TV Review: Community 3.18, ‘Course Listing Unavailable’

Community delved further into darker territory this week following the ending of last week's episode in which we learn Star-Burns had perished when a meth lab in the trunk of his car exploded.

rating: 4

Community delved further into darker territory this week following the ending of last week's episode in which we learn Star-Burns had perished when a meth lab in the trunk of his car exploded. His death has kick-started a chain of events that could see the end of the study group. The €˜Chang Rises€™ arc also hits full stride as Dean Pelton reluctantly enlists the protection of €˜The Changlorious Bastards€™. Alex Osbourne may be dead and gone but that doesn€™t stop him popping up a few times in this weeks episode for some more laughs, namely his video will in which he asks Abed to make a tribute video for him and leaves him with footage of himself acting a fool in front of a green screen. Later in the study group, Annie points out how awkward and quiet it is because of Star-Burns death, and suggests they talk through it. Jeff being Jeff just doesn€™t care, he was a drug dealer after all, hard drugs, and a thief. He also makes Troy paranoid that his pen pal in China had died, always great to see Donald Glover freaking out, it rivals Charlie Day. We treated to another great call back to Britta being a terrible psychology student as she offers help to the student group to cope with their half hearted grief. She does this by acting a conduit to Star-Burns (putting star shapes on her face) and asking the group to let out their grievances to him. Jeff points out €˜You seemed smarter than me when I first met you.€™ The writers are very self-aware of the evolution, or de-evolution of Britta Perry, nevertheless it has made her this seasons funniest character, great to learn she drunkenly got with Star-Burns at a party. We€™re treated to the Dean singing again (two weeks in a row) before Chang requests Pelton sign a contract to increase the campus security because of the stolen lab gear that lead to Star-Burns€™ death. But the fine print, or crayon, includes things such as €˜indefinite detention€™ and the usage of pepper spray, so the Dean refuses to sign it. We then see where all of the Dean€™s fabulous outfits are kept, €˜Who wants to dance?€™ Now we know he does specifically put them on to entice Jeff. The Dean turns up to the study room as a burlesque dancer to inform them that because of the stolen lab equipment, Professor Kane has resigned and the biology class cancelled, meaning summer school for the study group. I hope this doesn€™t mean we€™ve seen the last of Michael K. Williams€™ guest spots on the show, he always seemed like the voice of reason. Jeff is distraught at the idea of losing his summer and the study group begins to turn on Greendale. My favourite joke of the episode is probably the call back to Shirley wanting to sing Ave Maria at the Star-Burns memorial, then after Garret€™s terrible rendition, the Dean invites Shirley to sing and she gives a perfectly timed deadpan €˜No thank you.€™ The Dean€™s first mistake at the memorial was inviting people to share their thoughts, leading a distraught Jeff to kick-start a tirade of abuse at the school for screwing them over. Jeff for losing his summer, Annie for failing biology, Shirley for Greendale selling her idea to Subway and Troy & Abed lead the crowd into a verse of €˜Greendale sucks€™ just for the hell of it. The Dean does his best to keep order and reluctantly signs Chang€™s contract, but not before Pierce takes the microphone and starts the riot by screaming €˜LETS BURN THIS MOTHER DOWN!€™ Leonard makes his customary cameo by stealing all the Subway sandwich fillings whilst Pierce tries to get his comb back from Star-Burns by spooling through his ashes. All hell breaks loose as Chang€™s army descend on the rioters in their tiny riot gear, enough to make Shirley and Annie go €˜Awwwh.€™ Post-riot where the study group are being kept as €˜prisoners€™ by Chang€™s army, the Dean informs them the school board are furious and are coming to deal with the ringleaders of the riot, or €˜The Greendale Seven€™. The most obscure line came when the Dean compared them all to being like Ted Danson at Whoopie Goldbergs roast, referencing Danson€™s decision to turn up in black face. The Dean and the study group discuss conspire to pin everything on Chang, the kids overhear and go to let Chang know. Luckily, for him, Chang has it under control. Back at the Dean€™s office, Chang unveils an uncanny Dean double to replace him with (foreshadowed in €˜Contemporary Impressionists) before tranquilizing the actual Dean. Shit€™s getting dark; meth lad explosions, riots and now kidnapping. Jeff does his best to make the board aware of their €˜grief€™ over Star-Burns€™ death and how it led to the riots, which were exacerbated by Chang. Enter Chang with a basket of cookies for the board members and a much saner attitude. Jeff tries to call Chang€™s bluff, which is when we€™re treated to A LOT of Chang-tongue. The replacement Dean makes a quick cameo agreeing with Chang saying the study group must go. Abed is the only suspicious one, the basis of an upcoming episode. The study group then get expelled from Greendale. There€™s a bunch of callbacks to the seasons best episode €˜Remedial Chaos Theory€™ as the study group sit around the same table before Abed ponders whether they are indeed in the darkest timeline. We even get to see the stoned pizza delivery guy again (€˜Wait, there are other timelines?€™), which acts as a cross road for Britta who is enticed by his beard that resembles anal-beads. She€™s close to going back to her Britta ways before Troy gives a speech that ends with him telling Britta that she€™s not the worst, but the best. Abed€™s put things in perspective by letting them know that at least they are all still together. Cue some more mushy looks between Britta/Troy, Annie/Jeff and that€™s a wrap. Star-Burns makes his final appearance in the closing of the episode in Abed€™s wonderfully edited tribute video, with a fantastic metal song in the background which sounds a lot like Pudi singing. A fitting tribute. It seems as though last weeks episode may be the last stand alone episode of the season as tonight€™s episode mainly set the seeds for what€™s to come in the final four episodes, three of which are going to air on the same night in a few weeks! Star-Burns dead, Kane resigned, Chang has begun to take over, the study group are expelled, the Dean has been Deanknapped, shit€™s about to go down. Overall another strong, and surprisingly dark, episode from America€™s best (airing) sitcom. Community returns next Thursday night on NBC with €˜Curriculum Unavailable€™.
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