Episode Title: "For a Few Paintballs More"
Writer: Hilary Winston
Director: Joe Russo
Moving straight from Sergio Leone western territory to "Star Wars," "Community" wrapped up its second annual paintball themed episode with even more over-the-top zaniness than usual.
The ridiculous Ice Cream Con mascot (and the villain behind the paintball madness) was quickly revealed to be Dean Spreck (Jordan Black) from Greendale's rival City College; which completely ruined my theory that it was Professor Michelle Slater out to get revenge on Jeff (Joel McHale) for jilting her last season. But with a $100,000 prize at stake, Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) led a meeting to unite the remaining Greendale students against City College and pledge that the winner donate their prize money to Greendale in order to repair the campus.
Now, I don't know why they would expect the Ice Cream company that was a front for City College to actually make good on its paintball prize money, but part of the charm of "Community" is how seriously the characters take the events as they unfold. Sure, they occasionally comment on how ridiculous it is, but for the most part they don't question it. Even when Abed steals the role of Han preemptively from Jeff (and a surprised Star-Burns). Annie (Alison Brie) also slips into the Princess Leia role and falls in love with Abed's Han, which he almost immediately throws away despite sharing an intense kiss with her.
Even in the midst of this parody, the characters remain true to themselves. Especially Chevy Chase's Pierce, who tries to get in the good graces of Dean Spreck by selling out Jeff with useless, made up secrets. Pierce even uses his patented "fake heart attack" to get out of his own impending paintball demise and set himself as the winner. I have to add that it was a little too predictable that Pierce would end up as the hero and save the college while also getting back into the study group's good graces.
That's why it was so effective when Pierce turned down the group in one of the more dramatic scenes of the season. It was an actual moment of emotional honesty from Pierce about why he acts the way that he does. We're so used to Chase delivering comedic performances that it was honestly surprising how good he was in this scene. Pierce the cartoon actually became Pierce the man… someone that the study group could re-embrace as their friend.
Keeping Pierce out of the group by his own choice gave this episode more of an impact than I expected. And I'm sure that Pierce is still going to be around next season, but it could be really interesting if he never rejoins the group and serves as their antagonist until the end of the series. He really embraced his role as a villain this year, but I think that the group has created their own monster and now they have to deal with it.
Aside from that, the rest of the episode was wall-to-wall fun. The kiss between Annie and Abed was definitely a highlight and I'm willing to bet that she read more into that than she probably should have. That said, an Abed and Annie romance would be a nice change of pace from everything revolving around Jeff. Troy even got his moments to shine as a leader and the added camaraderie with Jeff was a nice touch for both characters. Their earlier sniping against each other was also pretty amusing.
However, the most hilarious moment of the show came at the end when Abed explained what had happened to the school's exasperated janitor, who looked like he was just a few heart beats away from snapping necks over the mess that he was left to clean up. Naturally, Abed completely missed the janitor's undertone of anger, which only made it even funnier.
I believe that the reason that "Community" works so well is that it has characters that I've really come to care about. Having a great cast and outstanding writing certainly helps too, but I really want to get back and see what happens to the study group after all of this.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.