Review: 'Community' - 'Basic Story': The calm before the storm
A review of tonight's "Community" coming up just as soon as you come to me for atheistic rants and photos of my meals...
Perhaps appropriately for an episode where Jeff keeps trying to make Abed stop looking for a plotline, there isn't much to "Basic Story." It's less an episode than it is an extended prologue to whatever we're going to get in next week's finale, "Basic Sandwich." There's some meta commentary about how this show, like any show, relies on conflict and some form of chaos to generate interesting stories, and there are a few in-jokes — Dean Pelton's idea to create a fake particle accelerator was, as Dan Harmon told me a few weeks ago, part of the original outline for the season premiere — but for much of its running time, "Basic Story" is, like Abed, just waiting for something to happen.
As such, I almost feel as if I should simply sign off and wait to see what "Basic Sandwich" — the second time Harmon will have had to potentially end the show (though my guess is that "six seasons and a movie" somehow comes true) — brings, and maybe note that there were a few very funny gags (the insurance appraiser's endless string of definitions, Buzz's threat to Starburns, the Buzz/Duncan tag, or Dean Pelton's forehead label) mixed in, plus some wonderful spastic dancing from Danny Pudi, Jim Rash and Alison Brie as they celebrated the discovery of the buried treasure clue.
But of course there's the matter of Jeff and Britta deciding in their own half-assed way to get married. Keeping with the full-circle nature of the episode (including Britta noting that Chang had betrayed them for the last time), Jeff and Britta find themselves alone in the study room, discussing how all this craziness started simply because Jeff wanted to have sex with her. And if you go back and watch the early episodes of the show, the ebbs and flows of Jeff's sexual PR campaign were a huge part of the show. In time, Britta changed into a different (and much funnier) character, and Harmon smartly turned them not into a traditional couple, but periodic sex buddies, whose couplings formed the core of two of the show's most memorable episodes ("Modern Warfare" and "Paradigms of Human Memory") without ever taking over the series in the way that, say, Ross and Rachel's drama would overwhelm the other Friends at times. There were also diversions like Jeff's flirtation with Annie, and other relationships the two got into(*), but Jeff's attraction to Britta and the unmistakable bond they have even in non-sexual periods has been a part of the series since the start.
(*) And we got another diss of the Port/Guarascio season with Jeff's insistence that the inspection will be the most boring thing "since Britta dated Troy."
So if Harmon's hedging his bets against the show ending next week by having the two of them get together in a more substantial way, it makes sense, even as I imagine any remaining Jeff/Annie 'shippers will be most displeased by the news. But even though Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs played the scene sincerely, it's clear that he's proposing and she's saying yes — or, rather, "Okay, yeah" — out of desperation rather than a belief that they actually want to do this. And that's a set-up that I imagine will fall apart quickly as Greendale's new Subway overlords (without, I'm guessing, the return of Travis Schuldt as the personification of Subway) begin putting the campus through its third major overhaul of the season.
What did everybody else think? You excited for the search for buried treasure and/or Britta getting to show off her wedding planning skills again? Did you enjoy Abed's impression of Shirley (or "Two Voice")? Did this feel like an actual episode to you or a long preamble to the finale?