Community Recap: ‘Early 21st Century Romanticism’

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I’m constantly praising the marriage of Phil and Claire in my Modern Family recaps, so it’s only fair that I also mention what might be television’s strongest relationship: Troy and Abed. Mariah the Librarian had it right; they are adorable, even (especially?) when they’re carrying around a suitcase filled with tacos and yelling, “BOOKS!”

Last night’s episode, “Early 21st Century Romanticism,” was actually all about relationships, which makes sense considering it was a Valentine’s Day episode. Troy and Abed are competing for the attentions of the aforementioned librarian; a Moonwalking Pierce is addicted to painkillers; Britta’s hanging out with a girl, Paige, who she thinks is a lesbian, which she isn’t, and Paige thinks Britta’s a lesbian, too, which she’s not, while Annie’s spending time with Paige’s non-friend of Ellen buddy; Chang’s wife kicks him out of the house after finding out about Shirley; and Jeff’s fighting with the rest of the group due to a disagreement involving the Barenaked Ladies (they are the most celebrated Canadian alt-rock band of the mid-’90s, after all). There was a lot going on with a lot of new characters, but everything pieced together miraculously well.

It was nice to see Andy Dick again (something I never thought I’d say) as the Little Man telling Pierce to keep talking pills, which eventually leads him to pass out on a bench in the middle of a park. I hope the show picks up where this plot left off in next week’s episode, if only to hear more hypothetical questions like, “If doctors are so smart, why are there millions of them?” Speaking of little men: Chang and his hermit crabs invite themselves over to Jeff’s place after overhearing Duncan doing exactly that to watch a soccer match. While Chang wasn’t as funny as he’s been in previous weeks (although I’m curious if the writers will keep him at Jeff’s apartment for the next few episodes), John Oliver more than made up for it with one just line: “In England, everything means vagina.” We also see the return of Starburns and Leonard (“Where the white women at?”), and get an introduction to Magnitude, Swizzle, Scandalous, C-Dub, Tim, Mighty D, and Glisten. The world of Greendale expanded even further last night, and let’s not forget about Paige.

Britta is the kind of person who would take pride in becoming friends with someone gay, so I totally bought that plot, especially their incredibly awkward kiss in the middle of Greendale’s Valentine’s Day Dance. The plot did feel a bit unresolved when the two were fighting afterwards, until Annie literally swoops and starts to go in for a kiss until Britta moves away. Alison Brie didn’t have much to work with (the only reason she spoke to Paige’s friend was because a twist was needed in the plot, no matter how obvious it was), but she still killed it.

There’s also the aforementioned Troy and Abed story, with the two buddies not letting a woman who calls Abed “weird” get between them. The wonderfully goofy Troy may have had the line of the night: “I wanna be a book. She could pick me up. Flip through my pages. Make sure nobody drew wieners in me.” Their relationship is second only to the groups as a whole. Jeff’s text message at the end of the episode, while a bit saccharine, proves that the group needs one another (although, before finding Chang’s laundry in the dishwasher, he actually seems like he’s having fun at the party being thrown in his apartment), and he even goes so far as to say he loves them. What could have been a letdown episode after last week’s brilliant “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” turned out to actually be one of Community’s most emotionally affecting installments.

And, in summation, good luck and bon appétit!

Josh Kurp owns two Barenaked Ladies’ albums