‘Troy and Abed decide to build a pillow fort to rival their old blanket fort, while Jeff finds out he has a locker and Pierce and Shirley send Britta undercover to get dirt on Greendale’s new Subway.‘
Three episodes back into the second half of Community’s run, and it still feels so good to have it back.
The three stories are given pretty equal screen time in this episode, with most of them playing off well-worn aspects of the characters.
Jeff finds out he has a locker, and it’s filled with fliers from the past few years – and a hate letter. Annie is his investigative, judgemental sidekick as he goes on a journey to keep his ego pristine. Some good gags in this story, and a nice turn from an incidental character, but fairly standard fare.
The new Subway has opened in Greendale, and Pierce and Shirley are still angry about losing out. To make matters worse/weirder, ‘Subway’ (as made necessary by a Greendale by-law) appears as a corporate humanoid, an entity representing the company’s humanity at the college. Pierce and Shirley send Britta undercover to get dirt on ‘Subway’. The gentle satire on corporate big-bads turns on Britta, when she is sucked into the romanticism of ‘Subway’s repressed humanity. The two connect over the novel 1984 (“teenagers should be forced to read it”), and Britta is torn.
Meanwhile, Troy and Abed decide to build a pillow fort, to rival their old blanket fort. Well, Abed decides, and Troy reluctantly follows. John Goodman (I can’t ever remember his character’s name, because it’s John Goodman) turns up and skilfully plays the two friends against each other. Troy and Abed descend into a full on fight, with their respective pillow and blanket armies behind them. Shockingly, this isn’t resolved by the end of the ep; Abed utters a foreboding “To Be Continued”. How long are mummy and daddy going to fight? I hate this. But it’s also a great development for these characters, and a necessary part of Troy’s journey to, or away, from Air Conditioning Repair School Destiny.
Troy vs. Abed is the only real development in this episode, but it’s still played out in a very comfortable, genre-referential way. While these formerly inseparable friends are changing, it’s against a familiar backdrop from Season Two. The other two storylines rehash familiar themes, and we learn nothing new of substance. Apart from the cold open when the gang sits in the cafeteria, all three stories are completely independent of each other; a little more cohesiveness could have made this for me. Perhaps the great break-up of Troy and Abed is so jarring, the writers hoped to soften the blow by couching the episode in familiarity.
I sound very down on this episode, but I’m still reeling from Troy and Abed fighting. It’s a cold, frightening world! Lots of good throwaway gags, a real sense of warmth in the Subway storyline [or I’m just a sucker for Forbidden Lurve] and some solid standard sitcom. Sometimes I just want a little more from Community, when so many of its episodes set the bar so high; but, as Dan Harmon might say, it’s pizza*.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Enjoyable)
Things I Liked:
John Goodman… in a onesie?
Is Dean Pelton familiar with the Greendale College by-laws? “I am not”.
Lots of Garrett this episode. Bless him. Save Garrett!
Britta’s newspaper column in highschool – “Britta Unfiltered”. I get it.
Things I Didn’t Like:
“Are you drinking ink?” – what the hell is going on with Pierce?! Is he hooked on painkillers again? I want to know.
Go away, Magnitude. Your time is done here.
*[Source] “Neil [Goldman] has this expression that he introduced me to in the first season after a 70 percenter. He says, “It’s pizza,” meaning, “Bad slice? Good slice?” Like, [Nasal voice.] “Ehh, pizza’s good food. We make pizza.” And that’s a good way of looking at it. Community is pizza, as compared to having to eat shit, you know? That’s a different meal entirely; that’s bad. And you can have a bad slice of pizza, and you can have a really good slice of pizza, but it’s important to fall back on the comfort of going, “We make pizza. People like pizza. It’s greasy, and it’s gooey, and it’s crispy, and we do it right.” Sometimes, we don’t redefine fucking television with every slice.”