Well, Community’s writing staff may not know how to write a season, but they sure know how to end one. “For A Few Paintballs More” was a very fun half-hour, and it was definitely the first good episode since “Intro to Political Science.” Some more thoughts about this episode and the season as a whole after the jump.

“For A Few Paintballs More” worked for the same reason that “Basic Rocket Science” worked: it ditched the stupid drama, the irritating meta-humour, and the self-congratulatory vibe, and instead just went balls-to-the-wall nuts. Sure, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and not every single joke landed, but it was damn fun nonetheless. And isn’t being fun what TV should do? Also of note: as part of this show’s ongoing love affair with Cougar Town, this episode featured Dan Byrd and Busy Philipps as extras. Squee!

It’s fair to say that stories where underdogs come from behind to defeat a much larger evil are clichéd, but there’s a reason that they are: they work. So yes, I did find myself rooting for Greendale to crush those City College bastards, and yes, I was elated to see Greendale come together and succeed. And no, I didn’t shed any tears. (I am man! Man no cry!)

As for how this all looked on screen, it looked pretty damn impressive. The special effects gurus really did a good job with the paint splotches, and kudos for the set designers for turning Greendale into a paintball war zone.

I have a very specific complaint to voice before moving on to big picture concerns. I really hate the Garrett character. He’s the worst kind of nerd stereotype: fat, unlikeable, and incompetent. Him getting stuck in the vent was one of the most lowbrow jokes that this show has ever done, and while I’m not above lowbrow humour, I just don’t find anything about the character appealing. Retire him, please, Community writers.

And now for big picture concerns. Let’s cut straight to the chase. Does a good season finale make up for what has been a disastrous season for Community, full of horrible plot lines and backwards character development? Absolutely not. But the previous two episodes were pretty decent as well, so I actually feel like tuning in next season.

My second concern is about what has been the albatross around this season’s neck: the Pierce problem. It was – and this is putting it charitably – an idiotic storyline that dragged on for too long, made the characters seem unlikeable, and was inadequately resolved. It was then ignored for a while before being brought back in last week’s episode. Firstly, I have to express my dismay that Pierce’s pill addiction was never properly addressed, nor is it likely to be brought up again. Oh well. Secondly, I get the feeling that this entire season was constructed backwards. It seems as if Harmon & Co. knew that they wanted Pierce to leave the study group at the end of the season and then overcompensated by having too many signs pointing in that direction.

The broader related issue is this: I don’t think that Pierce leaving the study group is a good idea in the first place. Just like Chang being booted out of a teaching position at the end of last season, this is a twist that just didn’t need to happen. I have some degree of respect for Community for wanting to change things up, but that respect is limited by the fact that the changes aren’t good. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and I just can’t imagine that Community will work well Pierce being a random, offensive old dude on the fringes. (Doesn’t Leonard already fill that role?)

In any case, “For A Few Paintballs More” didn’t fix any of the problems that I had with this season. But it was a good episode, and that’s more than I’ve been able to say for most of the second half of this season.

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