Community's first two episodes back from its unplanned hiatus left us mildly disappointed, but third time proved to be the charm as "Digital Exploration of Interior Design" -- the first of a two-parter that concludes next week -- got the show back on track, striking the right blend of broad comedy with a light touch of tragedy.
Much of the tragedy was supplied by the deteriorating relationship between Troy and Abed, which was hinted at in the final moments of last week's episode when Abed retreated to the Dreamatorium solo and had a disturbing encounter with Evil Abed. Here, the duo set out to build a pillow fort at Greendale so they have a place to live while their building's termite problem is being solved. At the Dean's encouragement, their plan for a simple pillow-filled home-away-from-home blooms into an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the biggest pillow (or blanket) fort. But Troy is higher on the idea than Abed from the jump, and Vice Dean Laybourne (John Goodman, reprising his role with the addition of a goatee and ponytail) seizes on that growing rift and attempts to drive a permanent wedge between Greendale's best BFFs, one that will finally lead Troy to enroll in the air-conditioning repair school. His scheme seems to pay off: first, Troy launches construction on his own blanket fort, but it runs smack dab into the pillow fort he started with Abed, who initially agrees to tear it down so his newfound frenemy can set his record. Then a little pajama-clad birdie named Vice Dean Laybourne whispers in his ear and Abed reverses his decision. As the episode ends, war has broken out between the two forts with Troy and Abed literally caught in the middle. We're genuinely scared for these two, folks. We need Dan Harmon to hold us and tell us everything's going to be okay.
Fortunately, there were plenty of laughs to balance out the sadness of seeing Troy and Abed turn on each other. Jeff and Annie's quest to find the mysterious "Kim" who left a nasty note in Jeff's heretofore unopened locker was quite funny (and also carried a faint whiff of drama what with Annie's blatant unhappiness about Jeff's casual attitude towards their previous flirtations) and throwing Pierce and Shirley -- here with the intention of taking down the Subway outlet that stole the cafeteria space for their planned sandwich shop -- always generates good comedy. But the standout storyline belonged to Britta, who entered into a passionate (and hilarious) romance with Greendale's newest student, a tall, strapping corporate/human hybrid named Subway (played by Scrubs vet, Travis Schuldt). Sadly, their love was not to be, as the graphic noises generated by their disturbing coupling so offended Subway's masters that they stripped him of his corporate identity. As sad as we were to see him go, the whole concept of "corpo-humanization" got us thinking about which corporations/products each of the study group folks might best represent. So say goodbye to Jeff, Annie, Troy, Britta, Abed, Shirley and Pierce and say hello to...
Sleek, handsome and wildly successful on the outside, Apple also comes with a number of personal insecurities that he keeps internalized (daddy issues instead of allegedly unfair overseas labor practices) and a caustic, above-it-all streak that infuriates as many people as it impresses.
Beanie Baby (Annie)
So cute and adorable you just want to give her a big hug, Beanie Baby's brightly colored outfits and chipper personality leave you wanting to collect more just like her.
Home Depot (Troy)
Toilet overflowing? Blanket fort won't stay upright? Or maybe you're A/C is on the fritz and the nights are getting warmer? Whatever your home repair needs, Home Depot can help. He's got an uncanny knack for diagnosing the problem and coming up with the right solution. Just make sure you give him the occasional candy cigarette break.
Want to know what gross injustice you should be feeling angry about this week? Change.Org will get in your face and rant at you until you have no choice but to sign her petition protesting the lack of fresh drinking water in Uganda. Then, once she's gone, you can go back to Googling "beanie babies" on your Apple smartphone and continue ignoring the rest of the world.
Netflix Instant (Abed)
Eager to revisit the latest Kickpuncher flick or learn which planet Inspector SpaceTime and Constable Reggie visited in the most recent Christmas episode? Netflix Instant can fill you in on virtually any movie or TV show ever made by "streaming" it directly from his mouth into your ears.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (Shirley)
Since the actual Martha Stewart hasn't been the same since her stint in prison, it's well past time to revamp the corporate figurehead: same name, new look. Besides being a great baker, the new Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia also cares deeply about your personal welfare... provided you've accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, that is.
Aside from bearing a striking resemblance to a certain former CEO-turned-Veep, Halliburton is known for his shady dealings and questionable ethics. Also, as he's fond of informing anyone who'll listen, he knows a thing or two about natural gas production.
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