Episode 106: Football, Feminism and You

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106 — Football, Feminism and You

Due to its format, this review jumps around a lot between various parts of the episode and there's not much in the way of plot summary. If you haven't yet seen this episode, I would suggest doing so immediately, if not sooner.

I'll start off by saying that I absolutely adore this episode. When I was making my way through Community for the first time, I enjoyed all the episodes of Season 1, but this was the first one that really felt like something special. It's a turning point for the show in a lot of ways; a lot of important characterization begins with this episode. To me, this one and Introduction to Statistics (which comes next) mark a division of sorts between the good initial episodes and the Season 1 that we all came to know and love. One note: this episode was originally scheduled to air fifth, but it was switched with Advanced Criminal Law, leading to some continuity issues.

My initial thought with this review was to pick out each plot and discuss it separately, but then I saw that that couldn't really be done. You can identify three separate plots—an A-plot with Jeff, Annie and Troy, a B-plot with Shirley, Britta and Annie, and a C-plot with Pierce and the Dean—but the plots are integrated into each other to such an extent that it would be doing them a disservice to split them and deal with them one at a time. The central theme that unites the plots is the personal failings of these characters; Britta, Troy and Pierce are vain, Annie is selfish, and Jeff is both. As a result, what we get is not just conflict, but conflict whose resolution leads to development of the characters and the show. Even more than most episodes, the conflict here is character-based, and it ends with self-realization. Through the admission of their flaws, each character begins to become a better person.

As we've seen over the course of the last 2½ years, perhaps the most flawed character of all is Jeff Winger. Now that he's not interacting with Britta and doesn't have to put on an act to try and get in her pants (this is the first episode without a Jeff-Britta plot), he can begin to really show off his true colors. Jeff has two motivations in this episode. The first is his reputation, which he feels the need to defend from association with the school. Ostensibly it's because he doesn't want law firms to find out where he is, but that doesn't seem right; his disbarment couldn't have been a secret, and of course he would have to get a degree somehow. Really, the offense that he takes is a result of his own reluctance to accept his position in life. Even if he allows the study group to be graced with his presence, he still looks down on the school; after all, Jeff is very vain, and these people are well beneath him. Because they're beneath him (as is everyone else), he feels no worse about manipulating them to suit his own needs than he does about exploiting the legal system for profit, getting Troy back into football without ever considering whether it's what he needs or wants. His realization that he shouldn't be doing that is an important moment for him, since it's an admission that he does care about these people (and not just Britta) enough that he would be willing to swallow his pride in the service of their interests. We see this in a different form with Annie; I'll get to that a little bit later.

For Troy, this episode is the first real glimpse that we get into his personality. To this point, he hadn't been written as much more than a dumb jock. He certainly plays that part perfectly here, but there are also other interesting things going on with his character; Joe Russo mentions in the commentary that this is intended to be the episode in which Troy is introduced to the audience for the first time. Troy isn't used to making decisions, as Donald Glover points out in the commentary; at first, he doesn't want to play football because that's what Annie tells him, but when Jeff changes his mind later, he realizes how great it was to play football at Riverside. Through that part, we get to see for the only time the vapid jerk that he was before he came to Greendale. But Troy is more than that; for one thing, he clearly looks up to Jeff, which is a plot thread that becomes very interesting much farther down the line (especially in Mixology Certification) as he has to decide whether Jeff is really a role model whom he can look up to. At the same time, in this episode he finally begins making choices for himself, as he decides that he can have fun playing for this team without any of the expectations or pressure that had existed in high school. That choice was unexpected to me, since it's not what would logically follow from Jeff's whole storyline, but then the show isn't all about Jeff. Troy's revelation that he got hurt on purpose provides the character with depth; he's rudderless, and the only thing that motivated him was the same pressure that he hated. Still, that doesn't mean that he has to hate football, too; to be true to himself, Troy doesn't have to change everything about his life, provided that he knows who he really is. Whether Troy plays football or not, it's for himself. Greendale is accepting of that, provided that he is willing to accept Greendale; his invitation to Jeff to do the same is what provides the central question of the first half of Season 1.

Much like Troy, Annie gets her first significant screen time in this episode. Before this episode, all we've found out about her is that she has a sense of purpose that far exceeds the other slackers. Of course, that's merely an attribute, not a character. In this episode, we begin to learn who Annie is, and the first thing we find out is that she's into Troy; there had been hints before (which Jeff picked up, of course; having picked juries, he's learned to read the little things), but nothing concrete. Her infatuation with Troy determines her actions, which can make this episode feel a bit dated, since the Troy/Annie ship sailed long ago. But what's more important than why she wants what she does is how she goes about achieving her goals. This episode introduces manipulative Annie, that facet of her that becomes so important later on. Her skills are still being honed at this point; she doesn't realize she's attractive and neither does Troy, removing one significant weapon from her arsenal, and when Jeff comes calling Troy is quickly converted. Yet she's clearly had an effect, since Troy has no real desire to play football when the Dean asks him about it. It's telling that Annie says that Troy will "flush his life down football's toilet", since the non-football-playing new Troy seems no better than the old one, except that he spends time with Annie. She has her own interests in mind; when the Dean compares her to Yoko Ono, it's not without reason. At the same time, however, she views herself as a good person, and she's unwilling to admit that she's acting out of any motive but benevolence. This provides Jeff with his other motivating factor in this episode; he wants to show Annie that she's not as great as she thinks she is. This episode marks the beginning of the highly complex relationship between Jeff and Annie; I'm not going to go into that here, since it would take days for me to cover that effectively, but an important part of it is Jeff's desire to bring Annie down a notch. Annie is selfish and manipulative like Jeff, but Jeff embraces it while Annie insists that she's doing good, and Jeff pulls no punches in telling her why she's wrong about that. He could certainly have been more diplomatic about the way he treated Annie's feelings and concerns, but he doesn't see the need to do that, since Annie doesn't have anything that he wants and he doesn't respect her emotionally. But Jeff is an adult and Annie is a child, and he isn't allowed to act that way with her; his admission at the end of the episode that he was more in the wrong is an important step on his road to acceptance of the social responsibilities that he shrugged off for so long as a rich lawyer. Jeff and Annie are the two most emotionally nuanced characters; there will be things about both of them that lie well beneath the surface, coming up only very rarely. We see that in this episode as Annie makes a remark about her resentment of her parents' bigotry; Annie's relationship with her parents is certainly far from perfect, and it's been mentioned often enough that it's clearly important, but it still has never been fully addressed. To be true to themselves, Jeff and Annie both have to find out who they really are, and for them the path to that point of self-realization may well be longer than for any of the others; over two years after this episode, neither of them has yet come close to getting there.

Prior to this episode, we had only ever seen Britta through Jeff's eyes, as attractive and desirable and inaccessible, the inaccessibility adding to her desirability. Now, without a plot with Jeff and Britta, we get to see her through a different, feminine point of view, and all of a sudden those same aspects are turned on their head. She projects an aura of being above it all, but that doesn't mean that she's better than anyone else; she's just insufferable. Perhaps she has unique experiences, but while she was getting tear-gassed at protests, everyone else was learning how to function in society. It's only when she lets down her emotional façade that she becomes sympathetic; this recurs throughout Season 1 and into Seasons 2 and 3, as Britta goes from being high and mighty to the worst. When watching this episode again, there's dramatic irony to be found in the fact that it's Britta who declares to Shirley in Mixology Certification that they like her so much more after finding out her true past. After all, it's Britta who has had the most trouble with honesty. After Britta tells Shirley about her childhood and her issues with relating to women, she recognizes the inadequacy of her emotional façade, but then her response is to put up a different one that she thinks is more acceptable; when Annie talks to her in the bathroom, her first "feminine" response is woefully inadequate. It's only when she ditches that and offers her own take, informed by her unique point of view, that she gives something of value; Britta is quite right that Troy is at this moment in time wholly unworthy of Annie's attention, and she's the only one who could possibly tell Annie that. Britta does have value, even if she doesn't realize it.

The plot with Pierce and the Dean making a new mascot for the school is short but sweet. This was meant to be the introduction of the study group to the Dean, although he ended up appearing at Jeff's trial in Advanced Criminal Law, which was made after but aired before this one. What we know about the Dean is that he's well-meaning but rather incompetent; in this episode we have added to that his absurd obsession with political correctness and with not offending anyone, which in turn ends up rather offensive. We also get the beginnings of the odd relationship between Jeff and the Dean, as Craig halfheartedly blackmails Jeff into getting Troy to play football. He gets better at that later, but not much better. The project he works on with Pierce appeals both to his sense of purpose (for the first time, some of these Greendale students aren't being called animals) and to Pierce's vanity (he's being asked for advice like the successful businessman that he is). The plot is fairly straightforward, involving little more than a few jokes and a springboard for the main football plot, but the payoff is immense; we get the Greendale Human Being out of that plot, and it hasn't yet ceased to be funny. I also want to note in this space that Jim Rash is absolutely terrific; when the Dean says, "Bros before hos, Troy", it's an inherently funny line, but it's Jim Rash's delivery that gives it that simultaneously pathetic and creepy tone that we all associate with Dean Pelton.

There are two characters whose flaws don't feature prominently in this episode. One is Abed; he mentions that they leaned pretty hard on him last week (referring to Introduction to Film, the episode filmed before this one), and so he lays low for an episode. It's important that he does that; since the show is at this point still about Jeff and Britta, he needs to step aside so that the other supporting characters can get time to shine. Moreover, this episode is about self-realization, but Abed more than anyone else knows who he is. He wouldn't fit well here. Shirley, on the other hand, has a prominent role, but she too isn't the cause of any of the conflict in this episode. Shirley's the character portrayed most positively in the episode; she's a strong woman of the sort that are too rare on television, and she is all of the things that Britta thinks that she is without having to couch it in the mannerisms of rebellion like Britta does. This is one of the best Shirley episodes, thanks to the way that she is portrayed. Perhaps she is just a cosmic mentor, but she plays the role well here; she certainly isn't the judgmental woman in the group this time. I'd like to get back to this portrayal of Shirley more often.

To finish, I'd like to take a look at that last scene with the pep rally in the gym. Community certainly knows how to end episodes, and it's immeasurably better for it. In the end we have closure to the main plots of the episode and acceptance on the part of the characters of their fate; they're at Greendale, and they might as well make the most of it. Troy delivers some foreshadowing when he suggests that Jeff take a pottery class, and the shippers get their moment when Annie jumps into Jeff's reach at the sight of the Human Being, which has placed itself firmly in the uncanny valley. Like so many other times, what brings the scene together is the music; Please Do Not Go by Violent Femmes isn't really a song that I particularly like, but the refrain works perfectly here. Maybe these people didn't need each other at the beginning of the year, but now they have each other, and they'll all be better off if they stick together. It's a message that is repeated over and over during the course of the show, but it never gets tired.

That ended up a little bit longer than I had expected it to. Sorry about the length and about the number of semicolons I used; it's a habit that I have.

Commentary review

On this commentary, we have the surprisingly common combo of McHale, Glover and Brie, along with Dan Harmon (of course) and Joe Russo. Joel McHale is to be expected, since he's in 18 of 25 commentaries, but Donald Glover and Alison Brie are only in eight and six respectively and yet they have four together. Dan Harmon's in all of them, of course; Joe Russo is in eight.

The commentary begins with lots of hair talk. The characters really did change a lot over the course of the year. Then we get an interesting and really telling story about Britta's evolution as a character; after the pilot, writer Hilary Winston (who is in this episode as a woman brushing her hair in the bathroom as Shirley and Britta go together for the first time) noted that she wouldn't like to be around Britta because Britta would be constantly judgmental. That's an important step in the transition from the high-and-mighty Britta of the pilot to the buzzkill that had developed by the end of the season, and it's what allows that development to happen so organically; rather than being a new thing added on to humanize the character, it's merely an outgrowth of what's already there. That aspect of Britta's personality is certainly important in this episode. Joe Russo mentions how this episode was especially good because it allowed them to judge the character interactions and create self-contained stories within episodes. I love the way that this episode comes together at the end; it's the precursor to a lot of great future episodes that do the same in linking the various plots and resolving them all. There's some fascinating stuff later on about the evolution of Troy; in the beginning, he was written as dumb and not very interesting, but that changed as Donald Glover made the role into himself. Also, we find out that it took 39 takes for Troy to hit the football player in the head with the ball. Later, we're told that a lot was cut out of the scene with Britta talking to Shirley; she used to be called Brooba and Brititta, among other things. The fight raps were Dan Harmon's writing, and that whole scene was filmed in twenty minutes. Then everyone starts making reference to specific fan videos made by shippers; apparently Alison Brie watches all the ones that get sent to her on Twitter. From there, it launches into a discussion of how good she is at crying on command. At the end, we learn that the last scene was shot several weeks later because there was trouble with finding a cromulent end to the episode. You wouldn't be able to tell by looking at it, though.

Quotes:
– "You know who's really good in this shot right here? The sinks. The sinks are really amazing. So porcelain!"—Donald Glover
– "My dad's Danny Glover and he's friends with Joe Montaña, so he used to, like…" "Joe Montaña?" "Joe Montaña. No, not—did you think I said Joe Montana?"—Donald Glover, Dan Harmon, Donald Glover
– "I'd hate to have you as a daughter or a girlfriend."—Donald Glover to Alison Brie
– "It's become fairly obvious that they spend their money in the wrong places at this school."—Donald Glover

Stray observations

I've written plenty already, so I'll let you folk have at it here; maybe I'll add some of my own later. For now, I'll point out that Annie has excellent posture:http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

 
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Discussion:

  •  
    • Excellent review!  I hadn't fully thought-out the contrast between embracing "feminine" things or rebelling against them as versions of  strong women represented by Britta and Shirley. Nice.

      The exchange between Jeff and Troy on the football field is still one of my favorites and was one of the first times I really knew Community was something special. Especially watching 104 and 105, I've been surprised how many things in those episodes I remember happening but thought happened much later in the season.  This show really did spring more fully-formed from its womb of creativity than it gets credit for. 

      Random observations:

      The football team is apparently playing the Dentists.

      Also, favorite line that I didn't remember from this episode that will now make its way into everyday conversation: "If you said 'stop' he'd say 'Hammertime'!"

      Random and unimportant questions:

      If Pierce has been there 12 years, shouldn't he know who the Dean is?  Or is Dean Pelton supposed to be new to the school? 

      Also–and sorry if I'm opening a can of worms that's been beaten to death before–that's got to be Danny Pudi in the Human Being costume, right?  Abed  "lays low" all episode and then a tall skinny thing with an obscured face comes back at the end?  Yes?  No? (Interesting, interesting insight into why he is not really in this ep, Janine Restrepo .  I hadn't really thought of it that way)

      Also, not to ship, but I assume we're supposed to take “This has the potential to be a uniquely Greendale experience” as applying to Jeff/Annie as well?

    • I remember hearing someone somewhere confirm that it wasn't Pudi in the costume. Unless there are multiple Human Being mascots, Abed was in the study when the Human Being delivered Valentines gifts in 116.

    • It could also be a third Abed–not Evil, not Prime. DUN DUN DUN!

      /tabernacle watched too much Fringe

    • Alison Brie mentions in the commentary that it's the same non-Pudi guy under the suit every time except for Debate 109, when there was a different guy whom she didn't like because he was too big and played the role with too much confidence.

      The exchange between Troy and Abed on the field is fantastic; it's still one of the funniest scenes the show has done, and the most accessible to those who haven't seen Community before.

      Interesting observation about Pierce and the Dean; it's quite possible that the Dean is new, since he's only now changing the mascot.

      That line at the end could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. I like it a lot.

    • Loki100

      One of the things that I admire about Dan Harmon is that he takes criticism perfectly. He's told that Britta is harsh and judgmental and that women would not like to hang out with her. Instead of being scared and attempting to eliminate or tone down those aspects, he utilizes them as story ideas. It might be how Britta became the worst, but it is also how she became my favorite character.

    • i really loved the commentary's insight into their development of Britta, that is the type of inside baseball stuff that makes watching commentaries worthwhile to me.  

    • DavetheDouchebag

      I need to listen to this commentary. Donald Glover must be the only person on the planet who would hate to have Alison Brie as his girlfriend, and I'm not excluding gay people and women.

    • OccamsBlazer

      Having heard the episode commentary, that quote from Don Glover about Alison Brie is slightly out of context. The reason why he said he wouldn't want Alison Brie as a girlfriend or daughter is because she can cry on demand and use that to her advantage.

    • Yeah, but it's more fun out of context.

      If you need the commentaries, though, they're here:http://communitysoup.tumblr.co…

    • About Danny Glover being confused for Donald's dad…
      http://twitter.com/#!/DonaldGl…

    • Great review! i'm personally not as high on this episode as you seem to be but it certainly has some great moments.  I love Troy's whole indoctrination back into football and how he acts afterwards, i love Jeff being needlessly cruel to Annie but realizing that he stepped over the line and i love when Shirley congratulates Britta at the end and shoves Annie aside, that is just a terrific moment. 

      We also see a great moment of honesty from Troy.  I've been making the argument (that Harmon supports in the commentaries of the last two eps) that each episode gives us some Jeff, some Britta and getting to know one other character.  The key to the other character development is that in each episode we see one of the study group members break down and reveal something of themselves that is normally kept hidden.  We started with Jeff's hitting rock bottom in the pilot and opening up to the group outside the building, we've seen Pierce's reaction to Jeff walking away from their spanish presentation and what he did to have Jeff as his partner, we've seen Abed's film, Annie's realization that saying she was friends with Abed really meant something to him (this one is weak, comparatively, i admit it), Britta's breakdown in Criminal law, and here is Troy's great moment of honesty where he displays a level of self-realization that is very hard to attain.  All of these moments give us insight into what makes each character tick.  The only one that is left is Shirley.

      Still something about this episode always felt inconsequential to me.  The changes we see don't really last, we never see Troy play football again, i don't think Britta got any more traditionally feminine nor does Britta seem especially close to Shirley (their dynamic with the jesus hobo in the annie moving episode is awfully similar to what it was here) or Annie (in fact have Britta and Annie ever had a plotline together? i'm sure they have but im totally blanking). 
      Still its far from my least favorite episode of the series and it isnt even my least favorite of season 1.

    • I kept trying to see the Jeff-and-Troy dynamic here as directly following from their talk, in a previous episode, about wearing or not wearing the letter jacket. It's kind of the same subject matter, but the handling is neither identical nor different enough to be a new thing. I'm left wishing the continuity (causality, rather) lined up better. Any thoughts on this?

    • its funny because Jeff's message in the pilot to Troy (the letter jacket scene) is that you shouldn't make yourself what others want you to be.  So Troy shouldnt wear the letter jacket or not wear the letter jacket based upon how people read into it but instead he should decide what he wants. 

      This episode  we actually see Troy assert some individuality at the end, and actually go against Jeff's advice at the end.  Which i think means that Troy may have internalized Jeff's initial advice more than we realized.  Troy is playing football here because he wants to play football and even better he wants to play without any expectations.  In short Troy's eyes are clear, and his heart is full so he can't lose. (wait wrong show…)

    • The Greendale Human Being is a close friend of Mrs. Coach.

      /notcooltabernacle

    • well the greendale human being is a distant cousin of Mrs. Coach's most recent baby-daddy, the AHS rubberman.

    • As we speak, the Evil Study Group is plotting to steal THE POPE BOX!

      /feltgoatee

       

    • I think that's what it was that left it feeling 'inconsequential' in context; that the Troy at the end of this episode, at peace with his past, never comes back. He took that dance class in 114 at his football coach's request, but that was it. The show didn't figure out what it wanted to do with Troy long-term until this season.

    • I think the show starts developing troy long term in season 2 but that development got back-burnered with the increasing importance of Pierce and Shirley's stories in the back half.  But i can't look at an episode like mixology and not see a plan for troy.  Still this is a perfectly fine piece of pizza. 

      I actually think that advanced criminal law has bigger, if different, problems than this episode.  the problems in that episode stem entirely from weird editing (something they admit on commentary) but even knowing that can't keep the odd act breaks from bothering me. 
      I mean these are perfectly cromulent episodes and i enjoy them but they don't inspire too much passion in me either way. 

    • That hits at what frustrated me so much about the back half of Season 2. I enjoy these episodes, but Mixology is clearly far more developed in every way; there's something for everyone, but especially for Troy. And then it just sort of gets abandoned. It's not that there's nothing for Troy, but there's certainly far less than that episode would suggest, which is a real shame, since it was one of the things I was looking forward to most over the winter break.

    • 2X Cromulence Score!!

      James Cromwell would be proud.

    • The email he sent me just says that it will do, whatever that means. Also he's calling me names.

    • I guess one problem would be that football season really doesn't last that long, and they had a bunch of other things to show in that time span; even if they had wanted to show football, it would have been hard to find space. It does seem like something could have been done with that, though, in later seasons if not in this one.

    • If James Cromwell is giving you shit, call his less intimidating and more gaunt doppelganger http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

      Fun fact: that actor was the original choice to play the Dean.

    • I saw that guy on Boardwalk Empire! Don't be tall-ist: not all tall people look alike! (He was great in LA Confidential, though.)

    • Given our collective realization of how cromulent this show can be, quick question–who will be in charge of the cromulence-meter in the comments for the next three and a half seasons?

    • And we have to agree ahead of time which pairing "IS WRONG" otherwise it might get embarrassing.

    • Re: "cromulent," I anticipate a Reasonable Discussion on semantic drift. Or a whole thread on who's hotter, Britta or Annie. It could go either way. It could go both ways. (Bet you thought I would make a joke at the end there. Didn't!)

    • It's been a long time since we last discussed who was hotter. It'll be a good discussion-starter the next time there's a lull in activity here.

    • Another idea is to appoint, on rotation, a Designated Pierce to troll the rest of us.

    • I'm fascinated by this word. It doesn't sound anything like what it means.

    • It sounds like it should be used to describe the texture – or maybe taste – of food.

    • Or a particularly godly Cimmerian.

    • Whoa, and you're a high school senior? (I love semi;colons, too)

      I had pegged this as the weak one in the early run, perhaps as a mental concession to all the people who insisted the show started off slow. But fuck that; this one is excellent too and I can't even remember why I thought otherwise.

      It's SO damn funny too. I mean, Troy's shamelessly outdated fight raps, everything the Dean did, the chemistry professor, Troy missing knowing what to think. It's amazing just how funny season 1 was in addition to all the deep character study and sitcom subversion, and it's something I miss greatly. I think the show has definitely gotten less funny ha-ha over the run even if it has maintained overall quality.

      "Oh, and…my ex-therapist…is going to think twice…before he makes FUN OF MY JOB!!"

    • I am. I think I would get better grades if I spent less time thinking about this stuff.

    • Very well-structured, well-written, and incisive review; thank you!

      I agree that this is a surprisingly good (and organic! An outgrowth rather than a new thing, as you point out) transitional step for Britta from (1) how Jeff sees her at the very beginning to, eventually, (2) being The Worst. (We can visualize Jeff lowering one hand and raising the other.) The exposition-y dialogue–Britta's boobs, Annie's bigoted parents, Troy's self-sabotage–was handled well all around. And the cromulent ending surprised me, on rewatch, for how powerful it was. It got me all over again. Swoon.

      The tag: This show has alternate timelines AND doppelgangers. Stealthiest sci-fi show ever.

    • Failure, Fiasco or Secret Sci-Fi: Secret Sci-Fi

    • We get a second instance–and an explicit naming–of Troy and Pierce bonding over their adolescence. (The first one was "Ass burgers!") So far we have:

      Jeff and Abed: raised on TV
      Abed and Troy: pretty much already glued at the hip
      Pierce and Troy: "Wiener!"
      Jeff and Pierce: Pierce as Jeff's future, Jeff as nostalgia for Pierce
      Annie and Britta: surprisingly little (some tough love in this episode)
      Jeff and Annie: STARTS HERE!
      Britta and Jeff: Where are they on the spectrum in this episode? (None of your business.)

      There's seven people, which yields a LOT of pairings.

    • and you don't even mention Shirley… but yes the pair that i've seen the least done with is Annie and Britta

    • Come for the 'shipping; stay for the uncanny valley.

      http://pics.livejournal.com/ev…

    • Thank you, universe. I see your value now. (Way to Britta most everything else, though. What's up with motion sickness. Vomiting is not really a good solution to "The vehicle is moving too much.")

      http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

      http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

    • -The group knows each other sufficiently well at this point to anticipate an inappropriate comment from Pierce at the mention of black holes. I like how no one actually tries to stop him from making said comment, and Shirley in particular just looks tired and resigned, like "C'mon old man, let's hear it." (Picture.)

      -True, Shirley and Britta may not become especially close after this nor will Britta embrace mainstream femininity much (not that the sun rises and sets on that). But I still really like this storyline for showing another crack that opens Britta up. In 102, she frets that she doesn't do anything about the causes she purportedly belives so much in. Here, she expresses real sadness about her alienation from other women. And when she's trying to reach out to Shirley, she goes unbidden and unwanted into a diatribe about civil liberties; being needlessly defiant is obviously a much more comfortable place for her and is in keeping with her propensity for all talk and no action. 106 Britta is well on her way to becoming the Britta we know and love.

      -People are always trying to teach Jeff Winger, even from these early episodes. (It's difficult, because JEFF WINGER NEVER LEARNS.) I really love that in this episode, it's Troy who delivers the message that Jeff is sorely in need of hearing–accept where you are–which is also one of the central ideas of this show.

      Other stuff:
      -Let's be superficial for a minute, shall we? It feels wrong to see Annie in loose jean capris and a big bulky sweater.
      -Is the overflow parking for the megachurch shared with, or re-dedicated to, the nearby mosque that's mentioned in the funnyordie "Save Greendale" ad? Is the western three-quarters of the Greendale area the most coincidentally religiously diverse region, or is this ammunition for the "America is being Islamified" theorists/wackadoos? We may never know.
      -The dean thinks that being black or being Asian is a creed.
      -Damn inspiring poster copy: "I'm Jeff. And I'm a student at Greendale."
      Britta's adorable! Here she is, psyched about the opportunity to accompany Shirley to the bathroom a second time.
      -Enthousiastic banner in the cafeteria: "Pencils & Such!"

    • "Pencils & Such"–in the episode where the chemistry teacher laments the lack of pens among her students.

      (And Pierce finds a pencil.)

    • I liked that little segment. Probably because I was one of those hapless college students who constantly found herself without a pen. I went to Greendale in my heart.

    • I can't say I've "met a Britta," but certainly her male equivalent–think of the Che character on The O.C.don'tcallithat. Pulls out a guitar at the flimsiest of pretexts, affects a Workers-of-the-World-Unite T-shirt, plans to Find Himself by going to Latin America or, maybe, India.

      Every near-Annie I've met has been named Jennifer.

    • "Black hole"/"Just like my wiener" was a nice iteration of the twenty-nine-second wait-for-it we saw before. Milord/milady was also a callback! (Jeff goes around the room, cold-reading everyone as he might a potential jury.)

    • Near where I live, there's a Catholic church next to a synagogue next to a mosque (well, not really a mosque, but the place the mosque uses on Fridays because their regular building is too small). I'd like to think that Greendale embodies the same values of religious diversity.

      Also, the Annie outfit that feels most right is clearly the one from Conspiracy Theories: http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

    • The black hole gag cracked me up; it's always great to see Pierce actually rising above the expectations of the others.

    • Fantastic analysis! I love this episode for the way it so nicely sets up the tone for the enduring Jeff/Annie dynamic:

      #1-They're both smart enough to recognize the crap the other pulls; Annie can often read Jeff's selfish emotions and desires quite well, and Jeff sees Annie's own camouflaged selfish machinations for what they are nearly instantly.

      #2-They both call each other on their crap. Annie isn't afraid to call Jeff out for his emotional detachment and callousness, while Jeff doesn't hesitate to take Annie to task when she herself is being manipulative and deluding herself that she is doing right.

      #3-Romantically speaking or otherwise, Annie is Jeff's Achilles' heel. More than any other member of the group, she is able to make him feel remorseful and adopt a more morally correct course of action. Annie's quite adept at piercing Jeff's normal armor of emotional detachment and dragging him into personal and group affairs he would otherwise avoid.

      These are primary themes in the Jeff/Annie relationship (both romantic and non-romantic) throughout the show's entire run to date, and they're set up in the first real meaningful interaction between the two characters.

      There's also a nice bit of foreshadowing when Jeff tells Annie, "You're just as selfish as I am; you're just not as good at it yet." By Season 3, Annie is arguably as good at it as Jeff, and we see that he was right; she really is a highly effective puppetmaster. Also, it's interesting to look back and see how little moments like Jeff holding Annie at the end are Harmon subtly setting them up as a "ship".

      One of my favorite moments of the episode might be the confused, semi-horrified look Annie gives Jeff after he tells her "the Dean has pictures of me!" Subtle yet hilarious. http://imgur.com/cp3uT
      As LloydBraun says, 90% (made-up statistic) of this show's awesomeness is in the reaction shots.

      Also, the rapid-fire exchange between Jeff and Troy on the football field about racism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…
      Really, this is just a phenomenal episode for Troy and an early showcase of Donald Glover's absolutely hilarious ridiculous side. "Who's your favorite player?" "Me. Whoaaaa"

      As has been observed by others, it's also great to see sad, embattled, buzzkill, "you're the worst" Britta breaking out of the boring, hip shell of 101 Britta. She'ssuch a better character.

    • Great review! Personally, this was the episode where Community found its groove with all plots working together seamlessly, and I thought 'okay, this is damn good. Let's continue.'

      I will never tire of watching the Jeff & Troy exchange on the football field. 'That's black.' 'That's racist.' 'Damn.' Hilarious. 

      This was the episode where I finally started seeing – and liking – Britta as acharacter rather than part of an awkward 'will-they-won't-they' plot device. It's really interesting to see how much she has changed since this episode, particularly in communicating with Annie. In that bathroom scene there is a distinct sibling vibe between them; with Britta taking on the role of older sister, placating the much younger Annie on boy troubles. It's interesting in that after the incident with Jeff, this part of their dynamic is essentially destroyed. Annie & Britta are my favourites, so it's something I'd like to see again. 

      I really enjoyed the set up of the Jeff/Annie dynamic too. While seemingly complete opposites, it turns out they are more similar than first believed and I love being surprised like that. Watching Annie go to such great lengths to get back at Jeff – like jumping from a bush – showed a real depth of character that we hadn't seen. Looking back now, Annie has always been driven. Well, we can't say they lack continuity.