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'Community' recap: Happy Valentine's Day!

February 11, 2011 |  8:07 am

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about hearts, romance and “I love you,” right? Well, not at Greendale, where Cupid seems to be MIA. On this Feb. 14 (OK, Feb. 10, but that’s only because of NBC scheduling), friendships are sorely tested.

Let’s start with Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi), a match made in nerdy heaven if there ever was. They’ve both fallen for Greendale librarian Mariah (Maite Schwartz). I’m sure it has nothing to do with her low-cut top and glasses. No, not at all. They finally introduce themselves --  M: “Are you the guys who keep staring at me and intermittently yelling out ‘Books!’?” T: “The very same.”  -- and ask her to the Valentine’s Day dance. “This is the cutest thing that’s ever happened to me.”

OK, they’re set. Now it’s on to group therapy … I mean a gathering of the study group in the library. Britta (Gillian Jacobs) oh, so nonchalantly waltzes in and brags about her new friend Page (Brit Marling), who is “A friend of Ellen,” as Annie (Alison Brie) puts it. A crabby Pierce, meanwhile, is popping painkillers like candy. He’s confronted and storms out. Annie and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) suggest an intervention, and they appeal to Jeff (Joel McHale) for help.  He’s having none of it, and then starts a fight about the Barenaked Ladies. BNL is just the surface, of course. Really, it’s all about Jeff not wanting to be the center of this solar system of misfits.

Jeff is then buttonholed by resident Brit Ian Duncan (John Oliver), who wants to come over and watch Man United play Liverpool on Jeff’s big screen (“God gave you a British friend and a massive TV for a reason.”). Gravedigger’s biscuits, indeed.

Meanwhile, Annie finds out that Page is straight, and that she’s only hanging out with Britta because she thinks Britta is a lesbian. Of course, Britta is doing the same thing. Page and Britta decide to do a little consciousness-raising at Greendale and go to the dance together. Perhaps it’s Puck in the house, and not Cupid after all. And then there’s Mr. Mood Swing Pierce, who’s orbiting outer space. No little green men, though -- just the Tiny Man You See When You Take Enough Pills (a “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”-size Andy Dick) in the water fountain, who informs Pierce that he’s not sharing him with the group. Will he “Be Mine,” or not? Stay tuned, kids.

Night falls and the action moves to Jeff’s strangely bland living room, where Duncan’s proudly wearing red and white (Is he supposed to be from Merseyside? He doesn’t sound like it). Ding, dong, it’s Chang (Ken Jeong) at the door, who’s traded in his usual guayabera for an outfit in Liverpool FC’s colors too and who promptly destroys Jeff’s lamp with some nunchuks. Nice going. Further testing the Winger welcome mat, Chang calls up Star-Burns (Dino Stamatopoulos) and pals for a “Wingding at Wingers.”

Back at Greendale, Mariah the librarian is wooed with the “Saw” franchise and premium movie channels (Abed) and slick dance moves (Troy). The slick moves win out and soon the awkward couple is on the dance floor, while Pierce is in his own little world and Britta and Page are giving Greendalers “something to really talk about.”  How do you top that? Try a little lip lock, where it comes out that neither is actually a lesbian. Well, that’s one shallow friendship down the drain. Britta and Annie, on the other hand … shippers, avert your eyes; fan-fiction writers, ready, set, go!

It also looks like the bromance survives Mariah -- our favorite nerd boys wind up in a sweet Valentine’s Day hug after Troy dumps the librarian for calling Abed weird. Will these two ever find girlfriends? “There’s someone out there for us.” Awwww.

Sweetness is not what’s happening at Jeff’s apartment, however, where the party’s out of control and Chang is doing laundry in Jeff’s dishwasher and wearing Jeff’s underwear (OK, that’s beyond creepy). Turns out Chang’s wife found out about Shirley and kicked him out for good. And he’s still got nowhere to go after Jeff gives him the boot too. Quickly followed by the rest of the party. A puzzled Jeff asks Duncan, “What is it about me that broken people flock to me? Is it my height? Do huddled masses mistake me for the Statue of Liberty?” Great writing there.

Our reluctant hero figures he’ll have 39 messages waiting from a certain six people when he turns his phone back on, but is surprised (humbled?) to find none. Guess they don’t need him after all. So he rescues Chang from the dumpster and calls the six who mean the world to him to apologize: “Caring about a person can be scary. Caring about six people can be a horrifying, embarrassing nightmare, at least for me. I love you guys.” I knew it! Under that glib exterior lies a guy with a heart. And he’s going to need it with Pierce. Pierce, oh, Pierce, what have you done to yourself?

Extra credit: This week, it’s a Valentine’s Day test. Can a blindfolded Abed guess the sayings on candy hearts? Of course he can … until … 

-- Alison Dingeldein

Photo: Danny Pudi, left, Maite Schwartz and Donald Glover on "Community." Credit: Lewis Jacobs / NBC.