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Worldly Distractions: Community 5.3 - Basic Intergluteal Numismatics




Season 5 is off to a promising start, but can we breathe a sigh of relief just yet? Let's watch as Community parodies every mystery movie known to man.

We start with the infamous blue-tint-of-intrigue. Nice touch already. The whole episode is like this, by the way. Shirley's Sandwiches has its grand reopening, and as part of the party, her two older boys perform - an a capella version of Radiohead's "Creep". I'm laughing already. Even if it's not from a mystery movie, it's a David Fincher homage, which is what most of this episode parodies.

It's raining, and the school's roof drips while the lights flicker. The camera perfectly mimics Fincher's angles, and on the lockers we can see a mysterious Lisbeth Salander-like figure. Oh, I am in love. Fincher is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, and will be referenced a million times in this review. Apologies in advance. Garett drops his books, and bends over to get him. We get a lingering shot of his ass (it's not beautiful) as a black-gloved intruder drops a coin down his pants. His screams of "Ass crack bandit!" echo throughout the school.

We get an incredible credits montage over newspapers detailing the Ass Crack Bandit's reign. The Dean has to deny his involvement, of course. There's also a mysterious "fountain pooper", and the Human Beings have been on a weird losing streak lately.

The blue filter continues as the Dean attempts to smooth things over at a press conference. There are so many references that I feel confident categorizing this as a "pause-button" episode. There's no way you can catch all of this on a first viewing. I'm also told Nine Inch Nails helped score this. You know, Trent Reznor, David Fincher's bestie, produced the magnificent score for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?That's it, I'm going to die of happiness right here.

The Dean takes it to the Save Greendale Committee, along with a letter he received from the mysterious bandit. Professor Duncan returns to lend his psychological expertise, and it's nice to see him back. He hits on Britta, mistakes Hickey for Pierce, and attempts to construct a profile of the perpetrator. Jeff promises he'll handle it.

In his office, later, Annie brings him a map of the Ass Crack Attacks, pouting and leaning like the sexiest of detectives' assistants. Alison Brie is a comedic goddess. She thinks the ACB has a mysterious shortcut, because a sprint around the sites took her twenty minutes when the attacks occurred in ten. Jeff just wants to watch cartoons in peace - and certainly doesn't want to shake things up and risk losing his paychecks.

As a storm rages, Troy calls Abed about their plans that night. He turns around and finds a teddy bear. Bending over to grab it, he is approached from behind - and the Bandit makes his/her move.

The Committee goes through the evidence while Troy is traumatized. After his series-long obsession with everything butt-related, something has actually happened to his butt, and he can't stop crying. Abed keeps him supplied with blankets and cups of water. Annie finds a rolled-up note in the teddy bear. It's clearly from the bandit, but when Annie reveals that she suspects a teacher, the Dean is outraged and throws her off the case.

Jeff finds her upset by the vending machines, and tries to convince her that it's just a frat boy up to hijinks. She's convinced there's a higher purpose, some sort of message the bandit's trying to send. Jeff thinks this is stupid as crap, but agrees to help her because he's a sucker.

Three days later, Greendale is the victim of continued attacks. There's higher security, awareness campaigns, the works. I continue to squee over the stylistic perfection.

The study group/Save Greendale Committee continues to work on the case, but can't come up with anything. The Dean suggests Abed take a look at the scene of the crime, because he's "special". Abed promptly envisions all the "mildly autistic super-detectives" you see in every conceivable media form, rather than the actual crime scene. Beautiful. He flees the room, overwhelmed by bad writing (no, really), and the Dean is forced to take matters into his own hands. He has Chang and Hickey re-enact the crime, but it appears to be more for the lulz than any particular purpose.

Jeff and Annie read through the notes, which appear to be cribbed from Dave Matthews lyrics. It seems simple enough - find teachers at Greendale who are fans and search 'em. The problem? Jeff is a fan. Yep, I can see where this is going. Within moments, they have a list, and Jeff is disappointed that he doesn't get to play his old-fashioned radio any longer.

Troy, traumatized, has turned into a speaker on behalf of the Ass Crack victims. He's even gotten "Troy's Law" passed, which requires the three B's - "Belts, Briefs, Buddies". Unbeknownst to the crowd, the bandit is lurking under the bleachers, with his Silence of the Lambs- esque night vision goggles...and he strikes Vicky. Mass panic ensues, and everyone runs screaming. The Dean attempts crowd control, and can't manage it.

As Chang walks around disturbing the school, Jeff and Annie investigate. They break into a botany professor's office, where they meet Prof. Bublitz himself - played by Ben Folds. When they explain why they're there, the professor runs for it, resulting in a chase through the plants, and plenty of destruction. But it's not the reason they think - the guy's just trying to protect his sativa plant. The Dean arrives, is horrified to see them investigating, and promptly suspends Annie and sticks Jeff with coaching the water polo team. He then interrogates Jeff and Annie as to the nature of their relationship. Yes, Dean, we'd all like to know that one.

Just then, the ACB calls (in a computerized voice). He also wonders about Jeff and Annie, but is more interested in taunting the Dean and threatening with continued attacks. The Dean traces it to the Greendale stables (huh?) and soon the three of them are in hot pursuit.

They arrive to find creepy drawings, and a mysterious blond figure in the corner. They chase him around, only to find...Starburns. Yes, the man was hiding in the stables all this time. Apparently, he was also trying to make cat cars a thing. You'll recall he faked his death back in Season 3. So they get a confession and the Dean proudly announces that the mystery is solved. Even Troy manages to get out of his wheelchair and give the ACB a slap. He is then wheeled away by Abed, exhausted. The Dean suggest celebrating with - what else? - a dance.

Jeff, however, isn't so convinced. He tells Annie that with her teacher suspicion and Starburns' arrest, something doesn't add up. She in turn wonders if everyone's right - if they're using the investigation as a chance to be together. He categorizes their relationship as "platonic shoulder-holding" and demonstrates awkwardly with Leonard, who then assures Annie that "we can do better."

The dance is a rousing success. They've locked Starburns in a cage to be pelted with quarters, Shirley's selling t-shirts, there are ass-shaped cakes. Annie is now suspicious of the solution herself, and goes to see Professor Duncan, who's drunk. He babbles at her a bit, then perks up when Dave Matthews music plays. Annie is stunned. Over at the dance, Starburns likes the song but can't remember who wrote it, sending up Jeff's suspicions are raised. Starburns admits that he's pretending to be the Bandit in exchange for a free pass on his meth-related transgressions.

Annie is digging up dirt on Duncan, who is a huge Matthews fan and doesn't use Facebook, preferring its British equivalent, Mugscroll. She soon gets frightened and tries to leave, but Duncan drops his keys - and asks her to pick them up. Luckily, she has the presence of mind to grab them with her foot, back out the door and find Jeff. They wander through crowds of drunken students in hazy light. Before they can reach Duncan, however, the Brit gets "cracked". There goes that theory.

They run to catch the bandit, but Shirley arrives and brings them to a halt. She has (serious) bad news: Pierce is dead. Well, that came out of nowhere. They all mourn Pierce in the study room as someone narrates about his lack of accomplishments. The empty chair is prominent.

Up Next: Annie and Jeff stand in the rain and talk about Pierce. Jeff brings out a bad analogy. Annie heads for home with the case unsolved, but Jeff calls to her, "Don't worry, I have a feeling he'll be back." "Or her," says Annie. They stop and stare at each other. Could one of them be a suspect?

We get a montage: Britta writes a terrible paper about the Bandit, Abed deletes all the shows they've been parodying off his DVR, Shirley counts her sandwich profits, Hickey looks through old Greendale newspapers, the Dean does shots in his office. A trendy song plays. Jeff and Annie continue to stare at each other, then leave. A black title screen tells us that no crackings have occurred since, but Starburns has recanted. The investigation is closed.

Closing scene: Starburns advertises his cat car as a solution to global warming. It's the first animal-powered vehicle, dontcha know.

The first two episodes were kind of ehh, but now that they've laid the groundwork, they can branch out a little, and they did so spectacularly tonight. Donald Glover particularly stole the show as the traumatized Troy, which makes me sad he's leaving. The big problem for me was the abrupt ending - but I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this mystery. RIP Pierce, and thanks to Community for another dead-on spoof.

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