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Community: The Science of Illusion

“The point of a practical joke is to shake up the system.”

Troy only has it half-right: the point of a practical joke isn’t to shake up the system (or the expectations of the prankee) but also to make us realize something about ourselves—usually, our inherent lack of dignity. But for Annie, Shirley, Britta, and Pierce, it’s not just the slapstick embarrassment of April Fool’s that is on the line. (Well, maybe for Pierce.) This ancient pagan holiday will transform their very beings. Their hearts. And souls. And minds. And stuff.

Both Shirley and Annie want to be in charge of how they are defined. Annie feels infantilized; Shirley feels trapped in her role as Christian housewife with a failed marriage. Their quest to become bad-ass super-cops is the meta version of a buddy cop film, as Abed points out: it’s a sort of origin story for how Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, for instance, became the iconic characters we know and love today.

Abed’s explanation of the significance of Annie’s and Shirley’s journey stems from his own tragic, yet underplayed, circumstances: his cable is out. He replaces the milk of life digital feed with something even better: a real-life, interactive story in which he can determine the plot, participate when needed, and create tension for dramatic effect. His southern African-American police chief pushed Annie and Shirley in exactly the overreactive direction they needed.

Meanwhile, Britta, the “fun vampire” (who doesn’t just suck blood, she also just sucks) managed to destroy a dull prank and wound up committing a crime against humanity darn good prank involving a corpse. Naturally, her mistake led to “killing an entire school’s buzz” and the abolition of a perfectly reasonable holiday in which we inflict misery on people in an attempt to feel superior to them.

Pierce is experiencing some of that misery, too. Held back from Level Six in his cult completely valid religion, he manufactured a nonsense lie about his ascension. (Why, since no one in the group knew he was up for ascension? Who knows?) His grief, Shirley’s and Annie’s realization that they’re perfect just the way they are, Troy’s admission that he doesn’t understand the cookie-wizard reference, and Britta’s understanding of her own inherent Brittaness all come together in a perfect storm of tears, self-recrimination, and group hugginess.

As Abed said, “Just watch. It’s beautiful.”

Mark Says...

I envy Abed. When my TV was out I just went for a long walk. I had a look around the shops, bought a couple of books, rolled by eyes at all the muppets buying Fifty Shades of Grey, and then headed home in the hope that the problem had managed to fix itself. But for Abed, this god amongst men, this titan of Greendale, a simple trip to the shops is not enough. When his cable is out he directs his friends in their own buddy cop movie: Bennett and Edison in the Case of the Misplaced Corpse.

This episode had everything you could possibly want. There was murder, of the amphibious kind. Although Britta didn't actually mean to step on Kermit, so technically it was manslaughter, or frogslaughter even. Which actually makes it sound like Britta went on a rampage with a machete at a nearby pond. Now that is an episode I would like to see. There was action, including a high speed pursuit that resulted in some seriously misguided use of pepper spray. There as betrayal that didn't really make much sense when you think about it. Britta can't steal a frog without dropping a body out of a window (and killing the frog), and yet she was somehow able to plant incriminating evidence in Jeff's bag without him noticing. There was a cookie wizard, which was not a reference that I got either, but it made me laugh. And finally, there was the very first episode of Troy and Abed in the Morning, the potential spin-off we've all craving for. Abed is wrong, because I would totally watch that.

Cool Cool Cool:

• Dean Pelton: “When in doubt, check the guidelines in our college prank literature.”

• Britta: “My prank is gonna cause a sea of laughter, and you’re gonna drown in it.”

• Dean Pelton: “From now on, April 1st is officially March 32nd, forever!”
• Annie: “Looks like enough tiny items to equip an entire amphibious mariachi band.”

• Annie: “These are not tears. This self-inflicted friendly fire!”

• Nice continuity with the security guard.

Three out of four Level Six Laser Lotuses. Loti. Whatever.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Ohhhhh my.

    The one about Pierce's cult, religion, whatever. One of the many, many reasons why I love so much this brilliant show. When it doesn't tackle with TV and movies references, it goes the other way around and punch us on another level. I am officially declaring it a cult TV show. Time will tell.

    AH ! What will happen in October ???

  2. I'm sorry, but there's no way Britta would infiltrate a lab without attempting to free all the lab animals with predictably disastrous/hilarious results.

  3. I'm not at all a fan of practical jokes, so this one fell a bit flat for me (pun intended).

    But, if nothing else, the codas for me are always worth the price of admission. The Morning Show was hilarious.


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