Episode 313: Digital Exploration of Interior Design



A Communist’s Exploration of Digital Exploration of Interior Designs

Greetings friends and lovers. Today I am bringing you my take on episode 3-13. We collectively ranked this episode at #29 and I put it at #22 in my own ranking with an A- grade. I chose this episode because I am a HUGE fan of it’s sister, Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design. Conspiracy Theories was #1 on my personal rankings and an additional “season” has done nothing to change that. The other reason I chose this episode is because I have loved Britta ever since she first tried to put a tiny sombrero on a frog (*1).

> The Episode: Pillow Forts, Deviant Sex Acts, & Kim (sorry Dorian, not THAT Kim (*2))
Hot n’ Brown didn’t survive the tragic Arizona Matchbook fire of 2011 and it’s time for a new tenant to take their place. Subway the restaurant and Subway the man are joining Greendale and shenanigans are sure to follow. Abed is into it though (*3).

After a quick prayer for peace, we return from the credits to learn the B and C plots. Jeff & Annie investigate 5 semesters worth of locker clutter which includes a hate note from the mysterious Kim in the C plot. Troy & Abed build a pillow fort and Troy, with a little help, starts to realize that he’s not the one wearing the pants in this relationship in the B plot. We’ve been building towards the Troy & Abed rift ever since the season one finale when Abed claimed that they couldn’t live together and Troy revealed his favorite episode of Happy Days (*4). We’ll get back to that though.

Surprising nobody, Britta is outraged that corporations can now have corporal humanoids. What she didn’t count on is that this corpral humanoid would be an Orwell fan that wants to open an animal hospital someday. Pierce and Shirley decide to use Britta in a corporate espionage scheme to create an underutilized grouping of characters that I really enjoy. Britta and Shirley are fun to pair together because the conflict comes so easily and adding the unpredictable element of chaos, Pierce, is a great mixture for success. More time on the A plot could have easily moved this episode into the top tier.

The C plot is a cut and paste plot that could literally be dropped into any episode or cut completely. Jeff discovers that he has a locker and finds 5 semesters worth of Greendale messaging and a hate letter from Kim. The plot has some great jokes with my personal favorite being Annie’s stuffed animal bit (*5), but this plot was just a distraction from the A and B plots.

One of the things that made Conspiracy Theories so great was the hyper focus on the two great stories being told and that hyper focus was possible because they cut the C story about Shirley and Pierce going to get the best burgers in town. You can still see evidence of this story in the final scene (*6). Axing the Annie and Jeff plot would have allowed for more time with John Goodman and Subway. Jannie could have popped in and out of the other stories or had some Abed-style background adventures instead.

Troy’s trying to become his own man in season three and that means that he’s no longer interested in just being one of Abed’s playthings. He wants more than just a whistle, as Dean Laybourne (who is also going through some stuff) helps him realize. The A/C Dean is also the devil on Abed’s shoulder that pushes Abed away from Troy and helps escalate this conflict to a full-scale war. This is the only plot carried forward to the concept episode that resolves it. Dean Pelton is also in the middle of all of these hijinx by pushing Troy and Abed to try and set a Guinness World Record for the largest blanket OR pillow fort. This episode is really the continued fallout from Contemporary Impressionists, or part 2 of a Troy & Abed Trilogy.

Abed has always been fascinated by Troy, because he chose him for the group in the pilot instead of some other person from their Spanish class. Troy wasn’t always comfortable getting weird with Abed, but they eventually became Troy & Abed. This trilogy of episodes is the chapter in their relationship where they both realize that they each have to be their own person. They are both pretty bummed about it, but Abed clearly takes it the hardest by having a full-scale breakdown in the back half of the season. Also, season four happens.

> Highs and Lows
>>> Highs
Everything Britta. http://24.media.tumblr.com/tum…
Glover line reading – http://25.media.tumblr.com/tum…
“Wait, that’s SAVED Garrett?”
Garrett to the rescue http://25.media.tumblr.com/tum…
One of the best boner jokes ever.

Annie & Jeff’s plot is almost redeemed by how many funny parts get thrown into it, but the resolution of Jeff realizing that he’s an inconsiderate dick sometimes for the 23rd time is pretty weak. “Put it in a letter Jane Austen!” (a high in the low)

> The Commentary
>>>Harmon laughs at the episode title when Yvette announces it. He doesn’t comment any further on the title.
>>> Yvette claims that she didn’t understand the boner joke until she watched the episode.
>>> They tried to break Jeff’s locker story in season two, but couldn’t get it right. They originally wanted to have Annie have put a note in his locker during season one that she no longer wanted him to be able to see. They couldn’t figure it out though.
>>> Leonard’s IBM joke was reused because it got cut from Conspiracy Theories. A couple of actors and crew people all said something about the joke being reused, because they didn’t realize it was cut the first time. The writers really liked it and wanted to get it on the air.

> Final Thoughts
Eat Fresh!

> Footnotes
*1 http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

*2 http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

*3 http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

*4 http://youtu.be/MpraJYnbVtE

*5 http://31.media.tumblr.com/tum…

*6 http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…


On the AV Club: http://www.avclub.com/articles/advanced-introduction-to-finality,97134/#comment-1067565001 (page 240)



  • of all the random outsiders who come in as a potential romantic attachment for a study group member, subway is my favorite. i appreciate that they found a (ridiculous) way to write him off immediately, but i still kinda want him to come back.

    also, this entire episode is a not so subtle theme episode based on 1984. the original novel is a critique by orwell based on his belief that britain was going to fall into some sort of stalinistic totalitarian state around the time of his writing it, and it is taught in american classrooms all around the world. orwell was a staunch socialist who just happened to (reasonably) hate stalinism so much he wrote a lot of books hating on it. that his novels have been taken as anti-socialism-in-general is offensive to, well, any thinking human being.

    so anyway, i find it very fitting that they recast the plot as anti-corporation while simultaneously embedding it into product placement. it was funny, heartwarming, perverted, and sharp. i like it a lot.

  • They could bring him back this season. Like if Britta was sneaking around behind the group's back and they're trying to figure out why. The reason turns out to be Subway.

  • The episode also has an anti-socialist feel because there is a lot of not so subtle Randian philosophy. Laybourne (who is "going through some stuff" because Goodman was working on Flight) is a textbook Objectivist spouting off about "unremarkables" (I like that as a made up term) and "parasites". In Abed's geodesic dome he's basically a Burt Cooper clone with the bare feet and everything.

  • You guys do your own reviews? That is dedication. I am thoroughly impressed. I agree with your diagnosis – this episode would have fared better if the C plot had been discarded and more time had been devoted to the Trobed rift or Britta/Subway courtship. Annie being the true culprit behind the note would have been an interesting take on that storyline, however. It's still a solid way to spend 22 minutes, but I cannot help feeling it functions solely as a precursor to Pillows and Blankets, where the real fun begins. Then again, that was probably the whole point!

    This was a nice read to have on my lunch break, so thanks for that.

  • Mine was the be– *Hairdresser is murdered by other commenters*

  • We'll let the likes and comments be the judge of tha- *is chloroformed*

  • We ALL got chloroformed!

  • who is she? why is she holding a rag?

  • Who would have thought that after doing the best product placement ever with KFC they would arguably top it with Subway. Everything about it is brilliant and reFRESHingly imaginative. It's amazing just how many plugs they work in:

    -The opening lingering on the Subway storefront because the Dean can't tear the ribbon
    -"It was worth it. Like a good book by Orwell, or a Veggie Delite"
    -Britta eating a Subway (http://24.media.tumblr.com/tum… ) which is such a perfect gag that walks the line between cartoon and sharp satire
    Ohhh, Subway.
    -Eat Fresh!
    -I love you, Subway!

    All of these are naked shilling but in being so over the top whorish it somehow…isn't?

    Britta: Corporate America has destroyed love
    Annie: Again?

    Is it corporal humanoid or corpo-humanoid? I heard corpo, but corporal sort of works.

  • i heard corpo as well.

  • Affirmed.

    Eat fresh.

  • if i could, i would love this comment instead of liking it.

  • They call it corporal humanization in that first scene. Just got stuck in my head. I blame Todd.

  • Thoughts on the Kim plot? Lost in the afterglow of liking Community again after CI, I didn't pay much attention to it but it's a really weak plot. I also didn't like the appearance of the lockers with the explanation that they had always been there. If they needed a place where Jeff had never checked before why not a mail cubby or something? That hallway has been used dozens of times without lockers like in the episode just before with T&A's crab walk. It's one of the main freaking sets! This stuff is important!

    Later finding out that the plot was largely done by Harmon to spite a suit made it even worse. Continuing it the next week didn't help either.

  • It's really not good. It's totally unnecessary, and it takes away from the Trobed plot, which is something the whole season had been building towards and deserved much more time. I'm sure it felt good for Harmon to write, but this is one case where his tendency to self-indulge absolutely hurt the show. 

  • As with a lot of the more recent reviews– not much to add to this exemplary post /cheer but to reiterate, "Howard Johnson is right!"  While the three plots stretch things a little thin, this is arguably the best product placement in a TV show ever that is engaging, thoughtful, and hilarious all the same.  

    And at we're back to the good kind of jarring Season 3 elements here– there is chaos, but it is contained, ever so close to breaking apart, and that adds to the tension when "MY NAME IS ALEX" finally erupts because you've got somewhere to go.  If this episode had been as upside down tonally as the last one, that shared look of shock and determined indignation between Troy and Abed wouldn't have hit nearly as well as it does (in my opinion).  

    Doppeldeaner Count for this Season 3 Episode:
    We have the multiple Subways, we have the return of the multiple sides of Britta (lover vs. rebel, infiltrator vs. being bound by loyalty, etc).  We have the many takes on Kims here (inside joke and otherwise), the beginnings of the symbolic Russo/Harmon clash on Pillows vs. Blankets ("I shouldn't have to sacrifice my vision for mediocrity), repeating the pillow fort idea, Annie hiding a stuffed animal within a stuff animal, all the different possibilities for who could take up that shop space in the cafeteria, and of course, the multiple interpretations of Digital Exploration of Interior Design ("Subway can not stand for that, and frankly, Rick, I'm SURPRISED you DID" [phrasing!]).  
    ***EDIT***- whoops didn't see you footnoted a GIF of this– /cheer to that! ^^

    BTW this (too) is one of my favorite Annie faces next to her hand shift in "Social Psychology."  



    "I'm bringing Ruthie…. but using her pouch to sneak in NATHAN."

    Great review /cheer /praise.  Here are some Subway Cat pictures!



    Eat Fresh!

  • Props are in order for Dan Eckman (seen here: http://www.fishsticktheatre.co… ) behind the camera. His talents were well-suited for this episode and it shows in sequences like Britta and Subway's pillow fort scene and the start of the battle. All the other Derrick Comedy people are there too — Dominic Dierkes, DC Pierson, and Meggie McFadden. I don't understand how none of these people have made it big yet, but they should.


  •  Great review!

    I feel a little ambivalent about this episode because, while it has some of the funniest bits in all of S3, it also feels curiously unfocused and lazy at times (this is especially visible when you compare it to "Conspiracy Theories," which has one of the tightest, best structured comedy plots I have ever seen).

    My problem is of course, the Kim plot, though not with Kim himself. The guy is essentially forgettably harmless (Jeff may have been on to something), and I kinda like how he continues the trend started with the Todd plot, of establishing the group as somewhat less than generous and cuddly. But boy, oh boy, did I hate Annie here!

    I never understood what the show was trying to do with her, especially in the second part of S3. After her lovely heart to heart with Jeff in "Ecology" and her lycanthropic admission of "You should be glad of how much I changed you," I thought the show was finally going to move her ahead and give her other things to do. Instead, when she wasn't basically the show's fifteenth banana, she was acting like the world's biggest Bechdel Test failure, by swooning all over Jeff. If you want to blame Harmon for anything, don't blame him for making fun of some random exec, blame him for trying to play both sides of this absurd shipping divide.

    I also didn't ultimately like Pierce's subplot, which, in the absence of an actual payoff, just got weird – what was the deal with that ink-drinking?

    Things I loved:

    – Subway. Oh, Subway, light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul… I loved the Orwellian undertones, but most of all I loved the sheer filthiness of it all. I also loved the shot of Britta in the tunnel looking for Subway, especially the faux-Philip Glass soundtrack.

    – Travis Schuldt (Subway) and James Michael Connor (Subway executive). Both were so well chosen and did so well – Schuldt with his moon-faced earnestness and Connor with his befuddlement ("That… got unhealthy really quick. I was raised in the Bay area, but… I'm a father now").

    I'm waiting for the P&B review to talk about the great T&A rift that wasn't.

  • Watching Winston's random descent into dementia on New Girl I was reminded of Pierce's erratic behavior and mental lapses in season 3. There is no explanation other than that they apparently thought it was funny. On the commentary they say they tried one take with real ink and it didn't work so they CGI'd it. They actually went through the trouble of doing that! And Harmon sees "Gene Hackman in The Conversation" levels of depth to Pierce here. It makes no sense.

  •  I can only assume Harmon is joking about Gene Hackman.

    The annoying thing is that the plot has potential. Shirley and Pierce is another one of those pairings the show hasn't really explored, and Pierce has some killer lines: "You haven't lived anywhere! You're a weapon designed for sex!"

    But that ink drinking is so weird that it feels more like a setup for something. I spent literally the rest of the season waiting for it to pay off, and it never did.

  • I hate that stupid CGI ink so much.