'Community' Recap: 'Modern Warfare'
This is the episode of Community viewers have been waiting for since the first preview showed up online last summer.
Spoilers abound, but if you're reading this without having already watched it, what the heck is wrong with you? Watch it online, torrent it, break into a home with quality DVR, just WATCH COMMUNITY NOW.
As Jeff and Britta casually walk down the hall, the show's Sam and Diane begin to argue over who's less fun. The study group complains that their constant bickering was cute at first but has grown tired, to the detriment of the supporting characters.
Abed once again provides meta-commentary more likely to come from the pages of Slate or Variety than just an anonymous commenter:
"To be blunt, 'Jeff and Britta' is no 'Ross and Rachel.' Your sexual tension and lack of chemistry are putting us all on edge, which is why, and hear this on every level, you're keeping us from being Friends."
He is interrupted by Dean Pelton announcing the afternoon's Spring Fling festivities, barbecue and bands on the quad, followed by an all-campus paintball match where the last student standing will win a prize TBD. Troy thinks it's a cutting-edge videogame console and Pierce mistakes TBD for an STD he contracted in the 70s. Jeff goes to take a nap in his car and the full credits roll for May sweeps.
Jeff emerges from his car ONE HOUR LATER and Greendale is a deserted, post-apocalyptic wasteland of paint splatters. A still-breathing portly nerd tells him the students turned on each other like animals when the new prize was announced. Before he can tell Jeff what it is, Leonard the septuagenarian guns him down and chases after Jeff.
Abed appears out of nowhere in cool goggles and a paintball bandolier, doing a slo-mo wall jump as he shoots Leonard, offering Jeff a hand with the command "Come with me if you want to keep paint off your clothes," which appears to be Jeff's only motivation at this point.
He takes Jeff to the Spanish room, where Troy is waiting in football pads and a cup, an outfit more suited to Mad Max than The Matrix. Troy greets Jeff with "Jeff Winger, you son of a bitch, I thought you were dead," to which he responds, "I was sleeping."
It is revealed that the prize for the last student standing is reserved enrollment, the opportunity to choose classes before everyone else. The various student groups have banded together- the debate team, the drama club, and the Glee club, who lure their victims by singing a capella pop songs.
Action movie cliches dominate the rest of the episode. Jeff uses appropriate puns as he guns down the chess team. Shirley uses Bible quotes. There's a Mexican standoff in the mens' room between the Spanish study group guys and girls when they agree to team up.
The sworn enemy of the Community cast is the Glee Club, who kill Annie, Troy, and Pierce in an ambush on the quad. "I can't believe people would fall for such a ploy," Jeff says as he removes his shirt to spend the rest of the episode in a white tank top. "Write your own songs," he yells after finishing off the last Glee-clubber, calling out Fox's hit show for unoriginality.
The real villain turns out to be Dean Pelton, who, holed up in his office at 2 am, is concerned he's gone too far pitting the students against one-another. He sends in Sr. Chang, a paintball enthusiast who gets his own Eastern-tinged theme music, a white suit, and sunglasses. He uses his own equipment. Sr. Chang kills off everyone and then interrupts Jeff and Britta, post-coital(!), and Britta takes Jeff's gun to sacrifice herself so Jeff can win. Before he can "die," Sr. Chang arms a paint timebomb he had strapped to his coat, which Jeff narrowly escapes before going to give Pelton what he has coming to him.
Community has built the characters so well this parody somehow comes off better than the others the show has done. The stock characters are nearly perfect and the self-referential Abed allows the writers to take everything to the next level. The emotions when characters walked off screen after having been shot, the release when Jeff and Britta finally get together, even the background music are all so perfect it is difficult for viewers to remember this is only the show's first season.
When it's this good, it doesn't matter if Community runs for two seasons or ten. A+++
Story by Matt Anaya
Starpulse contributing writer