‘Community’ Recap: Justice Burns

ALTBefore we get started, know this:

Greendale Community College is represented by two separate yet equally important groups of people. The goofballs that run around stirring up trouble—and the eggheads that make a big deal out of it.

These are their stories.

Community‘s Law & Order spooftacular has finally arrived, and is arguably one of the top five best episodes of this wacky series to date. Dan Harmon and co. brilliantly executed a carbon copy of what would probably be one of the best episodes of the most formulaic doctor/cop/lawyer show in history. From the body-discovery cold open to the pitch-perfect chief investigator to the on-the-street walking sequence, they freaking nailed it. And — unlike most of the Law & Order reruns I’ve seen — they actually presented a compelling, multi-layered case that kept the audience on its toes. Tonight, Community was NOT the opposite of Batman.

Bonk Bonk. (That’s what we’ll call the Law & Order noise, since it seems to have no official title.) Of course, it all started with the discovery of a body: And in this case, that body was Pam. The Yam. See, the study group had been growing a yam for Professor Kane’s (Remember him?) biology class, and at some point last night, someone had purposefully crushed it to death. This horrible crime would result in a C, and Detective Annie Edison would never settle for a C. (“Why don’t I just get pregnant at a bus station?) When Prof. Kane suggested that finding concrete evidence might help their case, Annie turned to Shirley for help — and as a former stay-at-home mom, Shirley knew a thing or two about crime shows.”You boys canvass for witnesses, establish a timeframe and motive, and bring me a suspect,” she barked to Troy and Abed, who would now become the hard-nosed police duo tasked to solve the case. As expected, the boys got into character flawlessly, in an instant. The pauses between sentences as they tried to come up with ‘zingers’ were the only thing that differentiated them from actual scripted Law & Order cops.

After an amazing electric-piano version of the Community theme song, Troy and Abed made their way throughout the school to gather evidence: First, Pierce revealed that he did not water the yam last night, as the door was already locked when he got there. Pierce wisely said that Detectives Troy and Abed should look to someone who already wanted to hurt them: Todd, the poor bastard who temporarily entered their study group last fall, and was subsequently mentally tortured. Todd, an Iraq vet, denied all charges. “You can dance all day Todd, but sooner or later the music is gonna change,” said Troy. But Todd claimed that the door was locked when he got there, using a photo he took through the door as evidence. Bonk Bonk!

Unfortunately, this evidence was taken to my beloved useless Britta, who accessed her inner Criminal Minds to further examine the photography. Her work could have been done on your average everyday iPhone, but she did inadvertently help them realize that the doors to the lab were locked at eight. Therefore, the suspect must have had a key. The school’s keymaster, Fat Neil, revealed the identity of the last person to check out the biology lab key: Magnitude. Bonk Bonk!

Oh Magnitude, your “Pop Pop” has never been so significant: Everyone’s favorite DJ revealed that his backpack, which contained the elusive key, had been stolen in the library. Detective Troy donned a library-nerd disguise in a foolproof attempt to catch the culprit. When he carefully left his backpack unattended, it was snatched up by a nearby eavesdropping sneak: Starburns. Bonk Bonk!

Next, the boys took their case to an accredited yam-pathologist, who revealed that Pam the Yam hadn’t just fallen off the table: She had been stepped on. By a boot. Right before she was going to bloom. And so it was settled: This yamicide wasn’t an accident, folks — it was cold blooded murder. Someone was jealous of the study group’s success.

The next day, Jeff, Annie, Troy, and Abed gathered on the New York-esque streets of Greendale to discuss the details of the case. Jeff suggested searching Starburns’ locker, which eventually led to the discovery that Starburns had officially broken bad. He was using tools from Prof. Kane’s biology lab to make a meth lab in his car, without a Jesse Pinkman to keep him grounded. Of course, this didn’t affect the case, so Troy and Abed pinky swore not to spill the beans in exchange for some valuable intel: Starburns had seen Todd entering the lab after hours that night. So the frizzy-haired perfectionist was confronted again, but this time Troy read him his Miranda rights. “You have the right to do whatever you want. Nothing you say or do can be used against you by anyone, but we’d really like if you came with us. Please and thank you.”

And now for my favorite wink-wink part of the episode: When the study group told Prof. Kane about Todd’s indiscretion, they swore to keep Starburns’ secret to honor their pinky-swear agreement. After some intense debate, Prof. Kane — known to some as The Wire‘s Omar Little — took the study group’s side. He would honor the sacred pinky swear, because “A man’s gotta have a code.” (Did anyone else get chills when he said that? No? Just me? David Simon? Anyone?)

Finally, it was time for the fake trial itself. Annie, who had morphed into a manipulative law savant whose only want was to win, rejoiced when she got Todd to confess that he had knocked over the group’s yam — because its jar was boiling hot when he picked it up to admire it. Jeff, the formerly merciless lawyer, recognized the error in this and asked for a mistrial — because a man’s gotta have a code. In his closing arguments, Jeff revealed that the reason their yam had exploded — the reason all of the yams could have exploded — was that they were being boiled at night. Hence, Todd’s injured hand. The only yam that wasn’t affected was Vicki’s — and the courtroom’s accusatory gasps led Fat Neil to confess that he had boiled the yams to save Vicki’s failing grade, so that they could finally have sex in his parents’ cabin over summer. Case closed!

So, all in all, “Basic Lupine Urology” had all the makings of a brilliant Community episode — our characters took on their roles with hilarious aplomb, there were well-deserved meta-jokes aplenty, and Greendale’s beloved ancillary characters were given the perfect amount of screen time. And that, if anything, deserves a bonk bonk. (Or a pop pop?) Oh, and did I mentioned that Starburns died when his meth lab blew up his car with him inside it? This has Gus Fring written all over it. Screw Jeff — Better call Saul!

Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna

[Image Credit: NBC]


‘Community’ ‘Law & Order’ Spoof Adds ‘Criminal Minds’ –EXCLUSIVE CLIP

‘Community’ ‘Law & Order’ Parody is Super Serious, You Guys

‘Community’ Recap: Virtual Systems Analysis