I've been feeling like the plots were not as good as the jokes this season, which is not what Community's usually like at all, but this episode actually drew everything together again! A school-wide game of Hot Lava was a really nice change from paintball, but with the same cheerful gung-ho approach to imaginary worlds and ludicrous alliances. It's not total novelty anymore, but they did fun things with the post-apocalypse jokes. It worked for me. It still felt fun, not forced or mean-spirited.
This is the Abed I feel like the show's been missing, where he's unusual and he does sometimes have difficulty responding to things, but he's actually managed to reach his 20s so he's not incapacitated by everything. He's allowed to be sad and ridiculous and have poor coping mechanisms and still be a good friend, and it's not presented as part of the problem that his friends help him cope.
Also, this is the degree of love I want from Community, where we can both acknowledge that Britta shouting at everyone to grieve better is annoying and unproductive, but she's trying super hard and she really wants everyone to be happy. I'm not a hugely schmaltzy person, but the hugs at the end were super good for me and I really love when this show remembers that everyone is friends and has different relationships with each other, no one is just acquaintances who happen to have a lot of mutual pals, even if everyone isn't precisely equally close.
On a similar note, I appreciate that Annie and Jeff got to team up without the episode being in any way about their friendship and especially not about their sexual tension.
Episode four...okay, but I wasn't as in love. I feel like we've covered so many of those personality flaws before that I didn't really need another episode of people discussing them rather than them playing out in an actual situation. Otoh, I get that it was mainly intended to set up Troy's departure, which went well.
I don't know what the show is going to be like without Troy, but I am more optimistic now about the next episode even so.
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