'Community' recap: A fistful of paintballs
It’s the end of the year at Greendale. Time for another game of "Community" paintball assassin! Where odd alliances are forged and study-group friendships and pop culture IQs are sorely tested. So grab your microwave popcorn and buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride.
The setting: An atmospherically lighted hallway, where a shouting, unarmed Fat Neil (Charley Koontz) is fleeing a trio with guns. Suddenly, “Ace of Hearts” Annie (Alison Brie) drops into the scene -- literally -- in saloon-girl-minus-the-skirt getup and takes them out.
“This is paintball!” And we’re off and running, with opening credits reminiscent of a certain 1964 spaghetti western starring Clint Eastwood. Splat, splat.
Annie heats up a can of beans and flashes back to the end-of-school soiree. Everybody’s in their finest western wear. Even the dean (Jim Rash), though I seriously doubt cowboys rode the range in short shorts and a midriff top. The exciting news of the party? Another paintball war, only this time the prize is $100,000 cash, courtesy of Pistol Patty’s Cowboy Creamery.
Whoosh, and we’re back in Annie’s hideout, where she’s been joined by “Jack of Clubs” Abed (Danny Pudi), who’s sporting a familiar-looking poncho. She draws a bead on him, but he’s armed too. OK, it’s a draw. He escorts her to the library, where “King of Spades” Jeff (Joel McHale) and Chang (Ken Jeong) are fighting off the math club. Chang’s got a plan: “Don’t shoot me, shoot him. He’s white and he’s out of ammo.” Splat, splat -- it’s Abed to the rescue, but Chang gets away. Now Jeff’s got a plan: Pierce (Chevy Chase) is holed up in the cafeteria with more paint “than a French kindergarten.”
Suddenly, there’s a jingle-jangle. “Who wears spurs in paintball?” Why, Annie, the well-armed, “network-TV good looking” Black Rider (Josh Holloway), that’s who. They manage to escape his clutches, only to be taken by the deputies of the stairwell … I mean Ft. Hawthorne -- “Queen of Spades” Britta (Gillian Jacobs), “Ace of Clubs” Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and “King of Clubs” Troy (Donald Glover). They’re off to Ft. Hawthorne, aka the cafeteria “safe zone, where people can rest, eat and, if necessary, pump their breast milk.” But first, leave all guns -– and drugs -– with Deputy Star-Burns (Dino Stamatopoulos). It’s your typical western saloon -– a tinkling piano, a card game, a dance hall gal (and guy) -- with Pierce running the show. Over Twinkies and a nice Hawaiian Punch, Pierce proposes they band together and split the $100,000 seven ways. He claims to know where the ammo supply is, but the rest are wary of joining with “Mr. Villain” after the year they’ve had with him.
Time for another flashback. This time to a card game Pierce has not been invited to. Uh-oh, the cards are all black except for the ace of hearts. Hmmm. Flash forward and Jeff is apologizing to Annie for railing against Pierce. Annie replies, “If we start picking and choosing, where do we stop?” Where indeed, Annie, where indeed?
We then zoom in on Chang, who’s facing a firing squad of angry cheerleaders after betraying them too. Splat, splat, only it’s the cheerleaders who fall. Payback for Annie not making the squad. Annie then goes after Chang, but is foiled by the Black Rider, who flusters her with his handsomeness, tries to shoot her (Blanks! Thanks, Pierce!) and then uses her as a human shield. There’s a standoff, but he manages to escape.
Meanwhile, Britta, Shirley and Troy enter a room, cop-style, and find the paint-splattered dean stuffed into a locker. “Why does this keep happening?” Well, Dean, it could be those get-ups, or perhaps it’s your out-of-the-box approach to education. Either way, the ammo’s in the closet, and the key’s in his short shorts. What? No takers? Not even Jeff? OK, the dean’ll fish it out. And what a stash it is! Annie grabs a machine gun with a tiger-striped paint job and goes after Pierce, the sole survivor of an attack on Ft. Hawthorne by the mysterious Black Rider. Is he a student? Who knows?
Pierce is then confronted by the whole gang. “OK, suddenly, I’m the bad guy.” Suddenly? Try all year. He brings up the card game they didn’t invite him to -– typical of them, in his mind. Turns out they were voting on whether to invite him back in the fall. It had to be unanimous, and there was one holdout – the ace of hearts. Well, well, well.
Things are about to get paintball ugly when the Black Rider reappears, vowing to take out everybody, starting with “Mr. Insecure.” This sets Jeff off -- “You think you’re good-looking, but you’re not. You’re average. You’re just an average-looking guy with a big chin!” Oh yeah?
Time for Pierce to stage another fake heart attack. Last week, it was to avoid giving Abed a stick of gum. This week … well, let’s just say that the Black Rider was a little too trusting. “Sucker!”
And Annie was right to be suspicious of him. Turns out he was a paintball ringer, sent so his boss could keep the prize money. “Sweetie, this thing is so much bigger than you can imagine. I’m outta here. I’ve got Coldplay tickets.”
Too bad Chang didn’t have Coldplay tickets too. Instead, he’s running around campus blindfolded when he’s mowed down by storm troopers led by the Pistol Patty’s mascot (a giant cone). “On your knees. No Greendale student can be allowed to win this game. Initiate Plan B: Operation Total Invasion.” Uh-oh.
Extra credit: Exciting scenes from next week’s finale. Not to be missed.
-- Alison Dingeldein
Photos: Top, from left, Annie (Alison Brie), Jeff (Joel McHale), Troy (Donald Glover), Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Abed (Danny Pudi) are armed and ready. Bottom, the mysterious Black Rider (Josh Holloway). Credits: Lewis Jacobs / NBC