I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to acknowledge that this is probably the end for Community. With the season finale happening as part of a three episode in one night ordeal, it’s hard not to see this scheduling decision as NBC burning off episodes in the can as a means of freeing up the 8PM timeslot. But maybe, just maybe, that quiet whisper, or is it a whimper, of optimism that resides in the back of my head is right when he suggests that this is NBC attempting to show how Community can work as the majority of Thursday’s primetime comedy block. Yeah, that’s right. Because why would NBC cancel the show now when giving it one more season would mean a potential syndication deal. Syndication means more money for everybody. NBC likes money, right?

So while my friend and colleague Matt Moore is handling “How Season 3 should have ended (if Dan Harmon knew this was the end and could wrap things up in a manner fitting the series)” over in his corner of the internet, I’m going to make like Johnny Carson and offer some thoughts on how I think this season will end.

Jeff and Annie or Jeff/Annie

Asking will they or won’t they isn’t the interesting question between Jeff and Annie. Rather, we should be asking, why would Jeff want to? If I were to put D&D alignments on these two characters, Annie would be “Lawful Good” and Jeff would be “True Neutral”. Ergo Annie does what is right, all the time, and Jeff does what works best for Jeff. Yet in pursuit of Annie, Jeff has been trending toward “Neutral Good” with even a whiff of “Lawful” thrown in for good measure. Last week’s Basic Lupine Urology saw Jeff in search of justice, instead of a simple win. Is all this just a gambit to impress a girl, or is becoming a prospect for Annie more about redemption for his past misdeeds?

Prediction: Jeff will find redemption and in doing so win over Annie. However, in a moment of pure altruism, Jeff will be struck down. Thus Winger will give in to ego, vanity, and his long seated knowledge that winning is all that matters. Senior year at Greendale will see Jeff as the new Pierce. Annie will be torn between what remains of the group and trying to find the good in Jeff, who has just signed on for an internship at a smarmy, but exclusive, law firm.

Meta References: Star Wars, The Godfather, The Fly

Britta

Since this year’s Halloween episode, possibly earlier, Britta has been in a decaying orbit around a severe existential crisis. It began when she started touting herself as a psychology major on a regular basis. The problem therein is that Britta defines herself not by what she is, but, like any good anarchist, by what she is not. When confronted with the possibility that she is naturally disposed to being every stereotype of the “modern” woman, Britta hit the sauce and considered marrying Jeff as a spiritual seppuku.

Prediction: The Britta and Troy love story will happen. However, the moment Troy asserts a stereotypical male perspective on some seemingly irrelevant point is the moment Britta’s brain breaks.

Meta Reference: Rebel Without A Cause

Troy

We know from the mid-season trailer that the group is going to face expulsion from Greendale. We also know this story was written around a plan that involved a fourth season (Believe in it like Gotham City believed in Harvey Dent). Troy Barnes is the only person capable of saving the group for that fourth season

Prediction: Troy will join the air conditioning repair school on the condition that the group doesn’t get expelled. The quiet privilege that comes with being in the AC school will get inside his head, just like when he relapsed into being a jock. Shortly thereafter, Troy will make an off handed comment toward Britta. This lone act will precipitate the aforementioned Britta brain break.

Meta Reference: What’s a contemporary analogue for Faust…that lawyer movie with Keanu Reeves?

Alternate Timeline Prediction: A freak accident in the “room temperature room” freezes Troy for x number of years. When Troy emerges his only companion is a hologram of Dean Pelton.

Meta References: Buck Rogers, Red Dwarf, Planet of the Apes

Abed

Abed’s a tricky one. Since Remedial Chaos Theory introduced us to the Darkest Timeline, Abed’s tendencies to go meta have been growing more chronic. Rather than using popular culture to relate to people, he has been escaping into it. On the surface, it may seem like Annie’s intervention in the dreamatorium has ebbed a mounting Abed implosion. I suspect, however, that her actions have had less of a self-actualizing effect, and served only to tether Abed’s psyche to the group.

Prediction: Abed’s going to pull a HAL 9000. He will understand the empathy that motivated Troy to save the group, but he won’t be able to reconcile that with Troy leaving the group, an inevitable condition of Vice Dean Laybourne’s amnesty offer. Abed will resolve the conflicting variables as a betrayal on Troy’s part, and as a coping mechanism resurrect Evil Abed. Ending Evil Abed’s reign of terror, around the third or fourth episode of season four, will require the combined efforts of the group.

Meta References: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Terminator, Voltron, or possibly Captain Planet.

Shirley

What could happen to Shirley that is dark without being pointlessly evil? You can’t do anything to her kids, nor would there be much point in breaking her up with her husband. Yet one conversation stands out in my mind. In Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts, Dean Pelton pointed out that Shirley, much to his surprise, is actually learning things at Greendale.

Prediction: Shirley get’s offered a scholarship from a real university. As a real (read: normal) student, she won’t have time for the group. This will further feed into Abed’s abandonment issues/Evil Abed’s source of power.

Meta References: Good Will Hunting

Pierce

It’s hard not to notice Pierce’s marginalized role in the series post-hiatus. Minute for minute, he now gets about as much attention as Chang. Who is to say how much of this is a result of Dan Harmon’s ongoing feud with Chevy Chase? Regardless, I think Starburns’ death was but the first movement in a larger Whedonesque symphony.

Prediction: Pierce is going to die. He and Chang, the two pariahs of Greendale, are going to scooter off with a squad of Greendale security golf carts chasing them. Chang will steer the scooter toward some sort of farcical cliff, implying a mutual suicide. At the last second, Chang will jump off and escape to safety. Pierce will survive the initial ordeal before being crushed by some 10,000 ton ironic gimmick, preferably something that has a tangential relationship to Clark Griswold.

Meta References: Thelma and Louise, National Lampoon’s whatever

Thus bringing to a close The Empire Strikes Back season of Community. Season 4’s motif: Finding redemption through finding one’s self.