Sunday, July 4, 2010

Community 1.24: "English as a Second Language"

“I know the family downstairs hates me. I don’t need to understand why.”

It’s finals time at Greendale, and as the Dean pumps soothing nature sounds through the PA system in an attempt to keep the student body calm, the study group is discussing their plans for next year. Annie is counting on the rest of the group continuing on to Spanish 103 just like she is. At first, everyone but Jeff thinks that’s a great idea. Jeff, however, thinks his four year plan would be derailed if he took any more Spanish than what was necessary to fill the language requirement. The rest of the group jumps ship to Jeff’s side of the argument when Annie tells them the schedule for Spanish 103- Monday through Friday at 6 AM. I have to say, I certainly wouldn’t be joining anybody for a 6 AM class, either, no matter how much I wanted to spend time with them. A class that early is just cruel and unusual punishment!

The issue still isn’t resolved in Spanish class the next day. Annie wants to try to get the group to take a different class together, like Anthropology, but Jeff still isn’t willing to go along with the program. The discussion is interrupted when Chang asks everyone in the room but Jeff to leave. It’s a rare funny Chang moment that isn’t ruined by Ken Jeong being way too over-the top. Chang wants to know where Jeff got his fake degree and how/why it went wrong. It turns out Chang faked his credentials to get his current job, and he’s afraid that the Dean is going to find out. Chang was a washed-up keytarist, not a Spanish expert. It turns out that Chang learned all the Spanish he’s been teaching the class from Sesame Street. I loved that little detail because I could pretty much say the same thing about myself, and I’m a huge Henson fan. Unbeknownst to either of them, the digital recorder Annie uses to record lectures has captured this entire conversation.

The next day, the Dean comes into Spanish class to announce that thanks to an anonymous tip, it has been discovered that Chang’s credentials were faked, and Chang has been fired. The replacement is a professor with actual mastery of Spanish who expects the students to already be able to hold conversations in Spanish. The students all know they’re screwed. After class, the group hears what sounds like the alarm on Jeff’s car. Jeff rushes across the parking lot to see Chang attacking his car with a keytar. It’s a very funny image, although I shudder to think what Jeff is going to go through with his car insurance company to get all of Chang’s damage to the car fixed.

Back in the study room, Jeff, in front of the entire group, accuses Annie of dropping a dime on Chang. Annie has no success denying it, but the rest of the group is about to start being sympathetic when Annie starts looking like she’s about to cry. Jeff gets the rest of the group to cover their eyes so they can’t be swayed. My favorite moment of this scene is when Jeff has to tell Abed that Annie is the “Ark of the Covenant” to get him to go along with it, because Abed only reacts to pop culture references. Annie leaves the room horribly upset, and Jeff tells the group they need to shut her out completely- no calls, no texts, nothing. Part of me can certainly empathize with Annie. She has a newfound “family” of college friends, and she desperately doesn’t want to give that up. Jeff has the better point, though. Annie’s got to be a touch crazy to go about preserving that new family in the way she did. Her method ended up deeply hurting the people she was hoping to keep close.

In the middle of all this drama, there’s a rather inconsequential B-story involving Troy that amounts to nothing more than a parody of “A Beautiful Mind.” It’s basically the complete opposite of that story, where the college’s maintenance staff is trying to convince Troy that he should be a plumber instead of a student. At one point, the maintenance man specifically leaves a wrench next to a broken sink just to get Troy to prove to himself that he has plumbing skills. Even Abed gets in on the act, telling Troy that every day in Spanish class, he hopes he won’t see Troy sitting at his usual desk. The idea is that Abed hopes Troy has followed his true calling of being a plumber, but I don’t think Troy ever quite understands that. He’s just offended that Abed doesn’t want to see him in class. The story overall is kind of abandoned with a whimper at the end with Troy obviously not deciding to become a plumber.

As the Spanish 102 class gathers for their final exam, Shirley receives a disturbing text from Annie. She’s confessing and trying to make it right with Chang. After witnessing Chang’s wrath with Jeff’s car, Jeff is convinced that Chang will destroy Annie, and he leads the study group charge out of the exam room and to Annie’s rescue. Starburns leads the rest of the students out of the room too, so we know the stunt won’t affect their Spanish grades. It turns out that Annie isn’t actually in danger afterall. The group finds Chang jamming (painfully) on the keytar as Annie watches. Annie says she and Chang have been talking about how he can get a job and become a student at Greendale. Maybe he can even take some music classes.

The Spanish final is held at a later date, and even though Chang hasn’t been reinstated as their professor, the study group thinks they all passed. In fact, they think the exam was surprisingly easy. Jeff is now feeling the study group love, and he makes sure the group will all be taking Anthropology together next year. The whole thing feels like a perfectly satisfying season finale, although we still have one more episode to go (well, we do on the blog, that is). Everyone in the study group did indeed pass the exam, and in the final moments of the episode, we learn why exactly the exam was so easy. It turns out Pierce slept with the new professor. Can I get an “Eeewwww!!”

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