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Community Watch: Season 3 - Competitive Ecology

Community opened the third season with two pretty strong episodes. They did a great job wrapping up loose-ends, setting this year's tone and even creating (or hinting at) a few new roles and relationships for some of our characters. Oh, plus we've already had some great guest work from Michael K. Williams, John Goodman and especially Martin Starr in last week's episode. This weeks episode, "Competitive Geology," is heavy on the Chang, but Michael K Williams is back as Professor Kane, so there's always that...

"You woke with a guard this morning but tonight, you're going to bed with a detective." or "Who are these people?

This week's opening act sets up our two narratives and, shockingly - at least to me - one of them does not involve the group. At all. It's just Chang. Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself (but really? just Chang). He wakes in his squatter's paradise at the college, living with a lovely lady mannequin leg named Veronica and dreaming big dreams about becoming a full on detective. Meanwhile, the group just seem to be getting along so well. Awe. Like, really well. Awe. NO! Too well. And enter Professor Kane's new assignment, a terrarium, which is kind of like a ecological diorama. Ugh. It's clear Professor Kane has a hard time understanding life on the outside sometimes, like his students sometimes or even the recent developments in Lego. Regardless, terrariums a due the next day and everyone's lab partner is seated across from them. Uh yeah, who are these people?

"You've only been here a month. You haven't done much of anything and there's no such thing as security guard detective."

Let's open with the Chang storyline since you can tell that's the one I'm most excited about. As I stated above, Ken Jeong's Chang can be hilarious - when used wisely and sparingly, as he was during his 'Senior Chang' days in the first season. However, the more we get, the less I enjoy and I was really looking forward to the first full on film noir spoof and Harmon gave it to him. Objectively? It wasn't too bad but it definitely doesn't rank up there with a solid half of any of the better episodes.

It opens with Chang and his superior not seeing eye to eye, mostly because his superior isn't a crazy person and the fact that "they don't investigate crimes because they can barely prevent them." Of course, this does little to stop his insane mind from inviting us in for a full on film noir voice-over and the beginning of Chang's first case. Sure, it has some good lines ("he kind of arms that have elbows" or "I needed answers like a fish needs a bicycle"), I laughed at the jump cut to the stapler and I even liked the fact that he lit the fire to start his own case BUT was it consistently funny or smart enough for this show? I did also like that he and the Dean had a 'crazy off' that results in no consequences for anyone but the man of reason. Say hello to Head Security Guard Chang.

"We really prefer to partner up amongst ourselves."

After the opening few minutes left the oh, so happy group a little shocked with their lab partner assignment, they decided to take a trip to see Professor Kane and see about remedying this 'new people' situation. Even though Kane finds the whole thing bizarre he grants them their wish and off they go and split... shocker Pierce is odd man out and still left with Todd. Poor, poor Todd. He's given so much offense and yet so little is taken. All's not well in paradise though when the group soon realizes that they don't pair up so well. Annie doesn't want to do the work and watch Jeff complain about his twitter casualties or send texts to no one. Reminiscing over Kickpuncher Abed and Troy realize they already spend too much time together. And, well, why would anyone ever assume that Britta and Shirley would make a good team. That was doomed before the moment Shirley started talking [read: blathering on and on] about her kids or Britta mentioned sugar conspiracies.

Enter the new scapegoat, Todd. To solve the 'Todd Problem' it's back the the study room to get better partners... I mean find out who gets stuck with Todd. Troy's plan is a complicated way of saying he wants Britta. Abed want's to pair the old and the young, which Shirley is more okay with since Jeff is in the old group (he's not okay). Britta wants the high-IQ's with the lows for obvious reasons. They eventually they settle on a ranking system (popularity contest) with Abed, the computer, calculating the results. Everyone is happy. The end. "Are you questioning my algorithm?" "No." "Is you're algorithm above questioning?" No." Of course, this only leads to more squabbling and Britta torching the rankings and throwing them in the garbage... with the turtle. Oh yeah, Todd found a turtle! He's a pretty nice and patient guy, I'm sorry for not mentioning him but I don't think he'd take offense. However, one can only be pushed so far, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?" A lot is wrong with these people but what they do learn is that, they are better together. As a whole. And mostly being unkind to others, like Todd.

"Maybe I need to take one... A test, not a penis."

This week's tag was once again very abrupt and not just a Troy/Glover and Abed/Pudi segment (which always makes me sad) but it's okay because it involved the entire group. Troy dropped another classic line, "they're boobs... and I don't know" but we learned that Britta is perhaps a little phallically obsessed. She's Rorschach-ing and Freudian Slipping penises all over the place while trying to do research for her Psych Class. Penis, penis, penis, penis. penis. Overall I thought it was a pretty lackluster episode but, like usual, still found places to cram in some laughs, The actors are too good to not get you going a few times, including Ken Jeong even if a little Chang goes a long way (or, uh, a big Chang goes a short way). It's nice that Pierce's continued his recent trend being the senile, out of touch racist we like (he was funny, again!) instead of the mean one we don't. And it was nice to see his take his position as perennial seventh-wheel in stride. Well, funny and not mean-spirited stride.

I don't think I'd fail this one but I'd meet after class and tell them that they can do better. Unless, of course, you love Chang and lots of him, meaning this probably an awesome episode. Hurray!

Bonus Questions:

The Dean-Low.

"I'm married to the job. And to a mannequin leg I Found in the boardroom." ..."Homewrecker!"

Legos were simple...

Paintball. Paintball 2.

"What is happening at this school? I have so many conversations I don't understand."

"Maybe I was crazy. Or maybe, just maybe, I was a Detective."


"I had to think fast."

"It has feelings."

"You're just a good grade in a tight sweater."

"Well, you're just a bad grade in a tight sweater."

Do worms have tiny little faces?

"Offense taken. Offense taken..."

Another ego-shattering blow delivered by Professor Kane this week, "Pop Pop."

The 'mean clique' in prison.

Iris-in on Todd's single tear.

Community airs on NBC, Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It stars Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole-Brown, Donald Glover, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong and Chevy Chase. It was created by Dan Harmon.