Anyone who’s ever waded into the murky debate surrounding our nation’s increasingly heated spoiler-alert culture, rest assured: This week’s Community feels you.
Titled “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking,” the episode partially revolves around a battle between Abed and Britta, with the latter trying to spoil
Game of Thrones Bloodlines of Conquest — a fantasy book series turned TV show — for the former, who watches the series but hasn’t read the tomes. This war escalates to the point at which Abed soundproofs his ears and effectively goes deaf. That, in turn, leads him to fall for an actually deaf fellow student, whom he promptly begin to romance.
But alas, treachery is afoot! In sinister, Lannister-like fashion, Britta has actually recruited the deaf student as a pawn in their sick little game. The yellow-haired wench uses the mercenary to lure the enemy into a false sense of security — and then, boom, Abed’s new love interest suddenly spoils the BoC saga’s ending via sign language, which he learned in order to better woo her. Zounds! It’s all so diabolical, Cersei herself would be proud of Britta. (Side note: If she’s Cersei, then Jeff is totally Jaime, right? Discuss amongst yourselves.)
And that was just one of three plots. Elsewhere, Annie leads the rest of the gang (including Duncan, Hickey, and Chang) in A) planning the school’s hallowed Midterm Dance and B) replacing the fallen bulletin board in the cafeteria, a task that requires going through the labyrinthine, red-tape-filled world of Greendale’s bureaucracy. To give you an idea of how difficult it is for them to get such a simple request done, here’s the janitors’ current work-ticket queue (numbers 226 and 232 are personal favorites):
221. Downsize trophy case
222. Nudge pendulum
223. Phase out black traffic cones
224. Pressure-wash chalk outlines
225. De-alphabetize periodic table
226. Restock Fruitopia machines
227. Train new switchboard operator
228. Install cripple ramp
229. Upgrade from beta to VHS
230. Decommission bio dome
231. Lower flag for Reagan’s death
232. Inoculate for polio
233. Put up bulletin board
This prompts Annie and Hickey to bribe various administrators with a West Wingian number of back-scratches, favors, and pork barrels — enough to make even Josh Lyman proud. Among the bureaucrats looking for kickbacks: Nathan Fillion, Kumail Nanjiani, Paget Brewster, and Robert Patrick. But in the end, Hickey takes care of the job himself, which makes sense, because playing characters who take care of things themselves is probably written into Jonathan Banks’ contract.
But back to the dance, which is in dire need of a motif. Chang, of all people, gins up a rare emotional moment and guilt-trips the gang into letting him select some of the worst school-dance themes known to human beings. (Bear Down? Fat Dog? What?) Thankfully, there is one silver lining to the mismanaged fete: In a callback to “Herstory of Dance,” Abed reunites with the awesome Rachel (played by the awesome Brie Larsen), who it seems has spent the year since we last saw her just chilling in her unauthorized coat-check and being single. After some meager banter, the pair ditches the party together to go home and watch what looks like Futurama. [Update: As eagle-eyed commenter Kjopo84 points out, it's actually Dan Harmon's animated Adult Swim series Rick and Morty.]
One could accuse Community of fulfilling an unreasonable male fantasy here, but Abed kind of needs the bump, so let’s let it slide. Speaking of which: This is the first Troy-less episode we’ve seen so far, and despite our worst fears, Abed seems to be moving on fairly well. Or at least he’s doing better than his old best friend; when we see Hickey’s TV tuned to the bear-attack report on the news, the scrolling headline at the bottom reads: “BREAKING NEWS: Levar Burton and non-celebrity companion captured by pirates in the Gulf of Mexico.” Pirates! Companionship! Gulfs! Sounds like Troy’s on the type of adventure Abed would’ve loved.
All in all, we were treated to a solid (if not exceptional) episode this week. Special props to the writers for integrating Hickey, Duncan, and Chang into the group so nicely; I’m excited to see how that dynamic progresses as the season goes on. But until then: funny sentences! Here are some of this week’s best:
Prof. Duncan, on Bloodlines of Conquest: They really get the incest right.
Britta: I don’t watch shows until they’re so popular that watching them is no longer a statement.
Abed: So because you’re three seasons behind, we have to live in a fantasy world where there’s no such things as dragons?
Britta: Prince Ironstone’s daughter is his mother! Prince Ironstone’s daughter is his mother!
Annie: Chang, your last idea was to murder.
Jerry: You gotta talk to a custodian for that. We janitors.
Annie: There’s a difference?
Jerry, frowning: We was just starting to like you.
Annie, describing the types of folks who benefit from bulletin boards: People whose bad bands need bad bass players!
Chang: This is coming together better than I thought it would.
Head of parking (Robert Patrick), to Annie: There were plenty of spaces to park in dinosaur times, but not one single parking department. My power comes from a scarcity of parking — just like your dad’s comes from a lack of hugs.
Prof. Duncan: Bear down, baby!
Dean: Easy peasy, lemon squeezey!
Dean: Man, this got Sorkin.
Annie: Can we just… fat dog this concept?
Britta: Wait, now I really feel bad. Come back! Let’s be fat dogs about this.
And, of course, I’d be remiss not to mention Ken Jeong, ever an amazing physical comedian, hilariously inventing the Fat Dog Dance at the end of the party. Well done, Benjamin Franklin Chang!