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Community Watch: Season 3, Episode 4 - Remedial Chaos Theory

In the preview to "Remedial Chaos Theory," I discussed how Community hasn't seemed to click yet this season. Sure, this year at Greendale has had its moments and it's still early but last week strayed a little too far from the winning formula - which with this show, is mostly a lack of formula mixed with the amazing cast that makes up the core study group. However, this week proved that I haven't been constantly recommending this comedy as one of the smartest, funniest and most consistent on television for nothing. And how to they return to form? Probably the most high-concept bottle episode imaginable. This week, for "Remedial Chaos Theory," we spend most of our time off campus at...

"Troy and Abed's New Apartment."

This week opened on a number, 303, which is kind of funny since "Remedial Chaos Theory" is Episode 304 (Hm. 303? Are you sure? Yes, I wrote it down twice). Perhaps this is the third episode in the third season in a parallel timeline but more on that later. Troy and Abed, or TroBed, recently became roommates so now comes the inevitable housewarming party and one of the rare occasions the group meets off-campus.

The boys are determined to host a great gathering, they even read the book on it, so let the fun Yahtzee filled night begin! Oh wait. How rude. A little tour of the place first, who cares about the bathroom or kitchen, how about the brick that keeps the downstairs door open or Abed's replica of the rolling boulder scene from Raiders. But before anymore busting of these adult chops or looking up the rules on how to play Yahtzee, somebody has to go get the pizza. Not the one Shirley, and her baking problem, made out of ketchup and cream cheese. The only and obvious solution - since they all have fast fingers to noses - is a role of the dice (this is where I point out how smart/prickish I am and how I immediately caught on to the fact that it was seven to six but hey, I'm sure you did too).

"Just so you know Jeff, you are now creating six different timelines."

Some of the same events and gags occur in all of the timelines but, as Eric pointed out in his early review (opens in new tab), what really informs the narrative in different and interesting ways is not who's present but who is missing from the apartment. What character went to get the pizza? Also, notice how each characters' actions and reactions change depending on who's (not) around.

Well, the first throw of the dice (which flies up into some really expensive looking graphic) and it comes down a 2. Annie. She leaves to fetch the food and this sequence serves as a kind of baseline for the rest to riff, by introducing most of the key repeaters starting with Pierce's Eartha Kitt mile high anecdote. Soon "Roxanne" is going on the stereo, Jeff is stopping Britta from singing along and she takes off to the bathroom while Shirley heads for her pies. Jeff needs that Serbian Rum and smacks his head on the ceiling fan. Speaking of fans, Abed finds Britta and a funny smell in the bathroom but just then Annie returns with the pizza, "pizza, pizza, me so hungry." I wonder what happens in the other timelines?

The dice rolls 4 in the second timeline, which has Shirley off to get the pizza. This brings up the groups baking intervention scheme since, for some reason, Shirley's compulsive baking has become a problem. I don't know why an abundance of treats is a problem, I'd be more concerned with her 'He Has Risen' apron. Again, 'Roxanne' is squelched by Jeff, Britta dashes to the bathroom but we get our first taste of the Norwegian troll, a housewarming gift from Pierce to Troy.

The timeline ends with Shirley's return, unhappy over burnt pies and unappreciated baking while the rest of the group is accused of making googly eyes at one another - which, to be fair, they do. And that leads directly into the next roll, Pierce's 3. With Pierce out of the picture the group can get right down to the googly. After Jeff and Troy have a little alpha-male off, Troy joins Britta for a smoke (her pot, him candy cigarettes) and their sparks fly. Jeff bumps his head but Annie gently tends to the bump while Shirley, well, she bakes? Speaking of baked, Britta is up next (roll of 6), which frees up the bathroom for Annie and Jeff, post-bump, and allows Pierce to fully unleash his jealousy on Troy in the form of the Norwegian troll. Cue, Britta back with the pizza-man fiance, "wait, there are other timelines?"

This is my favorite timeline for obvious reasons (feel free to sound off on yours below). The dice rolls 1 and Troy's going to run because he doesn't want to miss anything at the party. Of course, mayhem quickly ensues with Annie slipping on the Raiders' boulder, Pierce getting shot in the leg - complete with blood spray in Shirley's face - and Britta lighting the place on fire.

Remember this timeline as we move onto the final number on the die, the 5. Abed goes to get the pizza, which leaves a lot of emotions left in the apartment. Britta heads to smoke her joint and quickly returns to find Shirley's pies. Jeff hits his head but Annie consoles, eventually with kiss in the kitchen. Pierce was going to spring the troll but Troy's so nice about the move that he no longer wants revenge. And then things quickly turn. All three amiable situations turn nasty and/or weird - pie pushers and hippie drug addicts, daddy deja vu while kissing, gift wrestling and the troll - before Abed returns. He found a nickle. Finally, the last timeline (number 7) happens when Abed catches the coin and reveals Jeff's selfish trick to not have to go get the pizza. He does and the group has a great or 'prime timeline' without him. Shock, they don't need and would be better off without him. He needs the group.

"Evil Troy and Evil Abed."

The tag not only returns us to the 'darkest most terrible timeline' but it also returns Community's once consistently amazing tag to its former glory! This is truly one of the weirder ways to end an episode but it was hilarious. Drunk, now alcoholic, Shirley muttering, "to Pierce. May you rest in Pierce," before laughing and snapping at the blue-streaked Britta (her usually lameness shining through). Pierce died from the gunshot wound and Annie's in a loony bin. Jeff's missing an arm and Troy, in the saddest tale of all, lost his voice box when he ate the flaming Norwegian troll (?). However, this Abed (#1) knows he should have caught the falling dice. He knows about the prime timeline so he makes fake goatees and vows revenge. But all is not lost as 'prime timeline' Abed senses the disturbance. The force is strong in that one. God, I love this show.

Homework Assignments:

Rule #2 for being the perfect party host.


"Indiana Jones and The Apartment of Perpetual Virginity."

Single Malt Platinum Boobs and Billiards Club.

Annie's got a gun... again.

"Can't believe those are real mahogany bunk-beds in there, those must have cost a few allowances."

Abed fixes little Indy.

"Oh my god, they taste just like regular size pies."

"Give it Pierce, It feels fun... You are bad at gift-giving!... I demand to be house-warmed..."

Encarta It!

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.