‘Community’ Recap: Messainic Myths And Ancient Peoples

S2:E3 Last night’s episode of Community really took off with an element it’s been carrying throughout its 30 episodes, and things got really meta. Like, super meta.

The cold open starts with another edition of Professor Duncan’s anything-goes Anthropology 101 class, where the class is shouting out names of videos to watch on YouTube like a handful of bored coeds huddled in a dorm room on a weekday night. They treat us to a parody of the recently huge (we’re talking top 30 on iTunes) “Bed Intruder Song” which is an auto-tuned song created from an interview given by a spastic crime witness, a ski-lift ninja crotch-rip, and finally – thanks to a request from Shirley to search for “God” – a video called “The God of Farts.” Yes, we get it. Watch inane bullshit on YouTube. But hey, we all do it. Devout Christian, Shirley, is incensed by the blasphemous video and Professor Duncan matter-of-factly states that it has 17 million views. When Shirley remarks that only nine people go to her church, the room goes silent with temporary shame until Abed cuts the awkward silence with another video request: “Auto-tune God of Farts!” Amen, YouTube.

After that informative Anthropology lesson, Shirley gets an idea to help up the membership of her church (nine people is pretty sad) by making a viral video and she wants mega film nerd Abed’s help. She tries to tell him that the bible is the greatest story ever told, but he replies that that’s what Ben Lyons said about I Am Legend. Yeah, I don’t know about that. Still, Abed takes the time to read the entire New Testament and it turns out that Jesus is “like E.T., Edward Scissorhands, and Marty McFly combined.” Awesome. Abed agrees to make Shirley’s Christian viral video, but his concept isn’t exactly what she had in mind.

Abed comes up with a overtly meta concept for a film in which a filmmaker is making a film studying the life of Jesus, but he finds that he’s actually Jesus and that he’s being filmed by God’s camera, and that continues in one giant cycle of mirroring and the film will be called ABED. Oh boy. I love you Abed, but whoa. Shirley rejects Abed’s meta film, and sarcastically refers to him as Charlie Kaufman. (Good. Someone needed to say it.) She then storms off after telling Abed there is no movie, but uh-oh…he’s got that look in his eyes. He turns to the camera and says, “This is the movie.” And there’s the next layer – the fact that Abed’s filming of his meta film is also being filmed because he’s on camera on a television show.

Shirley writes her own skit for a viral video and enlists the help of Troy and Britta using her original idea of creating Jesus as a rapper. Britta and Troy blandly recite their lines like, “Jesus did you really die for our sins? That’s dope,” like kids in an elementary school play, before Troy starts to drop his “beatitudes” (or raps about Christianity and also, my new favorite word). Okay, Shirley, clearly your video idea wasn’t any better than Abed’s meta monstrosity.

The filming is interrupted by a commotion outside, and it turns out that Abed went ahead with filming ABED without Shirley’s help. He touts that there are no takes, there is no viewer, there is no film, “We are the film.” And in case we didn’t get it, Troy lets us know by noting that it’s “totally meta.” Already, his film is taking shape, and the entire school is getting into it; through his cinematic exploration of Jesus, he’s actually becoming a stand-in for Jesus on campus (even though I think he looks more like Yanni). Shirley’s not taking it, she calls him an “egotistical film-making loser.” Oh it’s so on.

In the meantime, Pierce has adopted a rebellious attitude and he falls in with the wrong crowd – a gang of elderly students who steal cookies in the cafeteria and refuse to conform or listen to authority. They’re called “hipsters” because they all have hip replacements. When Pierce shows up late to a study group boasting cigars and a new swagger, the study session turns into a dysfunctional quasi-family dinner. Annie whines to Britta that Pierce is smoking cigars, Troy calls Pierce out for hanging with Leonard and the hipsters and Jeff (clearly the papa figure of the group) tells Pierce he doesn’t like Leonard from behind the morning paper. But duh, that’s why he’s cool, Dad. Britta pipes in as mommy, telling Pierce his new friends aren’t good for him. Okay, that was pretty cute.

Shirley’s devised a plan to stop Abed’s blasphemous film – she makes a complaint to the dean, using the separation of church and state to shut down the film because it’s using school funds to promote a religious message. When the dean tries to shut it down, Abed rationalizes that all film is religious, which apparently taps into the dean’s Trekkie side. (But I mean, he’s right. How awesome was Wrath of Khan?) Shirley loses her battle, and the filming goes on.

Just outside, Pierce is still hanging with the hipsters on the steps drinking tallboys in paper bags (I half expected it to be PBR) and harassing passersby. When the dean leaves his keys in his car, they decide to take it for a joy ride. Despite Pierce’s concern that they’ve been drinking, they hop in the car and ride off, that is until the hipster in the driver’s seat starts losing his memory. He forgets the year, his age, and then how to drive. They all scream as the camera pans out and they’re going three miles per hour in the parking lot. Old people are funny. Hardy har.

Back on set, Abed is watching the footage of his film so far and he has an epiphany: it’s complete and total crap. He realizes that he’s stuck finishing what he started, but he’s afraid that the film will ruin his career before it ever starts and takes a moment to ask God for some sort of disaster to stop the filming. I don’t know if God hears his prayer, but Shirley sure does. As he sits down to film the final scene – a recreation of the last supper – Shirley bursts in with a baseball bat, pulls the power cord and destroys all the film’s footage. It’s simultaneously so sweet and completely badass.

Pierce and the hipsters are brought into the school’s office, and Jeff is called in as his emergency contact. Winger waltzes in, fully intending to remove himself from Pierce’s list, but when he realizes that the other oldies don’t have anyone who cares to come check on them, he has a change of heart. He takes Pierce home, telling him to get in the car as Pierce does his best bratty teen impression, “Wasn’t my fault!” Jeff doesn’t remove his name as an emergency contact, but makes sure to add “mommy” – Britta – as the other “parent.” Aw, guys! They are a family.

After Shirley destroys Abed’s film, the whole school thinks that it was actually made by God, making Abed a genius and Shirley a villain. To thank her for her social martyrdom, Abed finished her rapping Jesus video enlisting Troy as rapping Jesus (and giving Donald Glover a chance to cross-promote his hip hop career). As the class watches rapping Jesus, Shirley holds Abed’s hand and tells him she’d humbled by him; a sweet way to end an episode that spun wildly out of control, but that was the point, right? Because like Abed’s film was out of control, the actual episode was out of control, so…okay, I’m just going to stop before this recap spins out of control.

After all that craziness, the tag was a welcome sign off. So here it is. Enjoy.