“Annie, do we have to have another talk about you wanting to play house with me?”
Annie invites Professor Cornwallis to their Christmas party at Jeff’s. Does she have a sinister ulterior motive for doing this? Of course she does.
There’s something about this episode that makes me intensely uncomfortable, in a way that's much worse than the puppet one. I’m not sure what it is, exactly. Perhaps it’s the fact our heroes tie up a man in Jeff’s apartment. (OK, It does the actual tying up, but then everyone goes along with it). Then they blackmail him by threatening to falsely accuse him of rape. Then they tie him up again. But somehow, he ends up apologising to them. When he was only there in the first place because they wanted to manipulate him into changing their grade (Note to my students: this will not work). Perhaps it’s the fact Cornwallis is a sexist pervert who can be influenced by pretty women, and Jeff encourages Britta to flirt with the professor to get a pass. Perhaps it’s all of the above.
Annie has backslid into the Annie of a couple of seasons ago here, claiming a C- is ‘a failing grade’ and manipulating everyone into helping her try to become valedictorian. I love that Shirley might beat Annie to valedictorian, and Shirley/Annie rivalries are usually pretty strong ground for Community, but here they just sort of shout at each other a bit and then make up. Like most of season four, this episode tends to fall into the trap of spelling everything out to the audience – for example, the sort-of-love-triangle between Troy, Britta and Jeff – and thus stripping the situation of all drama and/or humour.
Being me, I was also fairly distracted by wondering what on earth this History project they’ve got a C- for was actually on. Britta read a book on the Peloponnesian War, which was a fifth-century BC war between Athens and Sparta. Jeff quotes Tacitus, a Roman historian who wrote about the first century AD, and mentions Octavian, the first Roman Emperor, who ruled late first century BC and early first century AD. OK, it’s all broadly ‘Ancient History’ but what kind of project would incorporate fifth century BC Greece and first century AD Rome? Mind you, since Cornwallis talks about how the Romans were doing great until Hannibal came over the Alps, he’s clearly a terrible History teacher anyway (Hannibal attacked Rome in the second century BC during the Republican era, a good six centuries or so before the fall of the Roman Empire in the West).
I basically can’t think of anything good to say about this episode. Let’s move on.
Bits ‘n’ pieces
- Back in the darkest timeline, Dark Jeff and Dark Annie are planning to destroy the Prime Timeline. Which is science fiction…
- The Winger speech comes two thirds of the way through this episode, which just completely throws me.
- Much as I’m so, so tired of Abed’s spouting film and TV titles in the mistaken belief that this constitutes smart pop culture referencing, Die Hard in a restaurant sounds like a much better episode.
- This is the only episode to take advantage of the Dean living next to Jeff. Why didn’t they invite him to the party anyway? They invite It but not the Dean?!
- It’s observed that there’s still ‘heat’ between Jeff and Britta.
- Pierce is at sensitivity training with Gilbert. While necessitated by Chevy Chase’s departure, that actually makes sense and I would have quite liked to see it.
Troy (escaping Britta to talk to Abed): Would you excuse me? I’ve just seen an old friend.
I wish I could say this was the worst episode of the season. It comes pretty close. One out of four books about the Peloponnesian War.
Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.