Glazomania: Redux – Episodes 32-37

The Conspiracy of the Slightly Above the Middle Episodes (Presented by Illuminati Lamps Inc.)
 

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Here we are: at the halfway mark. These are, roughly speaking, average Community episodes, as much as that sounds paradoxical. Of course, these groups are not perfect: if we were to use these rankings to highlight the average episodes of Community, we certainly shouldn't cite the Introduction to Finality as one. And interestingly, the First Chang Dynasty clocks in not far behind. But in between we do have four low-key, low concept examples of Community. The dividing line of average (given 71 episodes, 35.5) runs betwixt Communication Studies and Origins of Vampire Mythology. What do those two have in common? (Or perhaps it is a coincidence; in fact the difference between episodes in the middle is so slim that it's essentially arbitrary.)

71 Competitive Wine Tasting 
70 Contemporary Impressionists 
69 Geography of Global Conflict 
68 Course Listing Unavailable 
67 Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy 
66 Basic Geneology 
65 Celebrity Pharmacology 
64 Competitive Ecology 
63 Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts
62 Asian Population Studies 
61 Advanced Criminal Law 
60 The Art of Discourse 
59 Interpretive Dance 
58 Politics of Human Sexuality 
57 Intro to Political Science 
56 Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts 
55 Biology 101 
54 Investigative Journalism 
53 Advanced Gay 
52 Football, Feminism, and You 
51 Studies in Modern Movement 
50 Home Economics 
49 Social Psychology 
48 English as a Second Language 
47 Pilot 
46 Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples 
45 Basic Rocket Science
44 Aerodynamics of Gender 
43 Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism 
42 The Psychology of Letting Go 
41 Pascal's Triangle 
40 Intro to Film 
39 Beginner Pottery 
38 Spanish 101

37. The First Chang Dynasty (321) (Average Score – 71.08) (Average Grade – 3.14/B) (Average Rank – 38.8) (High Rank – 10) (Low Rank – 69) (Standard Deviation – 0.653)
The First Chang Dynasty is a fine episode that happens to feature two of my least favorite things about Season 3. The "Chang takes over Greendale" plot just never did it for me (I understand that Greendale is something of a live-action cartoon, but middle schoolers? Really?) and the "Troy and the air conditioning repair school" was a good idea, but seemed randomly deployed during the season (long stretches without its mention would go by, and suddenly it would play a key role in the action). However, despite these connections, it still manages to be a very solid episode. The overall tone is breezy and fun, and I got a kick out of all the details of the break-in. It's not the best, but it's far from the worst.
–          TheNarratorReturns

36. The Science of Illusion (220)  (Average Score – 71.15) (Average Grade – 3.12/B) (Average Rank – 37.6) (High Rank – 12) (Low Rank – 66) (Standard Deviation – 0.727)
This episode is essential to our modern-day conception of Britta. There were rumblings all through season one, but this is the moment the previously hinted-at "buzzkill mythology" and the attendant idiosyncrasies are firmly established through Britta's touching and ultimately fatal (for frogs) attempts to add "possesses humor" to her list of known traits. But hers is not the only tale of self-perception and definition. Annie and Shirley's story is especially welcome in retrospect given the show's hit-or-miss record with their characters. Their jostle to the top of the bad-ass heap begins as sweetly, funnily incongruous and becomes revelatory. Abed, too, provides a memorable turn as a sciatica-ridden African American police chief in the real-time buddy cop movie he sits at the helm of (itself a harbinger of real life-pop culture mashups to come). The great thing about this episode is that everyone gets a little something to do, and it all coalesces beautifully into the table scene that starts as an impromptu tribunal, morphs into an orgy of tears, and crescendos with Jeff designating Britta's true role in the group: its heart. A synthesis of pathos, humor, and pop culture, this is a wonderful distillation of the show at large.
–          snowmania

35. Origins of Vampire Mythology (315)  (Average Score – 71.22) (Average Grade – 3.13/B) (Average Rank – 39.0) (High Rank – 5) (Low Rank – 69) (Standard Deviation – 0.605)
In a season often called too wild, this was decidedly grounded, but only in a Community-specific way. Britta's ex-boyfriend Blade is coming to Greendale because he's working the carnival, and she asks Annie to keep her away from him. The Community twist on this simple plot is Troy and Abed are immediately reminded of the movie Blade. In a post-modern tapestry, you are always entwined with pop culture. It's not a throwaway episode because there are plenty of classic lines, some of which are still echoed in our very own comment section: "Won't change how mustard tastes." "She's from the 80's. She still uses her phone as a phone!" "I need help reacting to something." There's also a John Goodman appearance, setting the groundwork for an Abed-Troy division and the true repairman repairs man arc. Of course, as an "average" episode it's not perfect. There's a throwaway plot with Chang and Pierce. The Winger speech isn't his strongest. And I'm probably alone in this, but I didn't like the goofy shared romantic look between Britta and Troy at the end. (And I certainly hate the idea of those two together.) As a last note, did the Dean really imply he was whipped by an imaginary douche? I don't want to know what that means.-          Capt Blicero
  
34. Communication Studies (116) (Average Score – 71.35) (Average Grade – 3.14/B) (Average Rank – 40.4) (High Rank – 5) (Low Rank – 67) (Standard Deviation – 0.536)
Complete opposite of my other S1 episode blurb, I get the sense that I'm one of the few people who really likes this one. It's not great but definitely good, in my book. It is certainly one of the most traditionally sitcommy episodes the show has done. And it hits the Britta/Jeff shipping element much harder than I would ordinarily be inclined to like. But Jeff and Abed being paired up for any sort of adventure is pretty much irresistible to me, especially one which results in my having the name "Molly Ringworm" in my vocabulary. Also, the uncomfortable in-person aftermath of a drunk dial is definitely a real thing that I've experienced and I thought it was very well mined for comedy here.
–          Scrawler
 
33. Early 21st Century Romanticism (215) (Average Score – 71.84) (Average Grade – 3.16/B) (Average Rank – 39.4  (High Rank – 22) (Low Rank – 60) (Standard Deviation – 0.456)
Jeff vs. BNL!   Yes, they’re that fundamental.   This is another great Community holiday episode and unfortunately probably the last Valentine’s Day episode of the series.  No matter how much Jeff has changed since the beginning of the series, he’ll always try to remain distant from the group as shown in earlier and later episodes.  The Jeff/Duncan pairing is always a pleasure as it lets Jeff open up and actually have fun and lets Duncan use British slang to continually say “vagina.”  Even Chang isn’t that bad in this episode!  I enjoyed Britta being condescending to Annie only because her self-righteousness dooms her at the end.  The Troy and Abed story was adorable and solidified that great relationship that had been built throughout the series.   The Winger Speech at the end is a microcosm of the Jeff character:  it may be frightening to express your feelings or to feel vulnerable, but it’s okay to like someone – or a group of people – unconditionally, or say “I love you” and mean it.
–          Thefunjustneverends
 
32. Introduction to Finality (322) (Average Score – 72.32)
(Average Grade – 3.18/B+) (Average Rank – 35.2) (High Rank – 7) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.777)
"Introduction to Finality" is aptly titled, since it only scratches the surface of any real closure for the study group. If anything, it's more of a theme for the episode. Endings seem so concrete and important, but when viewed more closely, are really something more complex, moments of lives in flux, even beginnings. Abed will never simply be over his sometimes antisocial tendencies, Troy won't just pick between his friends and his career, Britta won't just be a success or a failure as a psychologist, and Jeff won't just finish his time at Greendale and close it off to return to the person he used to be. This realization, that as Gore Vidal put it "there are no ends, only means," takes the agency away from the group's circumstances (and deterministic fates in other timelines) and gives it back to them. So that Shirley putting Jeff ahead of her own goals, her own potential happy ending, "changes the whole game." Introduction to Finality isn't an ending, just an introduction to what endings might mean. It isn't a great Community episode, but it does have the greatest Winger-speech, and maybe the greatest openly spoken moral in TV history. It also has the best moment in any Community episode, when Alan tells Jeff he got him fired from his old law firm (thus setting the events of the show in motion) and Jeff replies "I know, and I never got a chance to thank you." Which is Dan Harmon's sublime farewell, but not his ending.
–          Unregistered Guy Named Eric

 

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http://www.avclub.com/articles/digital-estate-planning-the-first-chang-dynasty-in,73676/#comment-758247047 (page 708)

 

Discussion:

    •  
    • My rankings:

      71. Introduction to Finality
      60. The First Chang Dynasty
      58. Origins of Vampire Mythology
      26. Communication Studies
      22. Early 21st Century Romanticism
      12. The Science of Illusion

      The Science of Illusion is a really great episode; among other things, it does the buddy-cop thing a lot better than Basic Lupine Urology (which I like a lot, for what it's worth). Origins of Vampire Mythology is overrated because of where it is; the Chang-Pierce plot is awful and I hate the Dean in the episode, but because there are so few Season 3 episodes like it it gets placed above a lot of Season 1 episodes that do what it does but better. Introduction to Finality is a total mess of an episode, and I'll never understood what about it made Todd give it an A.

       
    • I was going to say all of that, except for the ITF part. 

       
    • reuelb5427

      Wow! You think ITF is the worst episode? That's sort of surprising.

       
    • I was not a fan of Abed's experiencing violent psychosis.

       
    • to be fair, BLU wasn't going specifically for the generic "buddy cop" but the l&o partners vibe, which, while definitely a buddy cop thing, has its own sub-genre to itself sort of thing.

       
    • 68. Introduction to Finality
      60. The First Chang Dynasty
      52. Origins of Vampire Mythology
      42. Early 21st Century Romanticism
      34. Communication Studies
      19. The Science of Illusion

    • 68. The First Chang Dynasty
      47. The Science of Illusion
      43. Introduction to Finality
      42. Early 21st Century Romanticism
      31. Communication Studies
      25. Origins of Vampire Mythology

       
    • I think that ITF is the best possible ending for this era of the show. Your mileage may vary depending on your feelings on season 3, but it couldn't have closed on a better, more…well, more final note than the one they chose. It's an incredible summation of the thesis and core values of the show, which sadly got missed by people (not us, of course) who dismissed Community as little more than a pop culture reference machine. 

       
    • who put fcd at #10?

      edit: and the person who put "communication studies" that low is dead to me.

      edit edit: i really am more interested in the defenses people who ranked these episodes at the extremes.

       
    • Are we ever going to do this? I've been harping on this for a while, but defending what the majority of us view as indefensible would be a blast. 

       
    • Oh man, Introduction to Finality and First Chang Dynasty are going to cause lots of arguments here. It's funny because there's a loud vocal minority who loathe the episode, but as you can see from the scores here it's actually not despised. And the episode does do things well! Just what it does with Jeff is sweet and succinct. He's the guy who says "Boo-yah" to moral relativism in the pilot, and in this episode he takes on someone from his old law firm and, as Eric said, openly argued for morality. And then Pierce says, "Boo-yah!" That's great. I think the Troy plot was also done well. It's over the top, but over the top was the alternate title to the season 2 finale and Jeff kissed and declared his love for like ten different ladies in the season 1 finale. 
       
      Really, the problem people have is with Abed attempting to saw an arm off (in his defense, he loves the Saw franchise) and some people here think that Annie should get all of the plots, all the time, and she wasn't given a huge part. (But what are you going to do? Equally distribute the episode to each person? And then you're left with smaller plots? That's another problem too, and it's not like the only episode where they ignore other people.) 
       
      There's a kink in the grades for those two episodes though. You'll see later. But for now, let's bitch on about how certain episodes suck/don't suck!

       
    • I really like Introduction to Finality, although it's not my favorite episode or anything. I do agree the Abed stuff isn't great, but I've come to accept that Season 3 Abed is incredibly problematic and I try not to let it hinder my enjoyment of the other characters/plots much. I still really like the Jeff/Shirley plot and I think it offers a solid conclusion to the story arcs of Season 3 and to the show in general, while still leaving enough open for exploration. I'm sure if Dan Harmon had been given the proper time to give him version of the show a proper send-off, it would've been better than Introduction to Finality. But as it is, I think it serves its purpose pretty nicely, if not perfectly.

      I'm not big on First Chang Dynasty, though. It's a fun time, but the entire Chang plot was always just way too much for me. It pushes the show into outright cartoon territory a little too much for my liking. Honestly, it's probably more cartoony than the half-animated episode it follows.

       
    •  I like both episodes, but I really love "Introduction to Finality." At first I gave it an A because I got carried away by the inherent awesomeness of a 3-episode Thursday. Then I kept it as a sort of tribute to it being the last episode of Community as we know it (it's not that I've completely given up on S4, but even under the best of circumstances, it will be a very different show). Objectively speaking, it's an A- episode (maybe a B+), but I love it dearly nonetheless. It's a wounded finale to a wounded show, but it still manages to be generous to all the characters (OK, Annie does seem to fall by the wayside) and to its own audience by giving everybody a satisfying closure and leaving the door open for more. Seriously, if that final montage doesn't move you at least a little, you're…. well you're still cool, but you're missing out on something great.

      (Great write-up Eric! Everyone's have been excellent, but yours sums up how I feel about that episode so well it's like we're in sync, like a perfect duet or something).

       
    • SBT, I don't if I've mentioned this before, but we've been agreeabuddies several times, and here is another example.

       
    • Eric's write up is beautiful. I've come around on that episode quite a bit (see ranking above) because of the strengths Eric highlights. What had me so down on it is the combined sense of "that's it?" after all promises made for the season and the rushed feel to a lot of it. In the immediate aftermath it landed with a big thud more than a punctuation on a grand story. In particular, the contrivance of Pierce and Shirley's contract issue was cheap after they already had a nice partnership going. Annie doesn't get an "end" at all because she spent the whole season "fretting on the wings of someone else's crisis", as snowmania put it. She was barely seen in the finale until the end where she's so proud of Pierce for changing. The arcs for those three weren't nearly as satisfying as the others and that's a big problem for such a well-regarded episode, and I didn't care much for Abed during the season either. Troy's arc itself was fine but, of course, John Goodman proved to be a huge waste. Most importantly, as honest and heartfelt as Jeff's arc in the episode is, I do feel it could have been written with more depth than a simple contrast with his Pilot worldview. The dialogue itself was part of that cause.

       
    • I don't see how John Goodman proved to be a waste. It's not like he could be a cast member. He was going to have just a few lines, and that was it. Were people expecting otherwise?  

      The problem with his casting is that he's John Goodman. In retrospect it was a bad move because we expect too much from him. Harmon is obsessed with Joseph Campbell, and Goodman dying like that is very Campbell-ian. I thought he served the plot well, and during the season he had a few cool lines. That's as much as I'd ask for.

      And it's more than a contrast with Jeff. I wrote about this in the review for Accounting for Lawyers. He has truly changed, and to me it feels organic. And it's absolutely perfect that his arc is resolved by defending Shirley against someone from his old law firm. Then there's the shot at the end of Jeff attempting to find his father. 

      Edit:
      And yeah, seeing as it was the de facto Harmon finale, it's hard for the episode to live up to itself. As for Chang Dynasty, when I was rewatching season 3 before the episode I was like, Ugh, it's this one, but then when I watched it I was like, Oh crap I like it. I ranked the episodes pretty close to how they appear here with ITF a bit higher.

       
    • I'm talking about Laybourne's impact. He was built as the season's big bad (outmaneuvered by Chang, of course) and he turns out to be Troy's jedi ghost master. Which would be fine if that relationship was actually developed as such.

       
    • I probably should re-watch the episode. It certainly has issues and it'll never be a favourite but I think I was just so frustrated with how everything was being tied up at the time that it kinda blinded me of the merits the episode did actually have. First off, I'll never like Abed in this episode. Secondly, I was disappointed in the use of Annie (although I feel the lack of Annie in this episode is less of a problem with the episode and more endemic of an issue with the season as a whole) and John Goodman (I wish they had a lesser known actor in that role because I was really excited about Walter fucking Sobchak being on Community). 

      Those were certainly issues for me at the time, but I think those issues would be lessened, if I re-watched it now, now that I've had some distance from the season. There's less investment now and less relying on the episode. 

      However, when I did my ranking, I just couldn't deny how much I didn't enjoy the episode at that time. And I didn't go back to re-watch the episodes because, frankly, I don't really feel like it. I haven't watched any of those last three episodes since they aired (including DEP, which cracked my top 20) and I think it's because Harmon's firing just bums me out too much to revisit those. There's a weird air to them because of it. I don't know why it's just those three.

       
    • *whispers* This is actually the review for Chang Dynasty and Introduction to Finality…. 
       
      Which would be fine if that relationship was actually developed as such.
       
      But it was … ? He really saw something in Troy, then he died, and then Troy avenged his death and brought balance in the force.  I'm sure there's a Harmon circle that explains this well.
       
      It'd be a fun episode to review closely because there's so much going on. But I think we need a little more time to digest both the episode and Harmon's departure.

    • Capt. Blicero we might need a reevaluation of Laybourne's entire arc. Maybe he wasn't supposed to the heavy. In the end, he wasn't Troy's Darth Vader, he was Troy's Obi-Wan. He was trying to help Troy fulfill his destiny as a great AC repairman. 

      As fans, we're invested in Troy's relationship with the rest of the study group more than anything. The ability of the group to function as a whole is more important than the fate of any individual member, and we want them to succeed on their own as long as it does not upset the harmony of the group. Maybe Laybourne was supposed to challenge that. What's wrong with wanting Troy to be successful in his career? Maybe Laybourne was here to help Troy grow into a man, kind of like Britta did. 

      Troy's growing up arc has been very important to him throughout the series, and maybe Power of Imagination Troy was supposed to come out on the short end of that battle. Maybe AC Repairman Troy is the Troy that Troy is meant to be, and it was up to Laybourne to show him that. Could that have been the big twist of Dean Laybourne? That in the end, he was right all along? 

      I'm tired and I might be rambling. Thoughts?

       
    • SG Standard 
      Well, that's how I felt about Goodman. I don't see how he fits as the big bad at all. Maybe at first you can sort of expect that, but stories often subvert expectations. That can be good storytelling. 
       
      Let's use the Harmon-approved story-circle to figure out Troy and how Laybourne fits into that.

      . A character is in a zone of comfort,
      Troy at the beginning of the season. He's living with Abed. He is immersed in pop culture and the power of imagination. He is content.

      . But they want something. 
      He does want something more out of his life, however. He made remarks about having a job, a real job, but Laybourne is the one who plants a seed in his head. Isn't there something more to his life?

      . They enter an unfamiliar situation,
      Spacemen making paninis and black Hitler's are the definition of unfamiliar. The room temperature room. He is fully immersed in the world after the events of the Chang Dynasty.

      . Adapt to it
      Troy is shown to be adept at AC repair and is basically the most talented student.

      . Get what they wanted
      Troy becomes wins the battle at the end. He is the truest repairman. He has succeeded. He even saved the entire school by making a deal.

      . Pay a heavy price for it  
      However, Laybourne dies. In that deal, Troy has to basically leave his friends and join the AC side in exchange for saving everyone. 

      . Then return to their familiar situation  
      After the battle, the secretly evil AC guy is sacked, and sanity now reigns. He can join his friends again.

      . Having changed. 
      He is more mature. He can truly be called a man now. And even though I don't like this next part, he in effect "wins" the pretty girl (Britta) as a prize from his brave journey.

      Still think he shouldn't have died? 
       
      http://channel101.wikia.com/wi… 

      To you and me, consciously, death may be a bummer, but to Mother Gaia, to life itself, unconsciously, it is absolutely essential- 50% of how shit gets done.
       
      Harmon argues that on a fundamental level story, and life, owe everything to death. Honestly, in classic story structures, you need death. You absolutely need it. (Though sometimes death is more metaphorical.) If Laybourne hadn't died, the AC repair school wouldn't have been exposed for the weird cult it was. It allowed for Troy's ascension. The truest repairman repairs man. This is Troy. There's evidence in RCT: when he leaves to get the pizza, it becomes the darkest timeline. 
       
      Laybourne is more of a mythic figure. We should think of him like that. He's the specific archetype like how Prometheus was given fire. He meddles and he's above it all. He's the catalyst for much of what happens in season 3.  
       
      He wanted to pry Troy from his friends, but for a higher calling. And in a mythic twist, Troy fulfills his destiny and then some. The repair school is changed. The evil Murray is gone. And he's allowed to join his friends. He has bridged two worlds (hopefully; it remains to be seen in season 4): the life of purpose and his destiny of repair, and the life with his friends and his world with Abed.

       
    • Well I agree that Laybourne is Troy's jedi ghost master. I'm just saying we have to rely on theory for it to work because it doesn't truly live in the script. Especially because it's all so damn ridiculous in practice. I'll repeat: Chang.

    • In theory? Oh come on. 
       
      First of all, you're conceding that John Goodman is Obi-wan. That's important. 
       
      But there are several reasons why it's problematic to dismiss the Troy-plot as only working in theory. In fact, I have a list right here…

      1) For many people, it does work beyond mere theory. I loved the Troy plot right away early in season 3. I'm not sure how true that is with others, but from the comments here others indeed liked the Troy plot in ITF. I didn't like the plot because of its theoretical underpinnings; I just liked it. 
       
      2) This should be a magic place where those arguments actually mean something. Our hallowed place was born under extreme criticism and discussion. We're the types to take apart and appreciate the theory behind the episodes. 
       
      3) The whole point of Campbellian literature is how easily it works in practice. This is the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, New Testament, Marty McFly mythology plotting style. It works so well it's downright eerie, and it had been used for centuries — or millenia — before Campbell wrote the theory behind it down. 
       
      4) If it works in theory, why doesn't it work in practice? The point of a theory in a story is that it translate into practice. This isn't post-modern fiction. 
       
      5) Chang has nothing to do with this theory. Troy saved the school from Chang, but it could have been any number of events. Vaughn could have taken over the school with a hippie gang. Chang was actually incidental to Troy. Notice how the autonomous AC repair school operated even with the reign of that lunatic.
       
      6) If you don't like it, that's you. I don't think we can always just blame an episode or a plot arc. Not everyone likes Star Wars. And some of the most revered works of literature are divisive. It's just the way it is sometimes. 
       
      I think I understand the problem with Chang. There's a disconnect between the creators of the show and the audience. The Chang we see … well, we know that. But the Chang they see is distorted by the actor playing him, who's a wonderful, nice, funny guy, and somehow a real doctor. They don't hate Chang like we do because they personally know Ken and they love him. Also, they sorta wrote themselves into a corner with the character: he's insane, and he was exposed as a fraud teacher. I don't think the solution is a pregnancy scare with Shirley and a takeover of the school using young Jewish boys, but hey, I'm not a producer…. (He should have just become a student without any big, weird plots.) But to justify his place on the show, I guess they felt they had to *do* something with him. Oh well.

       
    • What's with the lecture on how this board works?

      The Troy-Laybourne scenes:

      306: 1. Troy is kidnapped and introduced to the secret society thing. 2. Recruited with a pitch that requires an absolute commitment to the school to set up artificial stakes for the arc. 3. Troy turns Laybourne down and Laybourne's resolve is strengthened.

      313: Laybourne drives a wedge between Troy and Abed.

      315: Laybourne uses his grip on the Dean to get him to recruit Troy (because Laybourne couldn't do it himself and they needed to give new show regular Jim Rash some playing time)

      321: Murray fetches Troy and Laybourne welcomes him home.

      322: Now we finally learn why Laybourne wanted Troy all along beyond just his skills. He sees something in him and anoints Troy as his successor. Laybourne's murder impacts Troy in a profound way. Troy fulfills his Repair Man destiny (the metaphor being that Troy represents the good that humankind is capable of, which I liked). That's an awful lot of progress in one episode.

      P.S. Laybourne as Troy's jedi is fact: http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…. That's where I got the idea.

      Again, it's a sound revision that doesn't live in the script because there's a scant build to the last episode. After each of those Laybourne cameos (this is the right word) I wondered whether it was really going anywhere. The lack of a pulse is really exposed when you arrange the parts into a linear story: there's a prolonged, wheel-spinning build and a hasty resolution, with no sense of what's to come in between. It's like much of ItF in that it feels like a frantic rush to tie off the overextended, unfulfilled arcs as best as possible. Great storytelling is propulsive and intriguing at every step. It's not a bunch of vague pieces (that often felt like the writers figuring it out as they went along) with a voila at the end. To reiterate, I loved the intent of Troy's overall arc for the season, but not so much how it was laid out.

      For an example of a character arc that I think was steered from start to finish in a satisfying way, look at Britta.

    • I don't really understand The Science of Illusion's position. And why does it have the 2nd highest standard deviation of these episodes? Did people just forget what episode it was?

    • I sometimes get it confused with The Art of Discourse.

    • any episode where annie slams jeff's face into the table needs more love than it gets.

    • Any episode where Shirley threatens to cut him with a pizza slicer doesn't get enough love.

       
    • Annie's explanation that she slammed Jeff's face against the table because she wanted to feel more like an adult is both patently absurd and entirely understandable.

       
    • And Jeff's reaction to why Annie slammed his face against the table is priceless. Also, hello, ridiculously tight shirt (did he buy it that way on purpose? toy gun to my head, I'd say yes).

       
    • It just truly has a wide-range of opinions. There's nothing too goofy about the grades as I look at them now. I don't think Todd liked the episode either. (Edit: he did. I was thinking of something else. Shut up!)
       
      Really the problem is, we're obsessed too much with rank. There are like twenty episodes that are almost tied in my mind. They're all good. In fact, I almost feel like 40 episodes are essentially the same in quality with a few standouts here and there at the top, and a few clunkers too. That's why I made people do grades. The difference between the 40th ranked episode and the 50th to someone may actually be so minute it's meaningless. 

      I didn't have Science of Illusion ranked the lowest, but it's not very high either. (There were lots of people who had it in the 40's.) The reason? I just like Community, and there's a lot to love.

       
    • the middle 30 episodes for me coulda been switched around and still been a more or less accurate description of my feelings.

       
    • In retrospect, I should've just implemented a point system or had people grade the episodes out of 100 instead. Ah well.

       
    • Yea I resolved a few batches ago that complaining about the middle 40 is pointless unless it's something like 25-30 places away from where you have it. Only FCD fit that bill so far.

       
    • BOO-URNS! The Science of Illusion needs to be way higher. Season 1 overall is very underrated on this list.

      • I don't understand you anti-Season 3 people. I don't understand you at all!

        Ok, that was a lie. I understand how season 3 can be divisive. But ranking Intro to Finality that low strikes me as trying to make a statement more than trying to judge an episode of television. I know that everything is objective, especially comedy, but that one I really don't understand. 

         
      • Is 32 considered low? Ranking it high would be the statement because it's the one that has the most sentimental value attached.

         
      • My bad, I meant to say the people who ranked it at 71 or in the 60's or wherever. 32 I can understand. 71 strikes me as borderline indefensible. 

         
      • Obviously I really hate what happened to Abed in the second half of Season 3, and this episode certainly doesn't help in that respect. Beyond that, it feels like it's trying to do way too much, in that it's trying to pay off several arcs while also doing self-contained stories of its own.

        This rushing is especially visible in the Shirley-Pierce plot. Shirley and Pierce have been at odds before and it's worked, specifically in The Art of Discourse. Much like in this episode, Pierce provokes Shirley, but in that episode the plot gets time to be properly set up, and we can see that Pierce's actions are motivated out of a desire to fit in rather than malice, although it is his insensitivity that leads to his doing what he does. Introduction to Finality doesn't have time for that; the start of the episode escalates quickly and abruptly into an irreconcilable dispute. As a result, what we're presented with is Pierce attempting to expropriate Shirley without any excuse on his part with which we can identify; in lieu of such explanation, the audience is meant to understand that that's just the sort of thing that Pierce does. When I see that, I'm reminded of comments that Dan Harmon has made about Pierce being ultimately irredeemable or the like; I don't like that, and it doesn't seem to me to be remotely in keeping with the spirit of Community.

        The Troy storyline as a whole falls rather flat for me. Back in the days of RHM, when we were identifying the reasons why Basic Rocket Science is considered so weak in comparison to the episodes around it, people arrived at the conclusion that Community can do drama well when it's based on the characters, but it's ineffective in trying to derive drama from its plot. What distinguishes the AC repair plot, particularly in Introduction to Finality, is its total lack of stakes; there's no chance that Troy gets written off the show, so it lacks suspense. The same is true of episodes like Epidemiology (we know that Greendale won't be taken over by zombies), but the fun there lies in the interactions between the characters; because Troy is all alone here, that element is lost. A related issue is that Troy has been gone for months in the show's continuity, but it never feels that way. In part that's because the episode where Troy departs comes literally right before this one, but I suspect it would feel the same way even if they aired a week apart; perhaps if there had been months' worth of Community episodes without Troy it would feel different, but I wouldn't want Community to do that. I wouldn't mind any of this nearly as much if I thought the AC repair school was funny (I'm willing to excuse a lot so long as it's funny), but it doesn't work for me; its weirdness is presented as funny just because it's weird, but it never is very funny. Obviously comedy is subjective, so that last point is certainly arguable.

        I would probably be more favorably disposed if I liked the episode that led up to it, but the montage at the end is the very thing that Community made fun of just the year before. When Community is good, it can juggle a variety of plots involving all its characters and link them all together at the end as well as any show since Arrested Development, and it does Arrested Development one better by making those conclusions emotionally rewarding. Introduction to Finality certainly has plenty of balls in the air, but the ending montage just leaves them hanging; instead of showing us how everything is thematically connected, it merely tells us that it is by implying it in the music. Community's capable of a whole lot better.

         
      • FCD shouldn't even be in the same Dreamatorium as the other episodes. It's a really shallow episode that's founded on the incredibly stupid Chang and Chang kidnapping the Dean arcs. And how the hell does Community do an Ocean's homage by homage-ing the worst one: the garish, tacky style of Ocean's Thirteen.

         
      • Sidebar: Ocean's 12 was much worse than Ocean's 13. I credit 12 for having ambition, but it failed at reaching those ambitions so miserably I can't credit it as much as I can the slick, well made, but much shallower 13. 

         
      • Ocean's Twelve feels less like a movie than an excuse for movie stars to go to glamorous locations and have fun. At least Ocean's Thirteenpretends to care about its own story.

         
      • This times 1000. It's a filmed vacation with some plot grafted on the top. 

         
      • Vincent Cassel was pretty great in it. Easily the highlight. 

         
      •  When is he not? He's simultaneously classy and sleazy.

         
      • SG Standard Are you talking about Monsieur Hulot's Holiday? Because that movie is great!

         
      • When I think about Thirteen, I all think is ORANGE. It's so ORANGE, ugly and hacky by Soderbergh standards. Say what you will about Twelve's story, but it is very artfully filmed. I guess in that sense the Thirteen aesthetic does fit for FCD and season 3.

         
      • I will give into Ocean's Twelve being well-directed. And I love David Holmes' score. Other than that, I have a hard time seeing it as anything besides a paid vacation caught on film.

         
      • "I have a hard time seeing it as anything besides a paid vacation caught on film."

        Where we differ is that I think that's the whole appeal of the series.

         
      • reuelb5427

        I'm just now realizing VSA still hasn't showed up yet. It really needs to be in the next batch of episodes because in no way is VSA better than Early 21st Century Romanticism, Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples, etc.

         
      • VSA is definitely better than those episodes 

         
      • reuelb5427

        No.

         
      • What a cogent defense.

         
      • OK, I'll be the one to waffle. VSA is definitely better than one of those episodes and arguably better than the other. 

         
      • "OK, I'll be the one to waffle."

        You're having sex with Communitiy episodes?? Even I think that's taking a bit far.

         
      • The logistics are somewhat mind boggling, I'll admit. 

         
      • I have VSA higher than both of those. Warts and all, I love it. I'm not even sure I can justify why; I just do.

         
      •  It's not better than Messianic Myths.

         
      • i ranked vsa 3rd.

         
      • reuelb5427

        I ranked it 63…

         
      • V-S-A! V-S-A! V-S-A!

         
      • I was the high for Introduction to Finality (and I was one of my A+'s).

        I understand why people don't like it, but for me, it reminds me why I watch this show and why I love it. Fundimentally, people can change but it's what they do with that change that defines them. Jeff started off as a jerk who just wants his law degree back, and here he is in a very bizzare court room, potentially damaging his career for his friends. 

        Watching that final Winger speech is probably one of the best things ever. I just kept hearing old Winger speeches comping out of it. Because once we realise we actually need people, everything becomes so much easier.

        It also reminds me that Dan Harmon chang-ed the whole game with one move, and to that I am eternally grateful.

        My other rankings:

        59. Early 21st Romanticism. 
        58. Communication Studies
        50. Origins of Vampire Mythology
        38. The Science of Illusion
        29. The First Chang Dynasty
        7. Introduction to Finality

         
      • Wow, someone ranked OVM higher than me? (I had it at 7.)

         
      • Hey! What? I can't respond to this now, I have to sleep!

         
      • 15. 3-21 "The First Chang Dynasty"
        Loved this episode. Thought it completely redeemed the Chang arc. It was one of the funniest episodes in season three and I will never stop being impressed how they fit it into a 22 minute episode of television.

        31. 3-15 "Origins of Vampire Mythology"
        A solid pizza episode that used the cast effectively and had a great cold open. #Jirley

        45. 1-16 "Communication Studies"
        Underrated episode on my list, but the difference between #50 and #20 is pretty slim.

        52. 1-20 "The Science of Illusion"
        It's an episode of Community. Not one of my favorites.

        58. 3-22 "Introduction to Finality"
        I liked Troy's side of the episode and pretty much nothing else. How do you leave Annie out of the finale?

        60. 2-15 "Early 21st Century Romanticism"
        I feel bad about this one. Really enjoy this episode and think it is in the same tier as Communication Studies. This one slipped through the cracks.

         
      • The Winger speech in "Vampire Myth." may not be the best, but it is up there.