! Screen.