I’m going to start with a confession. I haven’t been totally enamored with Community this season, as much as I was by end of last season. I felt “Modern Warfare” was one of the best things to ever be put on a TV screen, and as a Jeff/Annie shipper, I loved the season finale almost as much. Don’t get me wrong, I liked “Basic Rocket Science”, and I liked “Epidemiology 206”, but I also wondered if the show was doing too many of their own takes on other genres.
Maybe in too much of an effort to recreate the magic from “Modern Warfare”. I thought “Accounting for Lawyers” was one of the best episodes of the entire series, but some episodes like “Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples” took a couple viewings for me to appreciate them more. I know why I’ve felt this way, though. I had absurdly high expectations, and worse yet, I had no idea what would qualify in meeting those expectations.
I operated under the absurd premise of “I’ll know it when I see it!”. I hadn’t been this excited for a show since the early seasons of The Office, but unlike The Office, Community had a full season under it’s belt. For the 2nd season of The Office, it was just a good feeling that the show was even still going on in the first place. For me, I not only wanted Community to explode into a huge hit in it’s 2nd season that everyone watched, I wanted it to reach impossible levels of hilarity, and I wanted I to re-define the television medium altogether.
Again, absurd and unreasonable expectations. I wanted it to be the show I wanted it to be, yet I didn’t know what I wanted…until this episode. I will dare say that “Cooperative Calligraphy” can stand up to near any episode in the entire series, and also taught me how to take care of my problem — Sit Back, Relax, and Shut Up.
There is an episode in every great series where we realize what we knew all along: The people who are in charge of this show (Writers/Directors/Producers/etc…) know exactly what they are doing, are amazing at it, and we were probably foolish if we ever doubted them in the first place. On The Office, for me, that was “The Coup”. For Community, though? That’s easily “Cooperative Calligraphy”.
Tonight, there was only one story the entire time, and that was Annie has lost her pen, and she is determined to get it back. What I enjoyed in the cold open was that we got possibly a glimpse into what “Psycho” Annie was like, all with a scream that really made it seem like Annie just snapped. The reactions of the group were priceless, and it set the tone of the rest of the episode. The problem is this isn’t the first time it has happened, and to her it’s not even about the pen anymore, it’s about the principle of it. The pen isn’t that big a deal in itself of course, it’s that idea that someone in the group could actually take it. The idea that one of the people she has befriended, and grown to trust, has stolen from her and doesn’t have the decency to admit it.
The episode takes it from there, and gives us parts that remind us why we like each character. For instance, Pierce needs to get around now that he has two broken legs, so he has a new chair that allows him to move simply by blowing into a device. What makes it Pierce-like though: It’s one of the most expensive chairs he could get, AND he outbid 3 other hospitals to get the chair. The fact he thinks the chair makes him seem more than human, and not at all handicap, shows the lack of self-awareness that is part of what makes the Pierce character so funny.
Donald Glover also has an ability to make most lines seem even funnier then they already are. “Do they find thoughts in our butts?” is a funny line by itself, but with how the Troy character has been shaped up until now and it’s delivery, is a perfect example of how Donald takes those lines and makes them laugh out loud funny. Of course, this is only after Britta is the first to have her things gone through, with the worst item being a small amount of condoms. (“Big weekend?” “Can’t complain.”)
Britta, though, takes this as an invasion of her personal rights (which in a great moment drew a collective “Ughhh” from the group), but once it has happened to her she is just as determined as anyone to find out who took it. Little did Britta know she would later feel more violated after finding out that Abed has been keeping track of the menstrual cycles of all the women in the group. The show gave a chance for Abed to explain himself as to why he did it, which reminded us this still is a character who was to work through a lot to get where he wants to be socially, but still the women were understandably upset since he didn’t stop once he figured out what he was doing.
Shirley, the whole time thinking she would for some reason be passed over (or “I thought the Muslim had it!”), then had it revealed she may indeed be pregnant after the group discovered a pregnancy test in her purse. (“Are they seriously marketing pregnancy tests to black women?”) At this point, Jeff himself snaps and tears up the entire Study Room. Then we have a moment, where Annie realizes that she may have taken it too far to begin with, doesn’t like where it’s now gone, and after all “It’s a pen!”.
The episode ends on a warm note, and really it was never about who took the pen. It was about all of them realizing how far they have come, how much trust they have in each other, and that with all they’ve gone through together no one would try take something from any other for any malicious reasons at all. All that matters, really, is that they trust and have each other. This is the episode we show our friends when we try to get them hooked on the series. This is the episode that shows why we love Community.
Episode Grade: A+
Best Lines & Other Random Thoughts
- I definitely think we are heading back to the route of Jeff/Annie. It wasn’t just the look at the end, it was also just the overall idea of Annie expecting Jeff to take care of this, and of course in the end Jeff was there for her. Although….what *did* Britta mean when she commented on the kind of underwear Jeff usually wears? Hmm…
- Can we just give the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series to Gillian Jacobs now? Britta is one of the most complex/most important characters on television right now, and each episode only seems to re-enforce that. She’s liberal, she’s full of passion, and that’s why we love her. And while we are at it, mark Donald Glover down for Best Supporting Actor.
- Troy’s reactions to Britta’s “1984” speech, makes me think even more so that a Troy/Britta pairing could be a lot of fun. They are in a way Ying & Yang to each other, but in a way that’s different than Jeff/Annie. Britta, in part just by virtue of being older and from her own studies on the world, has a lot of knowledge and opinions about the goings on of the world. Troy is much more relaxed, but also can be impressionable at times. Just seems like it could provide some hilarious moments.
- “Awww, I wanna lick it.”
- “Oh, like you’re famous for your wit…”
- The facial reactions were great, but Troy’s told the most of a possible future storyline with him/Shirley since he knows what happened on Halloween.
- “Hasta la later.”
- “Are the thought police gonna make love to us?”
- “Do they find thoughts in our butts?”
- “Razzulz, Pazzazzuz!”
- “Yes, we were all just thinking that…in 1856.”
- “Ok…You just became my hero.”
- “Everyone stay within each other’s eye lines please one of you is a monster.”
- “I can explain…Oh, I thought you’d keep yelling over me.”
- “I wanna say thank you for doing this to me, I prefer being entombed in a mausoleum of feelings I can neither understand nor reciprocate…Can I get you anything? Ice cream? Best friend medal?”
- “What’s going on, and how can I help?”
- “They look luxurious.”
- “The Coup” was episode No. 31 overall for The Office, while “Cooperative Calligraphy” is episode No.34 of Community. Is it fair to say around episode #30-35 is when a show really gets it’s footing set?
- For those wanting to see when the pen got stolen, check when Troy says “Aww, I wanna lick it.”, and watch the table.