Mentally erase those excessively maudlin closing moments, and "Herstory of Dance" becomes a sly, satisfying episode of Community, a clear standout in this wildly inconsistent fourth season. Much like its predecessor, "Economics of Marine Biology," "Herstory" eschews the high-concept stuff for a more traditional sitcom structure. Unlike that scattered half-hour, though, here the various plots all connect back to one main event -- the face-off between Dean Pelton's Sadie Hawkins dance and Britta's Sophie B. Hawkins dance -- giving it a cohesiveness that amplifies the comedy. And the puppet stinger at the end was a great tease for next week's all-felt outing. I don't care if it is a blatant rip-off of that fifth-season Angel episode; I can't wait to see more of Puppet!Annie, Puppet!Troy and Puppet!Pierece, the latter of whom is preferable to flesh-and-blood version at this point.
Reflecting on the season from this vantage point, the driving behind-the-scenes narrative arc has been the new showrunners' growing realization that rather than try to match and/or top Dan Harmon's self-aware theatrics, they should make the cast the driving force of Community. Omitting the botched documentary episode (which felt like a holdover from earlier in the season when the show was still in Harmon withdrawal), the past three installments -- the Thanksgiving outing, "Marine Biology" and now "Herstory" -- have been actors' showcases first and foremost and the ensemble has really risen to the occasion... well, except for Chevy Chase, who is clearly mentally (though not yet physically... that's coming later) out the door already. "Herstory" was a strong outing for Danny Pudi and Gillian Jacobs in particular, although I'm starting to wonder whether the writers remember that they paired Britta off with Troy or if that's just a collective hallucination on our parts. Gifted as Harmon is, he did occasionally have a tendency to reduce the actors to walking, talking props as he pursued whatever grand conceptual joke was in his head that week. The series that Community is slowly evolving into is overall more generous towards its cast and while that trade-off does sacrifice the show's unique unpredictability, it's nice to see that the characters haven't been Britta'd beyond recognition. In keeping with that theme, here's each characters' best bit of Brittaing from "Herstory" as well as their funniest lines.
Best Bit of Brittaing Mixing up crooner Sophie B. Hawkins and women's rights icon Susan B. Anthony, setting the whole episode in motion. There's something almost admirable about the way she decided to own -- rather than apologize for -- that mistake, though. Pig-headedness has rarely been so attractive.
Funniest Line: "When people come, they're going to be like 'Damn, she straight-Britta'd this.' Because that's right -- I'm taking it back!"
Best Bit of Brittaing Taunting Britta for her Sophie B. Hawkins/Susan B. Anthony Britta, leading her to double down rather than backing down.
Funniest Line: "Britta for the whoops!"
Best Bit of Brittaing Coming up with an overly complicated plan to secure more chips for Britta's Sophie P. Hawkins dance instead of just... going to the supply closet and getting more chips. (Let's Chips, of course... Troy accepts no substitute.)
Funniest Line: "Yeah, he's like the Colin Farrell of people."
Best Bit of Brittaing Setting Abed up with a girl who is excessively quirky -- even for Abed. (We're talking, speaking into a balloon, putting an artichoke in an invisible sack quirky.)
Funniest Line: "I saw her in the cafeteria trying to pay for lunch with a song."
Best Bit of Brittaing Blowing his big moment with coat check girl/fellow nerd/accomplice in his two dates at once scheme, Rachel, by falling back on the sitcom trope of getting caught and making an impassioned plea to the girl he "likes" instead of the movie cliché of kissing his new friend. Fortunately, he's smart enough to employ the old "public declaration of affection" routine to apologize for Brittaing that up.
Funniest Line: "In the interests of growth, I'm trying to avoid hijinks. As well as capers, romps and exploits. Escapades are a grey area."
Best Bit of Brittaing Setting him up with a girl who thinks the Star Wars movies -- and all popular films -- are the work of the devil. (Insert too-easy Phantom Menace joke here.)
Funniest Line: "I hope this doesn't hurt Annie's feelings. Maybe I should go tell her."
Best Bit of Brittaing Expressing his affection for the Americanized Inspector Spacetime that he helped Britta into existence, an opinion to justifiably horrifies all right-thinking fans of the British version a.k.a. Abed.
Funniest Line: "Now seriously, I need to get to my e-mail. The post office is about to close."
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