Best: A Perfect Parody
Community has always been known for its deep love of parody and satire, but in the past few years it had been overdone. Parodies from the 3rd season on felt forced. Abed was always around to make a dozen references and other characters changed their personas completely to fit into the scenario. In this episode, they avoid all of those parody pitfalls.
“Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” is a take off on the dark detective shows that are so popular these days, including The Killing, Hannibal, The Bridge, and the upcoming True Detective. Annie, who last week came back to Greendale to study criminal justice, is the perfect person to step up and investigate the “Ass Crack Bandit” who has been terrorizing the halls of Greendale for years. She plays a great detective with wit (“You’re like a single celled organism. No nerve.”) without the overdone noir voice she does sometimes.
Everything, from the dialogue to the camera angles, fits perfectly into the dark detective genre. In the beginning Shirley’s creepy children single Creep while the Bandit slips a coin in the cracks of anybody who is foolish enough to bend over without a belt. There were so many amazing aspects of the parody, from the Bandits notes (“Humans make better banks than piggies” and “I am the mad hatter if hats had butts.”) to the classic Community song that closes the episode.
When Starburns was revealed to be the Bandit half way through the episode, it was another great detective show trope. Of course the culprit wasn’t caught before the end of the episode. Of course it wasn’t the first suspect they caught. Even leaving the episode with a bit of a question mark over it made sense, since The Killing famously ended its first season without solving the crime, much to the chagrin of its audience.
Worst: Jeff and Annie
Although I don’t think the episode handled the couple badly, I must admit to being miffed by the partnership. Annie immediately goes to Jeff to pair up, under the assumption that as a faculty member he can get her to restricted areas. Jeff has already been the main focus of the first two episodes, leaving much of the main cast without a single storyline. If Annie needed a partner, she could have easily gone to Britta, who is interested in the psychology of the case, Shirley, who she has worked with in the past on these sort of cases, or Troy, who was a victim of the Bandit.
While it became evident that the partnership of the two was a play on the unresolved sexual tension between detectives on these sorts of shows, it was still a shame that Britta, Shirley, and Troy were once again short on material. I’ve never been a huge fan of the romantic aspect between these two characters. It’s partially because Annie acts so childish and part due to the fact that the world of Community is so unlike most sitcoms that the romance often feels shoehorned in.
Best: Duncan Is Back
John Oliver’s tenure as The Daily Show’s temporary host meant that his time on Community was very limited in the past. It was unfortunate because Duncan has always been one of the best characters. He can be both a straight man and an absurd character without venturing into cartoon-land. Duncan now has the opportunity to be a bigger part of the show now that Jeff is a professor, the Save Greendale committee is open to both students and faculty, and since his crush on Britta has surfaced.
I loved that his office walls were covered in the creepiest drawings ever. There was a smiling clown (John Wayne Gacy, anyone?) and a bunch of demonic eyeball creatures. While these pictures seemed to point to Duncan being the culprit, it ended up being a red herring. So really, he’s a psychology teacher with sinister drawings on the wall. Awesome.
Even though earlier I pointed out that having an unresolved ending was likely a reference to detective shows that end in unnecessary cliffhangers. However, it also means that there will likely be a sequel parody episode. I’m a fan of many of the parody episodes but the sequels always feel too desperate to recapture the magic of the first episode. As much as I loved this episode, I’m not looking forward to the memory of it being trampled on by a try-hard version of it.
The other part that was questionable was the decision to make the main characters major suspects. Britta ends the episode trying to write about the Ass Crack Bandit, accidently putting her name in place of “Bandit.” Shirley counts all the extra money she made since the ban of change at Greendale. Abed deletes Hannibal, The Bridge, and Johnny Spectrum off his DVR, as if he finally got the genre out of his system. Sticking change down somebody’s ass crack is an extremely disturbing thing to do. If one of them is the culprit, that means they are completely disturbing. Especially since Troy was a victim as well.
Best and Worst: Pierce’s Death
Last week I mentioned how nice it was to see a fitting send off to Pierce’s character with the use of a nicely place hologram, a expulsion, and an unexpected cameo. This week the investigation of the Bandit is brought to a halt when it’s revealed that Pierce died. It felt a little unnecessary (and maybe a bit vindictive on Dan Harmon’s part?) to have the character die. However, I felt the episode handled it pretty well. People were appropriately somber. Neil mentioned D&D on the loudspeakers, as a reference to Pierce’s most memorable episode. Hopefully this won’t be the only tribute to the character. It would be inappropriate not to have at least one episode where everybody gets to react to the death of somebody they spent years with, despite their personal feelings for him.