Spoilers for this week's "Community" after the jump:
In short, "Remedial Chaos Theory" is basically perfect. Only general principle (which is that nothing is truly perfect) keeps me from giving it an A+. This episode is a piece of inventive, hilarious comedy that trumps just about everything I've ever seen from this or any other recent sitcom. The multiple timeline concept is stunningly creative, but "Community" is almost always careful not to just stop with a cool concept. Every moment of this installment is designed with the utmost care to produce an enormous amount of laughs as well as a few wonderfully sweet moments.
Rather than just immediately listing all the incredibly funny stuff (including two of the most hilarious individual scenes you'll see on TV all year), let's first appreciate just how well the show sets up the jokes during the first few timelines in order to deliver a brilliant payoff later on. When Troy discovers Annie's gun, for instance, it lingers in the back of our minds. Then when Pierce is shot by accident later on, it doesn't feel so ridiculous as to be rendered unbelievable. And equally importantly, it also relates to what we know about Annie as a person. She's the youngest of the group and perhaps the most innocent, but living in a bad neighborhood has made her very cynical towards people in general.
The entire episode is full of small character moments like that, and what's nice about it is that while they don't actually "happen", they give us some interesting insights into certain relationships within the group as well as the group as a whole. We're reminded of just how bitter Pierce can be about things, and of how Shirley often views Britta very negatively. And there's also new information to be gleaned, such as Shirley feeling left out as the lone married person in the group. The most important lesson learned, however, is that overall the bonds of this group outweigh their occasional desires to kill each other. And it gives that final scene (another good example of the show paying off a running joke throughout the episode, in this case Britta's singing along to "Roxanne") a real emotional resonance that makes it one of my favorite "Community" moments ever.
But I also spoke of humor. While "Remedial Chaos Theory" is filled with extremely funny moments, I think there's one scene in particular that is an instant classic. And that is of course Troy's timeline, in which (among other things) Pierce is accidentally shot and the apartment gets set on fire. I'm not entirely sure how long this sequence lasts, but it's an example of the kind of sustained comic mayhem that too few shows manage or even try to pull off. It will be remembered for years to come. As will this episode. It's the best thing I've seen from any series so far this year, as well as the best "Community" episode to date. Simply amazing.
- Apologies for the brevity of this review, but I'm swamped with studies as well as catching up on other shows ("Revenge" and the first disc of "Cougar Town", mostly).
- For that reason, no review of "Parks and Rec" this week. It was quite terrific, though.
- The other major scene I alluded to above is the tag scene, which gives us another look at the group from Troy's timeline after the events in the apartment. Pierce is dead, Jeff's lost an arm, Annie's gone crazy, and so much more. Abed's solution: turn evil. So, so funny.
- "Community" was actually up a bit in the ratings this week. Here's hoping they continue to hold steady, and that we get one more season. Asking for anything more than that seems greedy, and wasn't four Harmon's original plan, anyway?