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Worldly Distractions: Community 5.6 - Analysis of Cork-Based Networking


crazyforkate

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While I sit here drinking like a fish to cope with the loss of Troy, the brave cast and crew of Community continue to make episodes. Let's honor their persistence with an awesome recap.

To replace our departed sailor, Chang has been added to the study group Save Greendale Committee. Annie interrupts his planned speech to highlight her organizational skills. Duncan is creepy, Abed makes a reference to Bloodlines of Conquest, a hot new medieval series based on books no one's read, which involve espionage, betrayal and incest. Hmmm, wonder what that could be a spoof of. Britta's just starting the show, and is mad (along with everyone else) when Abed casually throws out some spoilers.

Annie kills the argument by assigning them the upcoming Greendale census. Meanwhile, she starts the decorating committee for the upcoming mid-term dance. Jeff and Duncan both instantly volunteer to join. So, this will be a shipping episode? Right then. Well, except Shirley joins too. In celebration of the new committee, Annie posts a paper star on the wall - but the wall breaks and rats run out. Sadly, Annie's Boobs is not there. Opening credits. No Donald Glover makes CFK a sad girl.

Britta has read the Bloodlines of Conquest books to keep ahead of Abed with spoilers, though he maintains that this is even too crazy for him. Undaunted, she runs around the school screaming spoilers, ensuring she will be killed before the end of the episode. Luckily, he has noise-cancelling headphones.

Hickey tries to secure materials from the janitor for his first task (putting up a bulletin board), but fails. He takes this as permission to quit. Abed, meanwhile, half-assedly conducts the school census through his headphones. In the process, he meets a pretty young woman who happens to be deaf. They have an awkward Meet Cute with a combination of sign language and lip reading. Britta remarks that they'll be intensely compatible for one episode, just like the other girls (what other girls? Am I forgetting something?). Abed pointedly ignores her.

Annie continues to plan the dance, ignoring Chang's disturbing suggestions. Hickey comes back to report the bad bulletin board news. Frustrated, Annie takes over herself. Everyone exchanges "here we go again" looks.

She marches to the janitors' room, where she sweet-talks them into putting in a work order. They do, and inform her it will take 3-6 "business months", shortly after they get around to lowering the flag for Ronald Reagan's death. The janitors continue to advise her to ask the head janitor. As they walk away in frustration, Hickey tells Annie she won't live to see the bulletin bored go up. Naturally, she turns it into a bet.

Britta and Abed continue their spoiler war. I like to think that the faux-Game of Thrones they made up wasn't for royalty reasons, but because they didn't actually want to spoil the series, because Community's awesome like that.

Annie and Hickey go to the janitors' lounge, where a fancy soiree is being held. The deputy headkicks them out, as it's a closed function (how many janitors does one campus need??). Annie tries her sweet talk to no avail. Nudging her aside, Hickey performs a masterful act of interdepartmental conniving, allowing them in to find the Head Janitor. I swear to God I've accidentally skipped over to House of Cards. And the head janitor turns out to be...NATHAN FILLION. Yeah, he rates the all caps.

The head janitor immediately remembers their problem. He ignores Annie and takes Hickey aside for a little negotiation. If Hickey can remove the school's Internet filters and unblock their porn (since when does a college have filters? I'm pretty sure everything I studied could be considered porn somehow), they will move the work order to the top. Innocent Annie is horrified by the bribery, but Hickey harshly informs her that this is reality. She vows to stick to her ideal. Hickey goes off to get the job done. Annie decides it's worth it, and joins in.

Abed approaches his new paramour and starts a beautiful, articulate conversation in ASL. Unfortunately, all he knows is "I learned how to say this in sign language." Never mind, she thinks it's cute.

The rest of the group has more or less planned the dance, with the notable exception of a theme. Chang's latest - "Bear Down For Midterms". The others don't get it, especially with Chang's rather roundabout explanations. Chang starts to cry because he thinks they're dismissing him. I'm still not sure what the hell this scene is going on about. When he accuses them of being racist, they give in to his ridiculous theme.

The IT woman, Debra Chambers (Paget Brewster) refuses to lift the filter, until Annie tries some hardline bargaining of her own. Alison Brie is glorious. Eventually, Chambers promises to get it done in exchange for a better parking space.

Chang has elaborated a bit on his plan - apparently, it's just putting representations of bears everywhere, along with party hats and birthday cake. The gang is weirded out, but goes along with it.

The parking guy, Waldron (Robert Patrick) has always been sad to see the lack of bulletin boards in the cafeteria, and he's perfectly willing to make a few - adjustments. His price? Control of all the bulletin boards in the school. Apparently he runs some sort of carpooling monopoly and wants to eliminate the competition. To do this, though, they have to go all the way to the Dean.

Abed and his new girlfriend continue to discuss Star Wars. It's a match made in heaven.

The bear dance is all ready to go, and Jeff, Shirley and Duncan are dreading it. Neil comes in with some sodas for them and gasps when he sees the theme. Apparently, it's a case of "Too soon" - there was a bear-related incident with some children in Wisconsin that morning. Everyone in America's heard about it already, it's been on the news all day. The group turns to glare daggers at Chang. He feigns innocence. They run into crisis mode.

Annie goes to the Dean and proposes an "Office for Bulletin Board Oversight". Over margaritas, they toast to the new bulletin board. However, the Dean refuses to sign unless they toast with "easy peezy, lemon squeezy". Now, Hickey will do anything for a bulletin board...but he won't do that. When Annie protests, he accuses her of selling out, and they get into a massive argument about who's more integrated in "the machine". Annie winds up getting blamed. By trying to help the school, she has corrupted it. "This got Sorkin-y," the Dean whispers.

The decorators proudly display their new theme - "Fat Dog for midterms". That is, the bears have been altered to look like fat dogs. They claim it's an expression, though I imagine it's about as acceptable as Pierce's "streets ahead". When Annie suggests there might be something weird about it, they pull the same you-don't-respect-me act Chang did. She buys it. Soon, they're all hugging each other and yelling "Fat dog!" through unconvincing smiles.

The dance seems to be a hit. Abed and the girl have staked out a corner, where they chat about what a great day it's been. And indeed it is great, until she spoils the final Bloodlines of Conquest book for him. She then collects her money from Britta and runs off. Abed takes off his headphones and heartbreakingly tells Britta that he really liked her, and he's devastated. Britta starts to feel bad, though she is proud of herself for helping the "differently abled". Oh, blow it out your ass, you ditzy slacktivist. Abed stomps away while Britta runs after him.

Luckily, Abed suddenly runs into Rachel (Brie Larson), with whom he had a one-episode romance while she worked at one of Greendale's many dances. There were many hijinks with the coat check that episode. However, Abed never called, and she has moved on. They talk about how "the gas leak year" made them all behave differently. Abed asks her to dinner. They happily walk out together.

Annie stares at Jeff at the dance. Hickey, meanwhile, sits at home and looks over the remains of his old police career. The head janitor still can't get his porn, the IT woman considers buying a bike, Abed and Rachel watch TV together. Hickey rips down all his old newspaper clippings. He then shows up at the dance, grabs a bulletin board and a drill and puts the damn thing up himself. The Dean runs in, but it's too late. Security tries to take it down. Annie jumps on an officer's back. After a brief tussle, the Dean backs down. Annie and Hickey acknowledge each other. Chang begins to rap about the concept of "Fat Dog", which includes the lyrics "It's not made up, it's not made up". There's even a novelty dance to go with it. Gareth runs in screaming that "It's a bear dance!" Oops.

Tag scene: Duncan tries to order new office supplies. It's really convoluted. He accidentally winds up in a top secret security department. He may or may not have launched some missiles.

All in all, it was solid. The negotiation storyline was funny enough, with some good moments for Annie and especially Hickey - a character who already has a strong presence after just a few episodes. The decorating plot also had some laughs. Britta was despicable beyond belief, and I really hate the way her character has been messed with in five years. She used to be complex, and now she's easily the most overdrawn in the group. I'm enjoying the new glimpse at Duncan, who has been something of a blank for the past couple of seasons.

How did the show function without Donald Glover? Well, it was fine this episode. For the long-term, it's a bit dodgier. They gave Abed a good storyline to cover for Troy's absence, but I still have no idea how he'll function without his partner in crime. Especially if we really do go six-seasons-and-a-movie. (I assume if the show continues, they will be forced to drown him off the coast of Sri Lanka - well, actually, there was an aside about him and LeVar Burton being captured by pirates in Mexico if you look carefully.) Still, Rachel's a nice character, even if they did introduce her in a rather rushed way. We'll have to see what can be explored with her. Abed in a real relationship certainly would be interesting. For now, though, the show is staying on track. It's a delight to see.

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