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Community Recap: Popped and Locked

It’s been well-established that Community works best when it’s able to balance the meta and the meaningful. “Accounting for Lawyers” culminates in the study group’s Oktoberfest pop-and-locking team (“Heather Pop-and-Locklear,” natch) being disqualified for group-hugging in the middle of the dance floor, despite Abed and Jeff’s truly majestic performance of the rare “puppet” move. So, yeah. We’d say this one hit its mark.

While the campus is abuzz with Dean Pelton’s funky, if misguided show of support for German culture (“a little goes a long way,” Annie points out — correctly!), Jeff is busy rekindling a bromance with Alan, a hilariously bottom-feeding attorney recovering from a nasty yoga cocaine habit. It seems that Jeff and Alan — played to deliciously smarmy effect by the reliably smarmy Rob Corddry — used to have quite the good thing going in their soul-less, ambulance-chasing lives: a judge called them “litterbugs” because they put so much trash out on the street. (High five!). Anyway, Jeff is at Greendale for a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, but he and his old buddy quickly hit the bar (one apparently repurposed from an old Mad Men set, judging by the clubby lighting) because, in Alan’s words, “I quit doing blow, not being rad.”

As we know from previous episodes (i.e., most of them), the study group does not react well when its core stability is threatened. While Jeff starts slipping back into his sharkskin suits, Annie remembers that she recognizes Alan from N.A. meetings — even worse, he’s the guy that got Winger disbarred. (In an unrelated but hilarious story, Troy is shocked to discover that GoGurt is really just yogurt.) The Group crashes the fancy law-firm party where Jeff is Alan’s date, but it’s quickly apparent that Jeff is only there because of his fantastic rapport with Ted, Alan’s boss, a lawyer with a hole in his hand. (Ted is played by the newly freakishly skinny Drew Carey who has clearly lost more weight than Annie did post-rehab.)

High jinks ensue and lessons are learned. Pierce knocks over an entire tray of Champagne (funny), Alan gnaws on Jeff’s “beautiful” head (funnier), and Troy, Abed, and Annie break into Alan’s office in order to find proof of his perfidy and chloroform a guard (twice!) in the process (funniest). In a nice twist, Jeff remains friends with Alan despite learning the truth about him — it’s very Winger to bank favors from those with even lower morals than his own — and then triumphantly returns to Greendale in his marigold Members Only jacket where he can pop and lock (and lose), and have silly raver caps slammed on his head by the underappreciated and disrespected hat club. And oh: poor Chang. After five hours of relentless break-dancing, the study group’s happy ending means no prize for him: not the iPod Nano, not joining the group, and certainly not, as Dean Pelton suggested, the right to annex Poland. Maybe next time!

Photo: Harper Smith/NBC