Community: Basic Crisis Room Decorum

Case: Rival City College is about to run an attack ad against Greendale claiming they’d given a degree to a dog.
Destination: Crisis Room. In the library. Really, just the regular study room with more maps.

“If you do this, we’re no better than City College.”
“We’ve never been better than City College.”

This episode is pure pleasure. It’s witty and quicker-paced than the previous two. The unity brought about by the almost-fixed location in the newly-created “crisis room” allows us to enjoy the spectacle of characters reacting to an absurd situation with absurd yet appropriate responses.

Back in “The Psychology of Letting Go,” Abed delivered a baby. It was only on-screen for a minute, and his role in the event was only clarified much later, when he helped Shirley deliver her baby. It was one of the ways this show reminds us that the characters have lives off-screen.

Abed and Annie’s relationship seems to be a new baby delivery, and it is one of the things I like best about this season. In the previous episode, they were together whenever they were on-screen, often framed as though they were a couple, with Annie holding Abed’s arm. In this episode, they both responded to the notion of a “crisis room” with some interior design tips, including a bunch of different clocks set to (wildly) different times. They’re rubbing off on each other, the same way Abed rubbed off on Troy.

But the most dynamic relationship in this episode is the burgeoning camaraderie—and conflict—between Annie and Frankie. In the opening scene, Annie calls Frankie first to solve the problem of “Greendale in peril.” They’re both hyper-organized brunettes. They have similar opinions of others, from Chang to the Dean. Frankie even talks about her “life results,” and I’m sure Annie loves that phrase.

Frankie, however, also lives a life without hope. Sure, her “life results” tripled when she gave it up (along with any game that has to do with farming), but her cynicism is, as Annie points out, almost Jeff-like in its profundity. That means that she and Annie can come into wild conflict, since they operate in such similar manners but with very different philosophical underpinnings.

Everything works out in the end, of course. (Did we really expect Annie to enroll in City College?) After nixing a smear campaign against the adorable Ruffles, Annie and Frankie approve Abed’s ad featuring Ruffles and the Dean talking about Greendale as a place that accepts people—and dogs—despite their flaws.

That sort of sitcom-y happy ending seems more common in the later seasons of Community. I don’t miss Jeff’s hackneyed speeches about people coming together, but I keep thinking of the false ending of the previous episode: Jeff and Patashnik laughing hilariously over a weak one-liner as fake credits for their fake TV show splashed on-screen. Harmon seems aware of the overly pat endings, yet unaware of how to include anything else.

Then again, maybe that’s what the tags are for. The on-running gag of the Dean texting two Japanese teenagers in the mistaken belief that they are Jeff is hilarious enough. But the conclusion, in which we see the sad real life of one of the boys and his fraught relationship with his father, draws a direct line between the Dean’s idiocy and the despair that leads to worldwide organized crime. Like Abed delivering a baby, there’s always something complicated happening just at the margins of the screen as these characters lead their complicated and pathetic lives.

Cool Cool Cool:

• I am very jealous of Annie’s to-do list software. I’d to-do the hell outta that.

• Frankie had a copy of The Fountainhead on her bedside table.

• The less said about Britta’s drunken pants situation, the better.

• This week in “Community doesn’t need to be quite this long”: Britta’s imaginary world while drunk-listening to Natalie is Freezing’s best song ever, “Pillar of Garbage.”

• I loved Patashnik’s look when Frankie said she didn’t have a TV.

Three out of four Ruffles. Library fines and all.

Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I haven't caught up with season six yet, but I love how you're using our X-Files review format for Community this season.

Patryk said...

I think the other new character was named Patashnik not Pasternak. Just a heads up.

Josie Kafka said...

The X-Files format was just for this episode, Billie. Something about the case-of-the-week format just seemed right for this review.

Thank you, Patryk. I've fixed it. Maybe I was thinking of the author?