By Nicolien Buholzer | firstname.lastname@example.org
Community airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.
Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force. —Oliver Wendell Holmes.
I admit I had insanely high expectations for “Pillows and Blankets,” this week’s episode of Community. Judging from the teasers, this episode was going to follow in the same vein as the season 1 and 2 finales, “Modern Warfare” and “A Fistful of Paintballs”/”For a Few Paintballs More.” Lucky for me, it did just that — and then went beyond.
Since its return four weeks ago, Community has been pretty dang good, I must say. Yet last night’s episode was the first 5/5 I can allot. “Pillows and Blankets” had everything I love about Community in it: a wacky, over dramatization; jokes about Britta being the worst; Leonard; Chang puns; a glimpse at the darker side of Shirley; “Daybreak” and Fat Neil; and, under all that, a serious exploration of Troy and Abed’s friendship. For me, Troy and Abed are the ultimate bromance. They surpass Holmes and Watson, Harold and Kumar, even r2d2 and C3PO, but even the tightest bromance can’t go without its hurdles. And rather than drive a wedge between the two with some huge, serious issue, Andy Bobrow, who wrote this episode, went with a silly, trivial argument that gets out of hand, which is exactly what happens between me and my friends. It is never a real issue that sparks my fights, but always the dumb ones.
The episode picks up where last week’s “Digital Exploration of Interior Design” left off. The two had started building a pillow fort together, echoing the blanket fort the two built in season 2′s “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design.” Yet when the opportunity to break a world record presents itself (following a wonderful line from Dean Pelton about “looking up world records of lengths”), the two split. Troy starts a blanket fort because it will increase his chances of breaking the record, whereas Abed continues with his pillow fort, unwilling to sacrifice quality for mediocrity.
And so the two feud, and in true Community fashion, it’s over-the-top. The whole school is involved because, as Dean Pelton suggests, it seems like no one actually goes to class at Greendale. For the perfect touch on this already wacky plot line, the episode is told through a Civil War-esque documentary style, complete with a narrator, still frame photos, readings from journals (and text messages) and maps outlining the battles.
But rather than lose the Troy-Abed feud in a tangle of other plots between the rest of the gang, this episode stays true to the battle, with only a small dive into the Annie-Jeff relationship and some small growth in Jeff.
And while there was some comedic gold in “The Changglorious Bastards,” the episode also manages to not get too lost in jokes and punchlines. Sure, Leonard liking Abed’s Facebook status was hilarious, and the continual references to Britta’s mediocre photography are brilliant (which was especially timely considering how Instagram, which is now available for Android users too, has made everyone think they are a photographer) and spot on, but they don’t overshadow the growing rift between Abed and Troy. To me, the battle peaks when Abed sends an email to his army outlining Troy’s weaknesses (including a reference to Troy’s crying, which has always been one of my favorite ongoing jokes. Just watch this compilation if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Troy retaliates with an obviously hurt text message, and it’s here Jeff realizes how serious this seemingly foolish fight has become. He calls a summit, at which Troy and Abed decide that whoever loses the war must move out of the apartment. Finally, it would seem the Troy-Abed friendship is at its end.
Yet right when the war is out of control in an all-out feather bath, Dean Pelton announces the Guinness Book of World Records is no longer coming. As everyone else clears out, though, Troy and Abed continue beating each other, and when the group calls for an end to it, they refuse, saying it’s the last thing they ever do together so they don’t want to stop. And that realization — that they would rather fight together forever than cease fire and go their separate ways — brings the two back together for a truce. And, right on cue to prevent the moment from becoming too serious, utterly by accident, Britta catches the moment on camera, and you’re laughing again.
Nothing about this episode made me unhappy. In the three times I’ve watched it, I can’t find any flaws. This episode had it all, down to the message. And Jeff’s end realization, the truth he settles on, that he “would do anything for my friends, which I think is how everyone in the world feels, which finally makes me understand war,” is perfect.