The twelfth episode of MTV's adaptation of sends the season out on a decent enough high note. The first season of the series has had some extraordinary highs and lows, so it's appropriate that the finale be more thumbs in the middle, somewhat leaning up.
Homecoming can be a stressful but exciting event in a high schooler's life, before they are faced with the crushing realities of graduation and adulthood. Will has taken on party planning responsibilities in absence of anyone else stepping up, and he enlists the help of Jay, Neil, and Simon to impress their respective lady loves. Jay, still pining for the middle school girl who dumped him, sees the dance has a chance to win her back, while Simon hopes to win over girl-next-door Carly through impromptu serenade. It's one of the few times in the series that the boys' social awkwardness and hormones remain within the 'sweet and endearing' boundaries and don't cross into 'future serial killer' territory.
Perhaps the comedic highlight of the episode is Brett Gelman, whose burnt out faculty member Mr. Gilbert has been criminally underused this entire season. Gelman's specialty seems to be characters with little social filter and just a touch of nihilism, and Mr. Gilbert (as well as his Mr. K on NBC's "Go On") fits that archetype to a T. This week, he delivers an uplifting pep-talk to the emotionally crushed Jay, who is fresh from getting dumped by an 8th grader. Gilbert relates that high school tribulations carry little weight as you enter adulthood, and that Jay should just let go of his emotional malaise and have a blast. Following this inspirational speech, Mr. Gilbert collapses from inebriation, in one of the episode's few laugh-out-loud moments.
With a successful dance under his belt, Will gains a little social redemption from those who look down on him in a stand-up-to-the-bully scene pulled from the UK series. Meanwhile, Simon's heartfelt serenade to Carly is quite well-done, "the voice of an angel" as Neil puts it (closer to John Mayer in this reviewer's estimation), but only succeeds in once again reuniting Carly with her bohunk boyfriend.
The comedy for the season finale of "The Inbetweeners" was light on comedy but at least carried with it a certain charm. Themes of friendship and the importance of being there for support were touched on, which the series has underscored this whole season. Again, there is promise here, as the show has had some great highlights in his freshman season, but it certainly hasn't come close to hitting the same stride as its UK predecessor. Hopefully if a second season is forthcoming the series and its characters can continue to grow and improve.
Final Grade: B-