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Community- Episodes 5.01/5.02 "Repilot/Introduction to teaching" Review- the show is back to its former glory!


Community is back! That is something I’ve been dying to say. This is really a special show, mostly because it has the guts to do some risky storytelling and all kind of shifts along the narrative. After re-watching season 3 and 4 I can tell that the problem with last season is that it tuned down Community; seasons 2 and 3 were really intense and crazy, while season 4 seemed to return to the basic structure season 1 had. As such, the show felt like it was reverting to its old self instead of evolving and that was not ok; there were good episodes last season, but it lacked the spark that makes the show great.

We are only 2 episodes into the season and I can already tell that the direction is way different and that the writers (plus Dan Harmon pulling the strings) are doing the best for the show to move forward and not backwards like last season and I feel like the spark is back, or at least it's starting to light. “Repilot” is an episode that is fairly enjoyable, but nothing to be crazy about; it’s mostly busy work to piece the show and its characters back together again, while “Introduction to Teaching” feels more like a classic Community episode. I liked both episodes and I was glad to see that it didn’t take too long for Community to find its footing.

Starting with “Repilot” we pick up sometime after Jeff graduated; he is trying to make it as a lawyer and he is failing miserably. And complete failure is the perfect time for evil ex-coworker Alan Connor to show up and alert Jeff about a potential lawsuit against Greendale. Jeff is doing so bad that once his drink is taken away from him he decides he has no choice but to do so.

Seeing Jeff return to Greendale has a strange feel of rebirth; as he walks down the corridors of his old community college and stares at the trophy he and Annie won as debate champions there is this feeling that the whole show is returning to what it once was. In fact “Repilot” is all about restarts; Jeff goes to get the records of a student named Humphries, who after graduating from Greendale has been building collapsing bridges (and we get to see his great thesis, a lego bridge that also collapses), so he can make the case for suing Greendale. The dean finds out that Jeff is looking for the records, but he assumes Jeff is there to help him save Greendale to which Jeff lies and says yes.

It turns out the old study room is now a records room and while Jeff is searching for Humphries records, Abed pops out (“I see your value now. It’s a reference from when we first met in season one”) and tells Jeff that he is part of the “Save Greendale” committee and he has invited the whole gang there. As everyone (minus Pierce who won ‘t be returning) gathers around their old table I couldn’t help but smile; nothing really memorable has happened yet, but there is a change in the air that makes you feel that the show has restored its sense of self. One of the main troubles of season 4 (aside from the one already mentioned above) it was that the show seemed to be struggling to find itself, as if it was lost and it didn’t know what to aim for. Seeing the study group reunited and hear them how their lives haven’t got any better since they left Greendale brings back to Community its feel of identity (or should I say “I-dean-tity”?); this was a show about broken people coming together in order to make something better, last season only some episodes felt that way, but now that feeling has surged to the surface once again and it seems the whole season will continue to carry on that.

As Jeff discovers Humphries records were shredded, he decides to create 5 new cases against Greendale, convincing his friends that it was this community college the one that dragged them down; Britta is bartender, Annie administer drugs to hospitals instead of working in hospital administration, Troy is waiting for Abed to complete a new social media app and then sue him, and Abed himself has done only one commercial for which he hasn’t been paid (Jeff assures him he is going to write him a check, but we know he won’t).}

Of the whole group Shirley is the one who has it the worst; her business failed, her husband left her and took her DVR (which had Bones in it) and now she is just waiting for him to call her. Jeff sees he is about convince his friends to turn against his school, he gets cocky and meets briefly with Alan to show him who is boss and we have a very funny scene in which he forces Alan to take his tie off and he hits him with it. As he goes back to the study room he finds out his friends have decided to enroll once again in Greendale, but soon they find out that Chang has been sleeping on some records boxes and that he is a math teacher now (also he dropped his Changnesia act, thank god!); this drives the gang insane and as they are about to turn against Greendale, Alan comes up and tells the group that Jeff intended to turn them against Greendale.

In a classic Community turns of events, the group decides to let Jeff decide if he is taking the case or not; and as the group is pretty sure Jeff is going to take the case, Abed decides to burn the table because no one else deserves it and everyone agrees. Jeff is about to leave, but then he sees a Pierce hologram warning him not to do it. It was a nice touch, and even better when he said he was never allowed to return (which is an obvious reference to Chevy Chase’s troubles with the cast and crew of the show). It took me by surprise and I like it, it followed up one of the few things I really liked of season 4, which was the fact that Pierce redeemed himself and showed that he could be also some kind of likeable character.

So Jeff confronts the dean about how crappy Greendale is and tells him that he should work to make the school a place where people shouldn’t be crazy in order to care about it; the dean offers Jeff a teaching job so he can help him improve Greendale. Jeff reluctantly agrees (and off camera too) and then goes to the entrance of the school where the group is about to burn the table to the ground. Jeff stops them as he says that he is not going to sure the school, and everyone makes a resolution to enroll once again in Greendale to do something different, to keep improving (except for Britta, who is insistent in being a psychologist). Then they burn the law suit Jeff was preparing and as he drops the paper on fire to the ground the table gets caught up in the fire. It doesn’t matter much though, the group makes another table for the study room and all is back to what it once was, but Jeff is teacher now.

“Repilot” is not the funniest Community episode, but it is certainly an enjoyable one; it offers the so much needed feel of identity the show seemed to lose last season and some very funny gags in the middle along with some references. It makes you feel like the show is back on track.

Grade: B+

Now as I said before “Introduction to teaching” feels more like a classic Community episode; with Repilot putting Community’s pieces back together, the show now is able to do its classic risky storytelling with twists and turns.

It starts with Jeff completely clueless of how to run his class; he has been a Greendale student for so long that he is not really comfortable with changing his status to teacher. No matter how much a teacher or a student tries to have symmetric relationships there is an obvious difference in the dynamic of it all; being a teacher means you get treated differently than if you are a student. In Greendale in particular, Jeff soon learns from Annie’s Criminology professor Buzz Hickey (who he shares office with) that teachers can skip launch lines and that they can do pretty much whatever they want in the classroom.

Annie finds out about this pretty quickly and she enrolls in Jeff’s class in order to make sure he does a proper job as a teacher; it doesn’t work that much at first, but once Jeff wins an argument against her and she leaves the classroom, Jeff’s students are impressed and asks him how he did it and as he explains how Jeff discovers how he can teach these students the little he knows about law and he also find out that he actually likes teaching.

Jeff is so excited about it that he goes to Annie to tell her that he might enjoy teaching, but Annie is crying because Hickey gave her an “A-” (spoiler alert, this is the grade of the episode); that drives Annie crazy and she decides to drop Jeff’s class, so he goes to confront Hickey about it; turns out that “-” in the grades are just a convention used by professors to deal with unpleasant students.

Soon Jeff meets Annie again and tells her that she actually got an “A” and that minus are just the way teachers deal with troublesome students. As expected Annie gets mad and it just take one shout from her (“Minuses are a lie!”) to start a riot. One thing I missed so much about the show is how crazy it can get; from one second to another Greendale can implode and it’s so funny to watch how the students are destroying campus so they can get slightly better grades.

Finally, the dean convinces him to form an actual “Save Greendale Committee” in order to forge a student-teacher alliance so that the riots can be reduced to 40% with Jeff on charge. Hickey pops up to apologize to Jeff as he admits that teachers might be working for the students and not for themselves. One of the things I really liked about this episode was how Jeff realized how satisfying teaching is and how important is to take the students in consideration; it has always been known how important teachers are, but not many tv shows tackle this, and Community has done it right, it’s funny and it’s also kind of sweet.

Now, on the B plot (and the funniest of it all); Shirley, Britta, Troy and Abed take a class on Nicolas Cage with professor Sean Garrity (performed by a great actor, Kevin Corrigan, seen in season 2), which asks the question “is he a good or bad actor?”. Abed already deduced the answer of another class named “Who is the boss?” and he is ready to take on the challenge, but professor Garrity warns him to be careful.

Abed being Abed obsessed trying to find a logical answer; every actor is something, some are good, some are bad, others are the good kind of bad or the bad kind of good, but he doesn’t seem able to find an answer to what Nicolas Cage is. And soon we get to see Abed like never before; for the first time in his life there is something that doesn’t make any sense at all no matter how much he tries to find the answer; he works and works, he watches as many movies as possible trying to come up with something, but he gets nothing. Finally, in class, he arrives completely scruffy, sleepless and maybe with some borderline dementia as he impersonates some of Nicolas Cage’s acting and goes completely mad around the classroom to the point he climbs up the professor’s table and claims “I’m a cat. I’m a sexy cat”. Danny Pudi’s acting skills make this scene go from just funny to hilarious; Abed has never been so disturbed about something illogical and seeing him meltdown completely is great, and Garrity’s reaction (“that was brilliant”) was just golden, a magnificent way to end a great scene.

The follow up with Shirley going to Abed’s apartment in order to cheer him up is also nice. After a failed attempt to turn him a Christian, Shirley explains him that he can’t understand every single thing and convinces Abed that, in the end, Cage can be seen as both good and bad, “an angel to some and a demon to others”. What I like about it is not really the resolution of it all, but mostly seeing Shirley and Abed get the chance to interact one on one, which is very rare in this show. I like their on screen chemistry and how Shirley helped calm Abed down.

“Introduction to teaching” takes Community back to its crazy self, showing us that the show still has the guts to burn Greendale down to the grounds if it has to, and for me that’s the best Community, the one that is fearless and can take any single direction. What else can I ask for this show? Nothing; its characters are already great so with the proper risky and crazy storytelling, I’m good to go.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

-Troy: "Doesn't it feel weird that we are doing this..." *stares at Pierce's seat "... without Magnitude?"

-I was shocked that after Abed mentioned how one of the Scrubs cast members left after six episodes Troy got the line when he says “That son of a bitch! After everything Scrubs did for him!” Obviously making a reference to Donald Glover's departure; it’ll be a sad day when he leaves.

-Can I say once again how much I loved the “It’s my I-dean-tity!” line? No? Ok.

-Community didn’t do great on the ratings, but it can still live on considering the poor state of NBC's comedies. The show can’t end until every single cast member has said “Shut up Leonard!”; so far, Jeff, Shirley, Britta and the dean have done it.

-I love how the dean comes to the study room with an apple, a graduate cap, glasses and a pipe to dress Jeff as a teacher. Both Joel McHale and Jim Rash’s faces were priceless.

-I'm really excited that Chang will be a teacher again; I loved him as spanish teacher in season 1; from season 3 and onwards I haven't been really crazy about his character, but that might Chang-e now.

-Hickey (who I assume will become a new cast member) likes to draw comics of ducks; I can see a storyline being made out of that.

-The end of “Introduction to teaching” with Dean thinking in French about how much he wanted to teach Jeff excel was gold.

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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