Cracking Last Night's Episode Of 'Community' Wide Open
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Cracking Last Night's Episode Of 'Community' Wide Open

By Joanna Robinson | TV Reviews | January 10, 2014 | Comments ()


Picking up all the momentum from last week’s excellent double header, last night’s episode of Community was maybe the best parody the show has done yet. Sure they’ve done bottle episodes and horror spoofs before but the way in which last night’s “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” ended showed how Dan Harmon and the rest of the Community crew are at the every top of their game. The unexpected reversal at the end and the emotional gut punch of Pierce’s death elevated the episode above mere spoof to accomplish something the material being spoofed is often void of. We watch these procedurals and grim blood-soaked David Fincher films and in all that intrigue and atmospheric ennui, often times we miss the actual loss. Death is just a staring point, an excuse for an exquisitely designed, Fuller-esque crime scene. So to put such a silly crime as ass crack assaults at the center of the plot is both fitting for the light tone of Community and a condemnation of the way in which the horrific crimes in our favorite crime stories often lack the ringing pain of real loss.

Harmon and company went after a lot of our favorites last night including very specifically The Bridge, Hannibal, The Killing, Zodiac and Se7en. Knowing that Dan Harmon often refers to himself as having “Asperger-ish tendencies” (his phrase), Abed’s incisive criticism of social disorder as investigative superpower was particularly apt and (despite my love for The Bridge and Hannibal) justified.

The constant rainfall and the will they/won’t they nonsense with Annie and Jeff (handled so much better than it was during The Gas Leak Year) was, of course, a nod to The Killing’s Holder and Linden. The McHale/Brie height difference and Annie’s uncharacteristically somber attire helped that comparison land.

But Fincher was maybe the most interesting target. The episode started with the Bennett boys singing an angelic cover of The Vega choir’s cover of Radiohead’s Creep which, of course, was used most famously in Fincher’s The Social Network. This set the scene for the Fincher spoof which was then hammered home with the Zodiac-esque clippings and letters from the criminal.

The climax of Fincher’s most famous crime drama, Se7en has become a favorite pop culture punchline. “WHAAT’S INNN THE BAAAHHHX??!?!?” we all cry. That’s fine. I’m not saying it’s wrong that we remember that line as comedy. But what’s going on in that scene? A man discovers his pregnant wife’s dismembered head. That should be troubling. Earthshaking even. Instead, it’s entertainment. Se7en is gruesome, sure. The crime scenes give even Fuller a run for his money. But is it emotionally effective?

But things are getting a little too heavy. This is a sitcom we’re talking about. Last night’s episode was hilarious. Dave Matthews jokes? Solid. The return of Starburns? Delightful. Fun little Easter Eggs in the background? Splendid.

There was even a really solid callback that made the return of John “Carlos Danger” Oliver that much better.

Not only was there a fun, tiny Ben Folds cameo, but there was also a completely catchy “Ass Crack Bandit” song over the ending montage. How did one show do all of that in 20 minutes and still have time to deliver an emotional wallop? I don’t know, but it’s that wallop that makes Community (when it’s on point) the best sitcom in the business. Last night’s episode not only entertained, it said something substantive about loss and the way in which our pop culture (our shows, our films, our pulp fiction) commodifies and hollows the true horror and sadness of death. I can’t think of a better send-off for Pierce nor a more respectful one for Chevy Chase from his sometimes-antagonist Harmon. Well done, show. Well done, Dan.

(Images via the eagle-eyed cherries over on Reddit)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Green_Eggs_and_Hamster

    I was confused with the whole Pierce death thing. Wasn't he dead the week before? Or was he just transferred or something? Maybe I just made up that he was dead, but my first thought at the end was that NBC was airing episodes out of order because they hate the show or....something.

    Anyway, wasn't he dead already?

  • General Bluth

    They said in this episode that Pierce had been banned from the campus.

  • LashayVillagrana

    I am really do not like it Weirdest Episode TV forever.

  • General Bluth

    "I am really do not like it Weirdest Episode TV forever."
    With a grasp on the English language like that, it's no telling you didn't like the episode. It takes some intelligence to understand the subtleties that made the episode great
    Though, you could be a bot with terrible taste since you linked to some bull shit website. If you aren't a bot, here's a bit of advise: don't link to your enterprising website after you offer an almost incomprehensible minority opinion.

  • Greg!

    I thought the spot on Jaws slap was the highlight of the night, credit to Glover.

  • Marie

    I thought that the whole opening was more of a nod to Red Dragon?

  • So genius.

  • Much... funny?

  • L.O.V.E.

    This episode deserved all the fucking emmys. simply brilliant. I thought the temps did a good job with community, personally, but this is the first episode this season where Harmon pulled a Jordan back from baseball and really announced his return to the throne. I am going to watch this episode again tonight.

  • Greg

    NO it didn't

  • PerpetualIntern


  • L.O.V.E.

    Shut up, Greg. I know about your crooked wang.

  • Greg


    NO you shut up
    Dan HARMON does not deserve praise for the stunts he pulls
    He is an deplorable human being who got fired for a good reason.
    When he got rehired he made the offensive jokes possible, insulted his co-workers, and tried to take full credit for everything good with the show. Anyone else in his place would have been fired

  • Greg

    And then the people on this site, the same people approved the firing of Paula Dean and scoffed at Phil Robertson being allowed to return to his his show, defended Harmon, saying we need to separate the artist from the person

  • General Bluth

    Greg, buddy, I don't think "Community" or Pajiba are right for you. Please, just go take your painful opinions elsewhere.

    We get it, you don't like Dan Harmon because ... reasons.
    Also, insulted his coworkers? In case you forgot, those coworkers lobbied to get Harmon hired back on the show and have been rejoicing his return ever since. You are a misinformed asshole. Please stop clouding my favorite pop culture website with your idiocy and condescension.

    And, at risk of repeating myself from the last time you showed up to spout your Harmon hate, you really have a terrible taste in comedy if you aren't finding humor in this season of the show. You're obviously not even watching the show anymore. If you are, you're more of a psychopath that I could have assumed.

    Why watch something you hate so much? Moreover, why take the time to comment on a website that adores the show and respects the showrunner? It takes a seriously fucked up person to waste their time watching a show they despise. It takes someone with serious issues to waste even more time to criticize others about their love for a wonderful show.
    In the words of Annie Edison: Who hurt you and why didn't it stick?
    Get a fucking life, dude, and try to figure out why you have so much hate in your heart.

  • Dan Harmon raped his mother, I'm guessing.

  • Greg

    I will not sacrifice my principles for personal gratification like everyone else

  • General Bluth

    "I will not sacrifice my principles for personal gratification like everyone else"

    Oh please explain to us what your principles are... Harmon made an ill-advised metaphor on a podcast about how it felt watching a show he developed and poured his heart being turned into a loud, obnoxious echo of what he created.

    As someone who gets paid to write for a living, I know that it's hard to create something. Writing even a 2,500-word magazine story takes a little piece of your soul away. Every word is important to the creator. I can't even imagine what it must feel like for someone to take over your creation and use it for mediocrity.

  • cruzzercruz

    I'm astonished by how many people online seem to have had trouble picking up on what the "concept" was for this parody episode. The cinematography clued me in before they even got to the study table. As did the music, which just screamed "David Fincher." The red/white credits immediately made me think of Hannibal, and it the whole concept was in full gear by the time the investigation started.

    Maybe I just watch too many dark, screwed up movies and shows.

  • emmalita

    I loved last night's episode! I don't even have anything interesting to say about it because I am still doing a happy dance of creepy weird Community being funny in the way that still had me breaking out in giggles hours later.

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    Ah you, with your words :)

  • emmalita

    The Run-on Bandit!

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    'Tis what Joyce woulda wanted.

  • emmalita

    Vine is so weird.

  • Wōđanaz Óðinn

    Though when the wine wears off, not sure who'll feel the guiltiest:
    * me for posting it
    * google for suggesting it
    * vine for hosting it
    * Britta for thinking it was a good idea at the time

  • WTF did I just see?

    I'm dismayed and intrigued at the same time. It's playing over and over, haunting me.

  • Ofir Fishkin

    I've be listening to Ben Folds all day, i hope he comes back

  • Guest

    Weirdest Episode of TV ever! (*Not an insult.**Or at least Community's weirdest episode yet.)


    **What's with Annie and the pants? Did something happen to Alison Brie's legs???!!! She's worn pants every episode this season.

  • Ryan Hall

    Just wait till you watch the Adventure Time "Glitch is a Glitch" episode. You're head will probably explode (especially given the fact that it's a kid's show)

  • emmalita

    I love Adventure Time. I clearly love weird things. I'm fine with that.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Tim Malloy reads Pajiba?

  • Guest

    Who's Tim Malloy?

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