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What does this look like, an hour long episode of The Office?!
— Dean Pelton
Dean Pelton holds an emergency meeting of the Save Greendale Committee in his office. He recounts to Jeff and Britta the history of Russell Borchert, the wealthy inventor who founded Greendale years ago. Borchert was developing a computer which could process human emotion using gold plated circuitry. A scandal broke out involving his unnatural love for the machine and Borchert disappeared along with his fortune. Annie shows everyone a scroll written by Greendale's first Dean which reveals Borchert's computer lab was sealed away. Blueprints of the campus acquired by Shirley and Hickey shows a sub-basement directly under the Teacher's lounge. The Committee goes to search that location and Annie directs Hickey to smash a large hole through the wall mural with an axe.

5x13 Greendale's founder Russell Borchert
Greendale Community College's founder Russell Borchert.
Shirley locks the lounge door, unaware Chang is right outside, as Duncan grabs electrical wiring exposed by Hickey's rampage thinking it's a clue. An electrical surge incapacitates him and sets the wall on fire. Once Jeff extinguishes the flames he demands the treasure hunt end. He announces his engagement to Britta, telling them all to move on as they are doing. It's then Abed discovers a hidden trap door just as Richie, Carl, and Chang make their presence known outside and demand to be let in. When Richie breaks down the door they find Shirley, Hickey, and Duncan having tea. The others go through the trap door to the sub-basement where they split up to cover more ground. Annie is with Abed and wonders if Greendale is worth saving with all the heartache they've endured.

5x13 Trapdoor
Abed discovers a hidden trapdoor in the Teachers' Lounge.

Sensing the true source of her distress, Abed explains Jeff and Britta's engagement is a crutch to cope with an uncertain future. He assures her it will end as soon as they find Borchert's treasure. They reunite with the others but no one found anything. Abed then notices a suspicious juke box which reveals a secret door. They find Borchert's secret lab and inside is the gold lined machine he was working on. They are shocked when a filthy, disheveled old man stumbles out of a nearby office. Abed immediately recognizes him as the disgraced Russell Borchert. Back above ground, Richie, Carl, and Chang are interrogating Shirley and Hickey for clues to the others' whereabouts. Richie claims to have psychic abilities and tries to read Hickey's mind. He believes he discovered a lead involving a hang glider on the roof, but is corrected when a Subway employee tells them about a hidden trap door they found in the lounge.

5x13 Borchert lives!
Russell Borchert lives!
Back at the lab, Borchert refuses to let his visitors take his computer which he named "Raquel." Jeff explains that they need the gold now and points out the project has already cost Borchert decades of his life. He tells Russell to move on since "Raquel" has given him back nothing in return. Annie feels empathy for Borchert's situation and declares they shouldn't take away his dream. Looking at Jeff, she states they have to respect and support other people's choices even if it conflicts with their own desires. Borchert offers to give them a bag of millions he has left if they leave him be. Chang, Richie, and Carl suddenly show up and hold Raquel "hostage" by threatening her with a magnet. After taking the money, Richie uses the magnet anyway and damages Raquel's internal hard drive which controls the lab. The trio escapes before the door seals shut and traps the others inside. Borchert examines Raquel and discovers her emotional circuitry is still working.

5x13 Carl, Chang, and Richie
Carl, Chang, and Richie hold Raquel hostage.
He then mentions how he founded Greendale, which prompts Jeff to search the lab for documentation and proof of his ownership. The professor rants about how he worked to create a tech-based society where idiots with feelings could thrive. Britta then shows him a YouTube video and the accompanying comments section. Upon seeing this, Borchert declares his work is done just as Jeff announces he found papers which will save the school. Unfortunately, Borchert informs them the lab door won't open until Raquel's logic circuits boot up hours from now. However, he theorizes that if someone projects an intense burst of emotion into Raquel it could restart. Jeff volunteers and tells everyone to turn around as he hooks himself up to the machine. He contemplates Dean, Britta, and Abed but nothing happens until he looks at Annie. Raquel quickly powers up and the entrance opens up.

5x13 A burst of passion
Jeff manages to reboot Raquel.
In the cafeteria, a press conference is being held with Richie and Carl about to sign over Greendale to Subway. The Committee stops the proceedings and presents a decades-old contract Borchert signed with the city. It granted him consultation rights on any scholastic endeavors on the premises. Jeff introduces Borchert, whose grimy appearance nauseates everyone. The Subway rep calls off the deal and leaves with his subordinates. Carl angrily tells the committee they only postponed the inevitable. Pelton replies they are used to an uncertain future and a celebration breaks out. As it goes on, Jeff and Britta call off their engagement, Carl offers a school board job to Chang, Abed muses with Annie about next year, and Hickey reveals to Shirley that Richie was right about the hang glider. Afterwards, the Committee meets up in a restored study room. The group applauds as Annie updates their to-do list board by pinning a "Saved Greendale" star in the done column.

5x13 The Save Greendale Committee triumphant
The Save Greendale Committee is victorious.

End tag[]

A series of mock television programs are shown during the end credits as a jab at the television network (NBC) that broadcasts episodes of "Community." The shows being advertised during the end of the episode are intentionally bad and are meant to mock the other television programs NBC might run in place of "Community," if it were to not be renewed for another season.

NBC's new Fall lineup.

Recurring themes[]


  • And we're back!: This episode is the second part of the Season Five finale and picks up where the previous one left off.
  • Familiar faces:
    • Chris Elliot makes his official debut as Russell Borchert. He was seen in the previous episode in a portrait.
    • The Subway rep returns in this episode.
    • Actress Amber Tamblyn appears alongside Chang, Richie, and Carl as part of a show on NBC's new schedule called "Thought Jacker." In real life she is married to David Cross, who guest starred on the Season Five episode "Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons."
    • Actor/comedian/television writer B.J. Novak also appears in the episode end tag as the star of another show called "Mr. Egypt."
    • Musician Questlove of The Roots appears as the host of another show called "Celebrity Beat-Off."
    • The second Subway corprohumanoid is briefly seen in this episode discovering the trap door in the Teacher's lounge.
  • History lesson: Russell Borchert and Greendale history are elaborated on. He was a genius computer programmer who became wealthy from inventing the 9-track cassette back in the 1970s. He used that money to create the school which was originally known as the Greendale Computery College. Russell disappeared after a scandal broke out about his unnatural love for computers.
  • Returning faculty: Richie and Carl return.
  • Previously: Richie mentions the school's "paintballs" hinting at the Season One episode "Modern Warfare" and the Season Two episodes "A Fistful of Paintballs" and "For A Few Paintballs More." He also mentions "freeze tag" and is corrected by Shirley that the game was Hot Lava, which is referencing the Season Five episode "Geothermal Escapism."
  • Returning students: Star-Burns returns in this episode.
  • School uniform:
    • Abed is still wearing the Dead Alewives shirt from the previous episode. The Dead Alewives were an improv comedy troupe that Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab were a part of.
  • That just happened: Abed says he has a girlfriend, implying he and Rachel are still together despite the events of "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing."
  • This must be the place: Group Study Room F, Dean Pelton's office, the Teachers' lounge, the Student lounge, and the cafeteria are all seen in this episode.
  • School song/Replay: "Ants Marching" by the Dave Mathews Band is played once more by Star-Burns, echoing a scene on the previous episode "Basic Story."
  • Googly eyes:
    • Jeff and Britta announce their engagement to everyone. Throughout the episode they try and pretend to be more mature about the Greendale situation than everyone else. In those instances they act overly romantic towards one another. However, when there is hope the school might be saved they fall back into their usual dynamic of bickering.
    • Annie is hurt by Jeff's engagement but pointedly lets him know that whatever decisions he makes she will accept and support.
    • Abed believes Annie was going to lean in to kiss him and reminds her he has a girlfriend.
    • When a burst of passion is needed to power the computer enough to open the door, Jeff manages to make this happen by focusing on Annie. (This was confirmed on DVD commentaries and in a a tweet by writer Ryan Ridley).
  • Climax:
    • The Save Greendale Committee accomplishes their goal to save the school and prevents it from being sold to Subway.
    • "Community" was officially cancelled by NBC the following month on May 9, 2014, bringing an end to its five-year run on network television. Several months later on June 30, 2014, the internet corporation Yahoo announced it would be picking up the show for a sixth season on its online streaming video service Yahoo Screen.
  • Winger speech: Annie delivers the lesson to be learned to the committee although part of it is directed towards Jeff.
  • Discontinuity: This episode establishes that Greendale Computery College was founded in 1977. But in "Basic Human Anatomy," Dean Pelton says that Leonard got an "A" in Rotary Phone Maintenance in 1968. (Maybe this was from an earlier school that later merged into Greendale?)

Running gags[]

  • Board certified tutor: Richie Countee believes himself to have psychic powers. While the majority of the mind reading he did of Hickey was mostly inaccurate, he was actually right about there being a hang glider in his thoughts.
  • Britta'd: After Annie puts the "Save Greendale" star in the done section, Britta makes a fist with her thumb on top. Abed reaches over and lifts her thumb to change her fist gesture into a thumbs-up gesture.
  • Man crush: Dean Pelton states he notices how large Jeff is getting. He then believes himself to be the reason behind Jeff's "burst of feelings," unaware it was actually Annie.
  • Pansexual imp: Russell Borchert's unusual computer fetish is shown. Also, the Dean says "If it's like a regular dungeon, it's only as dangerous as whoever invited you."
  • You're the worst!: Hickey and Shirley are called this by Richie for trying to stop the school board's deal with Subway.

Pop culture references[]

  • Alert nerd!:
    • The vault is located on a blueprint as being in "Sub-Level 3." In Aliens the marines use a blueprint to locate the colonists as being in Sub-Level 3 of the atmosphere processor (which turns out to be the xenomorph nesting site).
  • Current events: When Dean Pelton searches the sub-basement he nearly chokes on a missile from a toy rocket launcher. This is a reference to the 1979 prototype of the Kenner Star Wars Boba Fett action figure which had a similar feature. After the feature was deemed a choking hazard it was removed. An article on the history of the action figure can be read here.
  • Shout out:
    • Actors Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland are mentioned. The question of which actor was hotter was a topic of a Greendale debate back in the 1970s. Both Jeff and Pelton agree that it was Sutherland.
    • When Abed sees Russell Borchert he informs him that Dennis Hopper is dead and Woody Allen voiced a cartoon ant. The latter news sends Borchert into a frenzy.
  • TV Guide:
    • The 1970s science fiction show "Bionic Woman" is mentioned by Dean Pelton. He also notes it won an Emmy.
    • The NBC sitcom "The Office" is mentioned. When it aired it was known for having a number of "super-sized" one hour episodes which Dean Pelton comments on.
  • Use your allusion: The Subway rep says "Subway, Ho!" to rally his employees. This is a possible reference to the 1980s cartoon "Thundercats" where the lead character Lion-O yelled "Thundercats, Ho!" to rally the Thundercats he led.

Meta references[]

  • Up against the wall:
    • Abed apologizes to Annie for missing her birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and other major holidays. This is a reference to the lack of holiday-themed episodes in Season Five which was possibly done in order to avoid another Season Four situation. That year NBC rescheduled the debut of the show to February from its announced November date. All of the holiday-themed episodes were aired long after that particular festivity had been celebrated.
    • Abed tells Annie that the group will definitely be back next year, and if not it will be due to a giant asteroid. He then says it's "canon" and stares straight at the camera. This is a reference to the uncertainty of the show being renewed.
    • During the end tag, several fake NBC pilots are said to be on in the "...fall, winter, or spring. Depends on what fails!" This is another reference to "Community's" start date (and also renewal) depending on the success of other NBC pilots.


Critical reaction[]


Gabrielle Moss, TV Fanatic:

The two-parter's (alongside Community Season 5 Episode 12) Goonies-meets-an-existential-crisis vibe presented the show in its most unadulterated form - creating a solid bedrock to send off for the Greendale...wait, are they back to 7? (4.7 / 5)

Tim Surette,

All told, I think both episodes comprised a very funny hour that didn't go as far off the deep end as many Community episodes do, yet still stood out from the rest of the comedies on network television.

Eric Goldman, IGN:

In an episode jam-packed with great meta moments, nothing will beat Abed’s line near the end. “We’ll definitely be back next year. If not, it’s because an asteroid has destroyed all of human civilization. And that’s canon!” (9.2 / 10)

Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:

If this winds up being the actual end (more on that in a moment), it felt appropriate that we would go out with an episode that was so acutely and vocally aware that it could be the last episode of a low-rated but beloved sitcom. And if Jeff thinking warmly about Britta, Annie, Abed and even Dean Pelton to reboot the computer wasn't a surprising character moment at this point in the series — even he long ago stopped pretending that he'd rather be rid of this place and these people — it was still a touching one.

Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club:

...But its big emotional climax also involves Jeff trying to trick an ancient computer into feeling intense passion because of his love for his friends, and it features Chris Elliott at his Chris Elliott-est. Neither of these is unworkable, but the whole thing sort of feels thrown together at the last minute so everybody can head out for summer break. (B / season grade B+)

Dave Bunting, Vulture:

...“Basic Sandwich” was just a whole lot of fun. Every character had at least one moment to shine, and there was the added bonus of seeing Chris Elliott as Russell Borchert. It was a smart and funny episode to cap off an uneven season, and it left me wanting more. (5 stars)

Matt Carter,

Basic Sandwich” was not a revolutionary episode of the show that we’ll go back and watch a dozen times, but it was still an enjoyable romp [and] we still enjoyed it enough that we’re left chanting “six seasons and a movie” all over again. (A-)

Randy Dankievitch, Sound on Sight:

On some level, I have to think this is the point of “Basic Story” and “Basic Sandwich”; the stories are so absurd and superficial, it’s as if they’re designed to fall apart under the slightest scrutiny. Whether it’s devilishly clever writing, or just a mix of laziness and exhaustion from the end of a long production season, it makes for an interesting – if not slightly disappointing – interpretation of “the journey is more important than the destination.

Aisha Harris. Slate:

Even if we do save Greendale, which Greendale will we be saving?” Annie wonders. It’s a question worth asking, especially following last week’s filler episode in which the premise was that there was no premise to speak of (at least until the final moments). It was a little too on-the-nose, even for Community. But this week’s episode, and most of the other ones from this season, suggest that the show still has life in it.

Polar Bear, Polar Bears Watch TV:

“Basic Sandwich” is certainly a satisfying end to the uneven fifth season. The concept behind it is a bit shaky, consisting of a trip to a computer lab underneath Greendale, complete with the creator of the school and his emotion-lacking computer. However, the actual interactions we get are effective. (B+ / season grade B)

Tim Morse, Morse Code:

This show has always been ridiculous. But the story idea of a treasure hunt kind of takes the cake. But it allowed them to have a ton of fun in this episode, as they always seem to do. (9.0 / A)

Damon Houx, ScreenCrush:

Abed spells out that this might be a possible finale as his way to understand what’s going on, which straddles the line between clever and obvious, but it works in the context of the show. This season has been a little more aware of itself than usual, or perhaps is less afraid of embracing its more out there ideas, but this also ties into the show’s existentialism.

Joe Matar, Den of Geek:

The first part of Community’s two-part finale, “Basic Story,” was really rather a mess that felt like several disconnected plotlines and underdeveloped concepts tossed together. It did have those brief moments where it felt like possibly the show was returning to a familiar, good place ... Well, the second part, “Basic Sandwich,” gets rid of all the complicated stuff, but even the few good bits get thrown out with it. The episode is even less funny, more emotionless, and at times feels so comically unfamiliar; it’s like if the Farrelly brothers made a Community movie.

Brian Collins, Badass Digest:

For a season/possible-series finale, it's pretty grounded compared to other season enders, with minimal use of the supporting cast and not much of a resolution for anyone's attempts at a degree. I assume it was for budgetary reasons that the regular co-stars don't appear in an episode about saving Greendale, but it's still kind of a bummer - Magnitude should have been around to offer up a "Pop, pop!" during the celebration, instead of a bunch of random anonymous extras.

Laurel Brown, zap2it:

"Community" Season 5 has nothing to lose and everything to gain in its finale, "Basic Sandwich." That's probably why the episode essentially dares NBC not to renew it for a sixth season (and a movie).

Untempered Television:

If you’re a sucker for Abed’s meta commentary, “Basic Sandwich” was essentially Mecca and I happen to be such a sucker so his musings threading through the entire half hour were just so perfect that the lack of any sort of meaningful depth was easily forgiven.

Nick O'Malley,

Somewhat lost in the dense fog of the meta-commentary of the episode is the fact that "Basic Sandwich" was really funny. Starting off with a good comedic lead-in with the "buried treasure" bit, the writers clearly had a good bit of fun with having the characters pull off a cartoonish "Scooby-Doo"-esque caper in the bowels of Greendale.

Lauren Stern, Pop Break:

The last review I wrote for this series was the Dungeons and Dragons episode, which was classic Community just by the theme alone. I’m happy that I got the opportunity to review this season’s finale, as it was classic in that it one of the most meta Community episode ever produced.

Jennifer Marie, Just About Write:

I expected more from this season because of Harmon’s return. I expected a central theme that progressed the characters. I expected them to learn and to evolve, not to merely circle around the same themes and plots from years past like a hamster on a wheel or a person on a gym treadmill. So if “Basic Sandwich” is the series finale of Community… what did I think of it, exactly? I thought it was a decent farewell to an okay season but that it was – when it boiled down to it – reminiscent of a hamster on a wheel.


"Basic Sandwich" was watched by 2.87 million American viewers and received a 1.0/4 share in the 18-49 demographic. It placed third out of fifth in its time slot behind CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" and Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" and above ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and The CW's "Vampire Diaries" respectively ( The ratings rose from the previous episode "Basic Story" which garnered a series low of 0.9/3.


I robbed your brain! I ROBBED IT!Richie
So anyway, I sealed myself down here with fifty years of food, fifty years of water and fifty years of cocaine which I somehow ran out of after ten years.Russell Borchert
Wow, the 80's happened down here too.Jeff
Season Five Episodes

1. "Repilot"
2. "Introduction to Teaching"
3. "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics"
4. "Cooperative Polygraphy"
5. "Geothermal Escapism"
6. "Analysis of Cork-Based Networking"
7. "Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality"

8. "App Development and Condiments"
9. "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing"
10. "Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"
11. "G.I. Jeff"
12. "Basic Story"
13. "Basic Sandwich"

Community The Complete Fifth Season

Season OneSeason TwoSeason ThreeSeason FourSeason FiveSeason Six