SPOILERS AHEAD, so study up cautiously, Community buffs…
Season Five, Episode Six: “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking”
Written by: Monica Padrick; Directed by: Tristram Shapeero
No fancy parodies this week, but Community does mock Game of Thrones culture. Also, Annie and Hickey have some political-like drama trying to get a corkboard hung in the cafeteria. And with a stream of random cameos, you can’t say life at Greendale is ever dull.
The Save Greendale Committee has added a newest member: Chang. But Annie has more important things she wants to get done this meeting. She assigns Hickey to get the corkboard rehung in the cafeteria, and Britta and Abed to take a student census (to help them get past their arguing: see next paragraph). Annie volunteers to do the decorations for the midterm dance, cuing Shirley, Jeff, Chang and Duncan to join in, knowing she’ll do all the work.
Bloodlines of Conquest is a TV series (that sounds exactly like Game of Thrones) that all the guys in the committee are obsessed with. Britta, though, has only just started watching, so when Abed describes the show to the others and mentions the dragons, she cries “Spoiler Alert!” (Don’t you just hate those people?) Abed does, and tells her it’s not his fault she’s waited three seasons to start watching. She threatens him in turn by saying she’ll read all the books and spoil the ending for him, which he succinctly calls insane.
Hickey goes to his janitor buddy to ask about the corkboard, but he gets shot down pretty quickly for lack of a work order. He sighs resignedly and returns to Annie saying he gave it a shot. She all but laughs in his face, and takes things into her own hands, showing him how it’s done. She goes to the janitors, having learned their names and life story, and plays nice. One janitor puts in the work order, but it will take three to five business months. When Annie complains, she’s informed that only a custodian could bump it up the docket.
Britta goes around the hallways skim-reading the books, looking for dramatic reveals. But Abed is prepared for her and is wearing noise-cancellation headphones. As he ignores her, he gives the census survey to a deaf girl and they bond as Britta watches. When she leaves, Britta drily asks, “Are you going to have another intense burst of compatibility with a girl we’re never gonna see again?” (She is referring to the coat check girl incident from season four’s “Herstory of Dance” episode.)
Annie and Hickey pop into the custodian mixer, hoping to make some friends. They get referred to Chief Custodian Waite (played by Castle’s Nathan Fillion! One week after Chang declared him his same-sex celebrity crush, no less), who tells them he’d be happy to move their work order up. But he wants them to get his internet sites unblocked in return (so he can watch porn, Hickey spells out for Annie). Hickey knows the IT girl (played by Criminal Minds’ Paget Brewster), who would be happy to unblock the sites in exchange for better parking spots. Annie is starting to get too aggressive about this corkboard.
With Annie caught up in a game of favors, the rest of the committee must come up with a theme for the midterm dance. Chang suggests they go with a bear theme saying they should, “Bear Down for Midterms.” No one gets it, forcing Chang to spell it out. They are hesitant to agree, until he ugly cries and pulls the race card. They cave quickly after that. But when a student comes in and sees all the bears, he chastises them for being so heartless, since a child’s birthday party was just ruined by a bear attack that morning.
Britta continues to hide spoilers in Abed’s path, but he deftly avoids them. Instead, he spends his time learning sign language so he can flirt with the deaf girl. He learns phrases like “I learned how to say this in sign language” to impress her (even though she can read lips perfectly). It seems like they’re really hitting it off. Plus, there are a lot of sign language jokes.
Annie and Hickey approach the parking department head Waldron (Last Resort’s Robert Patrick) with their request. He’d be happy to help, but he has much higher stakes in this corkboard. He wants to control student parking through the flyers they hang up, enforcing extra fees for carpooling. Hickey sees the danger in this, but Annie is too single-minded to care. She agrees to give him control of the board through the Dean’s permission in exchange for the parking space.
The Dean, ever happy to please, agrees as well, and proposes a margarita toast. Hickey won’t partake in the toast, claiming he won’t say “easy-peasy lemon-squeezy.” His real issue though is the control she’d be relinquishing to Waldron. When he brings it up, the Dean is appalled and rescinds his offer to create the position, leaving Annie without a corkboard.
She sulks into the cafeteria where she is greeted by a banner that says “Fat Dog for Midterms.” The committee tries to play it off as a hip phrase, having turned their bear decorations into “fat dogs” to cover up their insensitivity. Annie isn’t buying it, until they all cry and pull the race card. She defers to them, and the dance goes on with the Fat Dog theme.
At the dance, Abed and the deaf girl are really bonding, until she signs to him a plot twist that sounds remarkably like the Red Wedding. Abed is devastated, and Britta sweeps in handing cash to the girl while looking smug. “To the spoiler goes the victory,” she gloats. Abed is mad that Britta interfered with their flirtation just to win one over on him. He chases after her, but bumps into coat check girl Rachel (indie darling Brie Larson) instead. They play off how they haven’t seen each other in awhile, and then Abed asks her out to dinner.
In the cafeteria, Hickey has brought his office corkboard to hang up. Once it’s screwed in the wall, the Dean brings in security to hall Hickey away for the violation. Annie jumps on one of the security guards’ backs, and soon all her friends join in the tussle. The Dean calls off the men, giving them this small victory.
Chang leads everyone in a line dance based on the Fat Dog theme. But Garrett bumps into one of the fat dogs and the ears fall off, revealing a bear. “It’s a bear dance!”, he screams.
The episode had plenty of funny moments, and I enjoyed the mocking of Game of Thrones spoilers. Annie’s adventures with Hickey showed just another side of how absurd the world of Greendale really is, which is why we love it so much. But do we really need more Chang and Duncan? Does anyone even find them funny any more (or ever)? Also, Jeff had about three lines this week; I guess that’s to counterbalance how Jeff-heavy the first few episodes were.
Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…
“I don’t start watching shows until they’re so popular that watching them is no longer a statement.” – Britta on why she only just started watching Bloodlines of Conquest
“Chang, your last idea was to murder.” – Annie dismissing Chang’s suggestion for the dance (which he concedes with a knowing shrug)
“Welcome to the labyrinth, kid,” Hickey says to Annie as she begins to see how difficult it is to get things done in this school, “only there ain’t no puppets and bisexual rock stars down here.”
“Man, this got Sorkin-y.” – the Dean after Hickey and Annie argue in front of him
While Hickey watches the news, a BREAKING NEWS alert scrolls along the bottom saying, “Levar Burton and non-celebrity companion captured by pirates in the Gulf of Mexico.” (Is this how we’ll follow Troy’s adventures?)
In the tag, Duncan makes a call to get more staples and chooses instead to access “Marigold.” This prompts him to select one of three code name options and he chooses “Arcadia.” With a few prompts it seems he’s activated some form of military operation. He tries to cancel it quickly after that realization. Was this all a throwaway bit? Or is this foreshadowing for something later?