“Community“ is back from winter break (and the silliness of the Christmas episode) and things have started off with a bang. One of the biggest unexploded bombshells – the Shirley/Chang fiasco – was reopened this week, and one of the other recurring plot threads – Chang’s initiation into the group – finally gets the screentime it deserves. Read on to find out the details!
- Director: Anthony Russo
- Writer: Emily Cutler
- Cast: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Allison Brie, Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong
Episode Title: “Asian Population Studies”
When Annie reveals she’s infatuated with Rich, the “perfect doctor” from previous episodes, she decides to get him inducted into the study group much to Jeff’s chagrin. While he tries to sabotage that plan, Troy tells Pierce that Chang had sex with Shirley and swears him to secrecy – with a predictably disastrous effect. Jeff’s attempt to get Chang in the group results in Pierce telling Shirley about her indiscretion in front of her ex-husband (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), and Jeff is forced to try to figure out where everything went wrong. (Warning: Spoilers follow!)
- Chang We Can Believe In: Ken Jeong absolutely steals the show here; he starts off on top of a bookcase and his performance only goes up from there. From his abortive slow clap attempts to his ridiculous, snake-like mannerisms to his dumb Chang puns, he’s consistently hilarious. And apparently he was voted into the group (although Shirley may have something to say about that) which means we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of him. Maybe.
- Self-Repairing Problem: The whole “Chang had sex with Shirley” thing gets resolved in an unusual way (well, unusual for “Community”): her ex-husband just forgives her. There’s no caveats, no arguments – and most importantly, at no point does Jeff give a motivational speech or make some sort of elaborate gesture to influence this decision. He’s not involved at all, in fact; it’s just a man coming to terms with the fact that he wasn’t there for his wife when she needed him. It’s good that “Community” is backing off from the idea that Jeff can make everyone better, and it seems like a logical continuation of the “Mixology Certification” episode. These scenes add plenty of emotional depth without cheapening the characters in any way.
- Man After His Own Heart: Ninety-nine out of a hundred TV shows would have ended this episode by making the main character “embrace his true feelings and get with the woman he loves.” And it did look like that’s where this was headed, until the writers executed an expert fake-out and we learned that Jeff’s jealousy stems simply from the fact that he wants to be as good as Rich but he doesn’t know how. It’s a great moment, both for the “psyche!” value as well as for the point it gets across: Jealousy doesn’t always have to be about women or relationships, it can also be about who you are and who you want to be. Plus it allows the show to keep the will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic going, which is bound to generate some sort of interesting conflict down the road.
- Well, That’s Rich: Look, we get that Rich is a really nice guy and he goes around the world saving people and genuinely cares about humanity in general and is in every way a god amongst men. But there’s still something about his smarmy face that’s just insufferable. Personal attacks aside, his goodness is so aggressive we actually end up rooting against him a lot of the time just to make things interesting. Sure, that may be the point behind his character, but why have a character if his sole purpose is to annoy the heck out of us? Oh, we’re probably just jealous or something.
- “I checked all of Pierce’s wardrobes for portals to magical worlds; all I found was something called Emmanuel in Space on laserdisc.”
- “Why are you using your ‘I Like Butterflies’ voice?”
- “Change the subject!” “Chang the subject!”
- “Who has Chang’s pile of nothing?”
- “Duncan’s late. I hope he didn’t drive his car into another marathon.”
- “Why do I have to say everything I’m thinking? I wish my mouth was further away from my brain. I wish my brain had it’s own brain. I wish Chang hadn’t had sex with Shirley.” “What?”
- “You can expect both this class and my penis to be more focused and rewarding.”
- “If someone had sex with Chang and they get to not remember that, that’s a gift from God.”
- “It’s a mixer, it’s a mixer, it’s a mixer…works every time.”
- “This number 8 scoop of vanilla tapioca with a Ph.D in being swell and a Master’s in everybody loves me!”
- “I wish I could give you an answer that made sense, but relationships are complicated and we’re in the men’s room.”
Great plot, hilarious quips, character development, and emotional depth – “Community” is back, folks. Add the resolutions of some very important subplots, and you have a can’t-miss episode.
New episodes air Thursdays at 8 PM on NBC!
What did you think of this week’s episode of Community?