Community Recap: A Fistful of Paintballs

To be completely honest, this section of my blog was supposed to start during the summer season of American television, mainly because the timing provides me with the opportunity to start my ranting at the beginning of every story arc, and also because there are fewer shows to think about (just True Blood and Covert Affairs). But then, because of the general greatness of the shows I love (and since I am an addict, there are quite a lot of them), I decided to start the recapping at their finale episodes, and see how it all plays out in the fall.

(Oh, for the curious out there: this episode of Community is not the last episode of the season – it’s just that the network has identified the last two episodes as a two-parter finale. I will have another post up as soon as I watch next week’s episode and wipe up what I expect to be my brain matter splattered on the floor.)

I read an article once that said that Community is one of those shows that either you understand, or you don’t. It is an ultimatum, really, and I cannot expect a less risky move from what I consider to be the most daring comedy ever made. It works, however, and when you find yourself understanding whatever the hell they are saying, doing, or trying to do, you don’t just ‘get it’ – you are pushed into the rabbit hole and forced to swallow the red pill. There is no going back.

Although every episode is fantastic and most of them are mind-blowing, only a few episodes remind me of that brilliant feeling of no return, and A Fistful of Paintballs is one of them. What strikes me most is the balance of it all – because Community is a terrifyingly high-concept show, sometimes the more traditional parts of what make a great comedy, like plot and character, get a bit neglected. This episode, to me, is Community at its best – the kind of best that makes people consider recapping the whole slew of finales just so they could talk about it.

I haven’t seen her so much during the previous few episodes that when Annie dropped in (literally) to save Fat Neil from the bullies, I promptly wrote “so bad-ass” in my notes. Alison Brie (who is hot as hell) is fantastic as always in lending Annie that mixture of tough and sweet, and the whole first scene just set up the rest of the episode nicely.

The whole flashback scene was pretty great as well – the whole mess apparently started during the end of the year’s hoedown and picnic (seriously, isn’t Greendale like Stars Hollow or that high school in Mystic Falls? They probably have more events in a year than I have had years). To end the school year, Pistol Patty’s Cowboy Creamery (a place whose mascot is a gigantic ice cream cone) would be sponsoring a game of paintball, and to make sure the school would not be trashed (again), the prize they had was sufficiently less valuable than priority registration, or so they assure the Dean. What was the prize? A hundred thousand dollars. Cash.

Yeah.

It is a wonderful premise, and it quickly turns Greendale into a Western movie complete with deputies and Fort Hawthorne’s. It is Community all the way for sure, with a billion references to various parts of popular culture and a lot of action-packed sequences to boot. However, with all this madness (and the appearance of Josh Holloway as the Black Rider), the way the writers weaved in all we have been building up to in terms of Pierce’s story line is pretty amazing as well.

Now, I thought that these playing card nicknames for each member of our study group meant something about their personality or something like that. But, as it turns out, they were their votes on the issue on whether or not to invite Pierce back to the group next school year. The vote had to be unanimous, but there was one odd card – Annie’s red Ace of Hearts.

It is an interesting reveal, and it makes me wonder how (and if) Pierce would redeem himself in the eyes of his friends. I think he will, but that is mainly because I haven’t heard any news regarding Chevy Chase – it would be really difficult to keep him as a main cast member if he did not interact frequently with the others, and a villain can only be there for so long before he has to be vanquished. I’ll just hold tight for the ride.

Stray observations:

  • I really appreciate the Community team for the title sequence. It serves its purpose to fit the mood of the episode, but it also shows how much these people love their show.
  • What’s with the BBE SUCKS on the Chemistry lab board and the Anthropology classroom wall?
  • There are no words for what Dean Pelton is wearing.
  • Only Danny Pudi can make me laugh by saying “seeing as I’m eating your beans.”
  • I screamed “Sawyer!” when I saw Josh Holloway. Damn I’m a nerd – I don’t even watch Lost for crying out loud.
  • I have a feeling people made GIFs of Alison Brie running.
  • Donald Glover can say “Abed!” all day. It will never get old.
  • Vicki and Gareth dancing like that makes me uncomfortable.
  • Chang must have some uncanny spatial awareness to run (and HIDE) without hitting a wall.
  • Alison Brie and Josh Holloway have some really nice chemistry.
  • Even the Black Rider’s breathing is gravelly.
  • The way Jim Rash stuck his hip out is fall-to-the-floor hilarious.
  • Oh, for the B story (which will probably be next week’s A): the paintball game is apparently “so much bigger than you could imagine” – the Black Rider was hired to take out the Greendale students so that the ice cream company would keep their money. As the episode ends, we see Storm Trooper-like henchmen get out of the Pistol Patty’s truck, with their ice cream cone of a leader commencing “Plan B: Operation Invasion.”
  • Next week will feature a war of sorts between Greendale Community College and Pistol Patty’s Cowboy Creamery. Damn, I’m excited already.

Quotes:

  • “We’re friends, Annie, remember? We played Dungeons and Dragons together.”
  • “That was a game. This is paintball.” (Crap, Alison Brie was REALLY HOT when she said this.)
  • “Yeah? And I want pants. A lot of people want a lot of things.”
  • “Math Club! I’m Asian. You guys Asian?”
  • On Pierce’s poster of Jeff – “Wanted: Gay and Alive”
  • “My forehead’s not that big, right?” “It’s not small.”
  • “Okay, but he’s not really riding anything…”
  • “I found that people were willing to roll bullets under the door just for the right to take a dump.”
  • “De-doi.”
  • “Who are you?” “I’m the bad guy.”
  • “Stop trying to fluster me with your handsomeness!”
  • “I get paid to shoot paintballs, honey, not the breeze.”
  • “What kind of ice cream company does this?”
  • “The key is in my shorts. I can get it out – I guess.”
  • “Now let’s see who’s attractive.” “Dude, you have a problem.”
  • “She’s pretty awesome today.”
  • “I know you’ve heard of me by now.” “No.” “He’s lying.”
  • “The gurgling’s a nice touch.”
  • “Coldplay?” “Too late, Bean Allergy.”
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