Are prequels in the air this week or something? First, New Girl and now Community.
But while that New Girl episode used the extended flashback as a device to flesh out its characters' sexual and romantic hang-ups, "Heroic Origins" utilized the flashback to a more Community-appropriate end: to spin the tales of how each of the Greendale Seven hit the particular rock bottom that brought them to the school.
It was also a clever and tender tribute to the 2008 Angelina Jolie film Wanted (yes, that is definitely the first and last time that I, or probably any other human being, am going to write that sentence).
Late-aughts Angelina Jolie vehicles aside, the episode harkened back to the alternate timelines plotline of Community Season 3's classic "Remedial Chaos Theory," with its dextrous flipping between the past and present, and each of the Greendale Seven's pre-Greendale lives (well, except for that brief appearance by Pierce, who seemed to have been played by a stuntman in a white wig).
Community has always had a way with time, destiny and alternate realities - and though this episode wasn't as heavy and cerebral as some past explorations of the subjects on the show, I didn't think that the degree of lightness and looseness with which it probed them made the show any less satisfying.
Of course, even if the episode had been a tender tribute to Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever, I would have been on board, due to the total wish-fulfillment-for-super-fans nature of these flashbacks - who among us hasn't been waiting the entire series run for a peek at Britta's much-noted past as a political radical... or to find out that the stripper who ruined Shirley's marriage is actually stand-up comedian Natasha Leggero, doused in body glitter?
As psyched as I was to finally see "Annie Adderall," I also couldn't ignore the "end of senior year" feeling that permeated the episode, which was inevitable but still a bit of a bummer for me. We're wrapping up all the loose ends (particularly during Chang's anti-climactic return to the non-dark side). As Abed said during one of the night's more spot-on Community quotes, "We're really filling in some plot holes here."
As Community rounds the corner to its season (and possibly series) finale, it seems to have finally found a new groove. The past four episodes of Community Season 4 have found a sense of cohesion that eluded the show for the beginning of the year, showing that "new" Community does have a unique and sustainable vibe, one that's a little more goofy than its previous incarnation, but still something worth taking in on a Thursday night.
What did you think of Chang's change of heart? Are you excited for the season finale? If there is a Community Season 5, what do you think our chances are of getting a Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever tribute episode?