‘Community’ Recap: The Psychology Of Letting Go

S2: E3 This week’s episode had it all – politics, jealousy, AOL News, and even death! Annie and Britta built an extensive diorama to raise money for the victims of the oil spill (plus, Annie says she didn’t have any ideas for the disaster in Haiti). Shirley is jealous that the girls are doing it without her and Jeff comes in and asks the girls if they’ve become moonshiners. When they respond indignantly, “Did you even know there was an oil spill?” Jeff says he does because he has AOL News marked as his homepage (duh). “Did you even know about the ostrich that raised the tiger cub?” (AOL – home of important news.)

Troy comes in crying because he just saw a dead body – it was Pierce’s mom. He’s traumatized, “She was so cold and gray…I saw her underwear.” Laugh if you must, but that is something that can’t be unseen, okay? Just then, Pierce jaunts in, whistling and smiling. He insists that his mother isn’t dead because like him, she was a level five laser lotus (yep, he’s still in that cookie wand wielding, wizard robe wearing, laser-lovin’ cult) and she’s being vaporized so she can come back to life in the future. That’s some Scientology shit right there. Troy bursts into tears and Jeff breaks the tension with more AOL wisdom, “You guys hear about that turtle in China? Two packs a day.” Cute. We get it, AOL News does a lot of dumb animal stories.

The gang tries to figure out a way to get Pierce to accept his mother’s death. Abed points out that Pierce hasn’t cried and from what he’s heard, that’s not normal. They all squabble about ways of coping with death and different religious rites, Britta of course says religions are concocted as a coping mechanism – who do they think they are this week, Glee? Jeff stops them and says they should all be tolerant enough to let Pierce believe whatever he chooses (even though, as Annie gripes, Pierce’s religion has lasers). “Can’t you be cool, like me?” Jeff Winger, how is it that you make me want to hug you and smack you in the face at the same time?

Then it’s time for Anthropology class, but before the professor arrives, Pierce takes a moment to explain what it feels like to be vaporized: it’s like getting a bite of fudge on the sundae when it’s still hot or being the first to break in a new boob job. Well crap, that’s got Troy-bait written all over it.

The new professor begins class; Betty White’s Professor Bauer was suspended for trying to strangle Jeff in episode one, so John Oliver’s Professor Ian Duncan takes over despite knowing absolutely nothing about Anthropology – that’s the American education system for ya. As he starts his non-lecture, Chang bursts in through the classroom doors like a cowboy in an old west saloon. Remember their blowout in last season’s finale? It’s still going strong, and this time it comes with a restraining order. Luckily for Chang, he can stay in the classroom because the back row is 25 feet from where Professor Duncan stands at the front. Score one for Chang! (Plus, it’s nice to see him take a hiatus from obsessing over the study group, but don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be back to that soon enough.)

Britta and Annie finally take their diorama to the quad in an attempt to raise money for the oil spill. Britta yells at students to donate and Annie flirts and bounces as Greendale dudes fawn all over and donate their life savings to the cause in her honor. (That’s two episodes in a row that reference Annie’s bouncing boobs. Does anyone else sense a new character in development?)

Meanwhile, Jeff goes to the health center to get his test results. Guest star Patton Oswalt plays the nurse, Jack, who returns Jeff’s near perfect results. There’s just one thing, Jeff needs to start taking cholesterol medication. When Jeff freaks out, Jack asks, “Did I accidentally tell you you have AIDS, because I’ve done that before.” Oh, Patton, your part here is tiny, but you never cease to make me chuckle. Jeff angrily takes Jack’s direction, peeling the whites off of boiled eggs in the cafeteria and professing his new belief that nothing matters because we’re all dying. (Lighten up, dude.) At the same time, Annie and Britta are arguing because Annie’s so-called “sexy school girl act” is earning more money for the oil spill. Then girl fight! (But not the kind you’re thinking, take that down a notch and sprinkle in a few 7th grade insults.)

In Anthropology class and Pierce brandishes his lava lamp (supposedly full of his mother’s vaporized remains). This sets Jeff off and he rips on Pierce’s Skymall “tube of jello,” and now who’s the intolerant one? The rest of the group lets Pierce explain his religion – it’s like a video game, with different levels and “eventually, you can even eat a ghost!” (Itsa-Mario…reference.) Of course Troy is now interested, “I WANNA EAT A GHOST.” Jeff calls out Pierce’s religion as a cult and Pierce shakes it off, inviting everyone to his church for free wine, beer and credit checks. (To make sure they can afford lava lamps for their loved ones, of course.)

Back in the cafeteria, Britta dresses like a school girl, telling boys she “wuvs pelicans” and garnering higher donations for her efforts. She and Annie escalate their fight, and Annie takes a jab at Britta saying she wears hooker boots and wakes up early to “ever so slightly curl her hair.” (Finally someone said it, she’s a tough girl with perfect hair? No way.) Shirley’s bitterness is growing as she mutters, “Skinny bitches.” A few tables over, Jeff explains himself to Professor Duncan (remember, they’re old chums from somewhere or something…). He’s angry because he’s deprived himself of bad food all his life and he’s still being punished – with a manageable level of cholesterol, you big baby – for letting himself be his own religion and that’s why he needs to “kick Pierce’s in the balls.” Professor Duncan doesn’t stop him and instead takes a minute to use his 25 foot restraining order force-field to keep Chang out of the cafeteria. He is continually a pompous ass but we forgive him; he’s got that little British accent and it’s pretty much a free pass.

Out in the quad, Troy and Pierce are ready to tell Jeff all about the laser religion, so Jeff says he’ll take them to get ice cream when really he plans to take them to the morgue to see Pierce’s dead mother. (Okay, now he’s just gone balls to the wall crazy.) Annie and Britta can’t be bothered to listen to his plan because they’re still fighting. Jeff makes a crack about making out with both of them and that sets them off. They have their own oil spill and end up wrestling in it. And now you can get excited about a girl fight, boys.

In the car, Pierce finds a CD from his mother. Her message is simple, she’s dead, not vaporized and Pierce’s lava lamp of vaporized remains is made in China. (She said sentimental stuff too, but who needs that?) Pierce throws the CD out the window declaring that she’d clearly lost her marbles at the end and finally Jeff accepts that Pierce truly believes his ridiculous religion. (Oh, and they skip that whole morgue thing and get ice cream. Happy, happy!)

Britta and Annie bond over the disgusting nature of the men who ogled their oil fight and hug and make up (still covered in oil, and only resulting in more ogling). It turns out Chang also filed a restraining order for Duncan’s abuse of the previous restraining order. Duncan appreciates his plan for “mutually assured destruction” and an unholy union is formed. Ruh-roh.

No Troy and Abed sign-off this week, they did have Betty White discussing Inception with two African tribesmen. Can you believe one of them hasn’t seen it? What is he, living under a rock or something? Oh, wait, for real? He is? Apologies, dude.