“I loved 1984, I think kids should be forced to read it.”
Honestly, if “Digital Exploration of Interior Design” had been nothing more than a single 22-minute scene of a pony-tailed John Goodman wearing red pajamas and crawling around a blanket fort, I would have loved it. But not only did the episode have Dan Connor going through some stuff, it also featured three highly entertaining, character-revealing plot lines with a cliffhanger ending that makes me wish it was already next Thursday (with a brief stop for the Game of Thrones season two premiere on Sunday).
For the second week in a row (damn you, production schedule vs. air date schedule), the two plots that really drove the story were Jeff confronting the fact that he can be a selfish dick, and Troy and Abed realizing the limitations of their friendship. Jeff’s arc, honestly, wasn’t that interesting; the Kim-is-a-dude reveal was a little obvious, but some of the jokes scattered within were funny, like Jeff discovering he’s had a locker at Greendale this entire time. (Save Garrett!) Annie was the real scene-stealer, though. I loved her disappointment in Kim being a guy and that he forgives Jeff, because the whole reason she cared was that she wanted to prove a point about Jeff using-and-losing girls. Like her. Poor Annie. At least she has her adorable kangaroo (with…shhh…hidden pouch frog) to keep her company.
Meanwhile, Troy and Abed are attempting to build the world’s largest bed-linen fort. But will it be made out of pillows or blankets? Through the devious cleverness of Vice Dean Laybourne (Goodman), the two are torn apart; he wisely uses their favorite show against them, painting Troy as the Reggie to Abed’s Inspector Spacetime to get him to accept his true calling: working as an air conditioner repair-person. (I’m beginning to worry that the show might be overdoing the Inspector Spacetime; I think this is the fifth episode in a row to mention the fictional series. Even The Simpsons didn’t have Itchy and Scratchy shorts every episode.) Their scenes were incredibly well shot, and even if the jokes were few and far between, we (I’m using the grand we) care so much about these characters that the humor can be sacrificed for heart. (BOOOOO) If Community is asking us to pick a side, I’d have to go with Troy — Abed can be a bit overwhelming and demanding, and Troy is what keeps him grounded. I disagree with the Vice Dean, actually: even if it appears Abed’s always calling the shots, his character is only effective if he has someone to work with. Otherwise, he’d run the risk of being insufferable. Troy could either way. That’s why he’s the Inspector, and I’m WAY too emotionally invested in this story. (Sidenote: I love how effectively the show used nearly their entire roster of recurring characters. There’s Garrett, of course, who may or may not have been saved, as well as Starburns, Leonard, Magnitude, etc. I’d love to see an entire episode from the perspective of any of them.)
The third story revolved around the opening of a Subway (I can just imagine the world’s 14 Chuck fans saying, “We did it first”) in Greendale, and Britta, Shirley, and Pierce’s attempt to shut it down. I loved, loved, loved Gillian Jacobs’s performance. Britta falls in love with a man who changed his name to Subway (played by Keith from Scrubs!), due to legal reasons (it was written in the same Greendale by-laws that say the school’s students are technically members of the Army Reserve) which allows Jacobs to do what she does best: play a conflicted character who knows she should believe in doing what’s “right” in a political, moralistic sense, but ends up listening to her heart (again: BOOOO) and does the opposite. It was satirical, yet sympathetic, and my biggest laugh of the night came from Britta’s oblivious reaction to the pun in her Britta Unfiltered column. If Jacobs doesn’t win an Emmy, I’m boycotting…well, something. Quiznos maybe?
Right before I click “Save Draft” and search for GIFs of Alison Brie holding a stuffed kangaroo, I usually check other Community recaps, to get a feel for what others thought of the episode. And a lot of people didn’t much like “Digital Exploration,” in that they still admitted it was very good, because it’s Community, but that its emotional themes didn’t hit as well as they could have. What do you guys think? Are they right, or are you reserving judgment until part two? Either way: eat fresh.