This review will self-destruct in 30 seconds.  OK, no it won’t – but since this week’s episode lampoons paranoid thriller movies, we felt that was an appropriate opener.  Of course, since this is Community there’s always a twist; this time around, it’s the world’s largest blanket fort.  Read on to find the details!

The Players:

Episode Title: “Conspiracy Theories and Soft Defenses”

When Dean Pelton accuses Jeff of making up a “conspiracy theories” class to get extra credit, Jeff is forced to defend himself to Pelton and the overly-nosy Annie; everything seems resolved when the professor of said class talks to the dean and tells him he – and the class – really do exist.  However, Jeff says that he’s never seen the prof before in his life, plunging himself, Annie, the professor, and the Dean into a crazy conspiracy theory-style thriller of their own.  While they try to figure out what the heck is going on, Troy and Abed make a giant blanket fort that eventually takes over the entire school, but must reconsider once it gets too popular.

The Good:

  • The Smoking Gun: The penultimate scene where Jeff and the gang used a whole lot of prop guns to unmask a whole lot of conspiracies was a great send-up of the typical paranoid spy thrillers that always have to revolve on some sort of crazy twist ending.  But along with all the shifting alliances and wackiness, there was also some genuine character development: turns out that whole “Jeff and Annie kissing” thing from the season opener may not be as unresolved as we thought, and the Dean does most of the things he does out of simple boredom.  For Community, absurdity and pathos go hand in hand.
  • Blanket Fort!: In recent episodes Community has gone back to its tried-and-true “Troy and Abed do weird things” subplot, and nowhere is that more apparent than in this week’s installment – or more appreciated.  This time around they embrace their inner child in a oddly mature way, building an entire blanket fort civilization before having to decide whether to pull the self-destruct lever.  The fact that they even had a self-destruct lever on their blanket fort in the first place shows how absolutely committed the characters are to their asinine yet touching goals, and how committed the show is to making sure they achieve them.
  • And Then What Happened?: This week we got a double-serving of Troy and Abed in the form of the excellent post-credits sequence where they try to make a sentence, one word per person.  The way it devolves into Abed simply listing off things they like is both hilarious and telling – Troy is much more comfortable with Abed coming up with ideas than him – and the way they both react to the word “romance” is even more telling.  At this point, they could hang a “no girls allowed” sign up and we wouldn’t be surprised at all.

The Bad:

  • Can You Spare Some Chang: We basically haven’t seen Chang in any major way since the Halloween episode, and that’s not a good thing – he’s one of the best characters on the show, and always manages to steal any scene he’s thrown into.  Hopefully the writers haven’t forgotten about his evil Gollum-like plan to destroy the study group already; they’ve been very slow developing that overarching plotline so far, and it seems to have ground to a halt at least temporarily.

The Quotable:

  • “Agnes, cancel all my appointments.” “What appointments?” “…Wishful thinking.”
  • “Thanks, but I think I’ll find something more grown-up to do.” “OK.  Enjoy eating fiber and watching The Mentalist.”
  • “I have always dreamed of playing Charades with you, Jeffrey, but not like this. And not on dry land.”
  • “I guess I’ve never stuck around late enough to meet you night professors… TV’s gotten crazy good.”
  • “Just saw Fat Neil head to the cafeteria with that look in his eye. We’ve got 5 minutes to grab the last lima bean.”
  • “Do you know anything about Greendale’s night school?” “Yeah, I’m assuming it’s the worst thing you could ever be in, only at night.”
  • “You can’t even be in here, Leonard.  You’ve got three farting strikes against you.”
  • “Ekchetra!” “Did you just mispronounce ‘et cetera?’” “My Latin class is fake, Jeff.”
  • “Would that this desk were a time desk, so I could correct my past mistakes… ride dinosaurs… fight with Jack the Ripper!”
  • “Word of advice: if you ever scrape the Dean’s car, don’t tell him you’ll pay him back in acting.”
  • “He’s defrauded the school of dozens of credits per year, and nearly twice as many dollars.”
  • “Well, guess what: Annie’s got a gun.”
  • “Wanna build a cardboard submarine?” “Get out of my brain.”


An excellent, consistently funny conspiracy parody that also gave some more nuances to the character we know and love, the only real complaint is the lack of Chang and the fact that the main plot and the bedsheet subplot don’t flow together until the end.  Definitely a must-watch.

Rating: 9/10

New episodes air Thursdays on NBC!