Community: Episode 208 “Cooperative Calligraphy”
9.5/10 — If you didn’t like this episode, you don’t like this show.
I don’t remember the internet ever being this excited about watching clothed (for the most part) community college students hang out together in a room together for twenty two minutes. 208 is the long awaited “bottle episode,” taking place entirely in the beloved study room. Annie can’t find her pen, which has apparently happened before. She believes a member of the study group is taking them, and hilarity ensues.
Season two, so far, has included several narrowly focused parody episodes. Ones on things like indie filmmaking, the space race/Apollo 13, and a (canonical) zombie apocalypse. While these have all been fun and well received on the danharmonsucks.com forums, many fans have been longing for an episode that reminds us why we fell in love with this show in the first place. Community is not special because it makes jokes about popular culture; Joel McHale does that better at his other job. Community is special because we love the characters that Harmon and Co. developed over a magnificent first season, and those characters are often at their best when they are sitting around the study room table and interacting with one another.
Cold Open: Annie Screaming, Troy being weird, Pierce depriving hospitals of expensive equipment. What else could you want? Plus, I love the idea that Greendale is having a puppy parade, and that the dean is so pumped about it.
Best line: Troy — “I wanna see if those wiener dogs are born that way, or if they start off normal and then get wiener.”
Act 1: These are the characters we fell in love with. Annie is uptight and pretty adorable throughout. It was nice to see Britta make a return to taking a ridiculous stance on something. It always seems to me that she knows that her position is ridiculous, but she feels that she needs to be “all or nothing” politically to have respect for herself. Plus, she gets props for the Pink Floyd lyrics. Some people might be put off by Abed and Jeff referring to their situation as a “bottle episode,” but the rapid fire, back and forth interaction among everyone should make up for any “they’re-over-using-meta-comedy” sentiments. Shirley starts off super nice, but her temper flares quickly. I love it when she is so clearly trying to take the high road, but can’t maintain her “turn the other cheek” demeanor when someone pushes back.
Best line(s) (tie): Shirley — “Britta, we’re sorry we embarrassed you and looked at your prophylactic equipment. Your lifestyle mistakes are none of our business.” And then: “I’ll make your ass sense.”
Act 2: Troy’s backpack contains nothing but a pillow. He should be everyone’s hero. The girls discovering Abed’s charts might be the funniest moment of the season for me. I especially loved it when Abed handed Annie a tissue and a chocolate, proving that, even though he was super creepy, he was also right. I don’t believe they are going to go where they’re implying they could go with Shirley/Chang, but it’s nice that they show a continuation of that story line. Everyone ultimately going insane is fantastic: Jeff ripping up the carpet, Annie stripping, everyone actually following, and finally cutting off the casts? The study group seems completely broken at this point, and we get maybe the saddest act 2 ending in Community ever. That last shot before the break really says everything about how much these people want to be able to trust each other completely, and how sad they are that they might not be able to any longer.
Best line: Abed — “For a while I thought I’d have to suffer through a puppy parade, but I much prefer being entombed alive in a mausoleum of feelings I can neither understand nor reciprocate.” Honorable mention: Troy — “What’s going on and how can I help?”
Act 3: It’s nice to see everyone so willing to blame something irrational rather than lose faith in each other, and then enjoying Troy’s story. This group being happy together makes me happy. The resolution is great because it shows us that the group is right. It’s fun to finally figure out what Annie’s Boobs has been up to since “Contemporary American Poultry.” Most importantly, it shows the audience (who might not be as willing to believe that this group was right in trusting each other) that the group should, in fact, be trusting each other.
Best line: Dean Pelton — “Non-miraculous? Wait… Abed.”
End tag: Puppy parade floats. I’m disappointed that it wasn’t Troy and Abed, but then again, I’m a cat person.
Best line: Dean Pelton booing “Equality + Togetherness”.
Final thoughts: The only complaint that I have about this episode is that the balance is off. Act 2 is too long, and act 3 is too short. This leaves the resolution feeling forced (time-wise), even though I think that the group deciding that they would rather believe in something unbelievable than not trust each other is the perfect ending. Other than that, this episode is everything fans who have been asking for a character-driven episode could have hoped for.