This week's episode of Community takes another field trip from Greendale so the group can learn "Studies in Modern Movement," more commonly known as moving Annie into Troy and Abed's apartment. There's really nothing worse than moving. It is literally THE WORST. At least Annie has the whole study group to come over and help. Well, not the whole group but rest assured, Jeff has a rather eventful Saturday as well, "There used to be a graying tower alone on the sea. You became the light on the dark side of me..." Put it to the tune. Yeah, that is a little bit of fun.
The show opens with Britta and Annie alone in her now packed up, run-down apartment, discussing how different it will be living with Troy and Abed. You know, mostly how she's going to wind up hating them and all the things they do that she used to like. According to Britta anyway, and, once again she's not wrong. All those eccentric and idiosyncratic things you like about you friend become unbearable once you move in together. Enter TroBed with matching #AnniesMove t-shirts ready not only to help her move but also tweet about it... and trumpet about it? How could you possibly wind up hating that? This sets up the main story driving the episode, namely Annie's ability (or lack thereof) to cope with the utter lack of structure that is TroBed. This is just one of the familiar conflicts to be explored over the next 20 minutes.
Britta's already been doubting Jeff's sick excuse and her suspicions are only reinforced when Shirley and Pierce show up. Mostly by Pierce. Sha, so where is Winger? Of course, Jeff isn't sick. He lied so he didn't have to help Annie move and instead he's trying on clothes at either The Gap or Banana Republic (I don't think that was ever solved). However, in the best fake sick scene since Ferris Bueller, Jeff convinces Britta, and therefore the study group, that he's not only ill but at the doctors and all it took was the help of the lovely young sales lady, an electronic inventory device and the store's intercom. Why spend your weekend schlepping boxes when you could try on some boot-cuts. Maybe, like, a blazer? Oh Jeff, you are very clever but perhaps too clever? Either way, it was a great scene.
Back at Annie's place, her trouble's only beginning when she needs a bit of packing tape to seal up the final boxes. Tweeting it! With Troy taped to the back of the bathroom door, Annie pulls Britta aside to inform her that (first, she shouldn't tell jokes because she's bad at it - hilariously bad, so keep it up Britta! - and second) she might be right, she's in serious danger of hating them. My own aside, Britta is on a being-right roll, too bad she's long lost all credibility. Britta tells her to be more flexible. Or limp to be exact. They return to find Abed's head wrapped in bubble wrap as to allow Troy to hit him with an old tennis racquet. No big deal. Annie's limp (but funny? I love Alison Brie but this is probably the moment in the episode where she stopped being funny - until her freak-out that is, which she always does perfectly). Plus Pierce can take care of any of the apartment's problems, just like he used to do in his old slumlord days.
"Oh, that's nice."
Right before the group goes their separate ways, all en route to AnnTroBed's (testing it out) new place, Shirley voices her concerns about the Friends-like living conditions, which can lead to promiscuity, substance abuse and 'Schwimmer-fatigue.' Britta is obviously offended, calling out Shirley's religion influenced narrow-mindedness and then nicely offering her a ride. Shirley would rather ride with someone a little less contemptuous but when Pierce offers his services, well, she goes running after Britta. Here's our second story-line, the show once again pitting Britta against Shirley. These two make a good comedic pair with Britta's anti-establishment posturing and Shirley's religious zealotry and they spend the rest of the episode together in a weird nice-off competition.
Britta, determined to prove her secular morality is just as valid as Shirley's religious based beliefs, picks up a hitchhiker and to be fair, that might be where the laughs in that story-line end as well. Much to Britta's chagrin, the new passenger turns out to be into the whole Christianity thing, as he could spot in their eyes that they had accepted Jesus Christ. Oh, that's nice. Britta gets to return to her righteous gloating once they discover that the hitchhiker is not only into Jesus, he think he is Jesus. And guess what? Jesus thinks marijuana is a gift from God! Yes, that is nice. Unfortunately, he also starts signing about drinking human blood and the problem with race-mixing, which is not so nice, and they are forced to boot him from the car. However, booting this hippie-Jesus-vampire-racist brings the two closer together and they share a nice moment. Again, I enjoy these two characters together because of the inherent conflict that is ripe for comedy but this week didn't bring much hilarity from that polarity (I'm trying my best Childish Gambino).
In the meantime, Pierce is back at Annie's place and instead of fixing the once relatively minor problem of the cracked plug cover he's just making more and more of a mess of things until he ingests perhaps a little bit too much of the fumes and decides to make a few paint angels on the floor before eventually greeting the landlord/senator from behind a cardboard box desk. I like Pierce a lot more this season, but this felt like that writers didn't know what to do with him this week and thus, he just kind of putters around Annie's place from pratfall to pratfall. His moment in the upcoming montage is great though.
"New Annie. Loosey Goosey. Is it Loosey Goosey or Goosey Loosey? Is it Hyphenated? Don't tell me, I don't need to know... bro... heim."
Meanwhile, Annie is at her new place getting the tour and trying to stay limp, which is no easy task since she doesn't technically have a bedroom as much as a blanket fort. Troy and Abed share a room like all healthy adults with a two bedroom apartment do (and if that room is a rockin' you should come a knockin' because something is probably very wrong) while Annie, trying to stay limp, is surprised that they wouldn't prefer to live in the blanket fort. Not to worry, with the TV in there, they will be in her room plenty. This is when Annie spots the door to what she assumes is a linen closet and Troy confirms it's something like that, even though he has no idea what a linen closet is.
Just about fed up, Annie sits in her blanket fort room while Troy and Abed perform a shadow puppet theater piece about a fair princess named Annie and a woodsman named Troy who comes to her rescue. Annie is genuinely moved by the more cutesy aspect of TroBed's collective craziness and suddenly realizes how much fun they'll all have while living there. Of course, once she discovers that the 'something like that' linen closet is really another bedroom, sorry 'dreamatorium,' she reaches her breaking point. Why should she always be the one having to adapt? It's her or the dreamatorium and TroBed, without thinking, note how the dreamatorium was a non-negotiable part of the lease. Not long after Annie splits, the boys realize that was a pretty stupid move. This was what I was waiting for the entire time this conflict was brewing and yet Annie's freak-out wasn't her classic over the top mess as much as a real heartfelt plea (which is nice, but I prefer the laughter).
Annie returns to her old place, now in far worse shape than before, to find Pierce being nursed back down from his paint-high by her landlord who seems rather happy because a fat damage deposit is going to be cashed (presumably from Pierce's deep pockets). Annie consoles Pierce, even though she's the most vulnerable and sure she's destined to keep living alone. He even tries to sneak in a kiss. When she goes to Troy and Abed's to get her stuff and bring it back to her place, they - plus Britta and Shirley - have turned the dreamatorium into her new room, perfectly set up except the arrangement of the throw pillows (they should be by color and not size, which Abed told Shirley). In fact, they realized that they kind of need her around to help them with a few things too, like helping them get Kool-Aid stains out because using the opposite color doesn't work. And who arrives at the last second with a case of beer? Jeff Winger.
"Call me Craig. And Call Blackmail a day at the mall with Craig."
Jeff thought he was pretty clever getting out of #AnniesMove but little did he know, Dean Pelton is even more clever. He's cleverer! While out shopping, Jeff just happens to bump into 'Craigular Joe' Pelton and is unable to give him the slip because he knows about the lying and the fake-illness. How does the Dean know that Jeff faked sick and is supposed to be moving Annie, well, because Troy and Abed have been tweeting it, of course. Blackmail comes easily to the Dean and soon enough, Craig doesn't have the time to rat Jeff out because they are too busy doing lunch. And now that Craig has Jeff handcuffed (not literally, although I'm sure he'd love that) they have time for more.
Yep. It's going to be a full-day at the mall for the two guys, starting with a nice lunch at a quant Mexican joint while wearing matching outfits. How cute. Especially when Jeff acts the perfect gentleman and orders for Craig (that's just weird... Dean Pelton). Soon he whisks Jeff away for a magical time at the mall's song booth, complete with the green-screen cheesy awesome backgrounds. Cue Seal's 'Kiss From a Rose' and you have one of the more memorable and laugh-out-loud funny moments of the season if not the series. It's actually a wonderful montage that links all the narrative threads as it begins with these two in the booth before cutting to the hitchhiker improvising his own lyrics in Britta's back-seat, Pierce tripping balls on the paint fumes and imagining a cool lounge setting with him behind a piano wearing a toupee and lastly, Annie watching the TroBed shadow puppet show.
It takes a little milking for the Dean to get Jeff into the booth and willing to join in on the fun... or else! The Dean tells him not to worry they've done it 1000 times together already in his mind and before you know it, they're off and Jeff looks beyond horrified. However, as the aforementioned montage unfolds, Jeff unwinds and begins to enjoy himself, even admitting that it was a little bit of fun in the end. This is when the Dean accidentally lets it slip how he was reading the school emails and knew Jeff would be around because he told his therapist that he wanted some alone time this weekend. Oops. That's when Jeff ditches the Dean and shows up with the beers. Why is the study group so quick to forgive him? Well, the video of Jeff and the Dean performing Seal... "he tweeted it!"
"I liked Horse-Bot 3000."
The tag is very brief and re-stages one of the earlier set-pieces, namely the shadow puppet show. This time, Annie joins Troy and Abed behind the sheet as they put on a rousing rendition of 'Horse-Bot 3000 vs. The Blogons for Grendalia.' Remember, you have to hit the Blogon King in the butt, that's his only weakness. At first, I wasn't all that into it but then the cut to Britta and Jeff watching somehow changed the entire dynamic and made it hilarious. Of course, McHale kills with the finale line. I too liked Horse-Bot 3000 but his place is in the stars now.
This wasn't the greatest episode. It's almost a return to the sluggish start that I've talked so much about, yet, I can't help but feel like there were some moments of sheer 'go-for-broke' greatness that make it worthy of more praise. Almost everything about Jeff and the Dean was so well written and funny that the show as a whole became more than the sum of some of the slower parts. Just the singing booth montage alone makes it one of the more memorable shows, too bad the other threads weren't as strong. Also, the mention of Jeff's therapist is certainly interesting and I would look for that part to be filled by another great guest star in a story line that adds to last week's 'daddy issue' development with Jeff's character. We just might get to see both his daddy and his therapist before the season is out.
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.