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Community Review: “Remedial Chaos Theory” (Episode 3.04)

Community Review (3.04)

"Remedial Chaos Theory"

“Remedial Chaos Theory” will probably go down as one of the best episodes in the entire series. That is a big claim, but the episode easily earns it. It was clever, funny, complex, and extremely unique in the way the story was told. It’s all the things that Community is certainly capable of when the writers are on. And damn if they weren’t just dead on with this one.

Troy and Abed host a housewarming party for their new apartment. Dressed up in fancy attire and sporting big smiles, they do their best to sell this image that they are adults and making it on their own. It’s an understandable emotion, given that Troy and Abed are the youngest out of the group (besides Annie). And this is a big deal to them. As they all gather around to play Yahtzee and socialize, the Pizza deliveryman arrives and they have to decide who will go get it. Jeff of course is quick to come up with a plan to solve this dilemma. Starting from his left, everyone is assigned a number 1-6. Throwing a die up into the air, Abed comments that Jeff has just created six different timelines by using this as a solution. And well, that’s pretty much how the entire episode is structured. We get to see these different timelines play out. Call it quantum comedy.

On the surface, this kind of storytelling is effective because the use of repetition. Even if it’s from a slightly different perspective, seeing the characters and their usual traits repeat itself is hilarious. But what really makes this incredible, is how the story changes when one member of the group is removed from the equation.This opened up each timeline to have really hilarious situations, but on a much deeper and emotional level, it allowed the audience to observes the internal workings of the group, and how each member can really affect it.

From Britta getting high in the bathroom to Jeff hitting his head on the fan, there were some constants that never changed. Jeff always had to cut off Britta from singing the chorus to “Roxanne”. Annie and Jeff always seemed to get into a position where they would show that they have feelings for each other. Yet, in one form or another there were still obstacles and challenges getting in the way of that. Troy and Britta had a moment in the bathroom that only played out in one timeline, yet it kicked up past moments where the two had that fleeting connection. Pierce always giving his gift to Troy was his way of expressing his pent up anger/sadness that Troy was moving out of his “mansion”. But in one timeline where Troy actually opens up to Pierce and thanks him for all he’s done for him, Pierce actually feels guilty that the gift was mean spirited. Without Troy’s confession, another timeline is completely altered. At one point Pierce lashes out at Abed for being jealous, because he’s “crazy and lonely”. This, an obvious reflection of what Pierce is feeling in his life currently.

The biggest holy crap moment came when it was Troy’s turn to get the Pizza. Rushing so he “wouldn’t miss a thing”, all hell breaks loose in this timeline. Jeff gets up and hits his head on the fan (as usual). But this time when Annie goes to help him, she slips and falls on the table sending the gun in her purse (a nod to her bad neighborhood) to the floor. The gun fires off into Pierces leg. There is blood everywhere, and Britta makes it worse by accidentally lighting the apartment on fire. All of this leads to Troy coming back in complete disbelief as he sees the Norwegian troll staring at him out the flames. This was easily one of the funniest and insane scenes the show has ever done.

All of this comes to a conclusion when Jeff is about to throw the die on last time, and Abed stops the die from falling. “I don’t think you should. Chaos already dominates enough of our lives. The universe is an endless raging sea of randomness. Our job isn’t to fight it, but to weather it together, on the raft of life. A raft held together by those few rare beautiful things we know to be predictable, us. It won’t matter what happens to us as long as we stay honest and accepting of each other’s flaws and virtues. Annie will always be driven. Shirley will always be giving. Pierce will never apologize. Britta is sort of the wild card from my perspective. And Jeff, will forever stay a conniving son of a bitch. There are 6 sides of this die, and 7 of us. He devised a system where he would never have to get the pizza.”

I have to say though, I found the ending to be a bit depressing. Being a big Jeff fan, I couldn’t help but think back to the season premiere where Jeff saw himself as the new Pierce. And well, it looks like this season is going to keep going that direction. Because after Abed exposes Jeff’s plan to get out of getting the pizza, the minute Jeff leaves, the group is able to open up and just have fun. Whereas Jeff would usually tell Britta to NOT sing “Roxaaaaaane”, this time she’s encouraged. And the rest of the group are able to dance and just have fun. As Jeff comes back to the apartment with the Pizza, he acknowledges this. It’s a bit of a hard thing to admit that you are now the drain on the group.But then again, it was also great seeing the group just having such a good time together. I loved when Pierce trashed the present, and joined in with them. It was a welcome break from all the internal fighting we have witnessed in the group lately. Still, Jeff being in the kitchen at the party was in my view, symbolic of his current position in the group. And I’m really interested to see how they play out his arc this season.

“Remedial Chaos Theory” offered us a deep insight into the group. Sure there was only one timeline that is “canon”. But that’s not to say that each timeline should be discounted. Because these were the same characters, acting to a new situation. It really makes you think how much life is “situational” and how things can play out differently based on what situations we get and how we decide to deal with them. All of this, completely influenced by our personalities. Not to get too philosophical, because at the end of the day, it was also just one of the funniest episodes of the show. Pierce’s constant blabbering about banging Eartha Kitt on a plane. Britta’s now infamous Pizza in her tummy dance. At its core, this was just an episode about the group hanging out. And that’s something that can sometimes get lost in all the school assignments, and challenges thrown their way.

Grade: A+

Best Lines & Other Random Thoughts

  • Troy and Abed’s new apaaartment!
  • All the photos of Troy and Abed on the wooden wall were fantastic. 
  •  “We read a book on how to be the perfect party host’s. Rule number 1: Dress to impress. Rule number 2: Avoid touchy topics such as the negro problem. The book was written in the 40’s.”
  • Shirley: “Time fly’s by when I’m baking: Troy: “Noooo it doesn’t”. 
  • Britta: “Super cool, and sexy. Super sexy cool”. Annie: “Overselling it”
  • Jeff: “Oh look, Indiana Jones and the apartment of the perpetual virginity”. 
  • Troy: “Chop busted fellow Adult. Chop busted”. 
  • Jeff: “It’s like it was designed for me. Abed: “It was, I made it in photoshop and mailed it to you a month ago so you would keep tonight open on your calendar”.
  • Pierce: “Everyone knows it’s Puerto Rican chess.
  • Annie: “The pizza guy was kind of creepy”. Jeff: “So he was a pizza guy”. 
  • Norwegian troll. Seriously, that had to be one of the funniest things on the show. 
  • Pierce: “It’s where my mind went.”. Jeff: “Your mind went along time ago”.
  • Britta: “Crap, I was not supposed to eat your stuff we all made an agreement. Crap I was not supposed to say that out loud. Crap okay, cards on the table. I’m really high right now”. 
  • Shirley: “I can’t believe I’m feeding my pies to a drug addict”. Britta: “Drug addict, you’re a pie pusher! You push pies for love!”
  • Jeff: “Makeout 101. Less dad talk, and you can ease up on the bubble gum lip gloss”. 
  • Britta:”And troy lost his larynx because for some dumb reason he tried to destroy a flaming troll doll by eating it! Clearly you don’t understand anything about defeating trolls”.
  • I can’t say enough about the “evil timeline”. Jeff losing an arm, Pierce dying from the gunshot. Shirley turning into an alcoholic. And yet, Britta’s dark times are represented by a color streak in her hair. It was just awesome that they included the timeline that would have happened had Abed not stopped the die from falling. And well, who else wouldn’t mind seeing Evil Abed and Evil Troy take on the fabric of time with paper goatees. 
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