A review of tonight’s “Community” coming up just as soon as I’m comforted by your shiny hair and facial symmetry…
For those who don’t know, “Remedial Chaos Theory” was intended to be the third episode of this season, not the fourth, and got switched in the order because it took much longer than usual to produce. And because of that, “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps!” has the bad fortune to be the second new episode in a row (albeit separated from “Chaos Theory” by a repeat week) featuring seven different stories, each one in some way illustrating the role each member plays in the study group. “Chaos Theory” was an awfully tough act to follow: a gimmick episode that was both incredibly funny while telling us important things about these characters and how they relate to each other. And I enjoyed “Horror Fiction” a lot, but it’s a gimmick episode that’s mainly just funny, while reminding us of things we know pretty well about the characters. Not a sin; just a victim of bad timing.
Still, I liked the way each story (with the possible exception of Jeff’s, and there was a point to that) was so clearly from the point of view of the character telling it, and involved their various personal problems and feelings about the group. It wasn’t new, but it was funny:
Britta: Has the special ability to suck the fun out of everything, doesn’t do a good job of reading her audience, means well but is often clumsy in how she does her good deeds.
Abed: Sucks the fun out of the activity in a very different (and amusing) way by focusing so much on fixing plot holes that he fails to make the story scary in any way.
Annie: Deals with her jealousy of the Jeff/Britta friends with benefits situation by casting them as vampire f***buddies, with Jeff just using Britta for sustenance, when of course Annie is the woman who can touch his heart, teach him how to be a better man and make him worthy of her love. And yet Annie’s not just a naive romantic, and has always had something dark and twisted lurking underneath the surface. (Troy’s story was the funniest, but I thought Annie’s was the most fully-realized.)
Troy: He’s a simple man who enjoys simple pleasures: the non-stop company of his pal Abed, and the comedy of swapping hands with feet and using a guy’s transplanted butt to give him boobs. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Pierce: He believes he is relevant, dammit, not just culturally, but sexually. (Pierce beating up Troy with his impressive manhood was my favorite joke of the episode, with “Troy and Abed sewn together!” a close second.)
Shirley: Yup, she’s the devout one, who loves her fellow group members while also pitying them as godless heathens who won’t get to join her come Rapture time. (And, unsurprisingly, she sees Dean Pelton as the Devil herself.)
Jeff: His story only represented Jeff’s personality in that he believes he can talk the study group out of any problem and considers himself (incorrectly, as it turns out) the lone sane man in the land of the crazy.
It was also interesting to see that, where “Chaos Theory” suggested the optimal line-up for the study group was one that didn’t involve Jeff, “Horror Fiction” is back to the original idea that all seven of them need each other to be whole and function properly. On the other hand, it did once again position Jeff as the villain by revealing that he’s the only one who didn’t take Britta’s test seriously. So it does feel like there’s some kind of character arc going on here, on top of the larger idea of how the study group interrelates (and fails to relate to others) after two-plus years.
Some other thoughts:
• Hands up, those of you who pegged Abed as the only sane one before they revealed whose test was whose. It does make sense, in that Abed is the only character on the TV show of “Community” who acts as if he’s a character on a TV show. The others are the ones in unhealthy denial, though Troy at least plays along most of the time.
• “Inspector Spacetime” continues as a running gag, here with Troy and Abed dressed up as the two leads for Halloween.
• Callback to the zombie episode with the reference to Pelton getting free taco meat from the Army. Given the roofies the military gave everyone at the end of that episode, it stands to reason the Dean would forget that it’s a bad idea to use that stuff.
• Alison Brie does an adorable Robot, unsurprisingly.
• No Chang and Pelton at all in “Chaos Theory,” and a bit more of Pelton in this one, but I have to admit that I didn’t even notice Chang’s absence until he popped up in Jeff’s story.
• I don’t think I’d want my name to become a verb.
What did everybody else think?