'Community' recap: Happy birthday, Troy!
Well, well, well -- it’s Troy’s 20th birthday. Make that the 20th anniversary of his expulsion from a uterus. Troy (Donald Glover) is a Jehovah’s Witness, you see, and doesn’t celebrate his birthday. Still, there’s presents, a bit of “Happy Birthday” and even a cake, which Pierce (Chevy Chase) proceeds to destroy while claiming that it was his birthday last week and that nobody made a big deal about it. They convince him he had a wild party, and he goes along with it. Ha.
Annie (Alison Brie) starts reading facts about Troy’s birthday, that he was born on Dec. 4, that he shares it with Tyra Banks, Marisa Tomei and French cinematographer Claude Renoir, and that he, like Annie, is a horse. Troy corrects her to say, nope, he’s a snake, born in 1989. Which means he’s 21. Which can mean only one thing. Party!
Troy’s down with a trip to a bar for his first legal alcoholic beverage -- “I want to bathe in manhood” -- while Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and the underage Annie are not, but they go along anyway. Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) bicker about which bar to take Troy to (These two are particularly bickersome tonight … must be something in the air), a fake ID is acquired for Annie (Caroline Decker from Corpus Christi, Texas) and they’re off. One closed bar, telephone argument and Jeff pep talk (“Troy, you’re entering the next chapter of your life. Sadly, it’s the final chapter, but it’s also the longest. And if you play it right, the best. You and I, we’re just two guys now. Peers. Equals.) later, they arrive at the Ballroom. Much to Shirley’s chagrin. Turns out she knows it well.
While Troy ponders what to order -- beer? a Seven and Seven like his favorite uncle favored? -- Shirley cruises the bar, looking for incriminating photos of herself from her drinking days, and Abed (Danny Pudi) goes off to play Asteroids. Where he’s hit on by a geeky guy. Abed ignores the signs -- he’s way more interested in discussing his favorite sci-fi show in great detail (“I really, really like talking about ‘Farscape’ ”). And gets a drink in the face for his efforts.
Shirley comes face to face with her past -- a poster Britta’s plucked from the bathroom featuring a very drunk Shirley and the legend, “If you look like this, call a cab.” Muttering, “I had some bad years, with a chaser,” she stalks out, where she finds Pierce stuck in the bar’s entrance, with a dead battery on his wheelchair. She takes pity on him, and takes him home.
Back at the bar, it’s nearly midnight. Troy looks around, sees a sad Abed and Annie and a still bickering Britta and Jeff, and decides to call it a night. Next thing you know, Troy’s behind the wheel of Jeff’s hot car (Now, that’s a much better birthday present!). Jeff and Britta start bickering again -- this time over the name of a bar. Turns out they've been talking about the same bar, just calling it different names, which sets Troy off: “I just spent the last two years thinking that you guys knew more than me about life, and I just found out that you guys are just as dumb as me.” Da doy! Welcome to adulthood, Troy.
And with adulthood come some extra smarts too, apparently -- Troy gets all philosophical and wise when he walks Annie to her apartment door. Annie too. Sweet.
Sweetness, meanwhile, is not what’s going on in the back seat of the car, where Jeff and Britta are playing tonsil hockey. If you can’t fight ’em, make out with ’em, I guess. Unwilling witness Abed rats them out, and is chastised by Troy. Turns out Troy may be the most grown up of them all.
Or maybe not. This week’s extra credit finds Troy and Abed setting a T-shirt record -- just because they can. By the time Troy’s squeezed into No. 157 -– an XXXL Uncle Rusty’s burger shirt, he can barely breathe, much less move around. And that’s when his phone starts ringing. “Hurry, I think it’s a girl,” he urges the rooting Abed. Kids.
Overall, a pretty good episode. A few secrets were revealed, especially where Shirley was concerned. Now, is she pregnant or not? As to Annie … a complete 180 from the gun-wielding Annie of a few weeks ago when her pens went missing (or was that just the root beer talking?). And who knew Troy had such surprisingly deep thoughts? And then there’s Jeff and Britta, the 21st century's Bickering Bickersons.
Be sure to catch next week's episode -- an early Christmas present for "Community" fans.
-- Alison Dingeldein
Photo: Britta (Gillian Jacobs) shows off a bit of incriminating evidence. Jeff (Joel McHale), center, and Troy (Donald Glover) are equally amused. Credit: Jordin Althaus / NBC