S3E12: It’s becoming difficult to watch Community without a grain of salt. On one hand, the writers and actors are still bringing that spot-on brand of off-the-wall, never-thought-I’d-see-that-on-television comedy, but on the other, they do it with an ever-present inside joke. And even as a die-hard Community fan, the notion that the rest of the world just doesn’t get it, but we’re happy in our little Greendale bubble was getting old. We all agree; so let’s not shove it down each other’s throats, but instead get back to enjoying that long list of reasons we all “get it.”
But this week’s episode, “Contemporary Impressionism,” didn’t do that. It took the Season Three issue and spun it into something potentially more interesting and somewhat devastating: a wedge driven between Troy and Abed.
“Abed is a magical, elflike man, who makes us all more magical by being near us.” -Troy
Abed has a problem. But because he’s Abed and not a college kid experimenting with self-destructive behaviors, he’s not delving into the drug world, but instead the world of celebrity impersonators—and bad ones, at that. Vinnie (French Stewart), Abed’s celebrity impersonator pusher and former French Stewart impersonator, says Abed owes him three grand, but that the gang looks like celebs and they can impersonate people at a party and take care of Abed’s debt. After Troy delivers a moving speech about Abed’s “magical” qualities and how he’s brought a sense of whimsy to the group, Vinnie tells Troy privately that if they mess it up “Ving Rhames” and “Michael Chiklis” will come and break Abed’s legs. Bada-bing.
The gig is Howie Schwartz’ Bar Mitzvah, complete with Bar Mitzvah Academy Awards and the gang is decked out as their celebrity “dopplegangers”: Shirley is Oprah, Pierce is Fat Marlon Brando/Fat Burt Reynolds, Britta is post-op Michael Jackson, Troy is pre-op Michael Jackson, Abed is Brown Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jeff is Tall Ryan Seacrest. Somehow, dressing these guys up as people from pop culture never gets old. I’m sure it will someday, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
“You’re more handsome than the guy who’s famous for being handsome!” -Women at the Bar Mitzvah
But we’ll get to the Troy/Abed heartbreak in a bit. First, we’ve got to deal with the most lovable egomaniac we know: Jeff. He’s seeing a shrink and she prescribed him anti-anxiety medicine. Britta, with a couple of days of an introductory psychology course under her belt feels confident diagnosing Jeff and she begins to fear his lack of anxiety will allow his ego to blow out of proportion like an…apple? It’s Britta. Let her have her nonsensical metaphor.
But she’s too late. It’s already happening, and the dean’s sexual reaction to seeing Jeff in aviator sunglasses certainly doesn’t curtail his burgeoning ego. And Vinnie’s insistence that he play Ryan Seacrest at the party is the straw that breaks the impeccably dressed camel’s back. His ego is so out of control as all the women at the party fawn all over him that when Howie gives himself the award for “Most Handsome Young Man” Jeff goes full metal egomaniac and rips his shirt like the Hulk as he charges the stage. There’s that absurdist Community element we were waiting for. Luckily, Howie loves it, so Abed’s debts are paid, but Jeff is the real casualty.
Britta carries the Hulk metaphor through and picks him up shirtless on the side of the road, but the really interesting part was that Joel McHale managed to bring his playful rivalry (started on his E! show The Soup) with Ryan Seacrest full circle. It was a ridiculous back-handed compliment: the episode touts Seacrest as being famous for being handsome, but Jeff/Joel looks just like him—only more handsome. Oh, and don’t forget taller. Seacrest burned.
“I have resort to extreme measures. I’m a one man army. You won’t let me have any guards.” -Chang
The only plot point that doesn’t seem to work as well any more is Chang’s obsession with power as the Greendale security guard. It’s just getting sad at this point. The dean won’t let him hire any other security guards because the school is broke, but he can have “security interns” who’ll earn a single college credit—which is little more than a drop in the bucket in terms of earning a degree.
Because they need Chang to continue his story, he’s hired by his brother Rabbi Chang to do security at Howie’s party, where he immediately sizes up 12 year-olds to be his Greendale Army. He also finds a Moby impersonator and wants him to impersonate the dean (apparently the internet has been a bit confused about Jim Rash and whether or not he’s also Moby for some time now). This acquisition might come into play in future episodes, but it’s already a bit obnoxious. We may have played out Sr. Chang.
“This is dark and maybe a little inaccessible.” -Abed
“Maybe to them, but not to us.” -Dark Timeline Abed
When Troy gets home from the party, Abed has a whole host of other impersonators lined up after they spent all night working to pay off his debt—and after Troy, specifically, spent all night trying to keep the study group and Abed from goofing around and blowing the gig. Troy gets mad at Abed for the first time in their entire friendship and they agree they can tell each other the truth and that sometimes Troy knows better than Abed. But Abed leaves to play in the dreamatorium alone and doesn’t do their usual handshake, which is a scene that is more heartbreaking than a mere description can convey. Is this the end of Troy and Abed?
Of course, it can’t be. But Abed’s encounter with Dark Timeline Abed suggests that some wicked fun is on its way.
Did you like this week’s episode? Do you think Jeff is really more handsome than Ryan Seacrest? Let us know in the comments or get me on Twitter @KelseaStahler.