TV REVIEW: Community Season 3 Episode 4 – Remedial Chaos Theory

Tory and Abed throw a house warming party, but when no-one wants to go to get pizza, Jeff throws a dice to see who should go. As Abed points out, this creates six different time lines.

Community is at it’s best when it is being completely silly, random and outlandish. By this logic, this is one of the best episodes of the show this season. Things quickly get out of hand in each of the timelines, with each character behaving as we think they should, but taking the situation to an extreme conclusion. There are several elements that are constants in all timelines, such as Pierce’s crude story, Jeff hitting his head off a fan and Britta smoking in the bathroom. Eventually, after Troy goes to the door, Pierce is shot, the apartment is set on fire and when Troy comes back, he eats a burning troll, destroying his vocal chords.

Before all of this can happen, however, Abed sees the madness that will surely ensue and sends Jeff to the door. Without Jeff, the group are united in dancing to a song that Jeff wanted turned off, and no one is hurt. Abed is usually aware of the sitcom-like behaviour of his friends – during the episode where Annie’s pen was stolen he repeatedly told everyone ‘this is a bottle episode – so it made sense that he was the one to stop the chaos before it began.

The brilliance of the episode is just this. It could easily have turned into complete chaos, resulting in no-one speaking to each other again – or the evil versions of the characters we see in the closing credits – but the writers managed to pull the episode back from the edge. Each scenario carries on from the last, to an extent, and we learn what the group would be like without one of it’s members. None of the character behaviour was anything we hadn’t seen before, but this was not the point. For any of the characters to change in such a short space of time would have thrown off the balance of the episode.

Community, as a series, knows that it cannot please everyone. It is clear from this episode that the writers are embracing this. First time viewers of the show would have been lost with this episode; as they would be with many beyond the first half of season one. This was an episode for the die-hard fans, executed with unusual clarity. Rarely has the concept of alternate timelines been expressed so well, with perhaps the exception of Back to the Future: Part Two. A brilliantly odd episode of Community that works exceptionally well.

GS Reviewer: Brogen

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