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Community Recap: 24 Hours of Weird

COMMUNITY -- "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" Episode 312 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gillian Jacobs as Britta, Charles Walker as Minister, Joel McHale as Jeff -- Photo by: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Oh yeah, Community. I almost forgot about this show, given how little fan outcry there was when it was unceremoniously taken off the air. Plus, very few people on the Internet have created memes based on the show in the interim, and this grand return to form was not mentioned to me by every single person I know, not even close.

Of course, I'm thrilled the show's back. But was “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” THE GREATEST EPISODE OF TV EVER?!? No — I mean, how could it be? (Keep that in mind when you go see the Arrested Development movie.) But the episode was a nice reminder of who these characters are, and provided a high-stakes backdrop for their outsider status to shine through. And this happened purely by accident I'd imagine, given the show's timing was rearranged with very little notice. So well done, everyone.

First, those high stakes: While hanging out in the cafeteria lamenting the loss of their beloved coffee shop, the gang was interrupted by the sweet a capella sounds of a former Cosby Show star. Andre Bennett had given it a lot of thought, and decided to propose to Shirley for the second time. After all, he's loved her “ever since there was a Soviet Union and only one Damon Wayans.” She said yes, which set off everyone's individual tics. Britta, as usual, took the pro-anti stance that marriage is terrible and shouldn't be forced on anyone (though her argument fell flat given her inability to use an analogy, or as she called it, “a thought with another thought's hat on”). Annie snapped into wedding-planning mode, taking out her overblown wedding scrapbook with enough ideas to sustain a small country's economy, assuming that economy was based on scrapbooking. Shirley asked Jeff to give a speech, and he was torn about what to say because in his heart of hearts, he still doesn't believe in marriage. He only believes in whiskey and pictures of boobs.

Troy and Abed were particularly distraught. They recognized that Shirley's wedding would be a cause for celebration, but feared their overwhelming weirdness might get in the way. So they decided to take a vow: They would use up all their weirdness in a 24-hour period, hoping the itch would be sufficiently scratched and they could wear normal suits to the normal wedding and act normal — maybe even dance. The episode then cut to a scene in their apartment (not before having them walk home on all fours) where all sorts of sounds were coming from the Dreamatorium. Scary sounds. Both boys emerged wearing ribbons and even Pierce's late dad's ridiculous ivory wig. That was that, they decided, and they set off for the wedding fully ready to embrace their normal sides.

But there's nothing normal about Troy and Abed. Community focuses a lot on making Abed's behavior fit into the world, even if the show has to make the world completely ridiculous and over-the-top to make it so. And in this, one of the most straightforward plots in a while (Shirley gets married), it made sense that his attempt at normalcy would read as sarcastic and disingenuous. Troy suffered less from this problem, because after all, he's not Abed; he comes from relatively mainstream roots as the star of his high school, and hadn't thrown himself previously into pop culture as much as Abed. Still, Community has become a place where the only normal people are the ones from the outside world, horrified at what they see happening at Greendale. And those are the outcasts here.

Meanwhile, Pierce was trying his best to regain a sense of normalcy after the passing of his father. Being the entrepreneur he is, he came up with various ideas that don't really work as planned, even while dressed like a wealthy murderer — aka the Trouserbench, an apparatus that lets you sit in midair, but somehow got lodged in Pierce's ass. But given the closure of the coffee shop, the gang suggested he and Shirley get into business together. Shirley could bake, he could provide the money, and together they could revolutionize the campus dining options. Shirley was on board up to the point where her wedding got in the way, and she was somehow unable to balance the demands of a wedding taking place after the equivalent of a long weekend while simultaneously mapping out her business plan. Britta angrily cornered Shirley and chastised her for using her wedding as an excuse to avoid Pierce.

Was there a particular reason Shirley wanted to get married in three days? Was there a particular reason why the presentation to the dean about the coffee shop couldn't have waited a few extra days? I'm not quite sure, and the episode didn't make it particularly clear either. Nor did the rushed nature of the climax help — Jeff and Britta drunkenly tried to get married as Shirley and Andre stopped them, and realized they were actually perfect for one another. But Community has always been a bit of a sloppy show, and that's just part of its charm. So long as weak Jeff-isms are called “the Jim Belushi of speech openings” and Pierce is unable to find a pen amidst all the money in his pockets, I'm confident Community is going to effortlessly find its way back into all our hearts as if no time has passed.

Photo: Lewis Jacobs/NBCUniversal, Inc.