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Community Retro Recap: Modern Warfare

There wasn’t a new Community last night because even the Greendale kids get Thanksgiving off, so I thought I’d do a retro-recap of the best episode of last season: Modern Warfare. (Otherwise known as The Paintball Episode) Since it’s Black Friday, you’re staying in today, and you probably don’t feel like moving much, why not discuss this wonderful half hour of television?

So, as of a few weeks ago, this full episode was still available on Hulu. It seems like they’ve removed all but the few most recent Community episodes from the internet, which is a terrible move for a show that’s trying to gain a following, and more viewers. If you haven’t seen this episode, here’s a delightfully over-the-top fan tribute to Modern Warfare, which gives you the gist of the plot. Other than that, your options are to scour the internet for illegal downloads (NOT that Persephone condones such behavior, of course”¦) or get your hands on a Season 1 DVD. Otherwise, I’ll try to link to pertinent clips and scenes if I can.

Community, as I’ve mentioned before, specializes in pop culture-referential humor. Modern Warfare was neither the first nor the last genre spoof (helloooo zombie Halloween episode!) but it’s arguably the best. Maybe I like it so much because I hate action movies, and seeing action tropes torn to shreds on my favorite show was like effing Christmas.

Jeff shows up late to school one day to find the campus nearly deserted and covered in splattered paint. Troy and Abed rescue him from an ambush (Abed: “Come with me if you don’t want paint on your clothes”) and explain that the whole school is involved in an epic paintball war. The reward? Priority registration.  The idea of having the perfect class schedule (Jeff: “You could have a five-day weekend!”) is too much for the Greendale crowd, and the whole student body has devolved into gun-toting chaos.

Jeff quickly assimilates to the new situation, and he, Troy and Abed break out of their safe room by outsmarting the chess club. The study group finds one another, bands together, and after some heavy losses, dispatches the much-hated glee club. Soon, only Jeff and Britta are left in the game, and they’ve holed up in the study room where Britta is tending to Jeff’s injuries.

Jeff and Britta spent most of last season dancing around one another, intercutting their sexual tension with constant bickering. Sounds like well-worn territory, but Britta’s sarcastic, feminist ways are the perfect foil to Jeff’s narcissism. In Modern Warfare, they not only get to resolve several months’ worth of tension, but they get in a few jabs about the role of women in action movies. Britta alternates between some badass gun-slinging (about one minute into the tribute linked above, you see a pretty cool move from Britta) and some fawning over Jeff.

When Jeff and Britta find themselves alone, Britta jokes that this is the part in action movies where the hero and the girl get it on. After some mock-smooches, they actually end up banging on the study room table. But, instead of being a huge moment, their consummation is quickly put aside in favor of the game:

Jeff: Please tell me you didn’t have sex with me to win at paintball?
Britta: No, I had sex with you and now I’m gonna win at paintball. Don’t be gross.

Senor Chang bursts into the study room, and the scene that follows is so awesome you should probably just watch it (Please pardon the low quality and reverse video. Blame Hulu!).

After Jeff’s confrontation with the Dean, everything goes back to normal at Greendale, as is the case after all the balls-out episodes. I love when Community goes big, not only because it’s hilarious but because they often manage to fit some actual plot and character development in as well. Modern Warfare was the episode last season that got people to notice this under-watched show. I think this year’s zombie ep was a big boost, and I hope that they continue to pepper their more-grounded episodes with big epics like this one.

Till next week, friends! Happy Thanksgiving.

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