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Worldly Distractions: Community 4.8 - Herstory of Dance


crazyforkate

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CFK has emerged from the pits of Essay Hell to bring you another recap! (PS: Anyone know anything about medieval literature?)

To my nerdy group of college students, Community was a breath of fresh air. Presenting a charming group of weirdos in clever and innovative fashion – not to mention parodying everything we hold dear – the show gave us three fabulous seasons . My roommates and I still talk about the divide between “Good†and “Pierceâ€. So it was very Pierce when the network Britta’d the show’s Season 4 return. We rejoiced when it finally aired...until we saw what NBC had to offer us. After losing Dan Harmon and several key writers, the show is simply not streets ahead like it used to be. But we shall stick with it to the bitter end, just like Abed and Cougar Town. Let’s take a look at tonight’s episode and see if they’re even remotely on their game again.

We open with the study group in the study room – who would have guessed? – and find Pierce wearing an American flag T-shirt. Huh? Closer inspection reveals that it’s for the American remake of Inspector Spacetime, which Pierce loves. Abed is naturally outraged. The Dean interrupts their argument in what I think is his most fabulous costume to date, a black-and-white 50’s housewife number, complete with dyed grey skin. He looks like he’s stepped out of an old-timey television. Donna Reed, eat your heart out...and there’s the Donna Reed pun, right there. Oh, Community, we know each other too well.  It turns out that Greendale is throwing a sock hop. And it’s not just any sock hop – it’s a Sadie Hawkins sock hop, so girls ask boys! Annie and Shirley squeal, the guys look vaguely uncomfortable, and Britta is of course needlessly defiant. She decides to throw her own dance, which pisses off the Dean like nothing before. The opening credits interrupt him before we can get too hairy.

Back in the study room, Britta insists on a Sophie B. Hawkins dance instead – which is a Britta-ing of Susan B. Anthony. Despite the fact that Sophie B. Hawkins is a singer and not really affiliated with feminism, Britta refuses to admit that she’s wrong and proudly proclaims that they’re going to have a dance in her honour anyway. Jeff confronts her in the hall, and challenges her to actually bring Sophie B. Hawkins to the dance. Britta agrees, setting up the episode’s main challenge.

Meanwhile, Annie decides to set Abed up on a blind date for the dance. Shirley suggests one of her church girls. Annie claims she can come up with her own date even faster. Within moments, it has turned into a competition – who can choose the best girl for Abed? My question is, where is that girl who was into the Abed lookalike a couple of seasons back?

Britta is freaking out over the Hawkins situation, and Pierce of all people comforts her (mostly because he wants to get back at Jeff for – well, everything). Chang/Kevin is firmly on the Dean’s side (can we please have a plotline for him? That isn’t stupid?). Troy suggests that he and Abed work together on the dance for some classic Troy-and-Abed awesomeness, but Abed is on a new “seriousness†crusade and is not eager to participate in tomfoolery. Will this last? Maybe half an episode.

Annie introduces Abed to a cute, quirky redhead named Kat, who I’m pretty sure is a parody of half a dozen Zooey Deschanel characters. Abed quickly agrees to go to the dance with her, which Annie takes as a sign that she won the competition. However, never underestimate Shirley’s manipulative guilt-tripping ways. Before long, Abed has agreed to go with Shirley’s church girl. Neither woman knows about the other, which Abed explains is a chance to re-enact the classic trope of “two dates on one nightâ€. The seriousness lasted about two minutes. Thank God! Troy is hurt that Abed would take on this kind of hinjinks but refuse to help him with Britta’s dance, which he has been clearly roped into.

We skip directly to dance night, with Sadie and Sophie B. each occupying a side (and sponsored by Hawthorne Wipes). Abed gives his “Shirley Date†a corsage. Seriously, this girl is adorable, glasses and pink dress and all. Pick her over the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Abed! Come on! Unfortunately, she seems a little on the stodgy side. With the help of an obliging coat check girl, Abed’s implausible situation is on. We’ll see how this unfolds.

ChangKevin is the deejay. Well, this could lead to some laughs, I guess. At least one can never get tired of the word “Changnesiaâ€, right?

Jeff confronts Britta over the Sophie B. Hawkins issue, pointing to a Craigslist ad looking for the singer or a suitable impersonator (Please be the Dean! Please be the Dean!). Troy is disappointed in the lack of opportunity for hijinks, as he half-heartedly puts on a fake moustache to get chips from the supply closet. Oh, Troy, this is what happens when you date Britta the Needlessly Defiant.

Abed is handling his two dates fairly well, giving Kat an artichoke and Shirley-Date (Jessica) the false impression that he's a devoted Christian . Not only is he deceiving the girls, but he also has to handle an unsuspecting Shirley and Annie, who are both very eager to know how his “date†is going. He’s going to end up with the coat check girl, isn’t he?

The Dean shows up to Sadie Hawkins in disappointingly normal clothing, where he promptly hits on Jeff. He and Britta exchange a few barbs about their respective dances.

My guess about the coat check girl seems to be on track, as she is fully aware of what Abed’s doing and is totally in favour. Abed is having trouble keeping up with his dates in the meantime, talking to Jessica about Star Wars and Kat about the Bible. Suddenly the coat check girl shows up in a trenchcoat with an “urgent telegram†that gives Abed an excuse to slip away. The game is afoot.

Britta begs Pierce for help, as she knows that Sophie B. Hawkins isn’t coming. Pierce tells her a story about his friend who everyone called a liar (Bernie Madoff). Britta realizes with horror that she...Britta’d it.

Annie and Shirley get into a conversation where they each carefully say exactly the right thing that won’t give the game away. Which, of course, gives the game away. These ladies have seen too many Abed moments to be fooled again.

They are seriously under-using ChangKevin, by the way – he’s had like three lines, and all of them contain the word “Changnesiaâ€. Weak. Weak, guys.

Meanwhile, Abed and coat check girl are getting cozy. A sweet 50’s tune begins to play. The girl remarks that this is the part where they would kiss in a movie. Abed says that since it’s a sitcom, not a movie, they won’t do it, and promptly runs off to declare his love for one girl (he thinks Jessica is the audience favourite – and I must admit, I like her better than Knock-Off Zooey Deschanel). Coat check girl’s heart is broken. Abed has bigger fish to fry, though, when he is confronted by an irate Annie and Shirley. Abed runs back to the coat check, where coat check girl (Rachel) has been replaced because she “had to goâ€. Is it time for a romantic run for the reconciliation like in every movie with a love story ever?

Abed apologizes to Annie and Shirley, who concede that setting him up was a bad idea. The ironic part is that in all his shenanigans, Abed really did meet a girl he liked and ruined it (“I was so busy chasing one trope that I missed the trope right under my noseâ€). Won over by his honesty, Annie and Shirley beg him to chase her down just like the movies. Bingo!

The Sophie B. attendees are now screaming for their promised singer. The Dean gloats, Britta’s getting desperate, and Jeff is going to come up with a plan, right? Wrong! Sophie shows up, to everyone’s shock and delight (except possibly the Dean). Everyone looks around for the culprit. Abed interrupts her to declare his love for Rachel, just like a movie – and she is not only there, but agrees to go out with him (although she first suggests that he pretend they’re only dating on a bet). Abed has a girlfriend! What’s more, it’s the perfect girl! The feelz, I can’t handle them. And neither can Annie and Shirley, apparently.

And as everyone guessed – Pierce was behind the Sophie B. Hawkins appearance, thanks to a history of supplying towelettes for Lilith Fair. He likes the way Britta persisted, and thinks she was being treated badly throughout the series (when your name comes to mean screwing up, you really should start reconsidering your friendships). Also, he’s mad at Jeff for some reason.

A slow song begins. Britta is happy. Jeff sends her a sweet congratulations text, telling her “You really Britta’d thisâ€. It’s one of his most honest moments on the show. Is Jeff losing his bastard side? For a moment it looks like they’re going to dance, but instead the study group gathers and listens happily to Sophie B. – which is really the much better option.

We close with “a sneak peek at next week’s Community†– which shows the PUPPETS! YES!

This episode made me feel hopeful, though my first look at the synopsis was with trepidation. It is the first time this season that I’ve really felt I was watching Community. There was an interesting  concept, great jokes, some good character moments, and a few moments that might even register as classic when we look back at the shows run. They’re getting the characters right – finally! Between this and the puppet episode next week, I’m wondering if the season can be salvaged after all. Even if the rest of it sucks, this was a pretty great episode. They really did Britta it.

For more discussion of Community, go here.

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