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Review: “Horror Fiction In Seven Spooky Steps” (Episode 3.05)

Community Review (Episode 3.05)

Horror Fiction In Seven Spooky Steps (Episode 3.05)

There was something very comforting about tonight’s Halloween episode. Sure by this point it’s already been beaten to death that the group are a bunch of narcissists who’s relationship with one another is nothing short of being toxic. But “Horror Fiction In Seven Spooky Steps” reminded us why despite these flaws, these people mesh together for that very reason.

Whereas “Remedial Chaos Theory” focused more on the groups dynamic when pitted up against situations and or the subtraction of a member from the group, tonight’s episode focused more on how each member views someone else in the group. Carrying over from an earlier episode, the psych tests Britta administered to the group are now analyzed, and it turns out one person in the group has the potential to develop homicidal tendencies. No surprise there. But who? And this is what I particularly loved about tonight’s episode. It felt like a throw-back to the old “who done it” stories often used in the genre’s classics. It’s also easy to compare tonight’s episode to The Simpson’s Tree House of Horror episodes that have become a tradition for many every Halloween season. Using the narrative device of each member telling their own horror story, it allowed the episode to really open up with the seven hilarious stories that also gave us a bit of an insight into what each member is thinking.

Britta kicks off the entire thing by presenting a rushed Horror story, and asking everyone for their reactions to it. Gauging how they reply to the story, she tries to figure out who is the insane one in the group. The story being rushed, is a funny commentary on Britta herself, who is nothing short of being a hot mess. But that’s really the point of these stories, a reflection of the character telling it. Instead of giving a reaction, everyone tries to give their take on a horror – each with their own idea of what a horror story should be.

Abed’s story was analytical. He notes how flat and stupid the character’s are in Britta’s jumping off story, and counters by providing a foolproof story where the protagonist’s do not fall into the same tropes that most do in Horror stories. This leads to Abed and Britta standing back to back each holding a knife, and waiting for the police to arrive. As a horror story, it sucks. And the group knows it. It’s a bit of an interesting commentary on how we view stories though. Here the group is trying to figure out who is insane, and Abed provides a story that is logical, and sound. This draws a lukewarm reaction from the group, as they actually now want the characters in his story to die. While it was unintentional (the group didn’t know they were being analyzed), I thought it was funny that Abed approaches his story with reason, whereas the rest just wanted to jump in and define what makes a good horror story.

Annie’s story was a reflection of her yearning for Jeff and the frustration she feels towards him. Her story kicked off with her being whisked across the cabin’s threshold by Jeff for a romantic evening. But it’s quickly soured when Jeff reveals that he is a vampire, a “monster that can’t be changed”, despite her belief that monsters can be changed. He shows her by revealing Britta in his closet, who he uses to bite. This, an allusions to Jeff’s sexual needs, and bad behavior. Britta’s reply: “I’m okay with this” was a great to last season’s reveal that the two had been sleeping together all season long. Annie equating this to Jeff sucking her blood and feeding on his urges, is poignant to say the least. As she is about to leave, Jeff does ask for one thing – for her to teach him how to read. The hilarious scene where Jeff struggles to get words out as he stumbles his reading, was a reflection of Annie’s view that Jeff despite being dumb, is lovable. Despite this, he says he can’t resist Annie and has to feed on her. Annie quickly combats Jeff, by revealing she is actually a werewolf that feeds on monsters. This of course is a reflection that Annie deep down, is actually fierce. And regardless of what happens between her and Jeff, she can hold her own. I also think by at this point, Jeff needs to realize she is a grown adult that knows what she wants, and he shouldn’t underestimate her.

I’ve always viewed Troy as the most innocent and childlike out of the group. So his story had that feel going for it. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Troy is my favorite character on the show. Him and Abed’s friendship has always been a highlight of Community for me, and is a really endearing quality of the show. Regardless of the crap the group goes through, we can always count on their friendship to hold strong, and there is something very warm about that. So when Troy carried Abed over the Cabin footstep, I couldn’t help but instantly smile. And of course, they were both pilots of a crashed aircraft (something bad ass). The story is a play on Troy’s perspective that Pierce is jealous of what him and Abed have together. And despite his efforts to thwart that, it only makes their friendship stronger. Pierce playing the mad scientist, quickly ushers the two into his cabin where he gives them a cure for their injuries. Because it’s Pierce, the cure ends up being poison. When they wake up, they find out Pierce has sewed them together. But instead of staying freaked out, they realize they now have ESP. “You tried to destroy us, but you’ve only made us MORE AWESOME!” Their punishment for Pierce? They sew his butt to his chest, and also make his hands his feet, because they anticipated Pierce would be okay with having butt boobs. Yes, butt boobs is an idea that now exists. Thank you Dan Harmon.

Shirley’s story was actually the most interesting one to me. Because out of everyone in the group, I’ve always found her to be the odd one out. She’s religious, and conservative in her behavior and views. And let’s be real, the group isn’t the most conservative in their behavior. She’s also a mother, and much older than the majority of the group, which has always put her at a bit of a disadvantage (Jeff, Pierce, and Britta have always tried to act younger then they actually are, in contrast). So it was great to actually see how she views the group. Having the group all look like 90’s washed out hippies that were slaves to the evils of the world was hilarious. So when the rapture finally comes and it’s announced they are the “coolest”, it’s swiftly met with a “too bad, it’s the end of the world now”. To which Jeff asks: “Can anything suck worse than this”? In comes Dean Pelton as Satan. And yes, it can get much suck(ier). The Dean (I mean Satan) announces that they have Pilates coming up. In hell though, Pilate is a “demon that eats your genitals”. Shirley then comes in to save the day, as she appears in her angel form and blows the demon away. BUT, she’s not really there to save them, rather, to forgive them. It’s already too late for these damned souls, they chose to be cool instead of being faithful. All jokes aside, this must be a real struggle for Shirley. Day in and day out, she has to deal with her best friends being what she views as “sinners”. So it must be hard on her on two levels. The fact that she can’t every truly fit in with them on that same level, and that the people she cares about do not believe as she does. I thought it was an extremely insightful look into how she views not only the group, but her place in it.

After the group realizes Britta pulled a “britta” and screwed up the test results, they run the tests one more time. The results are even less surprising this time, as it turns out the entire group is insane, except one person. The group contemplates whether they should reveal who the only “sane” one is or not, but come to the conclusion that it’s much better if everyone takes comfort in knowing they “might” be sane. But as the credits are about to roll, the test results are shown to us, and Abed is the only sane one in the group.

I found this ending to be a great commentary on the overall show. Here we have Abed, who on the surface is the most “weird” one out of the group. Yet, for all the things that make him weird, he’s completely confident in who he is. Everyone else in the group tries really hard to be “something”, and this inevitably ends up being a mask that covers up what they really are. The sooner the other members of the group become more like Abed, and are truly okay and open with who they are, the quicker they will truly be fulfilled and happy. And I do believe Community is moving in that direction for our protagonists.

Five episode’s into season three, and I think the show has really hit its stride. Not only has it produced two of the best episodes in the entire series run, it’s set the stage for some potentially rewarding character plots.

Grade: A

Some Random Lines:

  • “I don’t understand. We are having a party before the party? Sometimes I think you young people make this crap up.”
  • “I told you guys you didn’t need to dress up”. “Oh we were wearing this when you called.” “Yeah, when we dress up you will know.” Seriously, how awesome must Troy and Abed’s life be back at their apartment. I swear they could do an entire show on that alone.
  •  “I’m one of those guys from the fast and furious.” “Which one?” “I don’t know, I don’t watch that shallow crap. I just pick a costume girls will like.”
  • Okay, I know I have an Annie bias. But I went wild when she was doing her little dance at the table.” 
  • Britta: “Also, I rigged the lights to flicker for Halloween.” “It’s been flickering for weeks”. “Halloweeeen week.” Wouldn’t be a special episode without the dean!
  • Jeff: “Wait, are people using my name to make a small mistake?” “…Yes”
  • “Shirley, that wasn’t a horror story, that was a sermon. You ruined a Britta party. That’s like letting poop spoil.”
  • Jeff: “Drinks from a complete stranger.” “So medical.”
  • Troy mentioning that the Dean has meat from the military again was awesome.
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