We cannot say enough great things about last weeks’ episode of Community, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics,” which was not only a return to Dan Harmon form, but a return to season two form. In fact, in order to stay so refreshingly creative, maybe Dan Harmon should only produce episodes every other year.
“Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” was the perfect send-up of Zodiac, The Killing, Se7en, and a dozen other crime procedurals that was specifically designed to be ambiguous. Who is the Ass Crack Bandit? Nobody knows, that’s the way it’s meant to be.
But there was a layer of Harmon’s satire that didn’t flower until the episode ended, and that’s in how — intentionally or not — Harmon has inspired the same sort of crackpot conspiracy theories on the Internet that have trailed shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men (which we have been a big part of), only these conspiracy theories are about a guy (or gal) who … sticks quarters in people’s coin slots. The Internet is trying to unpack this episode the same way that we tried to read the clues in heavier dramas, but theories here have been iffy, at best. That, of course, is by design, because Harmon dropped enough clues point to various characters that it really could be anyone.
That hasn’t stopped the Internet from speculating, however. Here’s some of my favorite theories, so far.
1. Was it Britta? This Redditor outlined the (weak, sketchy) reasons for why it might be:
“He should be called the run-on sentence bandit”. Britta read the A.C.B.’s note to the Dean, and she also says this run-on sentence herself: “We know that he hates money or loves it or doesn’t care about money and hates butts or loves them.” Annie notes that the bandit has access to the faculty lounge as a short cut. With Duncan coming back, and Duncan has a “thing” for Britta (for example), he let her have access to (and through) the lounge. Britta Britta’s her title page for her psychology paper Who has as much black clothing as Britta (the A.C.B. wears full black clothing)?
Another Britta theory posits that it was Professor Duncan all along, only in the end, Britta figured it out, and ass cracked Duncan out of revenge, which explains why Duncan why the Ass Crack Bandit got cracked.
2. Was it Abed?Check this screengrab. In between the crowd, while the Dean is speaking, you can spot Abed.
Ten seconds later, he’s … gone, which is about when the bleacher cracking took place.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Eh, probably nothing. This guy, however, bolsters the Abed theory:
It could be Abed. He was noticeably absent from this episode. He appeared uncharacteristically uninterested in the case when Dean asked for help. Troy had to leave Abed a message on the phone. What was Abed doing that he couldn’t answer his phone? He could have been under the bleachers with night-vision goggles, or it could’ve been his imagination. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a shot like this. And then he has the coin at the end of the episode, twirling it in his fingers like an evil genius. Everyone else’s scene makes sense. But why would Abed have a quarter?
Maybe he had a quarter for the same reason we ALL have quarters: Because it’s currency, which we carry in our pockets in the hopes that we might stumble upon a vending machine.
3. There is visual evidence of the ass-crack bandit from the trailer for the episode, but it is completely inconclusive. Everyone on this show wears a hoodie, although it is Donald Glover that seems to wear them the most.
4. Could it have been Todd Jacobson, who hasn’t been seen recently, and who has military training that would allow him to sneak up behind people without being seen? MAYBE (probably not).
5. I have no idea what this means, but I do love that the name of the team is “Human beings,” and that Harmon even keeps it up with the smallest of details, knowing some guy on Reddit is going to screenshot every millisecond and analyze it.
6. This guy posits that it is both Troy and Abed in an homage to the first Scream movie, which would make Troy’s victim act all the more hilarious. I like this theory. After all, Troy does love butt stuff.
7. There is also some loose speculation that both Jeff and Annie were in on it, without each other’s knowledge. That is to say, both were cracking in an effort to continue the investigation, in order to keep seeing each other in a totally platonic, not at all sexual way, and every time the case went cold, one of them would crack another ass just so they could continue working together and not in any way be attracted to one another.
8. One of my favorite theories, which is backed by no evidence whatsoever, but is floating around, is that the Ass Crack Bandit is Vince Gilligan, who we know will be appearing in a future episode in an unknown capacity. If Harmon is going to take this even further and purposefully satirize Internet speculation, there’s no better way to do so than to include Vince Gilligan, who has fostered more conspiracy theories than Lee Harvey Oswald.
9. Still others believe it to be Pierce, who they posit faked his own death. He is the only one, after all, who would’ve had enough money to both bribe Starburns into a false confession and could afford night-vision goggles. Maybe he used Annie’s Boobs to assist him.
10. By far the most popular theory, however, is that everyone is in on it. The evidence points to several possibilities, and instead of isolating one, it could be that each one of them cracked at various times for their own various motives. This one makes some sense, but is also the least fun.
11. My personal theory, also backed by no evidence whatsoever except a lack of evidence, is that it was Professor Slater. She disappeared after the season one finale and hasn’t been seen since. The only mention of her since season one is a ticker at the bottom of the screen during the Troy/Abed election, which noted “Professor Slater still missing…” Why would she do it? Maybe it was revenge against Jeff, Britta, and Annie for humiliating her so badly that she left Greendale all together, revenge against the Dean for not doing anything about it, and because she’s never returned, and Harmon always brings back his characters. It would also be one of the more surprising reveals.