Recap: Community, 3.18, “Course Listing Unavailable”

Well, we have our answer: Starburns is definitely dead. Apparently he made a video will and Abed was the only one who got anything from him.

The ineptitude of the Dean’s community college management had to catch up with us sometime, didn’t it? It turns out that the final straw for Jeff – and the group as a whole – is that, due to their Biology teacher’s sudden resignation, the class is cancelled and they’re all getting incompletes. The obvious solution is to bring in a substitute teacher for the last few weeks of classes, but that would be asking Craig Pelton to be someone that he’s not: an effective Dean.

Still smarting from the news that their summers will be spent at Greendale, the members of the group get up to the microphone at Starburns’s memorial service and start ranting about how the terrible school has ruined their lives. I liked everyone’s mini-rant, but the whole thing did seem a little abrupt. Don’t they spend 99% of their time loving their school for its quirky charm? Also, it’s a community college; they can leave whenever they want. Still, they manage to get everyone from Vicky to Leonard worked up enough to start trashing the cafeteria, including the Subway toppings bar.

In the ensuing riot, the Dean allows Chang and his tween army to put on their super-cool uniforms and start pepper-spraying the heck out of the protestors. And, as Garrett says, pepper spray is so peppery. I’m actually impressed with the show’s commitment to this Chang storyline, considering how many weeks have passed since its inception at the bar mitzvah episode. Still, I can’t help but feel that the comedic potential of the kids is lost when they’re just sort of brought in for one scene and then disappear.

The study group is targeted by the school board for having incited the riot, and while they have their non-injuries tended to, the group plots with the Dean to avoid getting in trouble. Two of his kid crew warn Chang that the gang plans to blame the riot on his overzealous response, which prompts Chang to overzealously kiss the board’s collective rump. (Apparently they can be bought”¦with gift baskets.)

He also shoots the Dean with a tranquilizer gun and employs a viciously accurate Dean impersonator. I’m not sure if the fake Dean was someone famous, but his Dean impression was dead on. If that wasn’t actually Jim Rash’s voice dubbed over in that scene, then color me extremely impressed. The board was clearly impressed, too, because they were convinced enough to expel the “Greendale Seven.” Side note: did anyone recognize many of these scenes and lines from that mid-season Community trailer?

The whole crew gets together at Troy, Abed, and Annie’s place for pizza and tequila. The in-joke references to the “Chaos Theory” episode, which I believe has surpassed the original paintball episode as the critical favorite, seemed a little forced at first. But by the time Britta slammed the door in the pizza guy’s face as he says “Wait, there are other timelines?” I was laughing.

It was also a nice moment when Britta, seemingly falling back into old habits by smiling at the pizza guy, is distracted by Troy telling her earnestly that she’s “the best.”

So another episode ends on a weird, slightly down note. Last week, someone died. This week, our friends get expelled. I can’t help but wonder, again, if the show has the balls to stick with this plot point or if everything will be fixed within a week or two. It might shake things up a bit to see the gang out in the real world again (remember how great “Mixology Certification” was?), so I’d be okay with leaving Greendale behind, at least for a few weeks.

8 thoughts on “Recap: Community, 3.18, “Course Listing Unavailable””

  1. The whole episode felt disjointed and bizarre to me. When it ended I said (to my cats), “What did I just watch?” Which, granted, I usually say after a particularly good episode of Community but this was said in an entirely different tone.

    On the other hand the Dean’s outfit was amazing. I also love how dalmatians have slowly taken over his office. And I need a GIF of Annie throwing down the mic for this weekends open thread!

    1. I feel the same way… when it ended, I was really confused about what I just witnessed. It was weird, but not in the good Community weird way.

      I’m going to try to post that gif for ya, but I’ve never posted a gif here before so I’m not sure if it will work…

  2. The ending to this episode didn’t make any sense to me.  It seemed to stop short, and to me, it was uncharacteristic of the show to end on such a saccharin note.  “We’re all together so it’s ok”?  I thought for a moment the timeline thing would get them swinging in the right direction.  But ending with everyone just being ‘ho-hum, no more hi-jinks for us’ just didn’t seem like the “Greendale 7” at all.

    Chang and the Dean are themselves, but everyone else is off.  And also, I thought they were going to bring John Goodman in to replace the Dean and take over the school.  But the Dean 2.0 was kind of amazing.

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