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Community- Episode 5.03 "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" Review- A convoluted concept episode is a disappointment at best

Oh god, where do I even start? This episode had the potential to be a fun and enjoyable half hour of television, with smart one punch liners and ridiculous and exaggerated funny bits thrown in the midst of a well scripted parody. That’s not what I got. This episode is a mess, it mash ups a lot of things together at the same time and I’m left confused, unable to react; I can’t laugh, I can’t smile, I just stare at the screen, and I’m like “is that joke supposed to be funny?”. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we have an episode mostly centered on butts. I know, I know, there is some Jeff-Annie moments, we got a memo about Pierce, but you know what takes stage center? Butts; that’s mostly it.

The whole plot of the episode is that there is a guy who is rolling coins in people’s butts, thus being called “the ass crack bandit”. It’s the most typical prank ever made in high school and college, but as this is Greendale, of course things would go out of control and people will start making a mess of something that happens every day. That’s always been some of the beauty of Community, being able to take the most simple concept and make it crazy, and along that craziness the characters almost always find something about themselves and grow together. That’s not the case here; we have the crazy, but not the character moments, and that’s what make this episode so bland.

What bugs me the most of this episode is how little the cast is used; Shirley opens her sandwich shop at Greendale, Abed gives a short speech, Troy is attacked by the ass crack bandit, Britta is writing about the bandit, Hickey is… what was he doing again? And Chang is trying to help catch this bandit. That’s about it; none of them gets much to do, instead the episode focus solely on Jeff and Annie and puts the Dean on a kind of “villain” situation where he is constantly stopping Annie from investigating the teachers.

There’s also the return of Psychology professor Duncan, and it’s really sad that he gets to pop up in the episode to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Sorry, he flirts with Britta, that’s something. Duncan is a character that we haven’t seen in a while and his return was more than welcome, but they didn’t use him at all, which was one of the biggest bummers of the night.

The episode tries to work as a crime show (I think it’s trying to make a parody out of “The Killing”, but I’m not really sure), so we get our obsessed detective Annie on the case trying to work around the Dean who is obstructing her work. There are two good moments in this whole thing: the first, when they find the teddy bear with the bandit’s message in its butt (get it? It was in its butt! Add sarcastic laugh) and Annie tells the Dean she thinks a teacher did it, but the Dean refuses to listen to her, and when the Dean is snapping his fingers so that Rhonda can trace the call from the bandit. Aside from that, most of the jokes try to work around the word “butts”. Whenever Annie and Jeff are talking about how serious this thing is, I’m like “dude, they are not selling this”. It’s not an acting problem, it’s a script problem, the dialogue is often too serious to the point it’s just not funny, it lacks of a touch of glee and sassy remarks in the midst of it.

Talking about Jeff and Annie, why do the writers insist in throwing their relationship issues out of nowhere? The biggest issue I have with the “will they/won’t they” dance these two have is that it pops up time to time and then it is shuts completely; I assure you next week we won’t even remember these two shared a moment when Jeff grabbed Annie’s shoulders.

In order to make things more interesting, the show bring back Star Burns, who is blamed to be the ass crack bandit, but of course he isn’t. His troubles with meth are merely mentioned, and he is caged so people can throw coins at him; that’s a good deal for him as he won’t be meeting the police anytime soon, but his return has so little effect in Greendale that is sorely disappointing. When he “died” in season 3, his death unleashed a whole new arc in Community’s storytelling, but his return? It was only made so they could enhance the butts jokes, which were not working at all.

Jeff and Annie figure out that Star Burns is not the bandit and as someone screams and a chase scene is started, but how it ends? In a hallway, with Shirley telling Jeff and Annie that Pierce had passed away. WHAT?! Is that how they delivered the news?! There is zero build up to the moment, it is supposed to be touching, it is supposed to be an important moment, but it was trapped in the middle of a weak bandit plot that didn’t live up to its potential.

The episode closes with Annie and Jeff talking about how they failed to capture the bandit and that’s where the episode ends, followed up with a montage showing what the rest of the cast is doing as they weren’t shown much in the rest of the episode. And that’s it, no resolution. Now, an unsolved crime can do wonders for storytelling if done right (see “Zodiac”), but here… the episode was so disappointing that the lack of resolution just makes things worse.

What is this Community? Why did you make an episode like this? Luckily, next week we have an episode named “Cooperative Poligraphy” and I have high hopes for it; right now, I just want the bad taste of the episode to go away.

Grade: D+

Stray Observations:

-I hope the show makes more use of Rhonda, her dead eye look can make some funny moments with the Dean’s cheerfulness.

-I also hope that this isn’t the end of Star Burns storyline, it can’t end like this.

-Though I’m not a Jeff/Annie shipper, I do hope the show finally tackles the issue, Annie should at least be able to move on now or end up with Jeff, but it’s getting old, they can’t be stuck on this “will they/won’t they” dance forever.

-Some people liked Abed’s monologue, I found it pretty bland.

-On a side note: I love AV Clubs reviews, I always found them insightful and spot on, but Todd VanDerWerff’s review of this episode left me cold; he pointed out that the liked the episode mostly because of the butts jokes. Now, I think everyone is entitled to their own taste and opinion, but to grade an episode “B+” just because of one joke regardless of everything else? Does anyone else agree with this? Am I being too hard on the episode? I don’t know, I just know I didn’t like it at all, but if you did like it as Todd did, then I’m happy for you. I surely wish I could have enjoyed it as much.

-Even though I didn't like the episode, I was truly happy that the ratings increased.

-Last week maybe I was too hard on season 4, but I still believe this season can be much better than the previous; this is just a small setback. I trust next week’s episode will be great.

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, How I Met Your Mother and Community

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