Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Community 1.25: "Pascal's Triangle Revisited"

“I can’t believe I made it through my first year of college. I finally get to click ‘send’ on so many ‘I told you so’ e-mails!”

Despite “English as a Second Language” feeling very much like a finale, “Community” still had one episode left in it this season. I don’t know if it was dueling finale ideas that the writers couldn’t choose between or what. “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited” was a satisfying finale, though, with appearances from many favorite guest characters and a fun twist at the end. One thing I didn’t especially love about this episode was that it centered around yet another school dance. Although there was a meta reference made about how many dances Greendale has, that doesn’t negate the fact that there are indeed a ridiculous number of them. This one was at least more of a romantic comedy send-up than yet another John Hughes homage, at least. That’s a little variety!

It’s the last day of the school year, and understandably, Jeff is in a really, really good mood. He happily says hello to everyone as he walks across campus, and some of the people he sees are fun minor characters that haven’t shown up for a while like the professor who bases his persona off of “Dead Poets Society.” Jeff ends up talking to Annie and Vaughn, and as Jeff and Annie are about to leave for class, the Dean steps in with a plan, as always, to inevitably ruin Jeff’s day. The Transfer Ceremony, which honors Greendale students moving on to bigger and better things, is taking place today, as is the obligatory Transfer Dance, or “Tranny Dance” for short. Gotta love how Dean Pelton fails so utterly at being politically correct, even though he normally tries so hard at it. The Dean wants to make sure the study group will all be at the festivities. He thinks they’ll be especially interested in participating because of Britta. Yeah, that was a brief fake-out to make us all think Britta might be leaving.

In actuality, Britta isn’t transferring, she’s been nominated for “Tranny Queen.” Britta doesn’t quite know what to make of that, but she does mention that she’s never been nominated for something like that before. She discusses the issue in a therapy session with Professor Duncan. Yep, that’s right, John Oliver is back! I enjoy the absurdity of Professor Duncan more than I enjoy the absurdity of Señor Chang. I think I just enjoy the British comedic sensibility in general, and John Oliver definitely brings that to “Community.” Anyway, Professor Duncan convinces Britta to participate in the competition. As Britta leaves his office, Chang arrives. Chang makes the same proposition to Professor Duncan that Jeff made in the pilot. Once again, Professor Duncan refuses to help an unenthusiastic student cheat. Duncan is also relishing in Chang’s downfall, which is really hilarious.

There’s plenty of drama going on with other members of the study group, too. Troy’s home life has become pretty unbearable, and he needs to find a place to live for the next school year. He keeps hinting to Abed that he would like to move into Abed’s dorm room, but Abed isn’t really taking the hint. Jeff runs into his ex, Professor Slater, and it turns out that she wants Jeff back. She claims she was afraid of commitment (which is what she accused Jeff of being) when they broke up, and she says that she made a mistake. Jeff and Britta, meanwhile, are kind of awkward around each other following hooking up in “Modern Warfare,” but they also seem to be potentially interested in exploring a relationship. Finally, Vaughn has gotten a hacky sack scholarship to a college in Delaware, and Annie says she’s joining him there for the summer. She secretly tells Jeff that she’s planning to make the move permanent. She feels like she needs to start living in the moment more, and moving to Delaware with Vaughn would be a good step in that direction.

Britta and Slater clash at a party Abed holds in his dorm room (I’m assuming he’s trying to check another item of his college experiences list, because I can’t imagine him being okay with all those people in his dorm room otherwise), and the insanity continues at the Tranny Dance. Both end up making absolute idiots of themselves over Jeff, trying to outdo each other in showing their affection and how each would be a better girlfriend than the other. It’s really kind of ridiculous, especially since Britta is usually above that sort of thing. One Britta moment that I liked in the whole mess is when she and Shirley are having a bathroom conference and Britta admits to Shirley that she slept with Jeff. What I liked about it from Britta’s perspective was that it showed her growth as a character. Earlier this season, she had to be introduced to the concept of ladies’ room chat, and now she’s revealing a huge secret to Shirley in just that setting. I also liked Shirley’s reaction. She didn’t care so much about Britta’s possible impending relationship with Jeff, she was just concerned about the cleanliness of the study room!

The Britta/Jeff/Slater triangle reaches its most ridiculous point later on when the Tranny Queen is about to be crowned. Britta and Slater are still arguing over who is better for Jeff. Britta says that Jeff needs someone who doesn’t wear underwear because she hasn’t done laundry for three weeks. Although I have never let laundry get quite that out of control, I have to say score one for those of us who are not domestically inclined! After she makes that comment, the Dean starts his queen crowning spiel. Britta thinks she’s the winner, so the goes up to the microphone and is about to give a speech, but it turns out that the Dean was just listing the names of all the nominees. Humiliated, Britta makes one last play for Jeff. She announces on the microphone that she loves him. Jeff isn’t quite sure what to do with this, and he seems to be leaning towards letting Britta down gently when Slater has to chime in and say she loves him too. This sets up a stereotypical romantic comedy moment where everyone at the dance expects Jeff to choose between the two women. Before he can make his choice, however, a very drunk Professor Duncan takes over the microphone, and Jeff takes the opportunity to get the heck out of there.

Much hilarity ensues as Duncan goes on a bit of a tirade, making fun of the Dean’s (more than) kind of gross Dalmatian fetish. Duncan gets suspended for his conduct, and as soon as that happens, Chang takes the opportunity to punch him. Chang had been refraining from doing so before because he didn’t want to get in trouble for hitting a professor. Also while all the triange drama was going on, the Troy and Abed story progressed as well. Abed feels like if Troy moved into his dorm room, it would be too much of a good thing. He feels like their friendship would “jump the shark.” Troy doesn’t understand this at first, but he finally gets it after he eats a giant cookie and feels sick to his stomach (the cookie was an only mildly funny sight gag). Troy takes Pierce up on his offer to live with him instead, but of course, there’s been a very politically incorrect misunderstanding. It is Pierce, after all, and what is Pierce if not politically incorrect? Pierce wanted Troy to become a member of his household staff.

When Jeff ran out of the room where the dance was being held, he ran right to the parking lot where none other than Annie was waiting. She has changed her mind about going to Delaware, and she thinks Greendale is where she belongs. They make small talk about Annie’s decision and about Jeff’s dilemma, and Jeff is genuinely glad that Annie is staying at Greendale. All seems to be as normal until suddenly Jeff and Annie kiss. The Jeff/Annie relationship still seriously squicks me out, but I have to admit that it was an excellent surprise ending. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really all that surprising, but it was a fun twist. I’ll definitely be tuning in this fall to see what happens next.

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