Friday, April 20, 2012
Community "Virtual Systems Analysis" Reaction
I don't even know where to start with last night's episode of "Community". The Abed-centric, Dreamatorium-focused episode, "Virtual Systems Analysis", was probably the least accessible episode the show has ever run, especially for new viewers. It went inside the mind of the show's most un-relatable character, even deeper than it did in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas", and presented the show's characters and world at large as he saw it, in the form of a simulation inside a bedroom converted into an imagination space. And it was awesome.
If you've never seen "Community", then this would probably be the worst episode on which to start watching the series. It requires so much knowledge, not just of the events that have happened, but the characters and how they interact with each other, and mostly how Abed sees them. It was the distant cousin of Abed's story in "Debate 109" (where he made films about the group that predicted how they'd respond in various situations) and it was the culmination of the Abed arc that's been building since the show returned from its hiatus.
The episode also built heavily on last season's "Critical Film Studies", in that Abed knows he's "different", and he knows he has trouble relating to people -- to the point that Annie literally has to force empathy upon him via the Dreamatorium's "engine" (a series of taped-together cardboard boxes and tubes) -- and we see in this episode that he fears that it will eventually lead to his total isolation. But Annie manages to bring him back from the brink, with some well-timed acceptance of Abed's weird world.
While the Abed character development was the backbone of the episode, the comedy came in the form of the Dreamatorium's simulated world. Abed-as-Jeff hitting on Annie was awesome, both as a callback (to both the Season 1 finale and the Season 2 finale) and as a chance to see Alison Brie shine. She took it to another level when she played against herself, with Abed-as-Annie and Annie morphing into Annie-as-Abed. When Annie started spitting Abed's pop culture references (then Chang and Pierce showed up), I almost lost it.
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Dean's outfit, which even he acknowledged may have gone too far. It was... holy crap...
This certainly wasn't the funniest episode of "Community", and I don't think it was the best (that honor still goes to "Remedial Chaos Theory" in my opinion), but it was the peak since the return, and hopefully a sign of even better things to come.