Tuesday, April 28, 2015

6x08 "Intro to Recycled Cinema" (Nodus Tollens)


"Intro to Recycled Cinema"
Original Airdate: April 28, 2015

There comes a point in time in your life where you realize that you're standing still and other people are moving on around you. Your friends are moving into houses and you're paying rent on your apartment. You keep getting invitations to wedding after wedding and you haven't found a decent person to date. Your friends are starting families of their own and you're still trying to avoid spending time with yours. No one tells you this, when you become an adult. No one tells you that eventually you're going to feel like you're stuck in life, wading through quicksand that just keeps feeling harder and harder to trudge through. There was a Buzzfeed article that I read yesterday featuring "a compendium of invented words" that are used to describe emotions you never realized anyone else actually felt too. Here's one of my favorites that ties in directly with what I stated above and also the theme of this week's Community:


In "Intro to Recycled Cinema," we learn a little bit more about Jeff Winger than we did before. Realizations that occur between Jeff and Abed are usually more poignant than most and this episode was no exception. So let's talk a little bit more about science-fiction, Chris Pratt, and Annie's boobs (not the monkey), shall we?

Episodes like "Critical Film Studies" and "Advanced Introduction to Finality" introduced us to heartfelt moments between Jeff Winger and Abed Nadir. These are two characters who should have more heartfelt moments between them in the series, given the fact that Abed was the first character Jeff really met at Greendale. Over the years, Jeff has done his part to try and protect Abed and defend him, even when he doesn't understand him. And that's something that's more evident now than ever -- not many people understand Abed. They tolerate him. They humor him. But they don't GET him. "Intro to Recycled Cinema" was a departure from that, really. This was an episode where Abed's point-of-view was easy to understand and justify and where Jeff's (and the rest of the group's) was not.

Before we get to the heart of the episode, let's talk about the basic plot: Chang has made it big in Hollywood and as a result, has left Greendale and the group. They're all really baffled by this and a little bit offended, too. Okay, they're a LOT offended. Out of all the people to make it out of Greendale and become successful, Chang was the one that shouldn't have. He's the crazy, weird, probably actually insane former Spanish teacher turned security guard turned evil dictator turned... well, whatever Chang was supposed to be categorized as this season. But the group realizes something thanks to Abed -- Chang helped him film a part in a movie. If they can finish the movie and use the footage, they can sell the film and make Greendale a boatload of money.

Abed is on board so long as the movie passes his approval. He's an artist and he doesn't want to put out a product that's just satisfactory. But since the movie needs to get finished by Monday, no one else really cares HOW it turns out just that it gets finished. I related to Abed a lot in this episode (I know, it was a shocker for me, too) since he was the most level-headed one. I love when Abed isn't made to be the butt of jokes. I love that unlike his previous movie-making ventures ("Introduction to Film," "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples," the documentary trilogy, etc.), "Intro to Recycled Cinema" didn't find Abed going over the top. It didn't find him obsessive and controlling, unable to separate himself from his movie.

No, this episode actually saw Abed just... doing his job. He wanted to create a good movie and he was forced, by his friends, to lower his standards in order to finish on time. Abed wasn't being obsessive -- he was just doing his job. Abed Nadir has grown since the pilot episode. He's gone from someone being obsessed with viewing life as a television show to simply wanting to create a good product for others to consume. When he begins to recommend making changes, the group stops him. Specifically, Jeff stops him and tells him that Abed needs to let go of editing and changing the movie and instead, embrace the larger picture: it doesn't matter what kind of movie they make or how good it is or isn't. All that matters is that they finish in enough time to give it to Frankie's friend (guest star Steve Guttenberg), who can then turn around and sell it for a lot of money.

So Abed agrees, begrudgingly, which impresses me. If someone told me that I had to turn in a sub-par first draft of a novel because it didn't really matter what the quality was and the end goal was just to finish quickly and make money, I'd be offended. Like, REALLY offended. I'd want the product I put out to be quality, not just... crap that could sell. But Abed refuses to continue to give notes and even though he isn't trying to make it decent -- even though he wants to make it better -- everyone finds that the movie actually isn't THAT terrible for how quickly they shot it and what they had to work with. Even Frankie's friend is immensely impressed with the product, some of the plot twists that were thrown in, and notes that he's excited to sell it if Abed can cut the film down by six minutes.

The entire group is impressed with how the film turned out, including Jeff... whose character has a death scene in the film and is the perfect length to cut. This is when Jeff does what he always does -- he tries to get others to sacrifice instead of him. His natural pattern of behavior is to fall into selfishness, to initially protest something and then get extremely wrapped up in it ("Documentary Filmmaking: Redux"). So when everyone agrees that Jeff's scene will be cut, he literally steals Abed's computer and locks himself away, trying to figure out how to prevent the movie from being edited. It's insane behavior for the person who's supposed to be the leader of the group. But then again, in "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps," we realized ABED was the most sane of the entire group.

Community is great when it reminds us that the characters we thought were the most stable and normal are actually the ones who are most problematic. Abed has grown (depending on the episode you watch, some more than others) and in "Intro to Recycled Cinema," tries to do exactly what Jeff instructed he do: edit the movie, send it in, and get the school money. Instead of Abed acting insane, it's Jeff who does and Jeff who fights Abed and Jeff who ACTUALLY STARTS TO CHOKE ABED to prevent the film from being edited.

That last part horrifies both men (as an aside: Danny Pudi consistently nails the tics of Abed, but this episode he did an amazing job demonstrating the real emotional nuances of Abed -- eye-rolling, sarcasm, fear, excitement, etc. and making Abed a more softer, well-rounded version of his generally stoic character) and then Jeff makes a confession which is really striking: he's come to the realization that he'll be the last one of the group to be forced to stay at Greendale. Troy managed to leave and find his own way. Shirley forged her path into the unknown. Even Pierce got out of the purgatory of Greendale by dying. Jeff then admits that he knows everyone else will leave and become better people -- that Annie will eventually be President (that was unexpectedly sweet and wonderful of him to say, exemplifying how much he believes in her) -- and that he'll be the last one there. In a twist of events just like "Advanced Introduction to Finality," it's Abed who prepares a Winger speech to deliver to Jeff.

Remember how a few episodes ago, Abed insisted that emotional vulnerability wasn't really in Jeff's wheelhouse? Remember how Jeff then mocked Abed and essentially called him a robot? Well, this scene is the scene that breaks down those preconceived stereotypes of each character. Jeff finds it easy to be vulnerable around Abed because there's no fear there -- he's not afraid of being judged or of being seen as weak. Jeff and Britta have some emotional moments together but they're both so stubborn and prideful that they don't usually allow each other in. Jeff can't be completely vulnerable around her because then it means she "wins" and he "loses" (remember how competitive these two can become with each other? See: "Anthropology 101"). Jeff doesn't know Frankie or Elroy enough to be really vulnerable with them -- they still see him as the leader and he can't exemplify weakness. With Annie, I think Jeff always wants to be strong around her and support HER. So he's afraid of letting himself be vulnerable because I think he believes it would make her think less of him and he never wants her to think less of him. He always wants to be her hero. Or, in the very least, someone she can admire.

With Abed, it's always been different. Abed and Jeff understand each other better than pretty much anyone else and Abed isn't afraid to call Jeff out on his crap. Jeff isn't afraid to be vulnerable with Abed. Why? There's trust built up there. And there's understanding. They're both broken and Abed knows that whatever conversations he and Jeff have... they'll be theirs alone. Theirs is the sort of trust built from and in chaos and it makes it that much easier for Jeff to listen to Abed and realize he's right. Essentially, Abed's speech to Jeff is that yeah, sometimes life sucks and is pointless and feels like a giant, swirling mess of crap. Sometimes it feels absolutely out of your control.

But then... something unexpected happens in that mess that makes you realize that your life is being orchestrated in a crazy, amazing way and those are the things you hold onto. (In the case of this episode, sometimes -- Abed says -- Annie reaches into her boobs and pulls out a laser bomb to throw in the movie. That wasn't scripted. That happened because of HER.) It's the little things that filter through the crap that we need to hold onto and look forward to. Because sometimes life is a mess, but sometimes Annie reaches into her boobs and throws a laser bomb at a bunch of robots.

This is exactly what Jeff needed -- he needed Abed to remind him that there are tethers in life, no matter how crazy or out of control Jeff feels. When he feels like everyone is slipping away from him, he needs to hold on tightly to the moments that are unscripted and unexpected. It's a great little speech that ends with Abed offering his hand to Jeff and Jeff allowing Abed to help him up (SYMBOLISM, SYMBOLISM). And it ends with perhaps what is the sweetest, most genuine, unexpected hug on this series:


Again: kudos to Joel McHale (look at his face and the way he just collapses into Danny's shoulder) and Danny Pudi (his face of utter surprise and how tightly he holds onto the hug) for this scene. It's such a beautiful hug and moment between the two.

As much as I did love "Intro to Recycled Cinema," I can't help but wish every episode this season had been like this one. Over half-way through the sixth year at Greendale, I feel like I've waded through quicksand and mud, trying to mine meaning and plot from episodes that have felt frantic, occasionally fun, and sometimes very frustrating. (Deb might back be up on this one.) If each of the characters on the series are truly pulling away from Jeff, slowly, and from Greendale, I would like to feel that more than just being told it in one scattered episode in the middle of the season.

Nevertheless, this episode of Community reminded us that sometimes we have to hold onto the moments we have with people and sometimes we have to let go and learn to move forward or accept where we are if we can ever hope to become better.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
  • So if you follow me on Twitter you know that I've been desperate for a 3 Men And A Baby remake starring Joel McHale, Nathan Fillion, and Adam Scott. It gave me immense pleasure to see Steve Guttenberg (one of the original stars of the film) in this episode. Thanks, universe, for that one.
  • I liked this episode a lot more than the last one I reviewed, if you can't tell by the lack of rage GIFs. Sadly though, this is the first episode all season that I've really enjoyed and we're over half-way through. I think it's also the first episode I really laughed at.
  • "You either get out of Greendale or you get me in your corner. You don't get both."
  • "I don't think police should be heroes." "Britta, PAY YOUR RENT."
  • So let's talk about one of the disappointments in this episode which I didn't mention above: Britta and Annie at odds. Again. Understandably, Annie is upset that Britta hasn't paid her rent. I mean, it seems like ANNIE is the one supporting the entire apartment. But what really continues to irk me is how the show pits these two women against each other, specifically how Britta shames Annie multiple times in the episode for wearing clothes that accentuate her assets. It was like watching "The Psychology of Letting Go" all over again and I hated it. I hated the fact that Britta accused Annie of essentially setting women back by the way she was dressed. I hate that this show insists on making the two women enemies. These women had so much potential for friendship and the show squandered it for the sake of a love triangle. SIGH.
  • "They like dinosaurs. They like aliens. And anything else Chris Pratt can join forces with."
  • "Let's crap out this piece of crap." "That attitude concerns me."
  • "Let me use a metaphor I can understand... every day I work out." "REALLY?"
  • "Improvise pockets." "Pay your rent or SHUT UP."
  • "Uh, I love you?" "I love you." Okay, let's talk about this for a second -- Tumblr made the astute observation that Jeff and Annie always tell each other that they love one another ("saying I love youuuuu!" "I only did it because I love you") under pretenses and guises. But maybe that's the only way they feel secure in doing so. Because it's funny -- Annie improvises that line and it was a question, but Jeff improvised it and it was a STATEMENT. The show is going nowhere fast with Jeff/Annie and has been for years, which makes me sad. Other shows would kill to have the chemistry Alison Brie and Joel McHale have together. But Community has so much potential with these two characters and repeatedly chooses to do absolutely nothing with that potential. It makes me sad. It makes me Changry.
  • "I'm huge and I have ZERO BLOOD SUGAR. I WILL KILL YOU IN THESE FRISBEES." That's basically me when I get hungry though.
  • "I watched Parks and Rec. I watched it." This makes me sad because it means Parks is a fictional world in Community and I kind of want to live in a world where Annie Edison and Leslie Knope are real-life besties.
All right, friends. What did you think of "Intro to Recycled Cinema"? Did you enjoy it or hate it? (Or did you fall somewhere in the middle?) Hit up the comments with your thoughts. Deb will be back next week for "Grifting 101" so until then. :)

23 comments:

  1. I liked this episode, mostly because it wasn't what I feared - another gimmick episode for the sake of having a gimmick. It used its gimmick (making a lousy movie over the course of one weekend using recycled footage) as a metaphor for the struggles the characters have been going through, especially Jeff. The show used to be really good at doing that, and it lost it almost entirely post 5.05.

    Re: Jeff and Annie...yeah, I wish for some IRL development between those two, but the way Jeff just unhesitatingly jumped on the "I love you" improvisation (after spending a substantial time starting at Annie's boobs) just again reminds me that he knows now... and I'm probably getting my hopes up too much that we'll see anything on screen that has them hooking up, but I am starting to accept the fan theory that Harmon is getting around that by simply leaving hints that there's something going on throughout the season. Self-deluding? Maybe.

    Also, a reminder that I skipped episode 6.06 and am STILL missing nothing from that episode. Unless that changes I may never go back and watch it.

    Still wish Troy was in this - try to imagine how much fun it would've been to have him performing in this film. I know, Donald Glover needed to make his own way in the world, but Troy I miss you!

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    1. I liked this episode, mostly because it wasn't what I feared - another gimmick episode for the sake of having a gimmick.

      THIS is why it worked in a nutshell. It won't be my favorite episode of all time, but at this point in the season/series, there is no time to waste on gimmicks or homages just for the sake of having them. This week was a good example of what the show can be if it continues to let itself be about the characters and not creating conflict out of nothing.

      Re: Jeff and Annie...yeah, I wish for some IRL development between those two, but the way Jeff just unhesitatingly jumped on the "I love you" improvisation (after spending a substantial time starting at Annie's boobs) just again reminds me that he knows now

      He jumped mighty quickly into the "I love you." Without any real hesitation. If you watch the GIFs (https://31.media.tumblr.com/824ded1f306117bdd24a40665ade1d9b/tumblr_nniti5aFRG1qg63pvo1_250.gif + https://38.media.tumblr.com/71eaf1fa96fc52eb687b2d18038898bc/tumblr_nniti5aFRG1qg63pvo2_250.gif) he actually looks startled for a moment that she says: "I love you?" as an improv and he nearly immediately counters with his response and steps toward her. Do I think it means anything? The jaded, cynical part of me says no. I wish that I could say that this would mean something or go somewhere, but... well, we all know how Harmon has enjoyed jerking those two around for six years. Why stop now?

      At the very least, it seems like Jeff and Annie are more... comfortable being around each other? There's more of an easiness to their interactions which I guess is something. I just feel like I'm okay with scraps and shreds of their relationship. Which is not where I want to be, nor where we should be six years in.

      GOD BLESS YOU FOR SKIPPING 6.06. A friends is three episodes behind and I told her she could miss those three episodes and still watch this one without being lost at all. Which... is actually really true. She'd miss the wink-nudge-nudge of Frankie at the steel drums but that's about it.

      I miss Troy. A lot. So much. :(

      Thanks again for your comments!

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  2. I really thought I was going to hate this episode. It seemed to start slow, and the weight of their past thematic shows really dragged on me in the beginning. I just was worried I couldn’t buy them in a farce when all of the characters knew it was silly from the start. In some ways, I didn’t buy into the show until Abed bought into making a bad movie. After that, it was easier to accept the visuals, jokes, and running gags, and well, it worked for me. I laughed. I got it, and I thought all of the endings (except Guttenberg’s character walking off asking about the last 20 years) were perfect.

    Overall I thought this was a really good review. I get why you hate Annie v. Britta, but it does work because of their differing personalities. Everything Jeff and Abed is gold to me. It is the best relationship on the show, and like all of them, I just want more of it.

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    1. Matt: I totally thought I was going to hate it, too! I think it worked for me because it wasn't about making a spoof, really. The focus wasn't on the movie being an homage to anything for the sake of an homage. It was literally just all about Abed learning to loosen control and actually teaching Jeff a lesson. I thought the episode did a good job of providing us with some real substance but again -- it may be too little too late for me considering we've wasted a bunch of time on email hacks and ladders.

      I love that Annie and Britta are different. But I hate that they literally keep having the same fight but no resolution and that their fights are always rooted in Britta essentially slut-shaming Annie. Not cool, Brittles. Not cool. There's a difference between them being antagonistic and them just butting heads. "Really? You picked THAT outfit?" WHY DOES IT MATTER TO YOU WHAT SHE WEARS, BRITTA? SERIOUSLY.

      If we didn't have that Jeff/Abed scene, this would have been a mediocre episode. Joel and Danny really elevated it for me. Thanks for the comment, as always, Matt! :)

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  3. This show has never been about boyfriend/girlfriend types of relationships. Yeah, they play with the idea of characters pairing up every once in a while, but they've actively avoided cliche will they/won't they crap that would distract from everything else going in the show.

    Also, there's hardly been any love triangle rivalries/jealousy between Annie, Brittany, and Jeff at all in this show. Maybe just that first episode from season 2.

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    1. You're correct in some ways. This show was always about a relationship between a guy and a group of people first and foremost. That's the most important one. But the problem is when the show continues to play with the idea of getting Jeff/Annie together but never does anything with a sense of committment.

      For instance: You have the season finale, which saw Jeff and Britta about to be married. Then the "blast of human passion" opened the door. Fine, I assumed it meant the entire study group and Jeff's love for them all combined opened the door. And then Dan Harmon mentioned in the commentary that it was Jeff's love for Annie that opened the door. ... And then nothing more was ever done in the show from this point forward regarding that plot point.

      I mean, look, if you're going to say that Jeff is in love with Annie and THAT opened the bunker, it seems like a pretty huge thing you can't quite ignore. And yet the show IS ignoring that. Just like it ignored the fact that Annie was in Jeff's heart multiple times in "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts." Just like it ignored the fact that Jeff said "if we were married" to Annie in "Conventions In Space And Time" and just like it ignored the deleted scene where a bartender accidentally called Annie Jeff's wife and Jeff didn't correct him.

      My problem is always about how this show handles romance. You can't have it both ways: you can't SAY characters have feelings for each other or put these sexually charged moments between them and insist they mean something one moment and then in an interview, say that Jeff is creeped out by them or Annie is a schoolgirl. There's no consistency there, and that's the problem. Either the show addresses the relationship and moves on or... well, there IS no "or." That's what it needs to do and it just continues to not do that. So while you note that the "will/they won't they crap" isn't present to distract from the show, my argument would be that the LACK of any sort of addressing of those relationships or resolution of romantic relationships DOES impact the show in a negative way.

      The rivalry between Annie and Britta stems from season two. They fell apart and they've never been the same since then. That residual anger and jealousy has tainted pretty much all of their interactions since then. Find me a story that involves just Annie and Britta (no Shirley) where there's a real, honest, good progress between them. (I'll save you trouble -- "Origins of Vampire Mythology" is the closest we get to that, and even THAT is tainted because it features Britta trying to manipulate Annie so she can escape and see Blade.)

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  4. There's a lot here of Jeff Winger being a tremendously good-looking white male who takes care of the way he looks, and yet is dissatisfied with his life, still struggling to accept position at Greendale. In a superficial way he might have thought he was the most likely to succeed. But then the most questionable member of the group gets to Hollywood. And of course Jeff can't take it. The death scene, all about him, probably becomes a way to imagine some sort of success for himself, mostly on the coattails of Chang. There's also something depressing about the way he constantly works his body, saying he'll never be done with it, as he knows he can't share the results of this and his full potential with the world after all.

    The nice thing is that Abed talks him out of that self-centered viewpoint, to appreciate the democratic viewpoint of the group. I very much like Jen's points on Abed's speech here. Sometimes we just have to toil away with what we have and try to make the best out of the limited circumstances. We will occasionally have to turn in something poor even when we wanted something else. But even then there might be a small moment, a small diamond in the rough. And that ties very nicely to the whole thing of B movies like Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space that the episode had been spoofing. Because viewers who enjoy those kinds of films can occasionally find a scene or two that stands high above the rest. That can make those films worth treasuring (in addition to the mockery values), and that's why this episode felt like it was offering its love and respect to B movies in the end.

    I very much liked that Ken Jeong got to play the actual emotion in the Chang scenes at the end. The way he slips back quietly, everyone being awkward for a minute and then resuming their safe, usual roles was splendid. This is still a family that offers protection and a comfort zone to its members. For the time being.

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    1. Hello there again Log Lad! First off, thank you for your comments. I do feel like Jeff is such a tragic character and because it's a comedy, we don't often focus on how tragic he is. But then we see episodes like this and it really does remind us that he's not as put-together or confident as he wants others to believe he is.

      There's also something depressing about the way he constantly works his body, saying he'll never be done with it, as he knows he can't share the results of this and his full potential with the world after all.

      Right? Man, Jeff has like... a lot of issues. A lot.

      I'm so glad ABED was the one to have this heart-to-heart with him. We've seen Annie have ones with him too but this one wasn't one she needed to be a part of. He needed Abed because Abed doesn't judge, he just observes and tries to understand.

      I very much liked that Ken Jeong got to play the actual emotion in the Chang scenes at the end. The way he slips back quietly, everyone being awkward for a minute and then resuming their safe, usual roles was splendid. This is still a family that offers protection and a comfort zone to its members. For the time being.

      I did think that was great and wondered how, exactly, the group would respond. It was funny how uncertain they were of what to do or say or whether to acknowledge the situation at all.

      Thanks, as always, for your comments!

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  5. Gotta say I loved the episode, it was funny while still having an emotional part to it.

    The Shipper part of me still really hopes for a resolution to Jeff and Annie.

    I really agree with the Britta vs Annie thing, atleast Annie stood up for herself by saying "she" was the one who picked her outfit after Britta's first rant.

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    1. Hello there anon!

      Yes, I thought this was a great example of an episode that was funny but also contained an emotional component to it. All the great episodes of this show tend to do that. And I'm really thankful for it.

      The shipper part of me hopes they pursue Jeff/Annie to resolve it by the end of the season. We've had far less moments and scenes between the two than we did in the past. The show will either ignore it (again) or do something about resolving them. I'm so disappointed in how this ship was handled because at the hands of any other show, they would have been GOLDEN. Alas, not so with Community.

      I really am glad Annie stood up for herself. I just get so mad that she even HAS to at this point. This was the same argument they hashed out in the second season and then, at least Britta admitted to getting up early to ever-so-slightly curl her hair to impress guys. It's not like she's never done anything to get a man's attention before.

      Thanks again for your comments, anon! I agree with them all. :)

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  6. This was a really good episode which got an outstanding review, especially the compassionate analysis of the Jeff/Abed dynamic. Wonderful performances by Joel and Danny, especially Joel’s portrayal of Jeff’s slide into existential despair as he fears that the ease with which his friends edit him out of their movie may parallel the ease with which they edit him out of their lives when they leave Greendale (is it my imagination, or is this series taking the opportunity to have at least one episode centred on each character to give the actor a chance to shine? If it’s being done as an extended ave atque vale to the show and the characters then it’s a nice touch). The way Danny portrays Abed rallying to pull Jeff out of it when in an earlier series he probably would have gone catatonic was also beautifully done. And then at the end, when we see Abed reshot the end of the film to give Jeff the final lines of the movie (and his pride back) – something may have got stuck in my eye at that point.

    I'm so glad ABED was the one to have this heart-to-heart with him. We've seen Annie have ones with him too but this one wasn't one she needed to be a part of. He needed Abed because Abed doesn't judge, he just observes and tries to understand.

    I think Abed was the only one he could have had the heart to heart with. In an earlier series, he would probably have done it with Troy or even Pierce (while relaxing in the chairs at the barber’s perhaps), but Jeff could never show this sort of vulnerable side to one of his female friends – as you observe, such of his self image as is left is centred around being strong and steady around them. No, for this sort of thing Jeff needs a male friend to talk to – someone who will listen, keep a secret and not judge. That’s Abed now, as it was in the beginning.

    On the whole Britta/Annie of it all, I think I agree with Matt – I respect where you’re coming from, but I do think it’s more plausible than not that they’re no longer close friends. Back in season one they really were close friends – so close that a major theme of Shirley’s character arc was her jealousy at being excluded from all the fun stuff Britta and Annie were doing together – but now? Not so much. I think there are probably two reasons for this, there’s the rather trite love triangle thing of course which may conceal some rather deeper feelings – I suspect all her life Britta has taken it for granted that she will always be the beautiful, popular one in any group and that a fair amount of her self esteem is based on this. Then she gets to Greendale, and all of a sudden it feels like she’s the girl guys date briefly in order to get to know Annie Edison. This can’t have been pleasant for her, especially as Annie never did anything to encourage it.

    The second reason is rather more profound and unavoidable – Annie grew up, and Britta didn’t. The giddy, idealistic schoolgirl we saw in season one is long gone and has been replaced with a powerful young woman who’s character and strength of will has been almost single-handedly holding this bunch of misfits together since early season five (Annie WAS the Save Greendale Committee for all intents and purposes, the rest of them were basically passengers waiting for her to tell them what to do). I think Jeff sees this, but I’m not sure Britta does. On the other hand, the sort of stuff that caused the schoolgirl to look up to Britta – the causes, the constant rebellions against authority – come across to the young woman as signs of a fundamental lack of seriousness that she realises Britta will never grow out of. Annie may still love Britta as a friend, but I doubt she respects her anymore.

    Anyway, thanks again for an outstanding review:-)

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    1. Hi Richard and welcome back! :)

      Wonderful performances by Joel and Danny, especially Joel’s portrayal of Jeff’s slide into existential despair as he fears that the ease with which his friends edit him out of their movie may parallel the ease with which they edit him out of their lives when they leave Greendale

      I definitely think that this episode was a stand-out, emotionally, for Joel and Danny. I love that we had the chance to really see Jeff's fears bubble to the surface and that the reason he didn't want the scene cut didn't have much to do with him being vain and everything to do with him realizing that everyone was going to leave him. It actually made me feel sad for him. :( Danny played that scene with gentleness and emotion which was so great for him, too.

      I think Abed was the only one he could have had the heart to heart with. In an earlier series, he would probably have done it with Troy or even Pierce (while relaxing in the chairs at the barber’s perhaps), but Jeff could never show this sort of vulnerable side to one of his female friends – as you observe, such of his self image as is left is centred around being strong and steady around them. No, for this sort of thing Jeff needs a male friend to talk to – someone who will listen, keep a secret and not judge. That’s Abed now, as it was in the beginning.

      I desperately wanted more Jeff/Pierce (like in "Beginner Pottery") heart-to-hearts but you're right: this is Abed's moment and as he tells Jeff, he never shares their emotional moments with anyone. Jeff knows that he wouldn't and it's what makes them stronger and more understanding of each other.

      On the whole Britta/Annie of it all, I think I agree with Matt – I respect where you’re coming from, but I do think it’s more plausible than not that they’re no longer close friends.

      Haha, I'll rail about this until the show is officially dead and gone and even long after: I don't like the way the women on this show are constantly written as antagonistic toward each other. I mean, yes, women butt heads. Yes, they disagree. But it's FUN to watch Annie and Britta team up and it's also FUN to listen to them bicker. What's not fun is watching Britta slut-shame Annie every chance she gets. I just don't like that. No matter how different they are from each other or how much pent-up resentment there is, the show has never figured out a way to resolve their issues. It just keeps burying them and slapping a half-resolved "female friends" label on it. I don't believe for a second that Britta and Annie actually LIKE each other at this point. I think they tolerate each other. And that makes me sad. It's sad that a show that had THREE FEMALE LEADS wasn't ever able to establish friendships between any of them that were lasting or meaningful.

      /rant over, lol.

      ANYWAY, thank you so much for your comments! I really did enjoy this episode, which surprised me, given how much I've come to feel "meh" about the season in general.

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  7. Hello!

    I'm a newcomer to this site (and a relative newcomer to Community), so firstly I just wanted to say thanks very much for all the great reviews and comments. :)

    I have to agree: it's making me really sad to see Annie and Britta sniping at each other so much this season. Their bickering has taken on quite a sharp, unpleasant undertone - something I've never seen before in Community - and it's also much more obvious. Usually when characters bicker or snap at each other, it's not with underlying hostility (I guess; I don't know how else to describe it). And in the final season, it's leaving a sour taste in my mouth! I agree with Richard's assessment of the reasons for this - Annie is visibly more self-possessed, more confident in herself and her beliefs, and therefore has less trouble expressing any lack of tolerance she may feel towards others. Both women are negotiating the waters of changing roles, I suppose, and it's bringing out insecurities (particularly on Britta's side, I would imagine). But now that season 6 is helping Britta address her 'growing up' issues, I'm hopeful that everyone will end up in a good place. ;) If not 'proper friends', then at least without all the back-biting. Britta and Annie are so very different that it's never been surprising to me that they might rub each other up the wrong way, but never to this level!

    As a side note, if this were real life (lol), I might wonder if it is precisely Annie's growing confidence and strength that is another element in keeping Jeff from making a move. I agree entirely that he wants to be her hero, someone she looks up to (please insert height joke here) - his ego needs it (or has needed it). The running "m'lord" motif, and the fact that he once commented on her "Disney face" - maybe he just wants to be the knight in shining armour... (Provided it's not toooooo much effort ;) ) I'm not entirely sure he knows what to do with independent, capable Annie (although she's always been that), who doesn't seem to need him as much. Where are all the imperious "Je-eff! Do something!" commands? :P This season she hasn't really turned to him to sort out difficulties (at least not overtly). The fact that he makes that offhand remark about her being president might emphasise the idea that he thinks she's already outgrown him. And I think Jeff needs to be needed. (Well, everybody does, heh.)

    To finish: I just love Abed and Jeff together. "I see your value now". Indeed.

    Sorry if I've repeated anybody's comments on this or previous reviews and analyses! I don't mean to tread on toes, but as I said I'm pretty new to Community and this site.

    Best wishes, all!

    Rose

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    1. Hello there, Rose, and welcome! I'm so glad you've found this site and feel comfortable expressing your thoughts and opinions here. We welcome that completely. :)

      Their bickering has taken on quite a sharp, unpleasant undertone - something I've never seen before in Community - and it's also much more obvious.

      Maybe that's my problem: it's just so much more evident now that they're the only two remaining original women from the study group. It's kind of jarring, actually.

      Both women are negotiating the waters of changing roles, I suppose, and it's bringing out insecurities (particularly on Britta's side, I would imagine). But now that season 6 is helping Britta address her 'growing up' issues, I'm hopeful that everyone will end up in a good place. ;) If not 'proper friends', then at least without all the back-biting.

      That's the most I can hope for, at this point: a season that ends with them being cordial, even if they're not friends. I guess I never did think of the fact that over time, Annie assumed Britta's role in the group (not just with being the one to delegate and do things, obviously becoming Jeff's other half, essentially) and that Annie became more self-assured and confident while Britta did not. I think Britta still has resentment for everything post-Tranny Dance though and jealousy there but never dealt with it. And I think Annie's frustration stems from the fact that she used to look up to Britta and admire her and now she's becoming less and less of that person.

      I'm not entirely sure he knows what to do with independent, capable Annie (although she's always been that), who doesn't seem to need him as much.

      Wow, this is actually a really good point I hadn't thought of until now and corresponds exactly with what Jeff said in the episode. Ironically, Jeff didn't talk about Britta or Abed or Elroy or Frankie leaving -- he talked about how Troy left, Shirley left, Pierce died, and how Annie would be president. He believes she can do anything -- that she's strong and assertive and is going to move into the highest position of power someday. And you know, I think you're onto something: she doesn't really need him anymore. Not like she used to. She can fight her own battles. She doesn't need him to protect her. And if we're to believe that Jeff actually is in love with her (if the fifth season finale IS, in fact, accurate), then it makes sense that he feels insecure when it comes to their relationship. Like, I've always believed that Jeff loved Annie more than she loved him, but now I think he realizes that he needs her more than she needs him.

      Rose, you're brilliant, THANK YOU FOR THAT.

      Welcome to the site and I hope we see more of you around here in the future! Thanks for the insightful comments. :)

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  8. I'm not entirely sure he knows what to do with independent, capable Annie (although she's always been that), who doesn't seem to need him as much. Where are all the imperious "Je-eff! Do something!" commands? :P This season she hasn't really turned to him to sort out difficulties (at least not overtly). The fact that he makes that offhand remark about her being president might emphasise the idea that he thinks she's already outgrown him. (Rose)

    And you know, I think you're onto something: she doesn't really need him anymore. Not like she used to. She can fight her own battles. She doesn't need him to protect her. And if we're to believe that Jeff actually is in love with her (if the fifth season finale IS, in fact, accurate), then it makes sense that he feels insecure when it comes to their relationship. Like, I've always believed that Jeff loved Annie more than she loved him, but now I think he realizes that he needs her more than she needs him. (Jenn)

    I’m going to - conditionally – disagree with this if I may. Firstly, I’d like to quote the scene in 3x02 when Jeff first told Annie how much she means to him –

    Jeff: When you really hate someone the way you hate Annie Kim, or when you feel the way I feel about you, the easy loophole through the creepiness and the danger is to treat them like a child. ‘Chip off the old block’, 'You’re the best, kiddo!’. It’s a crutch. It’s a way for me to tell you how important you are from a distance. But now you’re becoming this mature, self-possessed, intelligent young woman and I can’t keep patting you on the head or talking down to you.
    Annie: But I like how close we are. I don’t want to grow up if it means losing what we have.
    Jeff: Well tough, Annie. You have to grow up because the world needs more women like you. [He takes hold of her chin] We can’t keep doing this forever, kiddo.
    Annie: … Can’t we?


    (Rose, if you’re new here, go and read Jenn’s review of the episode here, you won’t regret it.)

    Jeff has known for a long time that Annie is going to outgrow in him. I think what we have started to see in this series is an acceptance that that time has now arrived – the possessiveness, the jealousy, the emotional turmoil, all that stuff has gone. I think he knows where he stands with Annie now – as we saw at the end of 6x04 he’s the guy who notices when she’s down, and he’s the guy who steps forward to pick her up again. And when she doesn’t need either of those things he’ll step back and give her the space she needs to fly. Does Annie need Jeff in her life anymore? No. Is her life happier than it would be if he was no longer in it? Probably, maybe. There’s a maturity and equality there that wasn’t there in earlier seasons - as you say in one of the comments upthread they do seem more comfortable around each other.

    And you know what? I think Jeff is probably... okay with it. Yes he’ll miss her terribly if they don’t get together and if/when she leaves, but at the end of the day he’s always wanted the best for Annie even more than he’s wanted it for himself (she’s probably the only person that that could be said about). I genuinely think he’s in a place where he’ll take whatever she’s prepared to give him, and if that’s just a fond reminiscence of unrequited love in her memoirs plus volunteering for the Edison 2032 campaign, he’ll take that.

    Sorry for the maudlin stuff, but I rather think I’ve been where Jeff is now (my Annie was a friend in my last year of college who never really knew how I felt about her, and I never told her because she was an exchange student and would be flying back to Canada at the end of the year regardless of what I said – we both moved on, got married, had kids and still exchange Christmas cards) and I kinda sorta get what he seems to be feeling. Damn, that got personal! Sorry:-)

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    1. Jeff has known for a long time that Annie is going to outgrow in him. I think what we have started to see in this series is an acceptance that that time has now arrived – the possessiveness, the jealousy, the emotional turmoil, all that stuff has gone. I think he knows where he stands with Annie now – as we saw at the end of 6x04 he’s the guy who notices when she’s down, and he’s the guy who steps forward to pick her up again.

      See, I agree with you there to an extent. But I think for Jeff, it's easier to SAY he's accepted the group is going to leave him and move on (he does so easily in season one's "English As A Second Language" where he tells Annie that they'll all still be friends). In "Biology 101," for example, Jeff flips out when it looks like he won't be in the same class as everyone else. Annie challenges him, of course, with her whole: "We'll still be friends, right?" thing that Jeff had given Pierce earlier. And yeah, over the years, he's grown up and moved on and learned that the group will leave him.

      But that's his head knowledge. His heart knowledge, on the other hand (which, of course, we've learned Annie is in) is that he is deeply afraid that everyone is outgrowing him and he's most definitely not okay with that. That's... why he almost choked Abed in this episode. He's so emotionally invested in the group and distracting himself from the reality that everyone is slowly drifting away. I don't think he's okay with everyone leaving and I think he'll be less okay with Annie (as we see in this episode, she's the only one who gets name-checked in his little speech to Abed). I think ANNIE is more secure with leaving the group now and being on her own.

      And Jeff totally does want the best for her (he’s always wanted the best for Annie even more than he’s wanted it for himself? SLOW CLAPS AND APPLAUSE AND FEELINGS GALORE), but that doesn't mean he's willing and ready to accept a life without her (that... sounded very romantic). He'll always be supportive of her, and I think this episode showed us a little bit of him starting to accept who he is and that people move on. But I don't think he's as put-together as he would want Annie to believe.

      And therein lies the disconnect and problem. Since "Geography of Global Conflict," we haven't really had a heart-to-heart between these two about how he feels about her. So... she has no idea how scared he is that she'll leave him. How could she? Every time she confronts him about feelings, he bats them away. AND THIS IS WHAT I MEAN WHEN I SAY THESE TWO NEED CLOSURE. I need a scene of them mutually discussing what they're feeling because otherwise, everything is inference and ship-baiting and... well now I'm just getting ahead of myself.

      ANYWAY, I think we agree to a point on how Jeff feels about Annie. I think the problem though is that Annie doesn't know ANY of how Jeff feels/is scared about the future. And THAT is what I desperately want to see.

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    2. First, I agree with Richard, but with a slightly different take.

      I think Jeff is resigned to the idea that Annie cannot be his, shouldn't be his, and if left only to him, won't be his. He knows he is bad for her, and that is what older, jaded people realize about all of the incredibly talented, idealistic youth we meet. Anything we do is selfish and possibly destructive to what we admire if we do anything but support them. Jeff/Annie is bad for Annie, and Jeff knows it, even if it is what Annie wants.

      As for the written characters, it also means you have a couple with real chemistry with an expiration date! Part of the Troy/Britta problem was that anything that brought them apart that wasn't Abed, and therefore a show killer, would be contrived. It was a mess. Here are two people that would constantly create energy for the show, because they could never stick to a normal relationship. Community has one reoccurring and fatal flaw: no real relationships of couples (I know Jenn is on board with this being an issue).

      As for Annie/Britta, Britta always calls out everybody on whatever she thinks is a problem every time she can. It is one of her most consistent qualities, so she was being consistent to her character. As for Annie, she loves opportunities to not be the girl she was in high school, and sexy pleasure bot turned assassin is a perfect escape for the smartest girl in the room. Should they have more moments where they are supportive of each other? Yes, and I think we would have seen them with 24 episode seasons (just my guess).

      And I agree with Richard.

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  9. And therein lies the disconnect and problem. Since "Geography of Global Conflict," we haven't really had a heart-to-heart between these two about how he feels about her.

    I think we got close in “Conventions of Space and Time”, remember “Well, I can tell you one thing your fantasy got wrong. If we were married, you wouldn't find me flirting with another woman in a hotel bar”?

    Note the thing her fantasy got wrong – not the idea that they could be married, but that he might cheat if they were. The fact that Jeff chooses to respect Annie's marriage fantasy rather than mock it or run away screaming says volumes. But then I suspect this is part of the problem – these two can only discuss their feelings in code, they can't be open with each other.

    AND THIS IS WHAT I MEAN WHEN I SAY THESE TWO NEED CLOSURE. I need a scene of them mutually discussing what they're feeling because otherwise, everything is inference and ship-baiting and... well now I'm just getting ahead of myself.

    ANYWAY, I think we agree to a point on how Jeff feels about Annie. I think the problem though is that Annie doesn't know ANY of how Jeff feels/is scared about the future. And THAT is what I desperately want to see.


    I agree with all of this – we need closure, they need closure, Annie needs to know what's going on inside Jeff. However, I also agree with Matt – if it's up to Jeff (and stepping outside Watsonian mode for a moment, of course Dan Harmon can serve up what he likes) this is exactly what is not going to happen. He will do what it takes to protect Annie from anything that could hurt her, and at or near the top of the list of things that could hurt her is Jeff Winger and Jeff knows (or at least believes) this.

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    1. I do/don't count "Conventions of Space and Time" because it caused what we called #Bobrowgate, where one of the writers on Twitter said that he believed Jeff went home and felt ashamed of indulging Annie's fantasy. (I have a LOT of rage directed toward the writers for purposefully writing scenes as romantic or at least shippy -- THERE IS A DELETED SCENE WHERE THE BARTENDER SAYS: "THAT YOUR WIFE? SHE'S BEAUTIFUL" AND JEFF SAYS: "NO, SHE'S NOT MY -- YEAH. YEAH SHE IS." SO PFFFFFFFFT ON YOU WRITERS -- and then try to make it seem like the fans are the crazy ones.

      Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway. Though that scene was written and interpreted as romantic or at least like, compassionate, hearing it dismissed by the writers as nothing more than another instance of Jeff feeling "creeped out" by taking something "too far" with Annie is really disappointing and confusing as a viewer, you know?

      I agree with all of this – we need closure, they need closure, Annie needs to know what's going on inside Jeff.

      Everyone needs closure. GIVE EVERYONE CLOSURE, HARMON. Force your characters to have the hard conversations. It's causing them to suffer by him stifling them and refusing to allow them to say/do what needs to be said/done. I don't care honestly if Jeff says: "I love you but let's not try anything." Fine by me. At least he would have said something. But for Harmon to say last year that Jeff loves her and it's his love for her that opened the door and then absolutely not acknowledge that again, ever, seems... kind of backwards.

      I just wish they would suck it up, write these two a scene, and close the book before the end of the show. But you're right -- if Harmon has any say in it (which he will) Jeff won't ever do that.

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    2. Not got much more to add to this discussion other than –

      I do/don't count "Conventions of Space and Time" because it caused what we called #Bobrowgate, where one of the writers on Twitter said that he believed Jeff went home and felt ashamed of indulging Annie's fantasy.

      WHAAAAAAAAATTTT? I’m sorry but that is so stupid it barely even deserves to be called wrong. Anybody with the heart God gave to a jellyfish only has to watch that scene and see the way Annie’s face lights up when Jeff says his piece to realise there is no way - no way - Jeff could be ashamed of making her that happy. This is just objectively ridiculous. Sorry writers – we’re right and you’re wrong, it’s as simple as that.

      hearing it dismissed by the writers as nothing more than another instance of Jeff feeling "creeped out" by taking something "too far" with Annie is really disappointing and confusing as a viewer, you know?

      I know exactly what you mean, and I now know how the rest of this evening is going to play out – I have a bottle of absinthe in the fridge with about half an inch left in the bottom. I am going to finish that off while watching The Blacklist and fantasise about Reddington taking an interest in this thread and deciding to do something viciously poetic to the writers. It’s been fun chatting today, wish me and Red luck...

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    3. Richard: YUP. THAT WAS A THING THAT HAPPENED. Ever since then, I've realized the Community writers will never really treat Jeff/Annie with any sort of respect because they don't see the relationship as something mature. They honestly all still see Jeff as "creeped out" by his feelings for Annie and see Annie as an "idealistic girl" with a "schoolgirl crush" on him. SO. ANYWAY. That's where all the bitterness stems from, pretty much. ;)

      Also: kudos on that Reddington reference. SERIOUSLY. JUST SEND RED AFTER ALL OF THEM.

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  10. Looking back over the season, I think this ep was one of the best because it was finally honest about Community turning into a TV show about making a TV show.

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