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Worldly Distractions: Community 6.11 - Modern Espionage




I'm so sorry for the delay! Blame the Sims, the end of Mad Men, and my very demanding golden retriever. There's no time to waste, so let's get to it.

Vicki has a one-woman show for some reason, and the entire gang returns, including wait-he's-not-dead-I-can't-keep-track Starburns. After the show, Todd approaches him and asks about the Paintball game. Starburns denies all knowledge. While Vickie sings, a paintball battle breaks out in the parking garage. Chaos reigns. Starburns and Todd emerge from the skirmish victorious, and decide that this year they can win it. However, an unknown assassin takes them both out. We get a James Bond intro that probably mated with Quentin Tarantino at some point, and we are off to the races!

Greendale Security goes over the site while Frankie (of course) interrogates Starburns, who claims the whole thing was started by a ghost. The Dean tries to cut in, but Frankie sends him on his way. Frankie believes that Jeff is behind it, and tells him that paintball is over and he better not try anything. In fact, she wants to expel all paintballers. She asks him, as the "de facto leader of Greendale", to speak against paintballing in an effort to curb it. Jeff refuses. She begs some more, and he finally gives in. Jeff tells the study group about this. Elroy doesn't know what paintball is, so Abed happily explains. After Frankie's declaration against the sport, it has gone underground. Annie concludes that it was lame anyway. Jeff suggests that they stay out of it for Frankie's sake - but then everyone draws their weapons. The paintball episode is ON, guys.

Everyone in the study group points weapons at each other. Jeff locks them all in the study room and take out any outsiders. However, he continues to insist that he's not playing, because of Frankie. The group doesn't quite believe him, and indeed, Frankie hears about Jeff's involvement right away.

She walks in on the group playing the Ears Game. Jeff pretends he doesn't know anything about the paintball. Amazingly, she falls for it. Once she's gone, everyone points their paint guns at Jeff. Abed tells them that they have to take the paintball down at its source. Apparently, it's been run through an anonymous online server. They soon uncover its source - City College. The Dean knows he should chide them for hacking, but he's eager to take down City College too, so he gives his approval. Jeff, growing an unexpected conscience, wants to stay out of the game and 'fess up to Frankie. The rest of the team is not having it. The Dean gives an inspiring speech, which is mostly about him. Jeff sends him away on a trumped-up task.

They infiltrate a glowstick party, emceed by Kugler. Abed demands his help. Kugler, who is as big a skeezebag as ever, passes on a bunch of paintballs as if he's Walter White or something. Abed goes for silver paint, as this was the weaponry used in the parking garage. I like Kugler's glasses. Thank you for creating Arrested Development, Kugler.

Abed finishes by capturing Kugler, and Annie interrogates him. They're looking for the mysterious Silverman, of the free-flying paintballs. Unfortunately, he has no time to come clean before a firefight breaks out in the stairwell (and as Kugler points out, he's "pretendsies-dead" anyway, so he won't be much help). Though Kugler gets painted in the struggle, Abed and Annie still manage to make off with his USB. Despite not having been on a computer since the '80s, Elroy is put in charge of decrypting it, and is even more bafflingly paired with Britta. Together with the Dean, they (well, mostly Elroy) figure out that City College is planning to disrupt a large gala Frankie's planning. With paintballs, natch.

So the gang gets into formal wear, including Jeff in a handsome suit (much to the Dean's delight). Frankie explains her plans for Greendale, which include a monorail. She also wonders why Jeff has an earpiece, but he manages to steer her onto another tangent. Abed, looking very fine if I do say so myself (and dancing with the glorious Alison Brie in full glory mode), keeps in constant touch with the others. Seriously, this episode is worth watching just for the costumes.

They manage to isolate their target, which is made easier by having sent the Dean on a snipe hunt. Unfortunately, Britta all but trips them up on several occasions. The rest of the group tries to counteract her as much as possible. Frankie is still none the wiser.

Elroy goes into the kitchen, where he foolishly unveils his purpose to some suspicious-looking staff. A kitchen shootout begins.

Meanwhile, the Dean is trapped in an elevator for several scenes. Eventually, the other passengers turn on him, and he narrowly misses getting painted. Who knew the Dean had such moves. Jeff gives a speech about how they don't have to worry about paintball anymore, interspersed with the kitchen fight. Britta and Elroy emerge unscathed, but realize they got the wrong guy. The group goes back to the drawing board.

While they're figuring out a plan, Frankie innocently starts a gala tradition called "the popping of the balloons", which is exactly what it sounds like. This is a perfect cover for a paintball massacre. Jeff suddenly notices a new suspect, who seems to be raising a paintball gun - however, it is only a crutch, and Jeff winds up painting an innocent man.

As Frankie stares at Jeff in horror, the Dean comes in with the news that the custodial staff is behind it all. The vice-custodian denies everything. (Abed keeps heckling him.) He reveals that he wants a better job at City College. The Dean pulls his paintball gun. The rest of the custodial staff bursts in with paint a 'blazin. Everyone gets painted, including the camera. Abed and Annie embrace as they shoot all around them. Unfortunately, the entire gang is taken out, which makes me wince for all those nice formal outfits. In the end, only Jeff, the Dean and the vice-custodian are left, with the latter trying to make a break for it. Cue a chase through the hallway.

They think he's gone into a supply closet, but in fact it's the Museum of Custodial Arts. Inside, they find a palace of janitorial paraphernalia. The Dean tries to taunt the vice-custodian out, but is not very good at it. In fact, the vice-custodian gets to him much more quickly. At first they think the v-c is nowhere to be found, but he accidentally walks right in front of them, ruining the facade. After he gives a speech about broken dreams, the three men wind up with their guns drawn, in a stalemate. Convinced by the man's speech, the Dean switches sides. They argue over whether or not Greendale can be saved by a good cleaning job. Jeff urges them to work together with Frankie. And then the woman herself steps out of the shadows.

She tells them to lower their guns, and they won't be fired. They sheepishly comply, so she leaves. The men decide to shoot themselves in the foot, but wind up hitting each other. And that is the end of Paintball.For now...

At the end, as some kind of bizarre apology, the entire group has to dress up like babies for a week to appease Frankie. Tag scene - Garrett puts on a one-man show about Vicky's one-woman show. She comes up and apologizes, and it's clear there's deep-seated drama about someone's death behind it (?). Garrett, of course, brings her in on his act. They receive nothing but boos.

Well, it's not, you know, classic paintball episode material, but it is very well-constructed. After a meandering start (which I will admit lost me a little), it gets into a good pace and features some fun twists. Ultimately, it was a good example of a Community gimmick episode, and an interesting direction to take paintball after all these attempts. Most importantly, each character got their chance to shine. I have no complaints this week - let's move on to the next one.

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