‘Community’ Recap: Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps!

community nbc halloween season 3S3E5: A Community Halloween is term that’s come to hold a certain meaning – and yes, I realize there have only been two Community Halloween episodes before this one. It’s a term that holds the promise of sheer insanity, brilliance and Annie doing some sort of innocent sexpot routine. The Season One Halloween episode is what signaled the fact that this little sitcom was a show beyond our wildest expectations. The Season Two Halloween episode gave us a zombie apocalypse and Chang dressed as Peggy Fleming hooking up with Shirley the Good Witch in the Greendale bathroom. So what does Season Three have in store for us? Campfire stories, as only Community and each of its insane characters could tell them. And does it work? Perhaps only if you love each and every one of these characters as disturbingly fervently as I do, but if you’re reading this, I’ll bet you’re in that boat too.

“EXTREME, Jeff.”-Britta

“Like a Dorito?”-Jeff

“A sociopathic Dorito. A Cool Ranch lunatic!”-Britta

After running her set of psych test scantrons through the scanner, Britta finds marks that indicate one of her study group mates has homicidal tendencies. He grand idea to find out which one (since the tests were taken anonymously) is to throw a spectacularly lame party and tell ghost stories to see who reacts like a sociopath. Of course, they’re all insane, so this goes over well.

First, Britta tells her sad little scary story about “a guy with a hook thing on his hand or something.” And when the hook hand guys kills Jeff-douche-guy from the story, she asks Abed how it made him feel – this launches the format for the entire episode (imagine that, Abed launching an episode theme). His “feelings” are all based on Britta’s lack of storytelling ability, which he attempt to remedy in his own sterile story in which everything is explained – down to the price on the rental cabin – and all precautions are taken and nobody dies. It’s not Abed.

Annie, disappointed by Abed’s boring tale, tells her own story next. At first it’s all just a little too predictably Twilight-esque. Annie’s a school teacher seduced by Jeff the Vampire, who keeps Britta in the closet as a Vampire Slut to snack on when he’s feeling peckish – she’s “fine with this. The music swells and we roll our eyes when Jeff-Vampire asks her to teach him to read and she looks at him longingly. And just as we think this is going to get mushy, Jeff springs on Annie and she turns into a werewolf. All we know of the rest of the tale is Annie’s visceral, stomach churningly violent description. She explains it away as adding flavor the story and is thus not the sociopath – but was anyone else still a little worried? (Besides Britta, because who cares? Amirite?)

“It’s Halloween, if you’re going to tell a scary story, you’ve got to give it a little texture.” –Annie

“Wasn’t that great.” -Troy

Not to be outdone – and upset that Britta’s concern that Annie is homicidal is unwarranted praise for her story – Troy tells his own little tale. In it, he and Abed are fighter pilots and Pierce is a crazy, old, racist doctor. He sews Abed and Troy together, but it just makes them able to communicate through ESP and they destroy him with their mind powers (which apparently come standard with ESP these days). In turn, they experiment on Pierce, giving him butt/boobs on his chest, but giving him feet for hands so he can’t touch his “boobs,” which is some evil genius stuff right there.

Upset that he was made evil (and also lame) in Troy’s story, Pierce conjures one of his own. He’s some sort of pseudo Hugh Hefner with Annie, Shirley and Britta as his harem. His evening of drinking “post coital expensive brandy” is interrupted by Troy and Abed as the most ridiculous pair of criminals you can imagine – though Troy really takes the cake as usual. I’m not really sure what happens after they burst in though – I think Pierce kills them with his giant penis, but it’s Pierce so I think it’s best if we don’t ruminate on this too much.

Finally, to clean up the storytelling session after that X(or is that even an applicable letter for what that was) rated report, Shirley gave us her version of something scary: The Rapture. I would be annoyed at the timeliness (the world ended last Friday in case you forgot), but it’s carried off so well I can’t. The gang, minus Pierce and Shirley, is partying it up in some crack den cabin with terminology no human uses. I especially like the fact that Shirley imagined Britta pouring a tub of weed on her chest in order to smoke it with Jeff replying, “That’s my kind of pot-bong.” Finally the locusts, tornadoes and frogs come – Britta braves them because “she’s lived in New York,” chop busted fellow adults, chop busted. Finally, the Devil, in the form of Dean Pelton in a K-Mart “Little Devil” costume comes to torture them all. Shirley—er I mean not Shirley because this is just a story not about real people—comes back briefly to say goodbye before the Dean-Devil comes after everyone with a chainsaw yelling “Gay Marriage!” Of course, Shirley. Of course.

“You ruined a Britta party. That’s like letting poop spoil.” –Troy

Side note: does anyone else love how one episode Troy is enamored of Britta and the next week he’s back to calling her things like “the opposite of Batman?”

Anyway, after that tale everyone is ready to leave. Britta stops them by spilling the beans about the test and says if they don’t find out who it is, terrible things will happen. She continues to describe those various possible things in great detail which makes everyone think she is the psycho.

Jeff, trying to reassume the dad role from seasons past, tells a cute little story about the gang getting attacked by Chang, the hook thingy killer, and the group diffusing the situation by asking him what’s wrong and giving him hugs. This is too nice for Jeff, he’s clearly the sociopath, right? Well, it turns out none of them are because Britta Britta-ed up the tests and scanned them upside down. Upon rescan it turns out they’re all insane except for one – now that makes more sense. When they leave the room, onscreen labels tell us who’s test was whose, and I wish they hadn’t. If we, as good fans, thought long and hard about it, we’d know that Abed was the sane one. We already know that. I wish it hadn’t been spelled out on those tests – and I felt like it was a pretty atypical move for the series.

So why did this giant mess work? Because each of these stories is so perfectly tailored to our character’s psyches and personalities. (And Britta’s Shirley impression in the Rapture story certainly didn’t hurt.) As an episode, it was a little winding and erratic, but as something stalwart Community fans can enjoy, it was a solid hit.