Community: Intro to Knots Season 4 Episode 10 Review

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The gang celebrates Christmas in April with a bizarre holiday party and the return of Malcolm McDowell as Professor Cornwallis.

In a refreshing change of pace, tonight’s Community centered around a single, focused plot that followed through to the end of the episode.  Though it was intriguing to watch, it was, as with most of the episodes this season, devoid of some solid humor.  Still, it was definitely a step in the right direction from last week.

The show opens on Jeff’s apartment as Annie runs around setting up curtains and strategically placed throw pillows.  Something’s different here.  Did Jeff get a new apartment?  It looks pretty nice.  I always wondered where he gets his money from since he no longer works as a lawyer.  I guess he made some good investments or something, but I digress. Annie is busy sprucing up the apartment before the rest of the gang comes over for a Christmas party.  They soon arrive–Pierce is noticeably absent so he can attend “sensitivity training”–and things take an interesting turn.

It turns out Annie invited over their history professor because they received a failing grade on their group paper, and she hopes to wine and dine him into changing it.  After being in the apartment for only a short while, however, Professor Cornwallis easily figures out the real reason they invited him and threatens to give them all F’s.  Turns out their original grade was a C-, but in Annie-world that’s failing.  Kevin, who is attending his first post-Changnesia Christmas party, ties up the professor in an effort to be a part of the group and they end up holding him hostage.

What follows is a history lesson in which Professor Cornwallis attempts to teach everyone how all great empires–or, in this case, study groups–eventually fall apart.  He pits the group against each other by offering the first person to untie him an A.  Over the course of the evening we learn some interesting things like how Shirley is also in the running for class Valedictorian and how Jeff tanked his section of the paper to attend a concert because he assumed everyone else would pick up his slack.

The plotline allowed for an interesting group dynamic that we haven’t yet seen this season.  With everyone usually paired off on their own adventures, it was exciting to see the gang in one place fighting over the same thing.  What could have made this episode great was some of Community‘s wonderfully absurd humor.  Unfortunately, other than some chuckle-worthy Troy lines and a funny scene involving Annie purposefully breaking a vase, there was none.  This show can pick up all the steam it wants plot-wise, but its never going to live up to its former glory if it can’t get the same unique comicality it had in its earlier seasons.

Overall, the episode provided enough of an interesting story for me to be entertained, but not excited.  I’m curious about things like Chang’s mysterious phone call and the tag at the end that once again showed the darkest timeline.  In Dan Harmon’s hands, these potential avenues would have made for some great episodes.  Now, I’m not so sure. Grade: B-

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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