Community: “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing” Season 5 Episode 9 Review

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Brie Larson, Vince Gilligan, and a vent full of stolen textbooks make for a highly interesting Community this week.

One of my favorite things about this season of Community thus far has been the way different characters have been squared off into some new and unique dynamics. The show has always had a knack for playing the Greendale Seven off each other in ways that allow each of the characters to shine in unexpected ways. We’ve gotten to see a post-Troy Abed bond with Professor Hickey, Duncan help Britta through an existential crisis, and the entire gang say goodbye to Pierce in a way that was both hilarious and heartfelt.

This week, we got two very funny plots, that further broke off the characters into some new and exciting groups. First, Shirley, Jeff, and Hickey find a vent full of unopened textbooks when they’re forced to clean an abandoned storage room at Greendale. What starts out as an innocent discussion on what could be done with the pile of books, ends up taking an amusingly dark turn as the trio tries to sell them on the black market.

Britta and Chang somehow get involved, but the real treat is watching Shirley quickly take over as the kingpin of the operation. It’s always fun to see a more devious of the saint-like Shirley, and here it was on full display. Yvette Nicole Brown did a great job at playing the cold, calculating leader. Also, the significance of the fact that the illegal textbooks were blue in the same episode that guest starred Vince Gilligan was not lost on me. Nice touch Community, nice touch.

Speaking of the Breaking Bad creator, he starred as the host of an early 90s VCR game that Abed and Annie used as a way to pick a new roommate. Annie was rooting for her deeply weird brother to move in, while Abed was trying to take the next step with his new girlfriend Rachel (the always lovely Brie Larson).

To be honest, I wasn’t completely sold on their competition in the beginning, especially since the lesson they had to learn seemed like it was going to be more heavy-handed. Eventually, though, they won me over. I liked that Annie and Abed are still processing Troy’s absence, and I like that Abed is nervous about being in his first serious relationship. His apology to Rachel at the end was nothing short of adorable. This season has seen some real growth for his character, and I’m excited to see it continue.

I guess this was a quieter episode of Community compared to their more epic outings, but it once again proved that jokes and solid character development can go hand-in-hand. I’m hoping for more inspired character pairings before the season is over, because I think the possibilities with this group are almost limitless. Perhaps the Dean could get involved, especially if he continues to aggressively rap in a peanut bar costume. Grade: A-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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