Community: “Basic RV Repair and Palmistry” Season 6 Episode 10 Review

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Time to hold on…and let go.

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about the later seasons of Community is how everything has become skewed to Abed’s point of view. The gang is always quick to jump into whatever roles the latest pop culture parody calls for, and everyone is game for any sort of meta-craziness that comes their way. An episode like season 2’s “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”—in which the study group is concerned that Abed’s obsession with television tropes is a signifier of mental illness—seems lightyears away from now, where Jeff is quick to put on a fake wig and a ridiculous outfit to film a low-budget Guardians of the Galaxy knockoff.

“Basic RV Repair and Palmistry” is the first episode in a while to directly address the elephant in the room. The premise is simple: Dean Pelton has made an impulsive purchase, and the Save Greendale committee has banded together to fix his problem.

For Abed, though, it’s too simple. There has to be another reason why they’re all on Elroy’s RV and it’s suddenly out of gas. His continuous attempts to flashback to the root of the problem make for an interesting storytelling structure, but what’s really compelling is how his lack of presence relates to everyone else’s disaster.

At one point, Jeff has a meltdown over Abed’s preoccupation with television structure. His yelling does nothing to help the problem. In fact, it only makes things worse, which results in the giant hand falling from the roof of the car. Frankie is able to use Abed’s own logic against him, causing him to give a heartwarming speech to the Dean to let them all back inside after being locked out.

Really, though, isn’t that just enabling? In “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” the gang plays along until they can get to the root of their friend’s troubles. Here, Frankie is just playing along so everyone can get back inside the warm RV. I’ve said before that season 6 has had a sense of finality to it, with several characters worrying about their ultimate fate. Abed hasn’t started to worry yet that his “show” is ending, but perhaps, with no one to help him sort things out, this is where he’s headed.

“Basic RV Repair and Palmistry” is a refreshing episode of Community because it feels unafraid to go to darker places than we’ve been used to this season. It’s also one of the funniest episodes of the season so far, making excellent use of the cast’s indelible chemistry. The scene where everyone apologizes to each other is full of kinetic energy as lines are zinged back and forth. Smaller character moments have always been at the heart of this show’s humor, so a scene in which Britta stops helping the rest of the group lift the giant hand because Annie corrects her word choice had me in stitches.

The only disappointment I have is a minor one. With such a great resurgence in the comedic fervor of this show, it’s clear how under utilized most of the cast has been this season. Every good episode of season 6 has focused on either Jeff, Abed, or Dean Pelton, with Britta, Annie, and, more importantly, Frankie and Elroy, falling to the wayside.

Yes, there have been moments of strength, such as Britta reuniting with her parents or the running joke of Frankie playing the steel drums, but overall it seems like these people are just side characters in the Jeff-Dean-Abed show. I’d like to see more of these four—especially Frankie, since Paget Brewster is a gem—but with only three episodes left, I’m not going to hold my breath.

Abed’s monologue to the Dean may have just been him playing a character, but his comment about both holding on and letting go really stood out to me. Perhaps that’s how we should approach this season of Community. We need to let go of the idea that this series will once again reach its former heights. Yet, there are still moments of greatness to be found, so we should hold on for a bit longer.

Pretty cheesy, I know, but seeing space elder versions of Frankie, Abed, and Britta has made me sentimental. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

– Further proof of this show’s impending finality: Paget Brewster’s starring in a new pilot called Grandfathered, which has just been picked up by Fox. It doesn’t look too great, but I mean, it can’t be as bad as whatever was last week’s grifting episode.

– I loved the awkwardness of everyone realizing that leaving their charging phones had killed the second battery in the RV.

– Britta’s apology: “Perhaps you recall earlier, when it seemed as though we drove through a skunk patch…”
Everyone else: “Yeah, you were getting high.”

– Space Elder Britta always making everything awkward. Typical.

– Elroy: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t poop.”
Annie: “Could you lie then….?”

– I’m too tired to discuss the weird tags at this point, but this one had its moments.

 

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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