I breathed a big sigh of relief after this week's episode. Community has a ton of potential and a great cast, but it's felt rudderless in the past few episodes. To borrow a phrase, the show had too many chiefs and not enough indians. But this one got things back on track by once again making Jeff (Joel McHale) the center of attention and giving his supporting cast the opportunity to provide solid laughs in short, razor-sharp bursts.
It was Halloween at Greendale Community College, which meant the inevitable holiday party that seems to be the foundation of every sitcom this time of year. I'll give Community a lot of credit for showing restraint, however. At times, TV shows can dig too deep into their professional costume departments, offering up amazingly creative costumes at the expense of snapping us out of the reality they're trying to present. I thought all of the characters were dressed appropriately and realistically, without being too over-the-top (with the exception of Pierce, but we'll get to him later). Shirley (Nicole Brown, dressed as Harry Potter) and Troy (Donald Glover, dressed as a Delirious-era Eddie Murphy) had funny, understated costume choices, and Abed's (Danny Pudi) transformation into Batman was the perfect bow that tied up this enjoyable episode. His assassination of the pomposity and pretense of The Dark Knight in the show's final monologue was amazing. (Calm down fanboys, I still liked the film.)
The premise of this episode was refreshing: Jeff (Joel McHale, dressed as a cowboy) finally got the hint and moved away from Britta (Gillian Jacobs, dressed as a squirrel) and onto a new target, his statistics teacher, Professor Slater (Lauren Stamile, dressed as Robin Hood). That meant ditching the class party organized by Annie (Alison Brie, dressed as a sexy skeleton) in favor of sneaking into the faculty party. Unfortunately, Jeff was thwarted by his teacher's steadfast rule of not dating students. The normally cagey and fast-talking lawyer was denied, until he finally took simple advice from Senor Chang (Ken Jeung, dressed as a matador): "Just ask for sex." Amazingly, it worked.
Again, I want to credit the writers - rather than offer us a love triangle story that has been the cornerstone of every MTV show since the early '90s, they nipped it in the bud. Britta immediately moved on without a hint of jealousy. Bravo. After treading water for a few too many episodes, they finally got the Jeff/Britta story moving in another direction, something that was sorely needed.
Even though his was the secondary plotline, your enjoyment of this episode might depend on how much you enjoy Chevy Chase. I've written before about how the character, Pierce Hawthorne, has been uneven with his physical comedy varying from brilliant and nuanced to annoying and juvenile. Pierce traded prostate medication for a hit of ecstasy in a bid to try and look cool in front of his younger classmates. His subsequent drug trip wasn't subtle, but I bought into it entirely because it was hysterical, especially the visual of him (dressed as the Beastmaster, in another failed attempt to look hip) freaking out when he thought the falcon on his arm was alive.
Which brings us back to Jeff. Regardless of how unhappy he is to be slumming it at Greendale, or how disinterested he is in the lives of his classmates (except Britta), his slow crawl towards becoming a decent human being continued as he chose friendship and loyalty over guaranteed sex by talking Pierce down from his bad trip. It was nice to see them get back to the basic premise of the show.