written by Carol Kolb | directed by Jay Chandrasekhar
Like most two-part episodes, it feels unfair reviewing the first half without seeing the second. "Basic Story" is potentially the last adventure for the study group (in the wake of dismal ratings, I'm less certain NBC will be kind enough to greenlight that fabled sixth season), and it worked in the sense it set everything up very nicely. The Save Greendale committee (which has been less significant to the season than I'd hoped) were successful when the college was valued by an insurance appraiser (Michael McDonald), but this unfortunately led to the school being sold to Subway (apparently the sponsor of choice for all struggling geek-friendly shows, post-Chuck).
Now that Greendale's on the precipice of disaster, it was interesting to see the reactions of everyone. Abed (Danny Pudi) and Annie (Alison Brie) refused to face facts; the Dean (Jim Rash) dissolved into naked, weeping mess; Buzz (Jonathan Banks) and Professor Duncan (John Oliver) grew close after realising they have some shared history back in the UK; and most notably Jeff (Joel McHale) proposed to Britta (Gillian Jacobs) on a whim, if only so the past five years haven't been for nought. Oh, and Change (Ken Jeong) betrayed the group once and again and sided with the incoming Subway bosses.
"Basic Story" wasn't a particularly funny episode, but I've found that to be true of most of this season's more recent episodes. I liked the early idea that Abed was expecting a "story" to naturally evolve (as they tend to do on TV shows with inciting incidents or a "call to adventure"), only for the day to unfold without much drama for awhile. It would have been nice to see a Community episode without anything strange happening for once, but then the episode sort of abandoned that idea when Greendale's future was threatened and Abed was proven right about expecting some drama.
At least the impression I'm left with is that the finale will be more exciting now Abed, Annie, and the Dean have apparently located a treasure map behind the photo of the first Dean, Russell Borchert. And maybe the slightly weird decision to properly rekindle the Jeff/Britta relationship could go somewhere interesting, but I suspect Dan Harmon's team will leave some doors open for a sixth season. If NBC do cancel this show, it's had a good innings considering the behind-the-scenes turmoil and bad ratings, but I have a feeling Sony Television will shop it around to some other networks. It would be a good fit for Comedy Central (for a Futurama-like resurrection), or perhaps Amazon Prime would want this (as reviving Arrested Development worked well for their rival Netflix)?