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'Community' recap: So long, Mom

October 8, 2010 |  8:19 am

Community 203 pic Today’s lecture in Anthropology 101: Mortality and “The Psychology of Letting Go.”

Is it better to deprive oneself of doughnuts and greasy pizza or to meet mortality head on with a gooey ice cream sundae? What happens after you die, and how should you be remembered? What is the best way to raise funds in the Quad? And what will it take to get Señor Chang to crack? Who knew a 30-minute comedy could be so deep and yet so funny too?

Reality arrives at Greendale, where Annie (Alison Brie) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) are busy working on a large display to raise money for the oil-damaged gulf region. They’re explaining the project to Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), who’s a little ticked off that she wasn’t included, when a freaked-out Troy (Donald Glover) breaks the news that he’s found Pierce’s mom dead in the garage.  There’s no consoling Troy, but Pierce (Chevy Chase) is his usual cheerful self. He explains that he and Mom were Reformed Neo-Buddhists (Level Five Laser Lotuses, to be exact), and that although his mom has used up her organic body, after being vaporized in the Temple of Renewal and stored in an energon pod, she’ll someday be reborn. The rest of the gang’s not really buying this -– especially Jeff (Joel McHale) -– but for different reasons. They want to have a memorial service, and Jeff thinks religion is hooey. 

This spills over into anthro class, where professor Bauer (Betty White) is still out on paid administrative leave for strangling Jeff. So lucky them -– they get professor Ian Duncan (John Oliver), who doesn’t know a thing about the subject and is too cheap to buy the book. Then, like a scene out of an old western (love those movie refs!), Chang (Ken Jeong) bursts through the double swingin’ doors in the back of the classroom with a “Well, well, I heard there was a drunk Limey teaching this class.” With the help of Abed (Danny Pudi), he has soon whipped out an industrial-size tape measure to prove he’s the required 25 feet from the professor. Seems there’s a restraining order against Chang, thanks to a little dust-up the two had last year. What Duncan lacks in teaching skills, he certainly makes up in deviousness when it comes to messing with Chang around campus.

After class, the oil spill display (complete with a barrel of oil) has made its way out to the Quad, where Annie and Britta are doing their Annie (perky) and Britta (fact-based) best to raise funds. Annie’s way more successful than Britta, who soon accuses her of using her “sexy, schoolgirl routine” and selling out her gender to rake in the bucks. 

Cut to Jeff, who learns he has high cholesterol despite having treated his body like a temple his whole life. He’s having serious issues with the man upstairs anyway (“There is no God!”), and this is just too much for him. He devises a plan to prove to Troy and Pierce that the lava lamp-like container Pierce is carrying around does not really contain the vaporized remains of his Mom. He’ll take them to the county morgue (but sell it as a trip to an ice cream parlor). During the drive, which looks like the warehouse district near downtown Los Angeles (which, oddly enough, isn’t too far from the actual county morgue), Pierce finds a CD with his Mom’s parting words on it: “I’m gone, Pierce. Gone forever.”   She urges him to live life to the fullest and plays herself out with hip-hop. That’s one cool mom. Pierce, who’s in an odd “Star Trek”-like Nehru jacket with what looks like a bar code over the heart, tosses the CD out the car window, saying this confirms she’d lost her mind.  Cue up the Monkees. Jeff takes Mom’s advice to heart, and the three go for ice cream.

Meanwhile, back at the Quad, tempers are flaring. To prove a point, Britta’s acting like Annie and Annie’s acting like Britta. Things quickly escalate into … Girl Fight! The barrel gets knocked over and before you know it, it’s turned into an oil wrestling match. Chang shows up with a restraining order against professor Duncan (“mutually assured destruction”), and the two decide to patch things up. As do Britta and Annie. As they’re being all BFF, Jeff and Co. stroll in with their ice creams, at peace with the world. See, letting go is good.

Extra credit: Far, far from her Greendale classroom,  professor Bauer discusses Tom Berenger, the subversion of reality and “Inception” with a tribesman around a campfire in Mimpousa, Congo.

-- Alison Dingeldein

Photo: Annie (Alison Brie), left, wrestles Britta (Gillian Jacobs) on "Community." Credit: Trae Patton / NBC