'Community' Recap: Is This the Darkest Timeline?

Community's back, everyone! Troy and Abed are on TV again! And it's a little weird, but also, it's Community, so it's a good kind of weird. From the first episode, you can tell Community knows it's going to be a little bizarre. How can it not be? If y'all need a recap (seriously? where have you been?), showrunner Dan Harmon got fired, then the following season was a little dicey, so he got rehired. For better or worse, the show keeps comparing itself to the final season of Scrubs (which I will now refer to as Zombie Scrubs), which I enjoy because that was just a odd moment in television that needs to be discussed (like seriously, what was the point of that? I mean, we got James Franco's hotter brother and met Jane from Happy Endings, but the actual characters of the original show were basically on the same level as Beard Face!), but Community is not Zombie Scrubs.

It's more like the show developed a drinking problem, went to rehab and came back. It's a hell of a lot better than it was last year, but it's not the same show. Mistakes have been made that cannot be unmade. There's no guarantee the show won't leave us next year or won't become bad again. But we're glad it's here and that it's so, so much better now. So, in honor of the show's best moments, let's look at the show's different timelines and see where the Community gang would be right now in each version of the show.

Season 1-3 Community

If Dan Harmon's original vision for Community had been able to survive, this season might have started off a little bit brighter. The rest of the gang would all still be in school, and who knows, maybe Jeff still would come back to be a teacher — it seems like his Greendale family had softened him up too much to hang with the lawyers anyways. We would have never had "Changnesia," or the Britta/Troy non-relationship. Also, candy grows on trees in this timeline and every Friday is "Take Your Cat to Work" day.

Season 4 Community

This is the darkest timeline. In this timeline, the writers can't figure out how to get the gang back together and solve the storylines promised in that season. So, they make an overly complicated lawsuit where Chang sues Greendale for his "Changnesia" and Jeff has to defend the school. Also, Jeff and Annie get together, and yes, it is just as cringe-inducing as it is in your nightmares. And all the jokes have an air of a Community joke without actually being funny.

Season 5 Community

Alright, so maybe the other timelines have been exaggerated. But it really does feel like the beginning of this season is so great because it's caught a case of Goldilocks syndrome: not too warm and fuzzy so it feels like there's room to progress, but not too over-the-top so it still feels like its the same show. Jeff tried to be a good person and lost everything in the process, so he's back trying to manipulate the group again. The rest of the gang had the same success out in the real world, so it's dark, but we're back to square one again. Jeff calls out the character non-development that's been going on, and everyone is trying to start over again and make some real progress. We get Johnathan Banks to soften the blow of Donald Glover's imminent leaving, and while he's no replacement, he fits into the show well as a curmudgeon of a teacher. And now, the show's mission statement is clear: Community is not a show about meta jokes or stunt episodes or even different timelines. It's a show about a family of misfits, searching for redemption. And isn't that really the best timeline of all?