Community‘s first paintball episode was an unexpected delight, a culmination of everything Season 1 had been building toward. Dan Harmon tried to recapture that magic in Season 2, with the two-part “A Fistful of Paintballs” and “For a Few Paintballs More,” but failed. Those episodes were tiresome imitations of the original, although they did get Joe and Anthony Russo hired by Marvel for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so at least some good came out them. Plus, they weren’t “Advanced Introduction to Finality,” which I’m pretending didn’t happen.
I was worried about Community going back to the paintball well for a fourth time, so imagine my surprise that “Modern Espionage” was my favorite paintball episode since the original.
Actually, don’t imagine. My smile looked like this:
The set-up was inspired, with Todd and Starburns fighting in a parking garage, leaving behind a mess of paintball mush. Kumail Nanjiani’s janitor Lapari comes to the crime scene to clean up, and although it’s pretty obvious he’s somehow connected to Silver Ballz (Kumail’s voice is very recognizable), the story was strong enough that it still worked. The episode quickly turned into an homage of every spy movie you’ve seen, with stylish shootings, coughing steam pipes (in the Museum of Custodial Arts, no less), and some guy falling onto the diorama at a fancy gala.
Other highlights… the Batman codenames, the Dean’s apologetic Captain America-like elevator fight, Club Club, Keith David saying “paint… ball,” and Annie and Abed’s sexy-dangerous paintball dance. Plus, the return of Koogler! The ending got a little messy (Frankie making everyone dress like babies was odd, even by the show’s already whacked out giant-watch-for-giant-head standards), but this was still one of my favorite episodes of the season.