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Worldly Distractions: Community 6.9 - Grifting 101




Chicken Scheme Part II, please? Well, a girl can ask.

We open with old-timey pictures of Greendale accompanied by ragtime music. Our intrepid committee or whatever they are now is in the study room reading the new course catalog, which is full of your usual wacky classes. Annie is strangely excited for grifting class, which seems odd - wouldn't she be the one telling them not to commit crimes? Abed and Elroy are totally on, too. But Jeff is convinced that the class is nothing more than an excuse to grift. He should know, he did it as a career. They all claim he's just jealous and decide to take the class together, though the $150 required briefcase really should tip them off. We get a ragtime-style opening credits. It's fun.

More old-timey pictures take us to Grifting 101. The professor, Roger Del Salvo (Matt Berry), gives a kickass speech, then makes them pass around briefcases for forty minutes. And buy more briefcases, along with other paraphernalia. Annie catches on fairly quickly, and the others are quick to follow. At lunch, the group goes to Jeff begging for his help. After some "I told you so", as well as some calling out of his friends on their lack of respect for him, Jeff ultimately refuses, saying that Roger is one of his own kind.

However, this immediately turns on its head when he finds out that Roger is sharing his office and freely sampling from his liquor stash.  Jeff compliments him on his grifting ability, though Roger continues to deny that his class is a grift. They get into a discussion over whether Jeff's "lawyer scam" that got him sent to Greendale in the first place is a grift. Artistically offended, Jeff is now Team Anti-Roger. We also learn that Roger is more than a little looney-tunes.

Despite being onto their prof, Annie and Abed still feel the need to do the required homework. Jeff announces that he's joined their side. They excitedly plan a grift of their own, though they announce it to the entire cafeteria so I'm not sure how well that will work.

Briefcases in hand, the plan begins, with the usual ragtime opener. They start with a fake telegram about Elroy's dead aunt having her funds seized by "the government of Africa". Needless to say, Roger sees right through it, as well as the second grift underneath. He knows enough to pin this on Jeff. Looks like they are truly dealing with a professional.

Roger meets Jeff in the staffroom, and knowing he is caught, Jeff declares a truce. However, within seconds Jeff is trying another grift. Again, Roger does not fall for it. Frankie comes in and tells everyone to quit drinking in the staffroom. Jeff agrees to stop grifting for realsies, but Roger is not falling for it. He goes to Britta's bar, where he learns that she and Jeff were once lovers and is quite impressed. However, little does he know that Britta is bait for another scheme...

The group (and the audience) have serious trouble untangling their various grift attempts, but the consensus is that Roger took the bait. However, they have no plan from here, and must always stay several steps ahead. They yell at Jeff for not being better prepared. He tries to defend himself, but the group will not hear it. Also, Abed really loves The Sting and wants to have babies with it. Jeff throws a tantrum about his friends' abandonment. They decide to watch The Sting for ideas.

They all hate it, because they can't follow the plot and Sting wasn't in it. Also, their resources are too limited to pull off a grift of that calibre. Abed suggests more grifting films, but everyone else wants to give up. Roger has been watching them in secret, and declares victory. Britta settles for the much more direct revenge of punching him in the face, then chases him down the hall. He falls down some stairs - which Chang immediately takes for another grift.

The school has to settle for Roger's injuries, which pleases no one. Jeff and Roger argue about who's a bigger jerk. Britta is in tears. The Dean expels her. Everyone argues on her behalf, though Abed is most concerned with maintaining continuity. Roger leaves, and everyone else has a group hug. Iris out.

Iris in to Roger, who speaks with Britta in private. It turns out they went in on a grift together, in order to get him to go away. Of course, the injuries are fake, though the expulsion is real. He suggests that she make use of her new grifting talents as a fresh start. Then they make out for some reason. Presumably another grift, but you think Roger would see through it. Who knows, maybe he does.

He sings about being a grifter as he wheels through the hallway, but then he opens the briefcase. While he and Britta were making out, someone switched the cases, replacing it with fake money, which they probably didn't pay for in the first place. Abed and Britta gleefully mock him from the end of the hallway, then run off to the sound of more old-timey music. Roger tries to go after them, but is blocked by Leonrd, dressed as a bellboy and hauling a luggage cart full of briefcases. Several more students march through with briefcases. Roger spies Britta and tries to chase her. I don't know why he stays in the wheelchair - everyone appears to be in on this, anyway. Leonard cheerfully gives him the finger, more music plays, and our heroes triumph. For now.

Finally, he does chase them on foot to the cafeteria. The group plays dumb, revealing that their cases are full of fake money. The cop summoned looks like he'd rather deal with literally anything else. Soon enough, people ask why a horribly injured man is on his feet fifteen minutes after getting a big settlement for it. The cop concludes that all they did was learn from the class. Roger argues that they're not actually grifting, because of some weird grifting principle. Jeff chimes in that the injuries were obviously fake. However, if Roger admits he was grifted, they are prepared to let it go. The group's grifting class money is refunded and everyone prepares to go for hot dogs. Chang admits that he was never in on it, though. Iris out.

Tag scene - Jeff chats with the telegram guy, and it turns out telegram guy has a secret life we don't know about, mostly revolving around some kind of debt he owes to Jeff  - complete with cheesy '80s music.

Okay, so I never want to hear the word "grift" again, but I did enjoy this episode. It did get a bit lost in untangling the plot, unlike some of Community's slicker episodes, but there's probably a point in this I missed somewhere. It moved at a great pace and featured some funny stuff, especially from Roger, who was the best one-episode character in a while. It hearkened back to the old days of the show, even if it wasn't quite as pitch-perfect. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I have a telegram.

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