Man, I miss those VCR board games, they were all sorts of fun. The more complicated, the better.
We join the Save Greendale Community as they wrap up another meeting, Annie asking for volunteers to clean out a storage room, which surprisingly enough Jeff volunteers for right away. When questioned, he explains that Annie always saves the harder stuff for last, only then to discover that the task was the last one, that’s right, Annie through the curve ball. It was rather funny to see her scathing remark towards Jeff about no one knowing her pattern. Abed then joins the group with his coat check girl girlfriend (aka Rachel) who gives to him the VCR game Pile of Bullets. And here is where we get the plot split. Jeff, Shirley, and Hickey go off to clean and organize the storage room while Annie and Abed spend the night with Rachel and Annie’s visiting brother.
While Jeff and company clean out the storage room, they find a pile of textbooks stashed inside an air duct, and things quickly devolve. Hickey and Jeff have the plan to sell the textbooks and turn a tidy profit, textbooks are expensive after all. Shirley doesn’t want to at first, but thanks to some Jeff Winger word magic, she comes around, and fully dives in. What follows is an amusing parody of drug trading, which doesn’t surprise me given Jonathan Banks’ (Prof. Hickey) previous role on Breaking Bad. Of course things can’t run smoothly, Britta gets called in because she has the connections needed to sell the book, and usually I would question just how someone has to connections to illegally sell college textbooks, but its Community, weird shit like that is par for the course. After an arguement about payment Chang wanders into the room, is grabbed, and forced to record a video saying he stole the books. At this point Jeff begins to see this spiraling out of control and tries to back out, only to be tied up with Chang. He then works his Winger Word Magic, and gets Shirley, Hickey, and Britta to turn on each other. We cut to everyone tied up by Shirley who is off to sell the books, only to learn that they are misprints and worthless.
This plot was just flat out fun. Not the greatest one we have seen, but still fun to watch. Of all the parodies and satires that Community has done over its five year run, we haven’t had a drug one yet, so it was nice to see something new. Best part of this was Shirley’s descent into darkness. She has always prided herself on being a good person, so its always fun to see this side of her, but we haven’t really seen her take it this far before. What was best about it, was that there was no lesson at the end, they didn’t learn anything new, they just had an unpleasant night in a storage room. That fact alone made just made the whole thing hilarious to watch. I was expecting a Winger Speech at the end about learning some lesson about friendship or respect, but no. Just people being horrible people. Hilarious.
While all this is going on, Annie and Abed find themselves in a bit of disagreement of their own. Without Troy around they are having trouble making rent, and need a new roommate. Abed wants Rachel because he is trying to fast track their relationship, and Annie wants her brother because he has money and can fix things. Instead of talking it over like adults, they decide to duel it out over a game of Pile of Bullets, because lets be honest, this is Community, no one acts like the adults they are supposed to be, at least not at first. Abed and Annie begin their epic duel, leaving their guests with no idea why they are getting so into this old board game, neither of them being told of Abed and Annie’s deal. This of course blows up in their faces, Rachel storms out and Annie brother’s points out a problem between the two of them, and by extension the show at large. Their is a gap left by Troy’s departure. He acted as the peacekeeper between Annie and Abed, and with him gone they don’t have that buffer anymore. Abed is able to patch things up with Rachel, in true Abed fashion, and Annie and Abed realize they need to work things out, and find a new roommate.
While less fun than the textbook/drug sale plot, this wan was still fun to watch as we got to see just how big of an affect Troy’s departure has on the group, and not just on Abed. We got a better idea of his role within the group and how much they are hurting with him gone, and this was great. It’s no secret that the show has been hurting since Glover’s departure, so its nice to see that being addressed in the episode, that his character hasn’t just fallen into the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that usually befalls a character when they leave a show. Also, we got see Abed’s relationship with Rachel, and how his insecurities in dealing with other people are affecting that. He us trying to rush through things for fear of messing it up and losing her. It was surprisingly sweet, and fits in perfectly with Abed’s character. Even better, we had Rachel understand Abed’s fears and reassure him that she wasn’t phased by them. I like her character, she’s great, and I am glad to see her’s and Abed’s relationship progressing.
On a final note, the cowboy in Pile of Bullets was none other than Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, an amusing guest appearance that was a nice tie in to the textbook plot. The end scene of him being offered the role and his wife urging him to take it, and leave his job at Apple, was both hilarious and hurtful to watch.
Overall this was one of the better episodes since Troy’s departure. There was some fun breaks from the normal, and great character scenes. It is episodes like this that are given me hope for the future, that we might just see those six seasons and a movie.