By Shaunna Murphy, Hollywood.com Staff
The craziest part of this absolutely bananas episode for me was, when the psychologist told the tale of the Greendale Asylum, I momentarily believed it. Tonight's episode was an old-fashioned clip show, much like last season's ""Paradigms of Human Memory."" But ""Curriculum Unavailable"" took it a step further, ditching the pop culture homage for never-before-seen footage of The Greendale Seven's time at the school -- which, when you look at it all at once, is absolutely insane.
But that's what makes Community so different, and it's the reason why countless dedicated fans pestered NBC until they were granted a season four. (Pop pop that champagne!) Much like in South Park and Springfield, we've come to accept the ludicrous day-to-day goings on in Greendale as, well, normal. We suspend all disbelief as the walls are splattered with paint, and see no problem with a biology class transforming into a Law & Order courtroom. As long as the Greendale Seven continues to grow and evolve -- as long as Troy sneaks smiles with Britta and the whole gang gathers to defend Abed in therapy -- we're more than happy to be crazy right along with them. And taking a look at some of the more ridiculous ""never before seen"" instances of inanity is what made this episode so damn fun.
The set-up was this: After two months of expulsion, the gang was getting restless. Their potluck dinners were a raging success, mostly due to Troy's Bagel Bites in a deconstructed Hot Pocket reduction with a Doritos glaze (Adding this one to the bucket list), but everything else just looked so bleak. Then, to make matters worse, there came a knock at the door: It was a local policeman, who had found Abed going through the dumpster outside of the administration building at Greendale, dressed as Inspector Spacetime. The cop was a huge fan of the show (And Abed), but the job was the job -- he delivered news that the Dean would press charges if Abed didn't go to therapy. Abed realized that their Dean would never do this, but giving this news in his Inspector voice wasn't helping his case.
We then flashed to the therapist's (John Hodgman) office, where the whole gang was gathered to defend Abed. (Well, Britta may have had some ulterior movies.) He asked if Abed's strange behavior was only due to the expulsion, and thus began the flashbacks. Each member of the group defended Abed's sanity, and tried to prove it by telling a number of ""humorous stories"" that proved that each and every one of them was ""Crazytown Banana-Pants."" Some favorites: Abed telling Shirley that she was a ""bad person"" for loving infamous director Brett Ratner, Britta's disastrous peyote trip, and Troy riding into the study room with an ATV. (""It's all terrain, dummy!"") ""What you call insanity, we call solidarity,"" Britta explained as they finished. Unfortunately, their stories only made things worse -- Abed was to be committed to an asylum.
Panicked, the gang started putting the bananapants blame on an easy target -- Greendale. Surely it was the school, not Abed, that was truly mad. Some sound examples: Dean playing human chess to rectify a parking situation, homeless men sleeping in study rooms, and courses in Ladders, Advanced Breath Holding, and -- my personal favorite -- Can I Fry That? The stories were awful, but Jeff and co. wanted Mr. Therapist to know that Greendale wasn't all bad. The next several clips contained instances of minor setbacks to the Greendale Seven -- like the time the cafeteria ran out of pizza, and that other time when a fire let loose in the school. All of these stories had a common thread: The Dean, who acted as a quirky guardian angel and ""saved"" the group whenever something went wrong. The Seven quickly realized that their Dean would never expel them, and tried to leave the room to solve the mystery at Greendale. (""We have to go back!"" Pierce said, which made me long for the pre-DUI days of Matthew Fox.)
But Mr. Therapist Man had one more trick up his sleeve -- the Seven could never go back to Greendale, because Greendale Community College, the ""fantastical community college where everything that happens is unbelievably ridiculous, and it all revolves around you,"" did not exist. In fact, The Seven were nothing but a group of recently-released inmates from the Greendale Asylum, who happened to suffer from a group psychosis. His arguments were convincing: Really, don't people attend community college for two years? If they all took a year of Spanish, why could none of them speak a word? And the clip of the Seven reciting famous lines from previous episodes, locked up and observed by Asylum doctors, was pretty damn believable. (""I want to see what happens if we confiscate one of their pens,"" said Doctor Number Two. The Bottle Episode!) The Community College reality was all a giant experiment, and there would be no Dean to save them this time.
The group left the office, confused and defeated. But they quickly turned around when they realized that the therapist's story was even more absurd than anything that had ever happened at Greendale. Caught! He had been hired by Ben Chang, the very same man who had kidnapped the Dean, to keep the Seven out of the way. Chang and his minions heard their enemy's victory over the phone, and began their sure-to-be devious work on Phase Two. What is Phase Two, you ask? Well, no one has a clue, but we do know one thing: The Greendale Seven are off to find the Deansel-in-Distress.
...To Be Continued?
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
'Community' Renewed For Season Four
'Community' Recap: Helter Skelter
John Oliver: The Internet is Killing Community