While this week’s Community wasn’t quite a bottle episode, it was close. We stayed tightly with the group, as we always do when they venture outside the borders of Greendale, which generally means that there’s some big character development in store! Side note: I’m pretty sure the Community writers read Persephone because they seem to respond to the things I write. Have you noticed that this is the second week in a row where both Annie and Pierce have had about 2 lines each? Sweet!
Jeff narrates (how often does he narrate, anyway?) that Abed asked them to go out to a fancy dinner, just the two of them, for Abed’s birthday. Jeff’s convinced that Abed is going to hate the restaurant, and has a backup surprise party planned: a study group Pulp Fiction party at the diner where Britta works. But Abed shows up acting very un-Abed: wearing a sweater, making eye contact and shunning pop-cultural references. (How weird was it to see Abed acting like that?)
He tells Jeff that, thanks to his exuberant Cougar Town Facebook fan club, he got invited to the set of the show. During his brief scene as an extra, he suddenly invented a character, Chad, who was a normal person. After imagining how it would feel to be just like everyone else, Abed wants to try it in his own life. He wants Jeff to have a real conversation with him. No references, no jokes. Jeff starts off resisting, claiming that there’s no such thing as a real conversation (and this overly-referential nerd has to agree with him). I should also mention that this scene was the first time I have been aware that Danny Pudi can really act.
Soon enough, though, Jeff opens up to Abed. It seems that Jeff never gets to have real conversations, either. In a totally not-shocking development, it turns out that Jeff is insecure about his appearance, although not in the typical way. Jeff knows that he’s good-looking, but he’s afraid that no one would love him if he weren’t. When he was a child, he got fooled into trick-or-treating in a girl’s costume, but he stopped correcting people because he liked being told he was pretty.
Meanwhile, at the diner, the gang is dressed up in themed outfits from Pulp Fiction, and as someone who’s only seen that movie once or twice, I had to keep asking “Who are they supposed to be?” Troy’s insecure that Jeff and Abed are bonding, and that Jeff got Abed a better birthday present than he did. (Jeff’s present? The actual briefcase from the movie. Supposedly.) So, after some goading from Chang, he ends up accidentally setting the briefcase on fire. Britta keeps furiously texting Jeff, who has dunked his phone in his water because he’s so enjoying his talk with Abed, who looks increasingly alarmed.
Thanks to a slip-up by the waiter, Jeff finds out that the whole dinner, the whole baring-his-soul-again thing, was all part of an homage to an obscure movie called My Dinner with Andre. The gang storms in, angry at Jeff, who’s now angry at Abed for fooling him into letting his guard down, with yet another cultural reference. Jeff storms out and heads to the diner to patch things up with Britta’s boss, who’s fired her for the fire (I guess?). Abed follows after him.
After a reluctant truce with Abed, who says he was just trying to reconnect with Jeff the only way he knew how, Jeff returns to the fancy restaurant to pay the bill. But not before warning Abed that he needs to keep a tight, heavy lid on the Halloween costume story. (Abed: Got it. THL.) Hey, surprise! Abed repackaged the surprise party to be for Jeff at the now-closed restaurant. The episode ends with another voiceover from Jeff, declaring the party to not be their best, nor their worst.
This episode was pretty interesting. I like when we get to focus on just a few characters once in a while, and Jeff and Abed seem to hold up the best to such scrutiny. (Unlike Chang or Pierce, for example, who just seem to fall apart as characters when you try to understand their inner workings.) I actually had noticed lately that Jeff and Abed seemed not to spend as much time together, and I think Abed draws things out of Jeff that no one else can. Even if this episode was a little low on the laughs, I liked getting to see more of Abed and Jeff’s friendship. I just hope they don’t drop it next week.