A quick review of this week's “Community” – available, as usual, on Yahoo Screen – coming up just as soon as I'm the voice of Diedrich Bader(*)…
Paintball is the most beloved of all “Community” recurring episode concepts, but also one that the show had all but exhausted by the end of the first Dan Harmon era. The season 4 paintball episode was a low point for the Port/Guarascio regime, and when Harmon returned last year, he wisely didn't even try doing a paintball episode, and instead used Hot Lava as that season's campus dystopia game.
So I certainly never needed to see another paintball episode. But like many of this season's better installments, “Modern Espionage” made up in execution what it lacked in originality. It found an actual emotional story – the campus' reaction to all the changes Frankie has implemented, and all the responsibility she's taken away from the Dean – to wrap the paintball game around, and the various spy thriller tropes gave it a specificity in the same way that season 2's Spaghetti Western version had. Director Rob Schrab clearly had fun aping familiar thriller sequences (like the Dean fighting his way out of the elevator like a cross between John McClane and Captain America), as did the cast (this wasn't a particularly Annie/Abed-centric episode, yet you could see how much Brie and Pudi were enjoying themselves during it), and the episode made much better use of Kumail Nanjiani than last season's “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking.”
Also? If the episode had only featured Keith David saying, “I made a stinkie”… dayenu.
What did everybody else think? Would you rather paintball and/or Kugler had stayed retired, or was this entertaining enough to merit a reprise? And where did the Vicki and Garrett tag (for “Grin & Garrett: Monologues About Surviving 'Veni Vidi Vicki'”) rank among this season's increasingly elaborate and sad closing scenes?
(*) Voice of Batman in the wildly underrated “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” cartoon.