‘Community’ Breakdown: ‘Basic Sandwich’

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SPOILERS AHEAD, so study up cautiously, Community buffs…

Season Five, Episode 13: “Basic Sandwich”

Written by: Ryan Ridley; Directed by: Rob Schrab

Will the buried treasure that Abed, Annie, and the Dean found really save Greendale? Will Jeff and Britta really get married? Will Chang ever stop being awful? Will Community live for another season? These are the questions addressed in the second part of the season five finale (which is already being called the most meta of the meta-ist episodes of Community).

Quick Breakdown

The Dean, Annie, and Abed do a presentation for the group (minus Shirley and Buzz) about the first dean. Russell Borchert is a “computer genius, anti-deodorant activist, and millionaire” who funneled his wealth into computer school Greendale, where he did research on a machine that could process feelings (using gold circuitry which he believed to be superior). Neither his body nor his wealth was seen again after his computer sex scandal, but it is believed that both can be found in his office, hidden underground on the campus. The “buried treasure” they found is a confession by Borchert saying he sealed off his computer lab.

Shirley and Buzz arrive with the blueprints to the school. A concealed stairwell appears to be located exactly where the teacher’s lounge is. Buzz uses a pickaxe to destroy the wall in there, but all they find are wires, which Duncan rips out, getting electrocuted in the process. Chang overhears the ruckus outside and texts someone (probably that pesky School Board).

Jeff announces that he’s marrying Britta to everyone, amidst all the commotion. Annie freaks out, calling them “ridiculous.” Abed ignores everyone else and discovers a hidden trap door in the floor. Richie and Carl from the School Board (“Yes, we’ve got names,” Carl says) pound on the door as they begin to descend into the hidden passage via Buzz’s rope. Richie busts open the door to find Shirley and Buzz calmly sipping tea. The vending machine has been moved to cover the door in the floor.

“Leave no 70s reference unturned,” Abed tells everyone as they begin to explore the lost passages of Greendale that haven’t been touched since the ’70s. Annie is uncertain about the future, especially one with Britta marrying Jeff. Abed tells her that this is “our show” and it’s not over.

They start to give up hope, until they find a jukebox that’s potentially hiding a secret passage. Abed suggests they play track 127. Not because “127 in binary code would be a palindrome,” as Annie suggests, but because the song title is “Open the Door” by The Secret Doors. When the song plays, the jukebox recedes to reveal Borchert’s secret lab. They find his golden machine, but meet Borchert himself in the process.

The Board interrogates Shirley and Buzz. Richie bizarrely jumps into Buzz’s mind to discover the location of the others. He thinks he’s successfully robbed Buzz’s brain, saying that the others escaped via a hang glider. But a Subway employee interrupts saying they found a hatch in the floor underneath the vending machine.

Borchert tells them he sealed himself in here with 50 years of food, toilet paper, and cocaine, which he somehow blew threw in 10 years. “Wow, the 80s happened down here, too,” Jeff quips. When they move the machine, named Raquel, Borchert freaks out. Annie calms everyone with a speech, saying, “We have to respect each other enough to let each other want what we want.” (The camera pans in on Jeff as she says this.) Borchert is happy to give them money, if that’s what they came looking for. He has a bag of old cash that he grants to Greendale.

But the Board shows up just then and steals the bag of money. Richie puts a magnet on Raquel and escapes, ruining the machine and trapping everyone inside. Borchert gets the emotional components back on. Jeff discovers a legal loophole to save Greendale, but they’ll have to get above ground in time to stop the complete purchase by Subway. The only way to get the door open is with a strong blast of human emotion.

Jeff dons the helmet connected to the machine, telling everyone else to turn around. He looks at each of them, searching for enough passion. He hears their thoughts in his head. When he reaches Annie, his mind says, “M’lady.” Hers responds with, “M’lord.” Raquel responds with a smile and is back online.

They bust into the Board’s press conference. Jeff tells them “the school’s original founder retains the privilege of consultation on all future scholastic endeavors.” He then introduces the new Vice Dean, Russell Borchert. Subway backs out of the deal, not wanting to get involved in Greendale’s internal conflict. While the school is still bankrupt and unmarketable, everyone celebrates having saved Greendale.

Duncan calls out Britta and Jeff about their impending marriage. They have a mini-squabble and happily call the whole thing off. Some more jokes about Richie’s mind reading occur. Chang gets promoted to the School Board, and his first task is to take that bag of cash to the City’s Bursar Office (although it seems unlikely he’ll actually do that). The Committee gathers and puts a Save Greendale star on their Done board.

Rating

A+

This was certainly an extra-meta edition of Community, thanks to Abed. The episode had plenty of hilarious moments (both big and small) and expanded the Greendale myth. Plus, everyone who ships Jeff and Annie (and, honestly, who doesn’t?) got some powerful new material. A solid, entertaining finale that not even the continued existence of Chang could truly taint. And, with Greendale saved, it looks like a season six is eminent (#sixseasonsandamovie).

Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

The Dean talking about the Borchert era: “It was a weird time. Bionic Woman won an Emmy.”

The Dean after Jeff announces he’s marrying Britta: “What does this look like? An hour-long episode of The Office?”

“I’m gonna peel off some Band-Aids here,” Abed warns Borchert when he first appears, “Dennis Hopper is dead. TV shows give no time for theme songs anymore. And Woody Allen did the voice of a cartoon ant.”

Abed says to Annie, “I never got to wish you a happy birthday or Halloween or Christmas or any specific calendar event.” Annie replies, “Maybe next year.” And Abed confidently says, “We’ll definitely be back next year. If not, it’ll be because an asteroid has destroyed all of human civilization.”

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