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'Community' recap: Guns n' betrayal

November 19, 2010 |  6:06 am

Community209C Ah, conspiracy theories. There’s the old JFK chestnut (paging Frohike, Byers and Langly), and the ever-popular chemtrails. And of course this week’s hot topic -– Bristol Palin’s “tea party”-fueled trip to the finals on “Dancing With the Stars.” And then there’s Thursday night’s conspiracy within a conspiracy within a conspiracy, all warmly wrapped up in the world’s biggest blanket fort.

It all starts so innocently -– or does it? -– in the study room. Annie (Alison Brie) is showing off her entry for Greendale’s Bio Diorama Rama: “Alternative Energy: The Key to a Brighter Tomorrow.” Suddenly, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) bursts in, waving a printout around and accusing uber slacker Jeff (Joel McHale) of taking a fake independent study class, Conspiracy Theories in U.S. History (Where do I sign up?). Jeff denies it, even leading the dean and Annie to the appropriate classroom, which -– surprise! -– is a supply closet. Who should then conveniently show up but the instructor -– Professor P. Professorson (Kevin Corrigan) -- who vouches for Jeff (“An actual conspiracy to round out your education in conspiracies and theories, thereof”).  The dean leaves and then Jeff ’fesses up that he made the whole thing up. So, who is this professor? Will Annie and Jeff get to the bottom of it? Stay tuned.  

Dioramas and conspiracies -– so not for Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi). Instead, they’ve decided to revisit their inner child by donning jammies and building an enormous blanket fort in Abed’s dorm room. And before you can describe at least one facet of “The X-Files’” complicated government-alien conspiracy story line to a newbie, the blanket fort has grown into a multicultural “city” where the dress code appears to be cute flannel PJs. Hey, it beats writing that 20-page term paper due tomorrow.

Meanwhile, back in conspiracy land, Annie has discovered that Professorson is actually night school instructor S. Lawrence Woolley (sign: Aquarius; courses: Introduction to Basics and Active Passivity).  Or is he? He tries to give Jeff and Annie the slip, but they’re hot on his trail in the blanket city, finally catching him at the Latvian Independence Day parade.  He leads our duo back to “night school,” which turns out to be a room full of ancient printers, fake students, fake professors and fake classes. And where he is unmasked as drama professor Sean Garrity, doing a little bit of acting for the dean. With me there?

Jeff decides to teach the dean a lesson or two (“He doesn’t like fake classes? Well, he’s about to get a real lesson on the fact that Jeff Winger never learns!”).  Prop guns are acquired. Let the firing begin! The dean shoots Annie, Jeff shoots the dean, Annie shoots Jeff. It’s all one swirling mass of conspiracies, double-dealings (Fake classes! Lessons in friendship! Love, liplocks and being ignored!) and meltdowns. As the dean put it, “I can’t keep track of it anymore!”

And just when you think it’s all over, in walks Officer Cackowski (Craig Cackowski) to blow things up again (“Well, it just goes to show you -– prop guns belong backstage”). Of course, this being a conspiracy within a conspiracy within a conspiracy, the final “victim” (Garrity) and the shooter go off for breakfast.

One more meltdown from the dean and we cut to the gang having a confab in blanket land. “I’m not sure what lesson we’ve managed to teach each other,” Jeff says, “but I’m proud of Annie. She took to deception like Abed took to ‘Cougar Town.’ Especially when she went off-script.” Oh, and that blanket fort? The trend is sweeping campuses across the nation, so Troy and Abed decide to pull the plug. Mainstream? Not these two.

Wow. My head is still swirling. A fun, fast-paced story (kudos to all involved), but why were Chevy Chase (Pierce) and Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) so under-used this week? And is Shirley pregnant or not? Inquiring minds want to know! Oh, and any Jeff and Annie shippers out there? This one was for you.

Extra credit: Troy and Abed’s very, very short once-upon-a-time: spaceships, aliens, mercenaries, war, betrayal, romance, karate, the credits and the end. 

-- Alison Dingeldein

Photo: Jeff (Joel McHale) in action on "Community." Credit: Justin Lubin / NBC