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Worldly Distractions: Community 4.12 - Heroic Origins




Sorry for the late arrival of the Thursday recaps, guys. There are two reasons for this. One, ever since my triumphant return West we have been inundated by relatives bearing delicious seafood feasts, giving me little time to slip away and watch TV. Two, I am extremely reluctant to go through the end of Community. This is the second last episode ever, guys. It’s like losing 30 Rock all over again. No matter. Next week I will undoubtedly be a basket case, but by gum, the show must go on. Let’s do this.

The study group (sans Pierce – take a drink, another Chevy Chase write-out) are in their usual habitat. Abed asks Shirley if she ever dated Roger Ebert, and Britta if she ever posted pictures of her feet online for money. Clearly he is cooking up some kind of scheme. Since Abed’s schemes are always entertaining, I have a lot of hope for this episode. It was a rocky season, but let’s give these finale episodes a chance. Jeff demands that they get back on topic for their upcoming history file, because he absolutely has to pass. Apparently Professor Cornwallis has suddenly decided to get serious, leaving them utterly unprepared. During the subsequent discussion we learn Pierce’s whereabouts – he is donating a kidney to Gilbert (his long-lost half-brother introduced in Digital Estate Planning, played by Giancarlo Esposito – I think he had a really brief appearance an episode or two back).

Fed up with their procrastination, Jeff screams that they need to start studying history. Abed counters that he is studying their history. Naturally, that is the kind of history that matters most to him. An exasperated Jeff tries to dismiss him, but he explains that it’s a graduation gift. Apparently, the Greendale Seven has crossed paths many times before, rather than simply meeting at community college. Abed is going to track these origins down and chart their destiny. Mr. Skeptic Winger protests that they absolutely must study, but the rest of the group seems thrilled to follow Abed’s project, so he is stuck. “This is the real world,†Jeff says, “not some comic book adventure.â€

A few feet away, Chang spies on them with binoculars from behind a bookcase. Having dropped his Kevin shtick, he explains to his contact that he has successfully infiltrated both the school and the study group. He has fooled them all into trusting him. After being destroyed along with the Changlourious Basterds last year, it’s time for revenge. His contact, who sounds like the villainous dog from Up,  is revealed to be – the Dean from City College (using a voice modifier from Skymall). Cut to opening credits.

After a large amount of research, Abed is missing the final pieces of information that will be a clue to their heroic origins. He brings out a giant chart, “The Crazy Quilt of Destinyâ€, which demonstrates all their connections. Jeff expresses his doubts, and in doing so uses a Star Wars quote. Abed stuns him by recalling the exact date, time and place that Jeff first saw Star Wars, the best time he ever had with his father – all of this information gleaned from a ticket stub Jeff keeps in his wallet. Jeff snatches the stub back, and Abed begins his tale. The screen switches to comic book format (each frame is a panel) as we are taken back to 2008...

A live-action Annie, complete with glasses and braces, practices a speech into her high school locker. Stumbling over it, she pops some pills and instantly feels better. Troy walks by surrounded by friends and quoting There Will Be Blood. Annie shyly goes up to him and offers to be his algebra tutor. Troy turns her down, as he is counting on a football scholarship instead. “I don’t care about math, all I need is statistics.†Nerdy Annie is adorable.

A few comic book panels take us back to the present day. Annie protests that we all know about Annie and Troy’s non-existent high school communication. Troy says (suspiciously quickly) that he had no idea who Annie was and weshouldjustdropit. Britta suddenly notices that Pierce is not on the chart. Abed shows her a Post-It note saying “Pierce Hawthorne. Fixture at Greendale. Unavoidable,†which summarizes the man’s entire existence. Wow, they are really throwing Pierce under the bus this season, eh? Chevy must have been a real diva.

Abed brings out a receipt he filched from Shirley’s sock drawer, which proves they were all at the mall on a certain day. Shirley, wearing an Obama ’08 shirt and sporting a different hairstyle, walks out of “The Love Hut†telling her husband over the phone that she is “so excited about tonightâ€. She has planned a little surprise for their “adult timeâ€. It sounds like Andre has a surprise of his own, and if it doesn’t with “s†and end with “tripper slut he ran away with†I will eat my hat. She walks by Abed. That’s it. Seriously. We go through some comic book panels again, and arrive back at the present. Shirley seems genuinely shocked that, you know, two people in the same area went to a mall on the same day. Abed is slowly winning them over.

In his office, the Dean licks envelopes while Chang schmoozes. “Kevin†has always been tasked with taking the mail. However, the Dean will not allow him to do it today. He’s sending out Greendale’s lease renewal (they sublease from some Rappahoe Indians), which is too important to entrust to someone with Changnesia. Wounded, Chang!Kevin asks if the Dean only trusts him with busywork. One glimpse of  Chang!Kevin’s puppydog eyes and the Dean is won over. Soon enough, the lease renewal is in Chang’s treacherous hands and the Dean is obliviously off to the seamstress. What exactly he’s doing there will be left to the imagination.

Using a back issue of the Greendale Communist Worker, Abed charts what he believes will be the key evidence for their backstory. The paper chronicles a protest by Britta’s “AnHerChists†at the local courthouse. While she looks back at it fondly, Abed tells her that Jeff is also in the picture. Both Jeff and Britta jump to look at it. We jump back in time. Jeff has just successfully defended a woman for tax evasion by claiming that her strip show was non-profit performance art. Britta, with violet hair and some kind of chain dangling from her nose, runs in and thanks Jeff for defending a woman’s right to use her body however she wants. Jeff assures her that this right is very important to him. They bump fists. Who would have guessed that in a couple of years they would be shagging? Britta turns back to her group and suggests that, in the name of animal rights, they go and protest a medical lab nearby. One of her comrades says no, it’s their “last hurrahâ€. They’re done with protests – “I had a hamburger the other day and suddenly I’m not cold all the time.†Britta says she doesn’t need them anyway, but as the AnHerChists leave, she descends into despair.

Back in the present, Shirley wonders “How could you?†Jeff explains that it was his job at a lawyer. But no, Shirley tells him that the defendant (Misty) was the stripper that came between her and Andre. If she had been found guilty, she would never have had the opportunity to meet Andre, so Shirley’s separation was indirectly Jeff’s fault. She is outraged. Abed points to this as proof that they were destined. The group looks less convinced.

Abed is delighted with these “plot holesâ€, adding the Misty incident to his file on Jeff and Shirley (which includes the Rec Centre story). Shirley is done with the origin story, telling him that her life is not a plot hole for his twisted machinations. Abed does not get it. Jeff protests that this was not his fault, and Shirley should direct her rage elsewhere. Furthermore, he adds, this was the case that led to his downfall. We go back to the past, where he is getting wasted with a triumphant Misty. His boss comes in and asks to talk with him for a moment. He tells Jeff that there have been some rumours about the status of his undergraduate degree. Jeff denies any wrongdoing, but the boss is insistent – until it’s cleared up, the bar won’t let him practice. Winger is screwed.

Upon hearing this story, Shirley is no more tempted to forgive him. As she sees it, his problem was nothing compared to hers, and therefore he has no right to feel bad. Jeez, Shirley, give it a rest. Troy interrupts their argument to say that he thinks it’s cool they’re all connected, and would like to take the opportunity to thank Annie for ruining high school. She’s naturally confused by this, so he explains. We are taken back to Troy’s infamous keg flip, the one that destroyed both his knee and his college hopes – although Troy’s agony is not quite bad enough to keep him from asking for corn chips. Donald Glover, you are priceless.

Annie says it couldn’t have been her fault because a) she wasn’t involved, B) he doesn’t remember her from high school, and c) he faked his injury anyway, which he admitted a while back. Troy says that he lied about b and committed c because of what Annie said. We go back to find Nerdy Annie standing there looking awkward while a popular girl announces that it’s time for “Senior Class Superlativesâ€. Troy wins Most Handsome, Most Popular, Best Smile, Best Moves, Best Practical Joker, and Coolest Locker. When it comes time to present Most Likely To Succeed, Annie says to no one in particular that obviously it has to go to her because that’s just an indisputable fact, I mean duh. However, Troy carries the day, causing her to go into shock. She screams in a manner reminiscent of the Model UN episode and says that Troy can’t be Most Likely to Succeed, because she’s valedictorian and student council president and the head of Campus for Christ despite being Jewish. Troy, according to her, is just a mindless robot who does what his coach tells him, and his accomplishments are nothing next to hers. Troy belittles her, saying “Do you go to my school?†Annie screams, running through the glass door and out the backyard. Magnitude, sitting nearby, is inspired to say “Pop-pop†for the first time.

Troy says her words cut him deeply. She tells him of her difficult withdrawal and six reconstructive surgeries. Troy points out that he had to smile when he didn’t feel like smiling, and that hurt. Shirley asks for everyone to stop talking about the past, saying that Abed’s web only proves the fragility of happiness. She begins a string of “If onlysâ€, ending with “If only I didn’t have to pick up my kids at the mall.†This sets off Abed’s alarm. He flips through the book. We go back to the past, where Abed is in line for a movie. Shirley’s two sons turn up behind him. They tell him they’re going to see The Phantom Menace (in 2008? Huh?). Abed immediately tears them down, delivering a venomous  lecture on how they’re ruining Star Wars by the mere act of seeing the film. The younger son bursts into tears, and the older one asks why he’s even there. Abed explains that he goes to theatres where it plays to warn people off. Suddenly it all comes together. Shirley gets a phone call from her hysterical boys and has to interrupt her date night with Andre to go get them, whereupon he meets the stripper. Abed’s dad takes him to a psychiatrist, where he points out Annie stealing a prescription pad. Annie runs outside the office only to run into Britta, who is being attacked by the monkey she tried to “liberateâ€. The monkey in question? Annie’s Boobs, of course.

In the present, Shirley has realized that Abed was the crazy man at the movie who scared her boys. Annie has realized that Abed was the one who busted her addiction. Troy is just offended that Abed wasn’t looking for him. Abed concludes that he knows what brought them together, the one thing every superhero needs – an enemy. He is the supervillain, which he should have known all along. Britta says no, it’s her fault, because she unleashed the monkey without thinking of the consequences. Jeff tells them that they’ve all made bad decisions, but he’s definitely the biggest villain of them all. We go back to see Misty joining Jeff at the restaurant table, covered in glitter and sexy as hell. She tells him that a married guy gave her his number, and can you believe his wife left him on their anniversary? He encourages her to “grab what you want in this lifeâ€, which she gleefully does. In his pique over losing his license, he is taking no prisoners. So Andre’s affair was Jeff’s fault after all. In the present, Jeff tells Shirley that he did a bad thing but has grown beyond that guy, and she did once make him pee himself a long time ago anyway. Shirley admits that they’re even, but is still pissed. The group breaks up to finish studying at home, leaving Abed alone. Crap, is this the end of the Greendale Study Group? Tearing them apart by discovering what brought them together?

Abed sits in a frozen yogurt shop, looking more depressed than I’ve ever seen him. He is soon joined by Jeff, who seems pretty concerned. Abed says that he should probably apologize to George Lucas, because he too tried to make something cool and ruined everything. Jeff assures him that he didn’t ruin it. Just then, Shirley walks by, and tells Jeff that she knows he’s not that person. They reconcile. Within moments Annie, Britta and Troy have all appeared. Apparently they all wanted yogurt. Coincidence? Or destiny?

Troy tells them that this was the place where he first decided on Greendale. Annie and Britta both say that they decided here too, and suddenly Abed has an idea. We cut to Senor Chang and a very conservative-looking Dean walking through the mall with fliers. Chang is assigned to pass them out at the yogurt place. Shirley, in tears, runs out of the Love Hut after an unsuccessful attempt to return her fancy underwear. The Dean picks up the underwear and whispers that “This better not awaken anything in me.†She sits down at a table in the yogurt place where Chang has just left a flier. Troy, leg in cast, is chatting with friends when Chang walks by and passes him an ad. Just before Annie finds her own flier, she is seen at a table with her rehab buddies telling them she’s ready to get her life back on track. Abed tells his dad he will not apologize to the theatre owner because of “Midichloriansâ€. His dad angrily tells him he’s never going to film school. Britta comes in and asks for a job application, and Vegan FroYo, which does not exist. As “Don’t You Forget About Me†plays (Breakfast Club reference! Pilot! Ahhhh!), Troy balls up his flier and throws it at the “dweeb†across the room, who will one day be his best friend. The look on Troy’s face reveals that he really doesn’t like the person he’s becoming. Chang passes a flier to Britta and tells her that “They’d give a degree to a monkey.†Jeff overhears this and asks if Ian Duncan still teaches there. When he hears that “the drunken Limey†has tenure, he decides it’s time to call in a favour. Pierce (never seen in full) breaks the yogurt machine and fakes a heart attack to try to distract them, which everyone laughs at. Abed uncrumples the flier and says “cool cool coolâ€. History is in the making.

Back in the present, Britta asks if the old guy was Pierce. Annie says they’ll never know because he’ll never remember. Under the bus? Try under a Mack truck. The group agrees that their previous encounter was tremendously surprising, and Jeff wonders if it means they were meant to be together. Even though their paths crossing lead to all kinds of disasters, it brought them to where they are – and he wouldn’t have it any other way. It looks like everyone agrees. After a labored Spiderman comparison, Shirley brings up the villain again. Abed says he’ll be right back.

At Greendale, Abed returns to the study room. Hearing something from the vents, he calls out – and Chang emerges from his former home. Abed explains that Chang is what linked them together and caused everyone to go to Greendale. Chang was their creator, and therefore always one of them, so Abed invites him for frozen yogurt. Chang  says it’s all he ever wanted – but it’s too late. Abed says that, like them, he deserves a chance to reinvent himself. He calls him Chang, to which the former professor responds “How long have you known?†“Only you know who you really are,†says Abed. Does Abed know, or is he just letting it slide? Methinks it’s the latter. He turns to leave – and beckons Chang to come with him. With one last fond look at his vent, Chang agrees. However, he’d like to stop at the post office first – there’s something he’d like to mail to the Dean.

Closing credits: Over the phone, Chang tells City College that he has Changed his mind. He then buys refills for the entire group. A comic panel assures us that all ends well. Or does it? The Dean from City College moves on to Plan B. Something to do with solar-powered spiders...

A little too light on the Chang-City storyline, but I’m sure it will pay off in the finale. All in all, it was a very strong episode, with so many jokes I could barely keep track. I love getting glimpses into a character’s past, and the way they created these intricate connections without losing track really shone. As well, they set up for a truly gripping finale. It’s pretty awful to think that we only have one episode left – but dammit, all reports indicate it’s going to be a good one.


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  • Posts

    • thoughtful


      23 minutes ago, Xan said:

      I think Gary would be easy to brainwash.  If you had the right man talking and he sounded religious, Gary would eat it up.  Brainwashing some people would be like laundering a pair of overalls that are covered in grease, mud, and ink stains.  Washing Gary's brain would be like laundering a napkin that was soiled with a few cracker crumbs.

      He is well and truly brainwashed - Baker is just adding to the mix.

      To continue your metaphor, I don't think Gary's brain even needed washing - just a quick shake to get the crumbs of reality out of there.

    • Bassett Lady


      While Free Jinger does engage in snark, I think most of us have come to deeply care for the children being raised in stifling fundamentalist homes which aim to limit and hobble them. 

      I am thrilled to see Jinger dressing for the weather, comfort, personal preference, and planned activities.  I am happy her children have arrived when she felt ready to have them. It seems her daughters are getting a much better education than she received. 

      Is there more I wish for her? Yes

      However, she has come so far. I am happy to take a moment and celebrate how far she has come. 

      • Upvote 2
      • I Agree 4
    • JDuggs


      Today in their IG stories, Abbie and John were advertising Mix Tiles, like every other Duggar and Bates influencer. Abbie narrated in a very monotone voice. This doesn’t seem very natural for her yet. I’ve included a photo of Charlie from their video since they haven’t shared his photo much. He’s really cute.




      • Thank You 2
    • JDuggs


      @xenobia Thank you for sharing that. I try to avoid watching the YouTube stuff, but I did find this interesting. Jinger kind of made Free Jinger sound like a group that has meetings dedicated solely to freeing Jinger rather than basically a snark site with a mission to educate, but it was still interesting that she acknowledged it. I felt she has seriously reflected on what it means to her to be free. Jinger is somewhat of an engaging personality if she could only get past the sweet season of using the words sweet and season. Although I just assume that Jeremy is a pompous ass in general, he was toned down and somewhat likable here, probably because he was interviewing Jinger and just letting her talk.

      • Upvote 3
    • thoughtful

      Posted (edited)

      I listened to some of last night's service at Family Baptist (why do I do these things?).

      After some songs and a prayer, Baker tells them to be seated, and his wife comes up. He doesn't acknowledge her (that's not so unusual - in their services, vocalists, especially Baker's family members, often just come up and get into position). But they don't make eye contact and they look like this as he goes to sit down:




      She is one of the two piano pounders for the church, and always looks sad and fragile. I could be reading way too much into it, but it seems to me that there is an unpleasant vibe between them.  She always follows dutifully behind him, looking down, as he strides quickly down the aisle, when they recess after church. Screenshots from the end of this service, for example:


      image.png.466d222f92426bbc5678270ba8b0171f.png     image.png.2a6a62ee18ca47fd5ed848bbc334dc2e.png

      Then again, she could just be exhausted from having and raising eleven children, being a pastor's wife and the pianist for the church. And her pale coloring probably adds to the sense that she looks fragile.

      For all I know, she could be a gleefully hateful child-beater, no better than her slimy spouse.

      She chirps Sweet Little Jesus Boy in a strained, childlike voice.

      She walks away and Baker comes back.



      He says, without any enthusiasm, "Look forward t'that every year. Mrs. Hyles used to sing that uh every year and look forward t'that, beautiful."

      After another song and greetings (Gary hovers over Becky), it's time for the Sunday evening blessing-fest.

      A man says he has been working two jobs, and, at one of them, two departments have been "kinda fightin' over me, over who wants t'have me and keep me."

      I put Baker's response in a spoiler, in case anyone wants to guess.


      He pretends to be the two departments heads: "Like, we don't want him! We don't want him either! We don't want him! We don't want him either!"

      If you can't be original, at least be kind, dickwad - you're supposed to be a pastor.

      The man said he's going to the department he wants to be in, with a raise, and, while he'd started the story by saying God had been good to him, he actually credits a person who works there with helping to make that happen.

      Baker makes a joke about the raise. Wanna guess?


      "Wife's more excited than you, like 'Yeah, that's more money to spend, uhhhh save'."

      He calls on Becky - oh, excuse me - Rebecca. She says she'd said this in Sunday School (I guess they also do blessings then - there are never videos of that service), but made a mistake. "It's been eleven years, and not ten years, since I've been able to put up my own Christmas decorations"
      Baker (interrupting): Awesome.
      Becky Rebecca: Which is amazing and, um, three of - our children have said they're comin' for Christmas"
      Baker (interrupting): Wowww!
      Rebecca: "So that's exciting."

      Gee, I wonder which three of (hesitation) "their" children are coming?

      She sounds so excited to be somewhere that she can put up decorations - she really hated being on the road.

      More later, if I can stand it.

      Edited by thoughtful
      • Upvote 1
      • Thank You 2

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