How you feel about last night’s episode, “Origins of Vampire Mythology,” likely depends on how much you agree with Chevy Chase. As you’ve probably heard by now, Mr. Chase: not a big fan of Community. His biggest cranky coot complaint, outside of his jokes don’t make it into the show, is that Dan Harmon and his editors feel the need to tack a sentimental ending onto all of their episodes. He hates this “heart over humor” development, a sitcom “trend” that’s existed for, oh, 50 years.
To a certain degree, I get his point, especially in “Vampire Mythology,” which did something extremely well (Team Harmon!) — and did something else less so (Team Chase?). Let’s start with the weaker of the two: Britta’s ex-boyfriend, BLADE (played by Jason Lee’s long lost brother, Kirk Fox, a.k.a. Sewage Joe from Parks and Recreation) is in Greendale as part of a traveling circus. She’s intoxicated by his mere presence – not unlike a female in every vampire movie ever. Jeff goes to the carnival with Shirley (a wonderful pairing the show should do more – there’s no sexual tension, and he can just be himself around her) to find out what’s so special about BLADE (beside his name). Not because he’s jealous, of course, but because he just wants – nay, NEEDS – to know. Eventually, he finds out: BLADE isn’t capable of feeling shame. Then, when he arrives at Annie’s apartment where Britta’s being sheltered to avoid the BLADE storm, Jeff gets into season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer mode. Remember in “Paradigms of Human Memory” when he gives his fake speech by the stationed locomotive? It was like that, but it wasn’t a joke – he meant what he was saying about hating ourselves or whatever. It was hacky and overdone, an unnecessary ribbon on an already awesome package, and I agreed with Abed and his lack of attention. Can we talk about Blade some more instead? Not even Joel McHale could sell it.
Except with the look he exchanges with Annie. That was wonderful, as was nearly everything else in the episode. As I’m going to mention every. single. week. until the end of the season, Gillian Jacobs deserves an Emmy for her work this season; I knew that she was bullshitting Annie when she said that she didn’t want her phone to call BLADE, but to check in with her doctor, yet I still kind of believed her. Likewise, Alison Brie had a great episode, too – she continues to be the master at fake masculine impressions and it’s always amusing when she’s in a role of power. (Plus, I liked the callback to her Little Annie Adderall days.) Troy and Abed, back to doing what they do best (Troy: screaming; Abed: not emoting; both: watching movies), had a nice tensionless episode, and even though he was given a hackneyed reason to be in their apartment, more Dean is always good (especially when he’s dressed in those adorable pajamas. And hey, have you heard that he’s into trains now?). Since coming back from the hiatus, Community has made a point of giving all seven characters (and occasionally more) a story in every episode, with generally positive results. Tonight followed that trend.
But the scene I enjoyed the best was when Troy, acting as Annie who was acting as BLADE, texted Britta…with something nice. A second later, Britta walks out of Annie’s bedroom, confident that she’s not attracted to her kickboxing half-human/half-vampire friend anymore. It’s played masterfully by Glover; we never find out what he wrote, just that he felt bad? Guilty? Dirty? about writing it. (Or maybe he was revealing his genuine, romantic feelings for Britta, something that he’s not ready to say as Troy yet, which would sting the most.) For as much as I love Community, it’s usually very on-the-nose about everything; there’s very little room for ambiguity in Greendale. Sometimes that helps the show (the My Dinner with Andre episode), sometimes it hurts it (Jeff’s speech). But this little moment, and the way Troy never says anything, is one of the best scenes the show has ever done.
Though the Dean playing with his Dalmatian Express was pretty good, too.