Dear TV Writers: Your Fear of the Moonlighting Curse is Killing Your Show

What is the Moonlighting Curse, and why is it such a big deal to television writers? Read this in-depth look at the crippling phenomenon and find out!

Getting Rid of the Stigma: Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction, by Megan Mann

In this piece, Megan brilliantly discusses the stigma of mental illness in literature and how some young adult novels are helping to change the landscape for this discussion.

In Appreciation of the Everyday Heroine

A mask does not a hero make. In this piece, I discuss why it's wrong to dismiss characters without costumes or masks as superheroes.

Friday, May 25, 2012

1x23 "Modern Warfare" (The Paintball That Started it All)


"Modern Warfare"
Original Airdate: May 6, 2010

A lot of characters on this show are fundamentally similar, but externally different. And I think that there are interesting pairings in the group that highlight these similarities while contrasting differences. Annie is just as selfish as Jeff is, for example, but tends to mask it behind her innocence and ambition, rather than Jeff, who is lazy and unmotivated. Britta and Jeff, too, are both fundamentally similar – they both have rooted insecurities about not being good enough people. Britta Perry’s character arc in the first season is interesting – she’s not sure that she’s compassionate enough, so she fears she has to put on a show in order to convince herself that she is. Meanwhile, Jeff believes that he isn’t a good person, and doesn’t give himself enough credit for what he is capable of being. This carries all the way into season three, especially in “Basic Lupine Urology” and episodes where Jeff’s fears are developed. Both characters are so alike in the way that they view the world, too. Remember that Britta began the series in control of the study group. She was their leader and – even after Jeff gained control – was extremely protective of the study group. Britta is a jaded character. She’s been in the world, seen it, and it’s changed her. The same thing happened to Jeff Winger. He was a hotshot lawyer who got disbarred. He saw the world, but it delivered him back to Greendale (a place where Duncan assures him that all of his tactics would not work; a place where he needed to be in order to grow and learn more about himself. Greendale is exactly what Britta and Jeff needed to remind them of who they are and that their mistakes and insecurities don’t define them as people.

So this episode is kind of the go-to episode for those who are introducing newcomers to the show because of how flawless it is as an homage to action movies. But just in case you've forgotten what the actual plot of the episode was, here goes: it's apparently Spring Fling time at Greendale, which means some sort of picnic/carnival on the quad. The episode opens with Jeff and Britta arguing as they walk down the hallway. Britta and Jeff do have a good banter-friendship-relationship. And this is when I like them best – the two are so similar in who they are as people (what they find funny, how they can needle and insult the other, how they view the world and why they do, etc.) that when they are placed together, it’s like watching two beta fish go after one another.

When the pair enter the study room (still fighting), the entire group groans. Jeff and Britta appear confused as to why the group is frustrated and Abed explains that the lack of chemistry and sexual tension between the pair is preventing the rest of the group from being friends. Everyone agrees... except for Jeff and Britta. They don't have any sexual tension, they argue. They just like to fight. Pierce suggests that Jeff just "pork [Britta] and move on," and I think it's interesting that Abed nearly balks at this suggestion. It makes me wonder exactly why he would be so opposed to the idea, because these kinds of things occur within television shows and romantic comedies all the time. It’s clearly evident in the later seasons that Abed has a taste for control and power. And, as we saw in “Contemporary American Poultry” just two weeks earlier, Abed is used to control and he doesn’t especially like when he can’t anticipate or predict outcomes. And I think that this is what frightens him and also what disinterests him with Jeff and Britta in “Anthropology 101” – the fact that romance in television is complicated and unpredictable. If it were up to Abed, they would stick to action movies and homages because those make sense and have structure and wrap up neatly. Relationships do not. Incidentally, Jeff and Britta don’t believe there is anything romantic going on between them, just tension and arguing. Jeff likens Pierce’s idea of just doing it with Britta and moving on as bad of an idea as putting hydrogen in blimps. 

Dean Pelton enters the room to announce that during the Spring Fling there will be a quick game of paintball assassins. The winner of the game will receive a prize that is to be determined -- nevertheless, he encourages everyone to participate.

Frustrated with the way that the conversation is going, Jeff decides to go take a nap in his car.  It’s also interesting to me that Jeff decides to let the group figure out whatever they want to figure out between him and Britta while he goes and takes a nap. So in a way, perhaps Jeff hasn’t evolved as much as he could. The point is that instead of discussing things, Jeff likes to run away. He doesn’t want confrontation with anyone or anything because it disrupts the status quo. Even later on in the episode, he decides he will use his priority registration in order to benefit himself only -- he doesn't want anything to disturb the way that things should be.

One hour later, Jeff is still asleep in his car but wakes with a jolt to noises. As he looks around, he realizes that something  has definitely happened while he's been asleep -- namely that it appears the campus has dissolved into a full-scale paintball war zone. As he looks around at the now-deserted but demolished quad, he wonders exactly what happened. Entering the school, he is informed by Garrett that the dean announced the prize at the Spring Fling event and the entire school turned on one another in order to obtain it. Before he gets a chance to tell Jeff what the prize is, Leonard shoots him. Jeff insists that he's not playing the game, but Leonard continues to target Jeff so he flees. And as he runs down the hall, he encounters Abed who shoots Leonard. Abed then insists that Jeff follow him so that he can explain what has happened. I think that it kind of speaks to the evolution of Jeff’s character that he doesn’t really question going with Abed. He’s beginning – even at the end of this season – to not question the insanity of Greendale as much and to just accept it, where he used to try and fight it (“Football, Feminism, and You” as an example). By the third season, he will willingly volunteer with Annie to defend the destruction of their biology project (a yam) in a “trial” held with their science class. And it’s clear that the school is not getting any less crazy. Maybe it’s Jeff that’s changing, then.

Abed returns to an abandoned classroom where Troy is, and the pair explain to Jeff that the prize is priority registration -- Jeff is confused at first, and then once realization dawns on him, he reaches for his gun (Troy and Abed are quicker and draw theirs first). Jeff’s immediate instinct is never to win something for someone else (or to do something for someone else unless it immediately impacts and/or benefits him). And truly, that’s our human nature. If I were to tell you that I was going to give you $100, the first thing you would think of is what you would be able to do with that money.  Jeff runs solely on his first instinct because it’s easiest and seemingly best (it benefits HIM). Britta does unselfish things with selfish motives, however. She wants Shirley to have the prize, perhaps because a large part of her really DOES want Shirley to have the prize… but also because Britta herself is afraid that she isn’t compassionate enough. Selfishly selfless, just like another person we all know.

Jeff then asks if the girls are still in the game (they are), and the boys decide to merge alliances with them until they're sure that they're the last seven people standing. It’s nice to notice that even though Jeff wants to win the prize for himself (in order to benefit only himself), he DOES agree to run with the study group until they get to that point. It shows some loyalty on his part to his friends, and significant growth. The Jeff Winger in the pilot episode tried to destroy the group to get a shot at Britta. This Jeff is bound to them for reasons that I don’t even think he can understand. The guys meet up with Pierce who was in an alliance with Starburns (until he realized he could be with his group... and then he shoots Starburns). Abed, Troy, and Jeff then decide it's time for a bathroom break. Unbeknownst to them, Shirley, Annie, and Britta are hiding out in the men's room, ready to take anyone down who comes in. (Sidenote: the shot of Britta's boots coming down from under the stall may be one of my favorites in the episode.)

As Abed looks at the paint-splattered wall in front of him, he notices that they've walked right into a trap and is about to warn the others when the women burst out from their hiding places, guns drawn. And, okay, maybe I lied above because this is probably my favorite shot from the episode. The boys try to convince the girls to merge alliances, but Britta insists that they're doing fine on their own. This leads Jeff to mock her and incites more banter between them, which the group is frustrated with to the point that they all draw their weapons and aim them at the pair.

The two groups do form an alliance as they make their way to the quad. Troy and Shirley bring up the rear, and the young athlete suggests that they may already be the only seven people left in the game. He decides that they should take the rest of the group out, and then promptly gets shot from somewhere across the quad. The group ducks and takes cover as they listen to the glee club's rendition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," which Annie quips is uninspired... leading her to stand up and get shot as well. And in spite of Jeff attempting to be a good guy when necessary and merge alliances, his distaste for Pierce does get the best of him when he tricks the elderly man into the realm of fire so that the rest of the group can identify where the snipers are shooting from. He, Britta, Abed, and Shirley manage to take out the rest of the glee club.

In the cafeteria, the four study group members are sitting around discussing what they would do if they won the prize. And as much as Jeff is beginning to kind of like and accept his ragtag group of misfits, that doesn’t mean that he is willing to give up anything for them. In season three, Jeff would have never wanted to spend a minute apart from his group, let alone graduate an entire year before they did. In the first season though, Jeff hasn’t really come to terms with how much he needs this group of people and how much they mean to him. They’re still going to have to go through a lot before they can get to that point. So he insists that he'd use his priority registration to ensure that he gets out of Greendale in three years, rather than four. Britta notes that she'd take any class without tests or papers. Shirley says that she'd use it to schedule her classes in the mornings so that she could spend more time with her kids. This causes Britta to declare that if any of them win, they should give the prize to Shirley as a Mother's Day present.

Jeff is not a fan of this idea. Here's something I really do appreciate about the pairing though -- Jeff and Britta are really good at calling each other out on their flaws, mainly because they do so with such ferocity and inhibition that they’re not afraid to hurt one another’s feelings. Annie and Jeff have honest conversations with one another, but they (rarely) needle each other in order to get there. Jeff knows Britta’s buttons – he used to be a lawyer and can read people fairly well. He knows that she is a phony. But here’s the thing about Jeff and Britta that Jeff and Annie seem to have more of – understanding. Jeff doesn’t understand WHY Britta acts the way she does in this episode until she flat-out tells him. Britta, in turn, knows how to push right back and she’s not afraid to do so either. Jeff begins “You’d be a lot more likeable if…” and she completes the sentence with “… I never did anything for anyone ever.” I think that speaks a lot to how she views Jeff’s perception of her. He wishes that she would be more likeable, and that entails becoming more like HIM.

Abed and Shirley, meanwhile, are exchanging glances while Jeff and Britta argue and draw their weapons. I really hope that there is an alternate timeline somewhere in which Abed and Shirley shoot Jeff and Britta to shut them up and then end up winning the prize for themselves. Just as the two draw their guns, the study group is interrupted by the disco guy from earlier in the episode who Jeff taunted... this time, however, he's brought along friends. The group takes each of them down, but Shirley and Abed are hit in the process, leaving only Jeff and Britta (the former of who is shot as well and distraught, until he realizes that it's blood, not paint on his clothes).

As Shirley leaves, Jeff tells her that he's going to win the prize, but not for her and her boys (to which she replies: "That's less nice"). And oh what a difference two years can make, Jeff. You’ll give up everything you wanted post-graduation in order to help out Shirley in "Introduction to Finality." That little Jeff/Shirley parallel touched me last night when I re-watched because it is an example of how much Jeff has grown.

In Dean Pelton's office, the school administrator paces around with Chang watching. The game has gone on for far too long, he insists and it needs to be ended because there are classes in the morning. Chang then asks for the dean to put him in the game -- apparently the Spanish teacher plays paintball three times a week and brings in his own equipment. Again, one of my favorite things about Chang is that he is a villain when he is in power. And he is never more powerful than when he is in this episode. He does, after all, have his own theme music. So Dean Pelton agrees and enrolls Chang as a student so that he can legally participate in the game.

Meanwhile, in the study room, Britta is tending to Jeff's injury. I love that the first thing out of Britta’s mouth is about the group. It kind of goes back to what Jeff had said earlier about the group sorting things out and deciding whatever they wanted to in regards to him and Britta. Neither of them seem eager to figure out if there's anything between them, so they're content to not address it. And then, this conversation occurs:

Britta: You're right, you know. I am a phony. I try to act compassionate because I'm afraid I'm not.
Jeff: Oh, please. I invented phony. You care about people. I accuse you of faking to convince myself I'm not such a jerk.
Britta: Jeff, you help people more than I do and you don't even want to. You're not a jerk. You're fine. 

This is perhaps the most real and honest conversation Jeff and Britta ever have had on the show and I really love it. It’s here that we get to the root of who Britta is as a character and why she does the things that she does (as well as Jeff). And we really get some nice insight into the Jeff/Britta relationship. On the very rare occasions when they can both put aside their egos and snark, they are capable of having decent conversations about important things. But I don’t know if that’s the kind of relationship they want, ever. They’ve never worked, past this episode, to establish one that resembles this. It’s something to think about. Still, in this moment the idea that Britta is scared of failing the group and of letting them down is one of significant importance because it was HER study group to begin with. She envies Jeff, I think, for his ability to lead people when he doesn't even want to. And yet, she tries so hard to be what people need that she feels like she's being fake (even though her heart is in the right place most of the time). This is such an interesting characterization of Britta in season one, because by season three she's seemed to have accepted her role within the study group and herself as a person. And Jeff? Well Jeff manages to realize that he has the potential to be a jerk and that these people -- his study group -- will be there for him even when he IS. But that doesn't mean that he has to treat others poorly or think about himself all the time.

Jeff and Britta then mock the group's accusation of tension between them and pretend to kiss, but make disgusted noises. They do end up kissing, however, and it's evident that they sleep together afterwards. Britta gets dressed quickly and draws her weapon, aiming it at Jeff. He in turn asks if them sleeping together meant nothing to her and here's something to note: in a few episodes, Britta’s evasive answer-a-question-with-a-question method (she never does tell him if it means anything to her, she just asks "What did it mean to you?") will come back in "Pascal's Triangle Revisited" (where when Jeff asks: "You love me?" she replies with "Do you love me?"). Jeff then purposefully irritates and angers Britta by saying: “You sure that’s a gun? Maybe it’s a metaphor for your fake, jaded persona." She pulls the trigger... and nothing happens. Jeff smirks, self-satisfied because he removed the clip from her gun (perhaps anticipating that this would happen) before they slept together.

Their bantering is interrupted by Chang, who enters the room with a powerful paintball gun. Jeff and Britta take cover behind the couches and the Spanish teacher informs them that they're the only three people left in the game. Britta then insists that Jeff give her his weapon so that she can take Chang out. He refuses, of course, but I love that Britta knows exactly how to distract Jeff in order to get his clip (by kissing him). She grins and says: “Be pretty crazy if I shot you right now, huh?” Instead of shooting Jeff though, she takes out Chang. Once the man is "dead," he begins laughing maniacally and reveals two important tidbits of information: 1) there is no such thing as priority registration and 2) there's a paintball grenade set to explode at any moment. Jeff runs out of the room with Chang's gun in hand just as the paintball grenade explodes behind him.

Jeff then confronts Dean Pelton and demands his prize. At the end of the conversation (or really, the argument in which Jeff covered the dean's office in paint), it seems clear that Jeff will get his priority registration. The next day, Jeff and Britta encounter one another in the hallway as the school is being cleaned and agree that the night before never happened. It wasn't a mistake, Britta insists, it just never happened. They enter into the study room just as Abed announces that something did feel different about the room. Jeff announces that he has emerged victorious from the paintball game and surprises everyone when he hands the  registration forms to Shirley. The fact is that Jeff CAN be a decent human being when he chooses to be. He usually just chooses NOT to be. And he needs reminders from each and every group member of how he can be better – from Annie in “Basic Genealogy” to Abed in “Critical Film Studies,” and even the dean in “Documentary Filmmaking Redux.” And Britta points out his flaws in this episode, and they cause him to not even consciously examine why he acts the way that he does. In fact, his change is so unnoticeable by him, that he seems surprised when he hands the paper to Shirley. But he’s changed for the better whether consciously or subconsciously – that much is true. And there’s no turning back now.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode:
- The opening scene has a hallways called "Goldman Hall." I wonder if it's named after @GoldmanNeil
- "Well, if I'm the police, then you're director of Funland Security."
- “He makes me uncomfortable.” “…still in the room.”
- The gag of holding open the door so that the disco roller skater can run into it is still one of my favorite things ever on the show.
- “Easy, sugarbear.”
- “I mean, I’m all for winning, but let’s not resort to cheap ploys.” (The note in the script for this episode -- which I have thanks to @GoldmanNeil! -- says "Arms that make women watch the show." Hey, we won't deny it.)
- "SHUT. UP!"
- "Troy made God mad!"
- "Write some original songs!"
- “Buenos dias, children.”
- The end tag is one of my favorites of the entire series.

Thanks for all of you who had a chance to join last night's Twitter re-watch with me! The summer is just kicking off and we have a lot of episodes still to go through! Next week we are watching "English as a Second Language" at 8PM EST and using the hashtag #Disneyface. Until then, folks! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Six Seasons and a Movie Art Show


"Six Seasons and a Movie Art Show"

Some of you  may be surprised -- this isn't my usual venture (we don't, after all, have any new episodes to review and we won't be covering "Modern Warfare" until Friday), but I was kindly contacted by Mark Batalla of PixelDrip Gallery, asking if I would like to cover the Community-themed "Six Seasons and a Movie" art show. 

(Of course, I said that I would love to!)

Last week, PixelDrip Gallery posted a press release on their website which hosts all of the details of this fabulous venture. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this is all about, the "Six Seasons and a Movie" art show consists of about 130 artists from all around the world who have dedicated art, in some way, shape, or form, to the television show Community. What's unique about this particular art venture is that it doesn't just host typical art pieces (canvas work, framed pieces, etc.), but extends its artistic reach to dioramas, toys, dolls, and even videos. PixelDrip Gallery prides itself on incorporating traditional art and new-age digital artwork together to showcase to the community. And truly, we live in an era where talented artists are no longer confined to "traditional" mediums such as paint and canvas, but where creativity bleeds into our computer monitors, video cameras, and keyboards. As someone who is friends with both traditional and non-traditional artists, I am amazed at how different and yet fundamentally similar these people are.

And what is wonderful to note, in particular, about the Six Seasons and a Movie art show is that its artistic participants are not merely limited to fans of the show, but to those who have worked on it as well. Rob Schrab and Megan Ganz (among others) will also have their work featured at the show. So not only will fans of the show have the chance to view and discuss the artwork that fellow Human Beings have created, but they will also get the chance to view the work of those who have had an active role in creating the show. I think that one of the most brilliant things about Community as a television show is the relationship that the creators, producers, actors, and writers have with their audience. There is honestly no other show on television where all parties are so tightly  bonded together. Therefore, it is touching to see those who have worked on the show appreciate their fans and for the fans to, in turn, utilize their gifts and talents to give back to the show.

In addition to the plethora of artwork that will be at the show, attendees also have the opportunity to participate in raffles, a costume contest, and a trivia contest throughout the weekend that the show will run. Speaking of that weekend, here are all of the official details for the show:

Where: Monk Space, which is located at 4414 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90004.
When: June 23-24, 2012. The exhibit will be open from 11am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Cost: Admission is FREE to the public. There are plenty of markets and restaurants nearby where you can purchase food. Additionally, a food truck will be present outside of Monk Space during the hours of the exhibit.

If you live in California and are tempted to check out the art show, or even if you just want to fly to Los Angeles for the weekend (if you have that kind of money), I highly recommend that you do so. This event promises to be a wonderful collaboration of artists, and also a fun experience for Community fans to gather together and celebrate a show that they care about and one that cares about them so much.

Check out a sneak peek of one of the artists from the show -- Yasmin Liang -- and be sure to keep your eyes out for more information posted soon! And a special thanks to Mark Batalla for providing me with all of this information!

#sixseasonsandamovie


Sunday, May 20, 2012

3x22 "Introduction to Finality" (Coming Full Circle)


"Introduction to Finality"
Original Airdate: May 17, 2012

Webster’s dictionary defines “full circle” as through a series of developments that lead back to the original source, position, or situation or to a complete reversal of the original position. When I think about Jeffrey Tobias Winger in the pilot episode of “Community,” I think about a character who was incomplete – he was lacking conviction, motivation, and empathy. He wasn’t entirely unlikeable. He was charming and cute and snarky, but there wasn’t a lot to cause us to cheer for him or to want him succeed. In the pilot episode, he is confronted with the notion that he won’t be able to cheat his way out of life or out of Greendale. When Duncan confronts him about this, the conversation is as follows (many thanks to @jujujulieta for pointing this out to me by reblogging it on Tumblr):

Professor Duncan: I’m asking you if you know the difference between right and wrong. 
Jeff Winger: I discovered at a very early age that if I talked long enough I could make anything right or wrong. So either I’m God, or truth is relative. And either case: booyah.

That doesn’t really sound like the type of person who is ready to learn lessons or have people teach him things. And it’s true – throughout the seasons, Jeff begins to slowly learn that talking enough won’t always fix all of his problems. It won’t make Britta sleep with him, it won’t always cause the group to stop fighting, etc. Because, as difficult as it was for him to admit at the beginning, Greendale made him a better person. The study group made him a better person. And maybe it’s not even necessarily that these things MADE him better, as much as it is that they MADE him consciously identify aspects of himself that needed to be changed in order to become a better version of himself. Hurting Abed’s feelings or making Annie cry or treating Troy like he wasn’t important helped Jeff realize that his actions have consequences. He can’t always be right and he can’t always make things right. We’ll talk about how his actions come full circle from the pilot to “Introduction to Finality,” but just keep these thoughts in the back of your mind for now, because we open the episode with something interesting.

Just in case you were crying so hard at the end of the episode and couldn't remember exactly what the plot was about, here's a recap: As we know from the end of "The First Chang Dynasty," Troy sacrificed himself to the Air Conditioning Repair School Annex so that he could save Greendale and his friends. When we open this episode, it is nearing the end of the summer and Jeff is attempting to study with the group so that he can pass his Biology exam. Britta can't concentrate because she misses Troy, and Annie reveals that Abed hasn't even left the apartment since Troy moved out. The dean sidles up to their table and informs the group that Subway will no longer be in Greendale's cafeteria, which means that Shirley's sandwich shop will be in business. Well, if Shirley and Pierce can agree on whose name should be on the contract -- it was Shirley's idea for a shop, but Pierce's money and the two leave the lunch table at odds. There’s obviously the prevalent building of a Shirley and Pierce rivalry over the ownership of their sandwich shop, which comes to a head in this episode. In spite of the fact that the group has proven that they love one another, and in spite of the fact that Jeff has come to accept that he would do anything for these people, insecurities and anxieties and old habits creep in quite easily.

Which brings us to Jeff, who says something interesting in the cold open. He refuses to get involved with the Piece/Shirley fiasco. He needs to study for (and pass) his Biology exam, because “he is [there] to replace [his] fake Bachelor’s and get back to [his] life as a lawyer.” Nobody else, he claims, is sacrificing their interests, so why should Jeff sacrifice his? You would think that the answer would be clear to him – that after three years spent developing relationships, he’d be so used to fixing and helping that it would be second-nature to him. Regrettable second-nature. But let’s not forget that Jeff is an inherently selfish person. And it’s not necessarily always a bad thing. The motivation for not stepping in is because he wants to pass his exam, thereby ensuring that he gets his Bachelor’s degree. It’s not wrong for Jeff to want to pass a class. What’s wrong (or misguided) is that his desires are entirely selfish throughout the process – who cares about Shirley’s problems or Troy? He has to worry about HIMSELF. And at the end of the cold open, we see that everyone else leaves the table and that Jeff is the only one remaining. Perhaps that’s significant of what might happen in lieu of his selfishness. @elspunko made a good point in her notes – Troy willingly sacrifices himself in the episode before this. He forgoes all of his dreams and hopes – being best friends with Abed, dating Britta, spending time with his friends, and pursuing a degree – in order to do something that would benefit his friends. Jaime notes that someone like Troy is more apt to reach emotional benchmarks like selflessness more easily than Jeff, and that’s why it’s just easier for Troy to want to protect people above himself. Jeff isn’t ready to do that – he’s not ready to give up what he came to Greendale for, even for the people he loves. At least, he doesn’t think that he is. (Of course, the only study group member who actually storms off because of Jeff’s selfishness is Annie.)

After Pierce, Annie, and Shirley storm away from the table, Britta informs Jeff that she is about to head to a therapy session with Abed. He's been extra vulnerable since Troy moved out, and she decides that this will provide an opportunity for her to engage him in therapy. So now we come to our Abed portion of the evening. Abed isn’t crazy. And I know that he audibly asserts this to Evil Abed during the episode, but I’ve come to the realization that Abed – much like every other study group member – is not insane. He’s misguided. I was hard on him during “Contemporary Impressionists” and “Digital Exploration and Interior Design” for the way that he likes to manipulate and control people (especially Troy). While it’s not excusable, it is more understandable in light of grasping Abed’s personality. When Abed cannot understand something, he tries to latch onto some form of control, however elusive. He couldn’t understand (and didn’t like) the new dynamic of Jeff/Britta in “Anthropology 101.” What did he do? He made it so that he was in control of their faux wedding. And I think that it’s evident how much Abed cares about Troy and vice versa. The ending of the previous episode demonstrates the emotional levels at which Abed is capable. But, much like Jeff, Abed’s fallback when things get difficult or rough is to act like a robot and to control. It’s easier when you can’t understand the “why” of a situation to try and manipulate the “what.”

The reason that he agrees to let Britta have a therapy session is because he is afraid that he is broken or crazy already and needs someone to fix him. But what I’ve noted before in these reviews in regards to Pierce and Jeff rings true with Abed as well – these characters’ fears of becoming the person they least want to be ironically CAUSE them to become that person. Abed’s fear of being crazy, of being chained to that metaphorical locker by himself cause him, inevitably, to attempt to prevent that and thus drive him to ACT crazy. 

Evil Abed attempts to convince Abed that when things get dark, the smart go bad. Abed seems to contemplate this and ends up following the Evil Abed into the Dreamatorium. On campus, Jeff has isolated himself in the library to study about mitosis (also, let’s take in the irony of the show – the study group is supposed to be just that: a STUDY group, and yet every time the seven of them attempt to learn something, they fail. At the beginning of the episode, Jeff is trying to learn what mitosis is, and at the end of it, he STILL doesn’t know what it is) when Shirley approaches, intent on asking for his help with Pierce. The elderly man overhears, however, and insists - as the dean approaches - that if Shirley tries to sign her name on the sandwich shop agreement, he'll sue her. Shirley then turns to Jeff for help, who initially declines (hilariously hiding himself behind his propped-open Biology book). I think that it does, however, speak to Jeff’s character that he decided to agree to help Shirley out with her case. He didn’t have to, and in fact it would have been easy for him to brush her aside completely. But the people in Jeff’s life have begun to impact him and his relationship with Shirley, especially, has taught him to be a more compassionate person. 

So Shirley and Pierce meet one another in summer court that day with Dean Pelton presiding as judge. Jeff represents Shirley, and then Pierce enters with his lawyer -- Alan. And then, quite suddenly, Jeff is faced with his past again in the courtroom in the form of Alan. Since “Accounting for Lawyers,” we really haven’t encountered his past and it’s a very important part of him. This was his goal, from the beginning – to replace his Bachelor’s in four years and return to his life as a lawyer. And initially, Jeff would do anything to achieve that goal and bring it to fruition. He had no problem with lying or cheating his way through. He cared about no one’s well-being apart from his own. But post-“Accounting for Lawyers,” Jeff came to the realization that he was no longer the same person who got disbarred. He had changed, subtly – Greendale had changed him, had caused him to want to become a better person. He didn’t need to hold onto his old ways anymore, and taking an objective step back and looking at Alan with the realization that HE is the man who got him disbarred in the first place… it humbled Jeff, I think. It also hurt him to know that he COULD have easily become just like Alan: guiltless and smarmy. But he’s not.

Meanwhile, in the Air Conditioning Repair Annex, Troy learns from Vice Dean Laybourne that he is basically the messiah of the annex. Shortly after learning this information, the Vice Dean dies in a freak air conditioning-related accident. The newly appointed Vice Dean of the school -- let's just call him Manny again, shall we? -- releases Troy from his duties and back to his friends. Troy seems bewildered by this abrupt dismissal and walks out of the room. The differences between Troy and Jeff’s characters are even more evident too in the finale. As we saw in “The First Chang Dynasty,” the athlete was willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of his friends, even though it hurt him. The new Vice Dean (we’ll still call him Manny) releases Troy from his commitment to the Air Conditioning Repair School Annex. And someone like Jeff would take that escape willingly. He would eagerly return to his friends. But Troy is different and has a deeper sense of commitment to things than Jeff often does. Even things that others assume are trivial or silly, Troy counts them as important if they are made with a promise. That’s something of significance, I think. And Troy values honor as well, and is willing to go to great lengths to fight for this honor.

Back in summer court, Alan is examining Annie, attempting to get her to badmouth Shirley's character. There’s a moment that’s quick and insignificant right after Alan examines Annie on the stand – it’s a moment where Shirley, distraught over how she will likely lose her case, shakes her head and whimpers. And Jeff, without pressing, squeezes her arm reassuringly. This is interesting to me (and also sweet) because at the beginning of the episode, Jeff treated the study group like a nuisance. And really, that’s kind of his fallback: he treats the group like a problem. We saw this evidenced clearly in “Early 21st Century Romanticism.” At the end of that episode, he realized that he needed the group – that they weren’t an issue, but his friends. And this little moment between him and Shirley demonstrates how much he’s willing to do for his friends now, and how much he wants to protect them from people – and interestingly from the person he used to be. Because remember, this was exactly what Britta did in the pilot episode: her role as self-appointed leader of the group was to protect everyone else from Jeff, who was only out for himself and who had no problems dividing them. Now, as the leader of the group, Jeff’s goal is to protect everyone from the type of person he used to be. Full circle.

At La Casa de Trobed, Britta arrives to meet with Abed for their therapy session. Instead of him, however, she encounters Evil Abed. There’s an interesting confrontation in the Dreamatorium with Evil Abed and Britta, and it makes me curious as to why, exactly, Britta did decide to choose psychology as her profession. If “Evil Abed” is to be believed, then it’s because she wants to diagnose the world around her in order to make herself feel more special. And, to be honest, I had never really considered this possibility before – the notion that Britta is average and her insecurity with being average is what drives her to “therapize” other people. Because if she can make someone normal or have issues, it makes HER less average and something more spectacular. That’s something to ponder. Evil Abed leaves the Dreamatorium and insists that - since this is the darkest timeline - he is going to find their timeline's "lame hero" Jeff Winger and cut off his arm (so that they really will enter into the darkest timeline).

Jaime (@elspunko) made a good point in regards to Jeff’s character in the courtroom. When Jeff examines Pierce, he purposefully asks the courtroom if anyone knows any jokes (knowing full well that Pierce will say something offensive and therefore ruin his credibility) Jaime examines this by asserting that “yes, he considers sabotaging his defense, but A) he had Shirley’s permission, and B) he did that for reasons that actually make sense. It wasn’t just a blind ambition to be the guy he used to be; he had reasons that were legitimate, and recognized that what was at stake was a serious threat. That says a lot about where Jeff is now as opposed to the beginning of season two. Back then, he wouldn’t have thought twice about throwing the study group under the bus; that’s simply not the case now.” 

When Alan confronts Jeff and insists that he throw the case in order to return to his former life, there’s this definite sense of coming full circle from the person Jeff was three years ago. Back then, his only goal was to get out of Greendale and return to normal. And he wanted to do so as unscathed as possible (his conversations with Duncan reflect that). But now, Jeff is presented once again with a choice – he can throw the case that his friend is fighting for and go back to the life he wanted after Greendale or… he can choose not to do that. But make sure you realize that Jeff DOES have a choice, and what he chooses during this episode defines him more than any other choice he has made thus far. Shirley’s response does too, in fact. She must overhear the conversation between Alan and Jeff (or otherwise Jeff tells her), because she tells him to drop her case -- she doesn't want Jeff running into trouble when he returns to his old firm. And, she says, "I want you to have what you want." And this is perhaps the most poignant moment that we will encounter in this episode. Shirley (and the rest of the study group, really) love Jeff and they want him to be happy. They know that he plans to go back to being a lawyer when he graduates, and they want to see him succeed. Shirley sacrifices taking credit for her sandwich shop so that Jeff can have what he wants in life. And @elspunko said it so well in her notes that I can’t help but heartily agree and just quote her:  “That’s his realization that, yes, I CAN put these people before myself and before what I want, because no matter where I am in ten years, these will be the people that love and support me and if I have them in my life, everything will be okay. I can be a good person because they’ve allowed me to be a bad person, and they’re still here.”And really, this is the moment that everything kind of hits Jeff – why they saved Greendale, why he is friends with these people, what they REALLY mean to him because of what they are willing to do. And it’s this realization that hits Evil Abed and “turns” him back into normal Abed again: the notion that friendship and self-sacrifice (what Troy did for Abed and every other group member and what Shirley was willing to do for Jeff and what Jeff did for the group) make even the darkest of situations light. Because there is hope and goodness and love.

(As a sidenote: when Joel McHale was featured on the Hulu “A Day in the Life” special, they were filming this courtroom scene where he delivers his big monologue. And it was adorable because Yvette and Jim both helped him memorize it.)

In the Air Conditioning Repair School Annex, Troy has decided that something isn't right. He returns to the school (even though he was released) and confronts the new Vice Dean who, he learns, is about to be crowned. Troy challenges him in the sun room -- both men will be locked in a box with an air conditioning unit that they must repair. As John aptly clarified in his comment "each AC unit is venting into the other half of the chamber. Yes, the passage of time and the fact that Manny was exerting himself contributed to his collapse, but neither would have mattered if Troy's AC wasn't blasting hot air into the sealed chamber." And thus, our dear friend Manny begins to sweat and falter.

Back in the courtroom, Jeff Winger delivers his closing statement -- perhaps it is the most Winger of all of his speeches to date. Jaime was a peach and transcribed it all for me:

Your Honor, I have no closing statement because I’m throwing the case. No, no. It’s okay. It’s fine, don’t worry.* My client, Shirley Bennett, my friend of three years, told me that it was okay. She said that what I want is more important. She’s right, right? I mean, guys like me, we’ll tell you there’s no right or wrong, there’s no real truths. And as long as we all believe that, guys like me can never lose. Because the truth is, I’m lying when I say there is no truth. The truth is, the pathetically, stupidly, inconveniently obvious truth is, helping only ourselves is bad, and helping each other is good. Now, I just wanted to get out of here, pass biology, and be a lawyer again instead of helping Shirley. That was bad. And my former colleague wanted so badly to keep his rich client that he just asked me to roll over in exchange for my old job. So I guess we all walked in here pretty bad, but now Shirley’s gone good. Shirley’s helping me. It’s that easy. You just stop thinking about what’s good for you and start thinking about what’s good for someone else, and you can change the whole game with one move. Now, if you like this idea, you can make it true by doing something good for everyone here. Throw this case out of court. It’s dumb. That is all.
* Annie gasps and Jeff addresses her. 

(But notice the few lines that I italicized – do they sound familiar? Scroll back up to the beginning of the entry and recognize the parallelism between the pilot episode version of Jeff Winger and the one who has come full circle.)

Pierce, upon hearing these words, drops his case and chastises Alan for not making an inspirational speech like Jeff's. Shirley and Pierce both agree that Jeff's name should be on the agreement -- he will act as their attorney. Meanwhile, the new Vice Dean is losing terribly to Troy, who just stands there. Angered, the man blurts out that he killed Vice Dean Laybourne. With this knowledge (and upon seeing Laybourne's ghost), Troy decides that he could never be the type of person to enact vengeance on someone else -- he ends up saving the new Vice Dean so that he can be thrown into jail.

After the summer court trial, Britta approaches Abed (who is no longer evil). I think it’s significant that Britta is willing to change her major again because of how much Abed’s words affected her – and you can tell that she’s dismayed because she thought she had finally found something that she was good at. But the sheer irony of Britta Perry continues to display itself in this episode – she set out to try and help Abed and seemingly failed. And yet, in failing, she managed to help Abed more than she realized.

And then, the end montage of the episode seemingly wraps up some loose ends for these characters – Shirley and Pierce debut their sandwich shop, Jeff passes his Biology exam, Chang spies on City College’s dean (who still seems intent on running Greendale into the ground), we learn that Starburns faked his own death, Jeff chooses to start searching for his father (an arc that shows a lot of maturity on his part), Troy moves back into the apartment and into the old Dreamatorium, Abed takes a cardboard version of the Dreamatorium into the blanket fort, and finally the hashtag #sixseasonsandamovie displays reminding all of us that while some stories are ending, a lot more are just beginning.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode:
- “So, cellular mitosis is what?” “I miss Troy.” “Wrong. And stop guessing that.”
- Annie's outfit in the episode is very cute.
- “Hard to break the word ‘yes’ into lilting syllables.”
- “Pierce just did you the biggest favor of your life. He hired the guy I just spent the last two years fantasizing about stabbing in the –”
- “You’re the center slice of a square cheese pizza.”
- “Who cares? Everything is terrible.” “Oh, no. Have you been watching ‘Dance Moms’ again?”
- “By the way, I never got a chance to tell you this, but it was me who turned you in to the State Bar.” “I know. And I never got a chance to thank you.”
- There aren’t many Jeff/Annie glances in this episode but here’s one!

Well, that is it, folks! I have officially reviewed all 22 episodes of season 3 of Community. It is amazing to me how much this blog-review has taken on life -- when I started, I didn't know if anyone would read them. And then, with enormous credit to Dan Harmon, they started taking off after 3.02, and I couldn't  be more proud. So thank you -- THANK YOU -- to all of you who have read and participated in these! And I know that there is a lot more I could say, especially regarding recent news with Dan no longer being showrunner. But, believe me, the refrain that I would be singing would be those two words: 'thank you.' 

Don't forget: the end of the season doesn't mark the end for us! Thursday night re-watches kick off again this week -- May 24th -- where we left off during our last hiatus. That means you should bust out your paintball guns and wifebeaters because it'll be time for "Modern Warfare"! See you all on Twitter and then here for the review on Friday morning! :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

3x21 "The First Chang Dynasty" (To Integrity. And Honesty. And Ocean's Eleven.)


"The First Chang Dynasty"
Original Airdate: May 17, 2012


How far are you willing to go to fight for something you love, no matter how absurd it may seem? While it’s easy to remember how awesome Ocean’s Eleven was, it’s also important to remember exactly WHY Danny Ocean was motivated to perform such an elaborate heist to begin with on the particular casino he did – it was because of Tess. He was trying to prove something to her and to fight for her, as evidenced in this clip from the movie.

While the operation wouldn’t have been entirely futile for the other ten individuals, had Danny not won Tess back, it would have impacted HIM. Everyone needs something or someone to fight for in their life, and the Greendale Seven are no exception. They’ve gone through a lot together and they’ve come a long way from where they were in “Basic Rocket Science” – where they made a mockery of their school flag just for fun. Even though they still probably all find Greendale to be an absurd place at times, it’s not only that it’s THEIR absurd place that impacts them – it’s the notion that when you love something, you need to play your part in fighting to save it. Much like Ocean’s Eleven, every study group member plays a key role in taking Greendale back from the hands of Chang. Furthermore, every character decides to agree to the plan because they all have everything to lose – together. And essentially, this is one of the themes of the final few episodes: the idea that the group is best when they are together, because they learn from each other and grow and become better people. 

As the study group discusses Chang's plot with their cop friend, it becomes clear that he doesn't believe that the dean was kidnapped and replaced by a fake one. This leaves the study group members to debate what to do next -- they will, of course, have to return to Greendale and save the dean. Their cop friend warns them that if he catches them setting a foot in Greendale, they'll all be thrown in jail. Nevertheless, the group plans to break back into the school.

And ironically, you would expect Jeff Winger, of all the study group members, to protest such an absurd plan to break back in and take back their school. But, like I mentioned during the last episode review, Jeff has begun to realize this season exactly how much he needs Greendale and how much it has changed them (which will come to a head in “Introduction to Finality”).

So let's discuss our villain in question for this episode. Chang is one of the more interesting villains that we’ve had on the show. He is the only villain who has been both an intra-group villain AND an external one. I’ve said it before – Chang is best when he is in power because it’s this power, this desire, that causes him to become twisted and corrupt, but still oddly human. In his villainy, it’s easy to forget that this Chang is the same person that Shirley named her baby after. And like @elspunko pointed out to me in her notes, often times the group’s struggles against Chang are really mirroring struggles within themselves. Their struggle last year was whether or not they truly cared about one another. This year, their struggle is with accepting their love for Greendale. In accepting this love – in professing their commitment to this school, they have to fight against Chang, the final barrier that separates them from truly accepting Greendale, once and for all. 

Troy meets with Manny (right? Well, whatever. We'll call him Manny) from the Air Conditioning Repair School Annex, who informs the athlete that since they have eyes and ears all over campus, the annex is aware of where Dean Pelton is being held. And Troy knows exactly what he has to do. In fact, Troy’s story arc begins in this episode and continues in “Introduction to Finality.” And I think it speaks a lot to his character and how much he’s grown as a leader and as a person by being willing to do whatever it takes to save the group. A lot of times, we forget that Troy isn’t just a character whose only purpose is to serve as comedic relief – he’s a genuine leader. He was the quarterback of a football team and had to make decisions and call shots. But once he arrived at Greendale, Jeff Winger took that role for him. And up until the end of last season, we didn’t really see a power struggle between the two. Jeff has come to view Troy more as an equal than as a sidekick, which is endearing and also intriguing because of how the audience is traditionally expected to view Jeff as the undisputed leader of the study group. But, as I have mentioned before, Jeff’s character isn’t merely that simple, nor should our perception of him be such. He can have the tendency to be selfish and jaded, but he willingly lets Troy follow through with his plan later on in the episode and (at the beginning) refuses to let the young man sacrifice himself on their behalf until they have exhausted all of their other options.

Britta, too, is insistent at this point that nothing is worth losing Troy from the study group – not the dean or Greendale, or anything. And truthfully, I feel that this is the way the rest of the study group regards each of their members. But Troy is different. Because Troy is a different type of leader – he is entirely self-sacrificial, even to the point of losing the group of people who matter most to him. This humility and sacrifice is what sets him apart from everyone else in the group.

But instead of letting Troy sacrifice himself, the group decides to plan an elaborate heist -- they will break into Greendale during Chang's birthday party and rescue Dean Pelton. They are going to take back their school. And I love that even themed episodes of “Community” aren’t entirely just themed episode. Because while this is, in large part, a heist episode, it is also just an episode about the group fighting for what they love and taking back what they hold dear to them – it’s about not appreciating what you have until it’s gone and then wanting to do everything in your power to ensure it is never lost again.

So the group plans their heist a la Ocean's Eleven with everyone playing a distinct role in distracting and/pr rescuing. The plan appears to be working flawlessly, until... Pierce enters the room dressed up and blows both his and Jeff's covers. Of course, since this IS the movie-themed heist, the failing is actually a part of the plan. Well, that is, until the group manages to actually get caught by Chang and his army. They're thrown into the basement where Chang informs the group that he plans to perform a keytar solo soon which, when he hits the last note, will culminate in the detonation of explosives in the records room, thereby eliminating any and all traces of his misdoings. 

All hope seems lost for the group, until Troy makes a decision -- he nods to the camera in the room which cuts the power to a giant moving fan, allowing the group to escape through it. I think it’s interesting to note that Britta is the only person who seems to recognize the sacrifice that Troy makes. And Troy, admittedly, knows what it’s going to cost him to sacrifice what he loves. @elspunko also mentioned this in her notes to me: “I think Troy knew all along that he’d have to join the AC repair school, so he participated in the plan knowing he wouldn’t get to reap its benefits. That was a risk for the rest of the group, too, who could have been arrested, but it doesn’t even matter if they can benefit from Greendale. Knowing that it exists is enough.” Even though Troy knew what it was going to cost, he knew what it would mean to his friends and for the greater good of the school. So he was willing to sacrifice for that.

Upon breaking out of the basement, the group heads to work -- Troy and Abed set out to deactivate the explosives while the rest of the group fends off Chang's army. Abed manages to cut the wire to the explosives in time. A furious Chang, of course, notices and confronts the group in the records room. He is finally discovered by two of the board members, and flees the scene along with not!Moby. The board members then debate aloud how they will cover up the mess they clearly made. And that's when Dean Pelton steps forward -- "I'd do it. For Greendale." And I think that this is the theme of the last two episodes of the third season – the group and the dean and Troy were willing to risk everything: their futures, their friends, their lives, for a school. And it’s not just it’s because a school or because it was a place that they loved. It’s because it was a part of them and when a part of you is taken away, you’ll do anything to get it back.

And just like that, the Greendale Seven are reinstated into Greendale Community College. Dean Pelton, clearly touched, muses: "I don't know how I'll ever repay you" to which Jeff responds: "You already have." This is something else that will be pertinent in the following episode because it comes from Jeff and because of what it means. The dean has a lot to thank the Greendale Seven for, but they have even MORE to thank him for – for providing a place where they belong, where they have grown, and where they love.

Sadly, though, Troy made an exchange with the Air Conditioning Repair Annex -- they would help him, so long as he would join them. One of the saddest things is Troy saying farewell to his group of friends, especially Abed who (as I have made the case for numerous times) is not a robot and begins to cry when Troy says goodbye to him. Even Jeff, despite the fact that he generally doesn’t do well with emotions, appears to be affected by Troy’s departure and by the fact that the Air Conditioning Repair School is physically taking him away. And perhaps he’s a bit miffed that Troy actually stuck to his “word” (a nod to a camera), much like Britta is. 

But that’s what makes Troy who he is – he’s the type of guy who values honesty and integrity, no matter how insignificant anyone else views it, his word is important to him. It costs everything, but it means something.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode:
“I’m working on a cop opera.” “… COPERA!” “Policical!”
“You had time to build a tiny working water fountain and I’m a pine cone?”
“Um, I just want to reiterate: this should be the ONLY time you seduce a child over the Internet.”
Let’s just say that I will keep re-watching this episode because of Joel and leather pants. As you were, readers.
“Jeffrey!... oh, hey Britta.”
“Chang, you’re insane! You’re still into keytar?”
“You stole my life!” “It is hard out there for a fake Moby!”

This is it folks: the last review of the season is coming up soon! If I don't get a chance to post it tonight, look for the "Introduction to Finality" recap tomorrow morning. :)

3x20 "Digital Estate Planning" (To Friendship, Greendale, and Family)


"Digital Estate Planning"
Original Airdate: May 17, 2012

I've said it before throughout these blog-reviews that I genuinely do not have a least favorite character on Community. I'm not a huge fan of Pierce, however, but if there is one thing that watching this show has taught me, it's to never underestimate how valuable and fragile a character can be. Pierce Hawthorne is the type of person who audience members generally brush off as the crazy, racist old character. And, generally, that's how the rest of the group treats him as well. At the beginning of the year, even, Jeff's "Biology 101" fantasy made it clear that he believes life would have been better without Pierce in the study group. And - going even further back than that - throughout the entire second season, he served as an intra-group villain. We, as audience members, at that point in time may have even been a bit relieved to see him go... until he redeemed himself at the end of "For a Few More." And that's the thing about Community, really: there is always a chance for redemption. Not every character decides to take the road, but it's ALWAYS offered to them. Jeff and the rest of the study group learned first-hand exactly how much they need each other - how much they need every member of the group in order to feel complete. And Pierce, for all his rants and comments, actually needs the group too. But he doesn't feel worthy of them, and that makes him both vulnerable and pity-able. But one important thing to note is that in spite of the fact that Pierce mistreated the group and in spite of the fact that they don't always want him around, they are willing to fight for him. Because they love him. And that's what love is, really: you can love a person that you don't always like ("I love you, Binky. But I don't have to like you right now." Name that movie and you win a cookie.). You can get annoyed with their quirks and habits, but at the end of the day, you'd still do anything for them. You'd still spend two hours playing a video game because you know how important it is to them, so it's important to YOU. 

So, in the off chance that you completely zoned out for 90 minutes last night and were just happy to have a triple Thursday of Community and forgot what the plot of "Digital Estate Planning" was about, you're in luck because I am here to assist you. So we opened the first of the final three episodes of season 3 with Pierce taking the rest of the study group to a warehouse because he was told that he needed to be there to collect his inheritance. He was told to bring seven of his closest friends, and I think it's endearing and says a lot about how much Pierce actually cares about the group that he took all of them along. He hasn't always been on great terms with them all (Jeff and Britta are arguably the two he has been on the worst terms with in the past). Nevertheless, we meet Gilbert -- assistant to the late Cornelius Hawthorne, who informs the group that Pierce's father had a dying wish: that Pierce and all of his friends would play a video game. Whoever won the game, we discover later, would win the Hawthorne inheritance.

And I think it's intriguing that the group didn't protest to all playing a video game. Perhaps all of them, like Jeff, were merely intrigued to see how Pierce's father developed a video game. Or maybe it's just the sheer fact that since they have been expelled from Greendale, they have nothing better to occupy their time. Nevertheless, since it was something that they weren't required to do and did voluntarily (for Pierce, no less), I am impressed.

The majority of the episode is an 8-bit video game, and it was amazing. The study group begins to play around in the game, jumping and running with little likenesses of themselves. The entire concept seems like a lot of fun (minus Jeff accidentally murdering Annie and then getting murdered himself by evil zombie-like hippies within the first few moments of the game), until the 8-bit version of Cornelius Hawthorne throws a wrench in the fun. And Pierce, in a fundamental moment, sticks up for Britta. This intrigues me because he's so used to calling Abed "Ay-bed" and he usually refers to Britta as "Brittles," so it's endearing and sweet that he defends the blond member of the study group especially because - arguably, like I noted before - those two are one of the least close pairings among the study group. So it speaks volumes that he is willing to stick up for someone who isn't his favorite person, but who is a friend (re: "Introduction to Statistics" with Jeff and Pierce). 

The other, of course, fundamental moment occurs a few moments later when Pierce discovers that he must win the video game in order to claim his inheritance, or risk losing it. Automatically, his thoughts likely return to the last time he played a game with the group and how terribly that turned out for him (not to mention how much they wanted to beat him - and did). So he wants to strike first before they have a chance to strike him. And that's the thing about Pierce, and something he noted in "For a Few More." Pierce is the type of person who pushes people away because he's afraid they won't like him to begin with, so he gives them reasons not to. He purposefully tries to sabotage relationships, and the ones that stick are the ones he can count on as friends. That's what happened with the study group during their second year at Greendale -- he managed to push the group away and they pushed him back. And, in that moment, Pierce believed they weren't really devoted to being his friends. It's this weird sort of insecurity that paralyzes him, but it's intriguing to see how the study group last year handled him, and how they did so this year. This year they realized that they could pretty much handle anything together -- as long as they were, in fact, together. Completely. Even with their craziest, racist old friend. Pierce is still learning that he is wanted and needed and accepted just the way he is.

When the group assures Pierce that they won't be fighting against him to try and steal his Hawthorne inheritance, Gilbert notes that the group is playing the game wrong -- they're supposed to do battle, not join forces. "But Pierce is technically our friend," Jeff insists. "And we're not going to watch you screw him over." I think the most poignant thing about this remark is who it comes from -- Jeff. Jeff, the person who would have done anything to get rid of Pierce, but who has come to accept him as family. And maybe it's just because this year Jeff realizes exactly what Greendale means to him and what this group means to him. And maybe it's because he finally understands the feeling of belonging. And he wants Pierce to know that feeling too.

Since Gilbert is fighting against the group to gain the inheritance, he kills them all and sends them back to the beginning of the game. They all agree to band together and win the game for Pierce. But the elderly man has reached a point of desperation -- after his relationship with his dad, it's not just the inheritance that he fears losing, I think. He fears losing the rest of his identity and the very last shreds of the person he used to be. (Now, ironically, Jeff will feel the shreds of who he used to be slip away in a few episodes, but in a much better way.) Britta is the group member who comforts him, and I think - again - it's significant that these two support each other throughout the game. Britta is the person who is attempting to be a therapist, the person w ho usually Britta's it with crazy schemes and half-baked ideas. But when it comes to genuine emotions, Britta is the heart of the group and knows and relates to people better than she gives herself credit for. They're fighting for friendship, she assures the elderly man, which means they can't lost.

So the group sets out on their venture to get the white crystal from the black cave and take it to Hawkthorne castle, where Pierce can claim his inheritance and win the game. The group encounters a village and Abed talks to a computer character in order to get information. It's, of course, worth mentioning that Abed connects to the computer villager - Hilda - more than anyone else. And it's worth mentioning because of that fact -- he connects to people, even if they're not real. And I know that this moment may have been utilized to demonstrate that Abed has robotic qualities, but I think it's just an indicator that Abed is capable of caring about things that most people (like the rest of the study group) brush aside.

The group splits up -- Pierce with Troy, Annie with Shirley, and Jeff with Britta -- to locate weapons or anything else in the village that might help them on their journey. Annie and Shirley accidentally murder two people in the game and then set fire to the blacksmith shop where they committed the crime. Whoops. Pierce and Troy lose their clothes in a game of poker. Double whoops. And Jeff and Britta manage to locate some sort of apothecary where she brews a potion and Britta's it... sort of. I think that it's (as I've said before in these reviews) both ironic and endearing that whenever Britta attempts to succeed at something, she never quire does so in the way that she anticipated. She set out to prove that one of the study group members was crazy, but ended up proving that it was better not knowing or labeling. She tries so hard to be a good therapist that she says and does the wrong things and then, in doing so, somehow manages to become an even better therapist than she set out to be in the first place. She's backwards and messed up, but she's someone the group needs too. And she's someone who helps them out by Britta-ing the potion, because Gilbert kills Britta and takes it, only to find that it causes him to die.

After Britta returns from the beginning of the game, she discovers that Abed is bidding the group farewell. He's going to stay with Hilda, he informs them, to help her rebuild her life and town. And when the group reminds Abed that Hilda is just a program, he counters with: "People have said similar things about me." See, here's the thing -- we judge Abed for relating to things through movie and television. We cast him out sometimes as the weird one of the study group and berate him for the way that he acts toward others. Is his passion misguided? Often times, this is the case. But here is a moment where Abed's heart has never been more evident. He cares about people, even if they aren't real, because he knows what it feels like to NOT be cared about that way. It's sad, but it makes Abed even more human and compassionate to feel that way about something that isn't even living. And perhaps it's because this makes sense to him -- of course he would want to help someone and be there for them when he can totally and completely understand them. Maybe it's just more difficult for him to relate to people who don't share his similar view of life.

Gilbert returns from the beginning of the game just as the group retrieves the white crystal. The study group all die and -- in the real world -- Jeff leaps out of his chair and yells: "You're cheating! Which I have no problem with, except you're getting caught. And that's not cool!" (Oh, Jeff. How in some ways you have not changed.) Pierce joins Jeff in berating Gilbert for the way he's acting because he's not even family. But, in a plot twist, it turns out that Gilbert is family -- Pierce's half-brother, to be exact. This revelation hits the group and Pierce and they return to their chairs to continue the video game. 

The next move that Jeff makes is to mobilize his forces and give a speech. He says that even though Gilbert has the crystal and is close to beating the game, they have all died and been reborn. And that's what makes them heroes. Of course, the hilarious (and ironic) part is that Jeff's words are often just that -- words to inspire and to not really DO anything. And in the end, these speeches don't actually end up helping most of the people he is around. (Which, I know, is a deep way to interpret him giving a speech and then the group dying at the hands of the zombie-like hippies a few seconds later but... well, you've read these reviews, haven't you? Analysis is kind of my shtick.)

When Gilbert makes it to the castle, he encounters the video game version of Cornelius who informs him that if he wants to win the inheritance, he must sign a legal agreement that will force Gilbert to never disclose that he was a Hawthorne. The group, mobilized thanks to Abed (who built an entire city and baby!Abed army with Hilda), attacks the video game version of Cornelius and nearly manages to win the game together. However, the study group forfeits and I think it's significant that Pierce, out of all of the members, is so open about letting someone else claim his inheritance. This is the person who wrapped his entire life up in what he used to be (much like a certain ex-lawyer). He introduced himself in the pilot this way, and I think that it's likely because he just felt more comfortable in knowing WHO he was, even if he didn't like it. Even though Pierce despised his father, he was still a someone and that was better for him than being a no one. But the fact that he has come so far from that point and learned to accept himself as he is -- well, that is just evidence of how much Pierce has developed as a character.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode:
- "I didn't bring my likeness!"
- "Jeff, you just murdered Annie." "Well, better than doing nothing!"
- I love the fact that Troy spends the first few minutes of the game just jumping around, which then causes Jeff to start hitting him.
- "Is he being ominous? Why are you being ominous?"
- "... I guess there's no hug button."
- "Yeah, I used to love dying, but that speech really turned me around."
- Some of Hilda's knowledge includes topics like "hover puppy" and "giant ant dance club."
- The Annie/Shirley scene in the village had me gasping for air because I was laughing so hard.
- "Stop playing like a girl."
- "Don't WE look comfy at a cauldron?"
- "I thought we could count on Britta to not screw up drinking!"
- "Unbelievable. Jeff bet all our lives on Britta... and won."
- "Annie. Let's find the Tin Man's heart later."
- "Troy and Abed shooting lava!"
- Whenever "Greendale is Where I Belong" plays, I kind of lose it.

All right, folks. Last night was triple the Community, which means triple the reviews! Thankfully, @elspunko helped me take some notes because I only had time to do one re-watch before bed. Be on the lookout for the reviews of "The First Chang Dynasty" and "Introduction to Finality" later on tonight (hopefully before 11 PM, EST!). :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

New NBC Fall 2012 Schedule (Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes)

This afternoon, NBC announced their new fall line-up for 2012. Here is an excerpt from a New York Times blog:

The other scheduling move that may raise some eyebrows is the attempt to open Fridays to comedy. NBC is shuffling two marginally rated sit-coms, “Community” and “Whitney,” to the ratings wasteland of Fridays, counting on the fact that fans of those shows, especially “Community,” largely watch them on delayed basis anyway.

In the fall, Community will no longer be on Thursday nights in the comedy block -- it will, instead, move to 8:30 on Friday nights, following Whitney. So what does this mean? At this point in time, I am torn between believing this is a good decision and a poor one. There are really two thoughts running through my mind right now, so I'll break them down here:

  • The move from Thursday nights to Fridays is a good one for a few reasons. The largest, and perhaps most important is that Community will no longer be competing with The Big Bang Theory and American Idol for ratings. Consistently on Thursdays, we have been squashed beneath these two shows in terms of viewership. It would always be impossible for us to receive decent ratings when the 8PM Thursday night television slot is dominated by Jim Parsons and Ryan Seacrest. So, a move to Fridays would ensure that Community does not have to fight to retain its small, but devoted audience. The second thing about the move that is beneficial is that we have a lead in. In spite of my displeasure for Whitney as a comedy -- and for her, as a person -- the comedy has done better ratings-wise than we have. In spite of the fact that Community is more of a critically-acclaimed show (or at least beloved by television reviewers where Whitney is not), its numbers have never been strong. If the show has a lead-in, there is a potential to increase viewers and ratings from those who will merely keep the television on after Whitney.

  • There is, of course, a downside to this move. Personally, I think it's universally known that Friday nights are where shows are sent to die off or fizzle out. Now, this isn't entirely the case -- take, for example, the announcement today that CBS is renewing CSI:NY (a show that was moved to Friday nights) and cancelling CSI:Miami. Shows DO have the potential to thrive in a Friday night time-slot. The concern that I have is that NBC is aware that the viewership of Community falls mainly in the more... youthful side of the spectrum. Grimm is a show that I know has been somewhat "successful" on Friday nights, but the demographic for the show seems to be wider than that of Community. Whether or not that is statistically true, I do not know. What I DO know is that I am a 23-year old college graduate who can be a homebody. But I also enjoy having Friday nights to spend with my college-age and 20-something friends. And a majority of the people who watch this show are probably the same way -- a move to Fridays where ratings weren't a concern because of lack of competition would be moot if, in part, current viewers were lost. I consistently make time on Thursday nights to watch Community because it is Thursdays -- what else am I going to do? I have work the next morning. But Friday nights? Friday nights viewers have a vast majority of options -- clubs, friends, movies, dinners, dates, etc. without the major concern of scheduling their lives around television. And perhaps this is NBC's way of determining whether or not the fans of Community DO watch more on Hulu, nbc.com, etc. than they do live. The second concern associated with this move is the recruitment of new viewers, which seems unlikely to occur. I have friends who watch The Big Bang Theory on Thursday nights and are very devoted to it. However, if I were to try and introduce them to Community, it would be futile since it is on Fridays and they enjoy going out with friends, spending time with their fiances, etc.

So I am torn between this decision being good for the show, or ultimately just a gentle way for NBC to put it to sleep. Given the news of a potential departure (or at least a step back from the show) of Dan Harmon as the showrunner, it seems evident that Community is going through some changes. Whether or not these turn out to better or hinder the show is yet to be seen, but you can bet that I will do my absolute best to continue to stick around consistently on Friday nights. 

And now let's discuss what this means for you all -- for readers of the blog-review. As you are well-aware, I usually post the reviews on Friday mornings (at work, oops). The benefit of the show's move is that I won't have to stay up late in order to write them and post them in the morning. So hooray for a silver lining. ;) Instead, what will likely happen is that I'll watch the episode on Friday nights, do my thorough re-watch and then post the review sometime on Saturday mornings. At least it'll be a nice kick-start to your weekend (I hope!)

As always, whatever happens with this show aside, I cannot thank all of you enough for being such wonderful fans. But it's more than that -- I have to thank a lot of you for being wonderful friends. Community, much like its plot, has brought together an unlikely group of people and chang(ed) them from being passive viewers to active fans, friends, and Human Beings. Whether this season is our last, whether Dan Harmon returns or not, just know that I am thankful for each and every one of you and will be forever altered by your presence in my life. :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

3x19 "Curriculum Unavailable" (We're All Crazy Town Banana Pants)


"Curriculum Unavailable"
Original Airdate: May 10, 2012

What makes someone crazy? I mean, genuinely, what can drive someone to become crazy? There was a segment on my local radio morning show last week about this -- about how women, if they have a relationship with a man and are suddenly blatantly ignored or slighted by them, often turn into crazy people. People, in fact, that they never knew actually existed. It was almost as if there was an entire other side of them buried deep down, just lying in wait. But we don't think of ourselves as crazy. Not really. We don't enjoy labeling people with that word. We say that we are "passionately excited" or "enthusiastic" or just "eager" (all of which are synonyms for "crazy," by the way). But we have all been crazy at some point in time. And craziness isn't necessarily a bad thing. When, however, you're someone like Abed - who has been labeled as crazy his entire life - you begin to wonder if people will ever look at you differently. And that's not to say that Abed believes he is actually crazy -- he doesn't. And we, as the audience members, are really forced to question our own sanity as the episode wears on, as well as the sanity of the study group. I hold fast to the belief that Abed may, indeed, be the most sane out of the seven group members. This isn't because he is the most logical or most experienced. It's because he knows who he is. He knows that he's not like everyone else and he's accepted that. He also, in spite of his sometimes-controlling personality, knows what he wants to do and how to get it. So if sanity is defined by how mentally self-aware you are, then no one is more sane than Abed. And even though he is aware of these facets of his character and how the world should work, what causes Abed to become confused and incite cracks in his character (and subsequent sanity) are when things cannot be controlled. We've seen clear evidence of this throughout this season, especially. Abed knows who HE is, but he doesn't quite understand - whether by choice or  by circumstance - everyone ELSE. And this is, by and large, the world's definition of sanity -- the ability to both understand yourself AND everyone around you and react accordingly. So by this definition, Abed would be insane and the six other group members would be deemed mentally stable. But I'm digressing. Let's move on with our review!

In case your brain was muddled with thoughts of Community being renewed for a shortened fourth season and couldn't focus on the plot for last night's episode, never fear because I am here to help. As we saw at the end of "Course Listing Unavailable," the Greendale Seven were kicked out of their beloved community college. Chang, the audience discovered, was behind this as he kidnapped the dean and sent not!Moby in to replace him. When we pick up in "Curriculum Unavailable," we learn that it has been two months since the study group has been expelled and everyone is handling the new change rather poorly, but no one more so than Abed. Our favorite lesson-teaching cop from "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" shows up at the apartment with the film student (dressed as Inspector Spacetime) in tow, noting that he was rifling through the dumpsters outside of the Administration building. The cop notes that he'll be pressing charges unless Abed agrees to go to a psychiatrist, which the dean will fully pay for. And this is how the entire study group winds up in Dr. Heidi's office, discussing their collective sanity with him.

Abed insists that he doesn't need therapy. And, ironically, many viewers might find this upsetting. They may look at Abed the way that we are so tempted to -- as someone who is insane and in desperate need of help. But doesn't Abed insisting that he needs no help confirm the notion that he is just as human as the rest of the group (and us)? Someone who is prideful and stubborn is not a robot, but a human being with feelings and emotions. And perhaps that's why people were frustrated with "Contemporary Impressionists" -- they are so used to thinking of Abed as the outcast, the exception to the rule. But he isn't. There is something, though, to be said about the way the rest of the study group treats him. Troy is the only character who verges on coddling the film student and that's because when you are as close to someone as Troy is to Abed, it is difficult to step away and see their flaws for what they really are. It's easy to call out areas of concern in friends who we think are emotionally stable. But what happens when you have a friend you presume to be crazy? How do you treat them?

For the study group, this season - more than any other - has been about the desperate need to stay together. From the moment Jeff confessed his love for them all in "Early 21st Century Romanticism," I think he realized his need and want to do more than just co-exist with these people. He needed to protect them, somehow (even if it was just from himself). And - as I've theorized before - the two people he goes to extensive lengths to do this with are Annie and Abed. The rest of the group cannot bear the thought of anyone hurting Abed, either... even if the outside people are - theoretically - right. The group views Abed as fragile and I think that is one of the dangers of the group, as a whole. They treat Abed like he will break. What they don't realize is that Abed's "abnormalities" are fundamentally similar to their own -- his need for control, acceptance, and the ability to understand the "why" behind events is a human condition.

And the need to justify and to excuse is one of the group's favorite pastimes, remember. Take, for example, their inability to own up to their mistakes in "Competitive Ecology." The group would much rather blame their problems collectively on someone else than own up to the fact that they each bring baggage into the group that can cause rifts. It is easier to blame than to admit, is it not? And while the group's intentions are relatively harmless, that doesn't mean that the results will be.

So the group continues to discuss, with Dr. Heidi, moments in their year where Abed had been a bit crazy, pre-expulsion. What's ironic is that Annie highlights a few stories in which Abed's behavior isn't necessarily "crazy," but is abnormal... to her (and the study group). Jeff taking an axe to the study room table, Annie freaking out over losing pens, Shirley trying to throw Chang in jail, Pierce developing into a villain, etc. could all be considered abnormal behavior, as well, to those outside of the group (and even, perhaps, to those within). If Abed's behavior, then, is crazy, the entire study group is crazy (a point we will get to momentarily in the episode).

Britta makes some great points throughout her scenes as she attempts to rationalize the behavior of her study group. And the question she poses aloud is: who gets to define sick? And there's inherent irony in the fact that, well, someday SHE will get to define sick. For as much as she Britta's things sometimes, Britta has a heart and genuinely wants people to be the best that they can be. And perhaps the issue that she will run into, should she become a therapist, is that she would never want to TELL anyone that they are sick. Because the bottom line is that when you are told you are sick, you begin to act like you are sick (whether you are or not is irrelevant by this point). The ironic thing - again - is that in last year's clip show episode, it was Britta who was defending Abed's mental breakdown, calling it "adorable." This time around, the group collectively leaps to Abed's defense when Dr. Heidi begins to question the film major's sanity.

Once again, however, all of the events that the group discuss in therapy solidify the theory that they are quick to pinpoint Abed as the craziest one out of the study group when... well, Jeff can't let Annie borrow his jacket and Troy thinks "all-terrain" vehicles are okay to drive through the library. So what makes those actions "saner" than Abed's? Wouldn't they actually be classified as insane because - with the group's reasoning - Abed doesn't know any better? Yet, Britta excuses the group's behavior, in general, by explaining that their actions are not insanity but solidarity. And perhaps that's why the group feels so at home, having antics together. Perhaps because the rest of the world would label them as crazy. And instead of acknowledging their behavior as abnormal, like the outside world would, they hide behind Greendale's walls where their antics are never questioned. Because if you are never questioned, you never have to question yourself and you never have to change. You can be exactly where you are, no questions asked.

Now, in spite of the fact that Dr. Heidi isn't actually real... he does make a valid point. In order to help one another out, in order to get better, you need a support system. But what the group does, a lot of the times, is attempt to maintain the status quo without actually changing. They love each other so much that they can't bear - after all they've gone through - to let something else tear them apart. So what they do instead of breaching the gaps of difference and the obstacles is merely bury them. Jeff, interestingly, has come the furthest in the sphere of actually caring about people. In the pilot episode, his anger toward Abed manifests itself by him spitting out that Abed has Asperger's. In "Curriculum Unavailable," however, he is doing his best to tip-toe around defining Abed as crazy or abnormal. And that works... until Dr. Heidi insists that Abed needs to be committed.

The gang, rightfully so, is stunned and they begin to discuss Greendale and how they are "survivors" of the institution. But what, exactly, is it that they have survived FROM? Remember what Jeff called Greendale last week -- a prison. And yet recall how - at the very end of the episode and throughout this one - the study group laments not being at the college. Greendale provides safety from a world that is terrifying and uncertain. There's an odd sense of familiarity and comfort in knowing that - at a place with classes merely called "Ladders," YOU are the sane one. The reason that the group ended up at Greendale Community College is, in fact, because life wasn't so great outside of those walls. But they've spent so much of their time harping on the flaws of the school and dean that they haven't realized how much they really needed Greendale in the first place.

And here's the interesting thing -- perhaps the group's sense of entitlement and pride comes from the subtle conditioning of Dean Pelton. At the same time that they're being conditioned by him as "favorites," they don't realize how much other people care about them at the school. In "Course Listing Unavailable," they berated the dean for doing a terrible job of running the school. They cursed Greendale for taking away their lives and summers. But what if (stick with me on this one) Greendale's purpose wasn't to take but to give: love, acceptance, life lessons, a place to start over, etc.? My argument is that its purpose is just that.

The group then comes to this realization, and Britta says: "Maybe we've been so concerned with moving past Greendale, we've been living in denial." I think she summed up perfectly the notion that they've been trying so hard to get rid of Greendale - to escape its insanity. And as Jeff asserts, Greendale hasn't made them crazy. They NEED to be at the school. As messed up as the school sometimes is and as absurd and random as the people in it can be, it is the only place where they feel safe enough to be who they are without outside judgement. While I once thought that this was unquestionably a good thing, this episode also helps us remember that all good things are not perfect things when used as a crutch, or a means to stunt growth.

As the group leaves the therapy session, intent on returning to Greendale, Dr. Heidi makes a startling announcement -- there is no Greendale Community College. The group spent three years together, but it was at a mental institution, and together they developed a collective fabrication of the school. The group nearly starts to believe the lie, until they realize how insane it actually is. They confront Dr. Heidi who admits that Chang hired him to throw everyone off the scent of his plan. But the study group has realized through their flashbacks and discussions that it's their job to help out the school and save the dean.

And in the end, there is something to say about the group using therapy to realize that Greendale isn't all about them. Perhaps that's why it had been such a tough place to be. Sure, the college was meant to facilitate growth and development, but the study group is usually so focused on themselves that perhaps a step back -- a step back into reality, no less -- has helped them gain perspective and realize that after all their bemoaning, there are people at Greendale who love them and who need their help. Maybe it wasn't about them fighting to get out of Greendale. Maybe it was all about Greendale fighting to get inside of their hearts -- to change them.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode:
- “Hello? Rich people? Troy’s joining you! Yes, I’ll hold.”
-  Both Annie and Britta’s hair looks very good in the cafeteria scene.
-  “We’re all kind of crazytown banana pants.”
- On the chalkboard, there’s a joke written in the background (Danny’s head blocks some of it), but at the bottom is written: “Ask not what your ‘Community’ can do for you.’”
- Jeff giving his jacket to Annie and then taking it back is adorable and hilarious and completely in-character. And they’re at a “Wigging Out” dance. HOW MANY DANCES IS THIS SCHOOL GOING TO HAVE? 
-  “Do you have a better idea, Britta?” “Yes! Thousands of them!”
- “Darcy, you’ve got a cold. You’re sick. GO. HOME.”
- Clearly we missed a gangster-themed paintball war and I’m not sure how to react to this.
- “Doesn’t the average community college end after two years?” “Everyone keeps saying that!”
- “I’m LITERALLY carrying a Greendale backpack.”
- “Stop letting him make you realize stuff.”
- “May your dreams be sweet and your nightmares be spooky monster-scary and not Grandma-died scary.”

Some important housekeeping notes!
As many of you know (or likely all of you at this point), next week is a THREE-episode finale night on NBC for Community, which is amazing. "Digital Estate Planning" will be airing from 8-8:30. Then, after 30 Rock, our favorite show will be back from 9-9:30 with "The First Chang Dynasty" and then 9:30-10 with the season finale "Introduction to Finality." As such, this means that our blog-review schedule will be a bit different. Nearly all of you suggested I do three separate reviews for the finale episodes, so here is the schedule -- the review for 3x20 will be posted at its usual time (around 9-9:30 AM EST Friday, May 18th). I will be planning to post my 3x21 review sometime Friday evening (likely between 9 and 10 EST on that same day). 3x22's review will probably be late Friday/early Saturday morning. If not, it will definitely be posted by Saturday night on May 19th.

The second order of business is that, since next week is the finale, summer hiatus starts again! For those of you who were around here or on Twitter during the winter hiatus, you know that I went back to the pilot episode after "Regional Holiday Music" and re-watched episodes and reviewed them. I will be doing the same thing this summer! We'll be picking up where we left off in the last hiatus, which just so happens to be "Modern Warfare"! So on Thursday night, May 24th, hop onto Twitter and follow me (@notajenny) if you aren't already and join us at 8PM EST (normal Community viewing time) for those re-watches and live-tweets. Our hashtag for that night will be #paintball2010.

It's been a pleasure reviewing season three with you all, and I can't wait for the last few episodes. Until next week, folks! :)