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Worldly Distractions: Community 5.10 - Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons




COMMUNITY -- "Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" Episode 510 -- Pictured: (l-r) Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley, Jim Rash as Dean Pelton, Joel McHale as Jeff -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

Oh, no, you did not. Season 2's Dungeons and Dragons episode, possibly the best episode of the entire series, was an untouchable classic. Sure, they returned to the paintball well before with incredible results, but without Troy's priceless reactions and Pierce's schemes, to say nothing of the frame of helping Neil with his self-esteem, they've got major shoes to fill. I can't even Google for a picture without an overwhelming majority of Season 2 results. Maybe that's a hint, guys?

The Dean has asked the Committee to find the school some insurance, because that's not the school's job or anything. Everyone grumbles. Hickey gets an email from a relative, which brings up the issue of his estranged son. Turns out that they can't relate because young Hank. is obsessed with D&D. When Hickey finds out that the entire group enjoys the game, he's not amused. A reconciliation game is immediately planned, since D&D has already been proven to have life-changing powers. (To illustrate this, Fa...bulous Neil walks by in the background. We see what you did there.) Abed is concerned about pulling off a "sequel". Hell, that's my concern too. They decide to hold a game, and the Dean invites himself. We get a Lord of the Rings-style title card.

We head over to Troy and Abed and Annie's, where the gang is joined by Tobias Funke. Er, David Cross. Er, Hank Hickey. And might I add that I am freaking out here. Between Tony Hale as the angry pottery teacher, and this, we're practically at a full-blown reunion. Hickey Sr. has clearly been dragged kicking and screaming. Abed serves once more as Dungeonmaster, and off we go. The mission: destroy a necromancer on top of a mountain.

Hank, a D&D expert, has many quarrels with Abed's style, including his infamous lack of name-giving skill. And when it is revealed that his character is the son of Hickey's character, he quickly deduces what they're up to. He forces everyone to swap characters. They all still have stupid names, though. "Fibrosis the Ranger", anyone? Shirley's mad about being a druid, Annie gets "Hector the Well-Endowed" again, and Jeff is cast as the Dean's dad. They set out on their path, but Hank soon wants to deviate from the game, and he and Hickey get into an argument. Annie tries to get Hank back with the program. He sets her on fire. In the game.

The fire also burns the bridge. Everyone is tossed into a ravine. Another Hickey father-son argument erupts. Jeff tries to talk them out of it. The river carries the players in different directions. Britta, Chang and the Dean are sent to another room while the Dean screams for his "father". Hank tries to leave before things get messy, but Hickey says he'll play, and kill the necromancer - as long as Hank promises to invite him to his grandson's birthday. Hank agrees, but if he kills the necromancer, Hickey forfeits Christmas and Thanksgiving at Aunt Rachel's.

Stranded in the jungle, Hickey, Jeff, Annie and Shirley encounter hobgoblins. While the others fiddle with spells, Hickey heart-punches them and moves on. They drive off the monsters. However, Shirley is killed. She takes it graciously and leaves. Hickey's annoyed that his attack didn't defeat them. Abed urges him to check with his character before he starts any more attacks.

In the other room, the Dean is desperate to hear more of Jeff, while Hank manipulates people to his side by offering healing spells. Fortunately, they are interrupted by an attack of sky spiders. Hank talks them down with linguistic powers, proving once and for all that diplomacy works. In the other room, the rest of the group continues to battle hobgoblins and guards. Hickey takes two hostages in order to negotiate. Abed plays both monsters. Eventually, he drives them to nervous breakdowns over workplace politics. Just like real life!

We go to the "trials of brothers", where Hank is singing a Celtic-sounding hymn, which kinda looks like the Enya video for "May it Be". The Dean, as "Joseph Gordon Diehard", mourns his Dad-Jeff. He sends dozens of letters, which Abed always throws out, since the odds are low and the die never in his favor. He suggests they "think of each other and rub"...their swords. Finally, Jeff gets one of the letters. He rubs the sword, which reveals his location to the Dean. They are revealed to each be ten miles from the necromancer. Hickey and Hank get a determined look in their eyes. The race continues.

Jeff suggests calling it off, but Hickey refuses. They get to the tower at the same time. It looks like Team Hickey is outnumbered, but the Dean tries to defect. Jeff draws his sword rather than have the Dean hug him. Soon, a bloody melee begins. The Dean winds up stabbed to death. He hugs Jeff anyway. As the others fight, Hickey and Hank race to the necromancer. Abed frantically rolls the die. Jeff, Annie, Britta and Chang are all killed. It's down to Hank and Hickey.

Eventually, they realize they can't defeat the villain without cooperating. Totally involved, they continue on their quest. Jeff encourages them to "hug it out", but that's a little much. There's no resolution to the game - but they're working together. The study group leaves, feeling accomplished.

Tag scene: Abed plays D&D with Annie's stuffed animals. Because of course he does. The trouble is, Annie can't sleep without them. Abed hurriedly finishes the impromptu tea party/RPG.

What is it they say - lightning doesn't strike twice? That's kind of the problem here. The episode wasn't bad at all. It's hard to communicate in a recap, but there were many funny one-liners and in-jokes that made the first episode so good. David Cross did a great job, though he had little to work with. However, in general the premise felt way more contrived than last time. Where Operation-Rescue-Neil rose organically, this one became a shoehorned excuse to play D&D. Maybe a different game would have provided a better avenue. No matter - it was still a fun evening. Next week - GI Jeff? Oh, boy, pass the wine.

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