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Community: “Basic Story”- A Lackluster Placeholder

A suspect that “Basic Story” will work much better in tandem with next week’s season finale, but as a stand alone episode it certainly felt like all exposition and very little plot. In fact, a great deal of the episode’s B storyline was spent following Abed as he attempts to deal with a Greendale without a story. Instead of being meta and funny, this episode of Community feels largely like the first half of a mystery, the story blocks are in place and there’s no payoff.

Now, it’s not billed as the first half of a two-parter, but considering we are left with the gang finding the clue to buried treasure (which, considering the source of the clue, I’m hardly certain will turn out to be actual treasure), “Basic Story” is, for all intents and purposes just that. It turns out that, after a year of trying, the gang has managed to finally save Greendale (largely from itself). They’ve even managed to exorcise the school gym (an event I would truly have loved to see).  Thanks to their ministrations, Greendale is actually worth something now rather than remaining a liability for the city.

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Unfortunately, this means that the school board now has the ability to sell the school and make some money off of it. Which, of course, sets off a seemingly insurmountable crisis and gives Abed the story he spent the half hour searching for (and finally coming terms with the lack of). I will say the conflict of losing Greendale gives each character some excellent emotional beats to work with. Abed and Annie, along with the Dean, are the most affected because, as Jeff aptly points out, they are the least adult out of the whole group. Britta and Jeff are appropriately apathetic, while internally grappling with the issues in such a poor manner that it leads to the pair deciding to get married. And Chang, naturally, takes the opportunity to betray the group one last time by defecting to the new Subway overlords (whether or not the Subway higher-ups actually want him on their side remains to be seen, but knowing Chang, the answer is probably no).

In the face of the near certain demise of Greendale, a deus ex machina comes in the form of a cryptic treasure map left by the school’s former multimillionaire computer professor (who may or may not have had sex with a computer, because of course). We’ll have to wait until next week to see if the treasure map is enough to save Greendale one more time (while we wait to see if NBC will save Community one more time).

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Final Thoughts:

— Amid the finale set-up, there were some funny moments. I particularly loved the episode tag, in which we see Hickey and Duncan bonding over their shared time in a small English village. As well as the revelation that Hickey just might be the father of Duncan’s cousin. Considering both John Oliver and Jonathan Banks have new gigs come this fall, I will certainly miss both of them should next week be the final time we see them.

— Yet another burn from Harmon on the much maligned fourth season, as Jeff remarks that the insurance inspection will be the most boring thing to happen to Greendale since Britta and Troy dated.

— Lovely to see Subway back and invading Greendale. Wonder if we’ll get a save Community campaign a la Chuck. Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Rating
6.0
Pros
  • Great moments with Hickey and Duncan
  • Nice callback to the early episode with Britta and Jeff
Cons
  • Lack of a plot
  • Serves as a set-up for finale and not a stand alone episode

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

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