Season Five, Episode Three: “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics
Written by: Erik Sommers; Directed by: Tristam Shapeero
This week’s Community: The Jeff Winger Show tackles the crime drama genre by way of The Killing, Hannibal, and David Fincher. Jeff and Annie team up again, giving shippers of the couple plenty of new material, while also mocking the sexual tension between all opposite-sex crime-solving couples.
On a rainy day, as Shirley opens her sandwich shop in the Greendale cafeteria, the Ass Crack Bandit strikes again. (The Bandit was mentioned earlier in the series in a season two episode.) This prompts a Zodiac-inspired opening credits sequence of articles about the Ass Crack Bandit’s reign of terror.
The Dean addresses a swarm of press over the Bandit, before bringing the case to the gang. Psychology Professor Duncan returns to help them make a profile of the Bandit. Jeff volunteers to take the case, but doesn’t really care, until Annie comes to him with a new theory: The Bandit is a teacher.
Troy is attacked by the Bandit when bending over to grab a teddy bear. The teddy bear contains another note by the Bandit. Annie is even more infuriated, finally getting Jeff to take her seriously. They investigate the notes and discover that the notes are riffs on songs by the Dave Matthews Band. Annie performs a quick Internet search to discover which teachers fit the criteria.
Meanwhile, Troy uses his personal story to promote a new security system against the Bandit. But the Ass Crack Bandit strikes again while the school is on the bleachers. Chang is given some screen time as a decoy for the Ass Crack Bandit in the hopes of catching him (or her) red-handed. Annie and Jeff follow a lead to Professor Bublitz (Special Cameo Appearance by Ben Folds) and end up destroying his botany lab, earning the Dean’s indignation.
While he lectures them, the Bandit calls them, gives them a clue to where he is hiding. They head to the stables (Greendale has stables?!) and find…Starburns! He’s not dead (Harmon is apparently undoing everything that happened last season) and claims responsibility for the Bandit’s actions. Troy gives him a dramatic face slap. The Dean, naturally, throws a We Caught the Ass Crack Bandit Dance to celebrate.
Jeff doesn’t buy it, though. He debates the merits of this arrest while giving Annie a “platonic shoulder hold.” Jeff confirms that Starburns didn’t do it by quizzing his Dave Matthews Band knowledge. Annie runs into a drunk Duncan, who is enjoying the “Dave” song that’s playing. (I suspected him the second he returned to the show in the earlier scene.) She tries to avoid an ass crack-showing moment while escaping from him. In the fog of the party, it appears that Duncan gets his own crack treated like a coin slot (although his pretense for bending over is suspect).
Everyone gets distracted from the case when Shirley shows up with a sad announcement. Pierce Hawthorne is dead (at least for now — on Community, the dead can return as easily as they do on American Horror Story: Coven). Annie and Jeff lament the open ending of their case, unable to capture the true perpetrator, as they stare at the pouring rain. They hint that the Bandit could still be anyone (even a woman!), and we see a montage of potential — if highly unlikely — Bandits.
The final title card tells us that Starburns eventually recants his testimony, that Greendale considers Duncan the Bandit, and that no investigation is still open.
Community is always skilled at its genre parody episodes, and this one is no exception. It draws on the current trends in crime dramas to openly mock their formulas while also celebrating what they bring to pop culture. Again, most of the main cast is put aside as the story focuses on Jeff and Annie, but they have such great chemistry together that it can hardly be seen as a fault. Maybe next week will be less Jeff-centric?
Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…
“Humans make better banks than piggies.” – Annie reading the Bandit’s first note.
“He should be called the run-on sentence bandit.” – Shirley commenting on the Bandit’s note.
“You can’t stop me, because what are you gonna do, not have butts?” – the Dean reading another of the Bandit’s notes.
“You want trouble? Go to Parker Brothers!” – the Dean to Annie
“Abed, you’re special. Can’t you just stand at the scene of the crime and see what happened?” –t he Dean referencing NBC’s Hannibal
“Don’t tell me what I can’t do. What are you: July’s Cosmo quiz?” – the Dean to Annie
This episode made me want to revisit Zodiac immediately.