“Yeah, you’re both sooooo different….skinny bitches.” – Shirley
Like any good episode, this one featured a lot of good snappy lines, some great visual gags, and some very welcome returning guest stars (John Oliver and Patton Oswalt). One of the main storylines involved Annie and Britta teaming up to raise money to help out the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, with conflict occurring when they get into an argument on their methods of collecting donations. Britta takes the perhaps less appealing route of yelling at passersby and trying to guilt them into donating money, while Annie decides to…shall we say, use her feminine charms in order to get people (boys) to donate. The ensuing argument/fight between them is totally in character for both of them (Britta accuses Annie of whoring out their gender), but I did like the fact that their conflict also had an undercurrent of residual bitterness the two might have had with the unsatisfying conclusion to the Annie-Britta-Jeff triangle. Though the wrapping up of this storyline in the episode may have been a bit ham-fisted (the lengthy apologies they give each other are a bit too all-encompassing and don’t seem particularly genuine), I did appreciate the fact that they tried to at least incorporate any loose threads there were with the first season cliffhanger. Not the best execution, but I give them credit for trying. Plus, y’know, chicks wrestling in oil. They’ve got that going for them too.
There was also a scene where the two of them go into the whole imitating-but-really-insulting-each-other routine. I loved that after all the names and insults they hurled at each other, the comment that ended up hitting too close to home for Britta was about “waking up an hour early every morning to slightly curl my hair.”
There was another storyline that involved Pierce and Troy dealing with the death of Pierce’s mother (Troy is disturbed, Pierce is in denial thanks to promises made by his cult) and Jeff coming to terms with his own dwindling mortality. With these 5 characters taking up the lion’s share of the episode, there really wasn’t a lot of time for Shirley and Abed in this episode. However, they were pretty brilliantly dealt with. Though she didn’t get a lot of screentime, Shirley made the most of it by coming in every now and then to subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) hint that she wants to be part of Annie and Britta’s plans (“Yay for having fun in pairs!”) Failing at this, she instead starts to turn the two against each other. A small touch, but a nice running thread to have for her in an episode that doesn’t have a lot of room for her. The real stroke of brilliance, however, was allowing Abed to have an entire silent storyline to himself in the background of scenes running through the whole episode. In the cold open, he’s shown talking to a pregnant woman, and the interactions with her and her boyfriend continue throughout the show, culminating in Abed delivering the baby himself when she goes into labor. At the end, when Shirley asks what he’s been up to, he nonchalantly responds “nothing much.” Awesome. Community is just chock full of little details like this that really reward the viewer for paying attention, and it’s one of many reasons why I love the show so much.