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Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Remedial Chaos Theory" shakes up Community

     In this week's episode of NBC's Community, entitled "Remedial Chaos Theory," the study group visits Trobed's (Donald Glover and Danny Pudi) new apartment. When the pizza arrives, Jeff (Joel McHale) suggests a toss of the dice to decide who will go downstairs and get the food. Thus, six alternate time lines are created, and each one is shown in turn during the half hour, divided with an animated graphic depicting the separate realities. In the end, the "prime" timeline, or the one that will count, involves Abed calling Jeff on his deception, excluding himself from the game, and sending Jeff to pick up dinner.

     Leave it to Community to take a traditional sitcom trope like a bottle show and completely turn it on its head. The series has down many weird and wacky things over the past two seasons, but none are as oddly normal, and yet wholly unexpected, as exploring alternate timelines. Each one keeps the group in character, and leads to a variety of situations. It also exposes personalities and chemistries, leaving much for the viewer to ruminate on. I daresay "Remedial Chaos Theory" bears multiple viewings, each one granting new insight into this offbeat group.

     The episode is also absurdly funny, par for the course on Community. From the chain reaction of googly eyes, to Britta's (Gillian Jacobs) singing and dancing, to Pierce (Chevy Chase) getting shot in the leg, to evil twins, to Britta falling for the creepy pizza guy, to Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) being called out on her tiny pies to Jeff constantly smacking his head on the ceiling fan, the laughs do not stop coming. More could easily be listed, but will not, for the sake of brevity, and the fact that you need to go watch the episode yourself.

     Abed stopping Jeff from rolling the die prevents all of the chaos from happening. One might wonder if it is in character from him to actively keep Jeff from winning, and it is. Why, then, can the other six plots happen if Abed stays true to who he is? Because, while Britta is the wild card, Abed is the experimenter, studying the social interaction of everyone. Sometimes he steps in and keeps chaos out of the mix. Other times, he stands back and observes it happening. Both stopping Jeff and letting him get away with his scheme are in character for Abed.

     The "prime" timeline, the "real" one, is certainly the happiest for the entire group. With coniving Jeff out of the apartment, everyone else gets along swimmingly. They soon break into a dance party. Yet, the other alternatives are worth exploring, and it's a shame that some of those events don't happen, at least not yet. Jeff and Annie (Alison Brie) have a simmering chemistry that needs to be brought to a boil. Troy and Britta bond in a new and interesting way in one scenario. Shirley does need to be told to stop using baking to try to become valuable to the group. Pierce being shot in the leg is not an unwelcome occurrence.

     And what a cool apartment Trobed has put together! It may not be entirely realistic, but the two are resourceful, so it works. A+ for "Remedial Chaos Theory." It's original, humorous, and lives up to the very high standard that Community has set for itself.

     Watch Community Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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