This is the one. This is the episode of Season 6 that will go down in the history books. Exemplifying the best of Community in a single episode, “Basic RV Repair and Palmistry” is the most meta of episodes that the show has to offer. From the very first frame, you can’t help but chuckle as we’re shown Elroy’s RV travelling down the highway with a giant plaster fist attached to the roof. While the “Greendale Fist” is eventually explained, it would almost work entirely if it never was explained, as it sets up a fantastic scenario in which the gang hits the road and leaves Greendale to meet with the fist’s buyer. While all this is taking place, Abed is continuously experiencing “flashbacks” to three weeks prior, where the gang is discussing what to do with the fist, but continuously shooting down Abed’s request to “start the flashback here.” On the RV itself, the Greendale crew are experiencing problems in the form of Elroy’s inability to predict how much gas his RV would eat while lugging the giant fist to its destination, and how much battery the gang would eat up by plugging in all of their phones. In a shock to no one, the RV breaks down.
As I was writing up my review for this episode, I found myself almost in a tizzy trying to decide which one-liners would be best to highlight in our “Greendale Notes.” You can hardly go a few seconds without being hit with another bit of comedy that has you busting a stitch. The gang attempts to call a tow truck to get them out of their dire predicament, only to discover that it’s Armed Forces Day. Spending a few seconds debating why Armed Forces Day would be placed so close to Memorial Day, as well as discussing how the tow truck drivers are trapped in various parades, Elroy begins laying out what they need to do to get back on the road. Unfortunately, Elroy’s plan hinges on the battery of the RV being fully operational, which it is not due to the gang once again leaving all of their phones, and even a hair dryer, plugged into the outlet. Elroy’s reactions throughout the episode once again just show Keith David’s chemistry with his fellow actors, masterfully dropping retorts like machine gun fire.
The B Plot of this episode is Abed continuously flashbacking to the day three weeks prior. With each memory, Abed tries to change the present in a Back to the Future scenario, only it’s all in his head so it’s entirely unsuccessful. At one point, Abed brings the Dean into his flashback in order to strengthen the straps attached to the fist to stop the duo from falling. Immediately following their journey into the past, the Dean tazes Jeff, and the two begin slapping their feet together, gleefully cheering the fact that they’ve succeeded. It’s so bizarre and out there, that it’s something that only Community could really pull it off. The best part of this is when Abed flashes forward, once Frankie convinces Abed that he is currently in a flashback in the present (it’s confusing, I know), to see himself as “Space Elder Abed.” Alongside this future Abed is future Frankie and future Britta, with “Space Elder Britta” providing the most laughs as she darts onto the scene and awkwardly asks what Frankie and Abed are talking about. Poor Britta, she’ll never change.
As the cast works to find a way out of their situation, each of the characters shine. From Britta trying to hide her pot smoking habit by failing to convince everyone that they drove through a “skunk patch” to Annie’s superiority complex to the Dean completely losing his emotional stability, the episode continues to ratchet up the hilarity with each line. This eventually leads to the predicament with Abed and the Dean on top of the fist, with it toppling over and nearly crushing the Dean to death. Jeff and the rest spring out of the RV and attempt to save him, only for the Dean to run back into the RV and lock the doors, sobbing. Eventually, the gang manages to find their way back to civilization after a touching reunion ,and the stone fist is placed in the middle of Greendale with a giant wristband that reads “Keep a Loose Grip.” This is a fantastic ending to the episode in itself, but the best moment is the final stinger.
In the final two minutes, we’re shown who had originally asked to purchase the giant fist: comedy legend Matt Besser of Upright Citizens Brigade. Here we see a father who is attempting to obtain the giant fist to accompany the giant wristwatch laying across the living room. His wife walks into the room and begins to berate him for his attempted purchase, only to reveal that his need for the giant fist is to attempt to quell the pain for his lost son … who was carried away by a giant kite. The absolute absurdity of this scenario is laid out perfectly by the actors, and I had to stop the video as I was laughing so hard. Another brilliant conclusion in an already fantastic season.
As I stated toward the beginning, this is probably my favorite episode of Season 6 so far, and will surely go down as one of the best episodes of Community.
Episode Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
– “Basic RV Repair and Palmistry” also held the record for quite possibly the funniest “smash to intro,” as the gang is screaming after being told they’re all going to die.
– Britta coming to the realization that she has “Britta’d” up the situation was a hilarious note that even Britta uses that term.
– It is still quite amazing to me that Community as a television show is able to retain so much of what made it a classic in its earlier seasons, even after all the shakeups and cast departures through its brief history.
– Elroy: “I will drive my house off a cliff!”
– Jeff: “I’m yelling even louder so you have to stop!”
– Jeff: “What’s wrong with me if I think that’s hot?”
– Elroy: “Well the good thing about this is that most conventional weapons don’t require electricity.”
– Wife of the Giant Fist Buyer: “I’m gonna walk the dog and probably leave you.”