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'Community' recap: OK, who swiped Annie's pen?

November 12, 2010 |  6:40 am

Community 208 pic
Take a load off, Annie! All that for a pen? Yes, yes, I know. It’s the principle, but really! 

The gang’s hard at work on Professor Duncan’s (John Oliver) latest cockamamie  assignment -– creating the stages of humanity -- in papier-mâché (Man evolves into a dragon monster with three legs? Wonder who came up with that idea, Troy and Abed?).  Pierce (Chevy Chase), both legs in casts after last week’s little tumble into a dumpster, is trying out his breath-activated wheelchair (“I outbid three hospitals for this baby, and it was worth every penny”). 

The dean (Jim Rash) comes by to remind them about Greendale’s puppy parade, which Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) are gung-ho to attend. But wait. Annie’s (Alison Brie) pen has gone missing -– again! -– and before you know it, we’re in lockdown mode in the study room. In other words, what we’ve got here is a bottle episode, and in case you didn’t get it, it’s helpfully alluded to at various points in the story line.

Tempers flair, words fly and secrets are revealed (that’s not all that’s revealed, but more on that later) in the course of our latest Greendale adventure. Britta (Gillian Jacobs) gets on that invisible soapbox she loves to drag around, decrying the loss of civil liberties (“Welcome to the gross business of martial law!”).  Annie has a major meltdown (“Accidents don’t just happen!” Tell that to Elvis Costello, Annie).

Jeff (Joel McHale) tries reasoning with the out-of-control mob, and then gets all TSA, demanding to see the contents of purses and backpacks. The contents range from the expected (condoms, pens and tampons) to the unexpected (A blue cushion? How Troy!) to the downright creepy (Abed’s notebook containing menstrual charts for Annie, Britta and Shirley. “It yielded positive results for everybody,” Abed says by way of explanation). And then there’s Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) -- she’s got a home pregnancy test in her bag. Seems she got back together with her (ex?) husband, but the dates don’t jibe with Abed’s chart. Uh oh -- could this be a surprise souvenir of Shirley’s Halloween hook-up with Señor Chang (Ken Jeong)?  

Still no pen. In that case, what’s a cast in ratings hell to do but strip? Tastefully, of course. This is network TV, after all. The women stay demurely behind their upended table, but the guys … much to the delight of this female viewer (and no doubt many others the world over) … the guys dash out in their undies to attack Pierce’s casts. Which they  proceed to do with much gusto and scissor action. Lots of ballpoints, Slim Jims and stink, but not Annie’s purple pen.

So, if the guilty party isn't in the study room, then maybe a ghost took it. Jeff makes another one of his closing argument speeches (“If we have to choose between turning on each other or pinning it on some specter with unfinished pen-related business, I’m sorry, but my money’s on ghosts.”) and Troy spins a ghostly* tale. End of lockdown. The room’s a mess, but so what? Everybody’s happy again. Except the dean, who demands to know what they’ve been doing in the room. Abed’s got a biting reply at the ready: “Something you and your puppies could only dream of, you non-miraculous [SOB]." Wow. Abed’s not so innocent after all.

* A ghost, you say? Try a furry little critter (Troy’s monkey?) with a love of shiny objects -– including all of Annie’s purple pens -- that stashes its loot in an air duct right off the study room.

As bottle episodes go, this one was pretty good. Will it become a cast member’s potential Emmy entry or a fan favorite? Will the strip-search boost ratings and help ensure “Community’s” survival? Only time will tell.

Extra credit: It’s Greendale’s puppy parade, floats and all, with commentary by the dean. Cute puppies -- who could resist? Especially that little husky. On the other hand, the dean didn’t much like the Equality & Togetherness float, featuring a kitten and a puppy. “This one feels a little preachy. Booh!”

-- Alison Dingeldein

Photo: On "Community," Annie (Alison Brie) searches her cellphone for a photo of her missing pen. Looking on are Troy (Donald Glover), center, and Abed (Danny Pudi). Credit: Harper Smith / NBC