This week’s episode of Community begins with the gang struggling between the Greendale school board trying to wrangle the Dean to be their “gay centerpiece”, Chang and Annie working within a re-enactment of The Karate Kid, and Elroy and Abed doing their best to protect a nest of abandoned baby birds that happen to be cutting out the Wi-Fi for Greendale. Things also start out hot and heavy with the one-liners, as references to Elroy creating the original Donkey Kong as a game called, “Construction Snake” had me in stitches from the get go. With the reason for the new members of the gang being brought together out of the way, we get some more great scenes and interactions between characters, strengthening the overall plot in the process. It feels like “classic” Community, which again is a real accomplishment considering all the folks they’ve lost along the way.
The “A” plot revolves around the return of the Greendale School Board (aka the two frat-like bros running the place) pleading with the Dean to join them so that they can appease the media after a disastrous happenstance. It’s in this story we’re able to further explore the Dean as a character, as well as his strange sexual appetites (hint: the Dalmatian portraits in his office aren’t really for show). This also gave us one of the funniest ongoing gags of the episode, with a theme song for “Gay Dean” blaring over some of the more heartfelt moments. This was a perfect representation of the humor and heart that Community is able to bring week after week, especially with the scene of Elroy and Abed needing to bury one of the baby birds who died in their care, while the ridiculous lyrics play on in the background. Ultimately, the Dean is released from his position on the board for coming out of the closet as a politician, causing the gang to have a solemn moment wherein they think to themselves that maybe there’s “a little politician in all of us”.
The other plot, where Elroy and Abed work to save a trio of baby birds, seemingly abandoned by their mother in the school’s Wi-Fi cables, gave us a stronger bond between the two characters. The bond between Donald Glover’s Troy and Danny Pudi’s Abed is always something that will be sorely missed from the show. You’d be hard pressed to find a stronger “bromance” on television than these two, who played off one another so well that sometimes it was hard to tell where Troy started and Abed ended. Here, though, Elroy as the older mentor with a short fuse and Abed working as a deterrent to said fuse may not be a 100% replacement to the original bromance to end all bromances, but it does a worthy job of filling the gap. Two outsiders, for entirely different reasons, learning to connect with the world through one another. It’s a nice direction for the pair and it brings both of their characters to their hilarious respective heights. I won’t lie, I may have even gotten a tad misty eyed when they buried one of the birds they were taking care of.
The funniest segment of the episode came from Chang and Annie’s attempt to be a part of the school play, “The Karate Kid”, as Chang has his heart on getting the part of Ralph Macchio’s Daniel. The passionate/crazed director of the play, however, has something different in mind as he throws Chang into the Mr. Miyagi role and gives Annie the part of Daniel. Said director is played by Jason Mantzoukas, of The League, Parks and Recreation, and the podcast How Did This Get Made fame, who is always a delight to see in whatever role he may be in. Threatening to “stab Chang in the eye with his own frozen tear” and yelling that Chang’s “own dead father has turned his back on him” made for some fantastic moments. Through all the degradation and shame, the Director manages to create a play that captivates the audience to the point of tears and standing applauses. Considering this is all from The Karate Kid, it’s certainly made funnier for that.
As I’ve said in previous reviews of this season, the best has usually been saved for last with the final stinger of each episode delivering the biggest punches of hilarity. Here, things take a bit of a detour and we’re given a scene of the gang releasing the remaining bird into the wild while wearing cat masks and tiny wings on their fingers of course. It didn’t pack the same punch as say “Knee High Mischief” or “the Origin of the Head of the Yakuza” but it’s still a good scene. It’s a nice emotional cap of the episode and offers one quick final laugh as the released bird flies right into the school’s electrical generator.
The biggest weakness of the episode I would say continues to be Frankie, as I feel like they still haven’t found a voice to her yet. Ultimately, she acts as the Dean’s second in command, but all the tasks she’s given seem to be things that could just be given directly to him. I understand she’s there to act as the “straight man” of the group, but her punchlines don’t have the strength that the rest of the gang’s do and she doesn’t seem to be gelling quite as well as Elroy is. Hopefully in future episodes we can be given a bit more background on Paget Brewster’s character and she can find her place among the rest of the crew.
In conclusion, another winner from Community’s sixth season. The plotlines were on point, the jokes kept coming, and the gang continues to have all the heart and character that got us to fall in love with them in the first place.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ — Very Good
– If you notice, the episode had a running time of a little over 30 minutes. This is a nice perk of being a part of Yahoo! Screen rather than on network television. I would wonder how this episode would have suffered if you had to have cut around six minutes of it had it been on NBC.
– Britta: “Why would a tree throw eggs at a snake?”
Elroy: “WHY WOULD A PLUMBER BE FIGHTING A MONKEY??”
– Dean: “I’m one of those never ending handkerchiefs.”
– Jeff: “I am so curious…intellectually.”
– Elroy: “Maybe we all lost a button.”
– Director: “Tonight, your world changes!!”