Episode Title: "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism"
Writer: Chris Kula
Director: Anthony Russo
No, your eyes do not deceive you. In last night's episode of "Community," Abed (Danny Pudi) was officially made into the new Batman by none other than Christian Bale himself. Although we never see the good Mister Bale, he presumably writes "Abed, You're Batman now." as an inscription on Abed's new $299 limited edition DVD of "The Dark Knight."
And while Abed and (Donald Glover) eagerly await viewing their prized possession, their new roommate, Annie (Alison Brie) doesn't quite seem to get their devotion to the film. Nor does she seem to understand why it was left on the floor where she could accidentally step on it and break it. Oops…
Naturally, Troy flips out when he catches her immediately after the act. And they both fear how Abed will react, since he's not all that stable even at the best of times. It's not that Abed is dangerous or violent. But for all they know, this could make Abed catatonic again or send him flying into a rage. Troy even warns Annie not to try to switch out the DVD with a cheaper replacement. Abed has seen all of the sitcoms that have used that trope, so he'd recognize it right away.
That doesn't stop Annie from hilariously trying out her Christian Bale Batman voice to potentially rerecord the exclusive commentary. And when that's too hard for her, Annie stages a break-in to fool Abed into thinking that someone stole the DVD… and an expensive made-up piece of Hebrew jewelry that Annie comes up with on the spot, once she realizes that she didn't think it through.
Never let it be said that Abed doesn't recognize a setup when he sees one. Almost immediately, Abed realizes that this was an inside job. But before Annie can breakdown under pressure, Abed assumes that the culprit was their landlord Rick… because he was dressed up as the Joker on Halloween. Yep… seems sensible enough. And I can see absolutely no problems ensuing from that conclusion.
Until… Abed gets in full Batman mode and gets ready to propel down the building into Rick's apartment. Annie confesses, but Abed dismisses it as an attempt to keep him safe. He adds that if Annie was really responsible, she would have confessed earlier.
Thus, Abed confronts Rick in his apartment, as the shaken man begs "Batman" not to hurt him. Troy and Annie follow, only to find Rick's closet filled with women's shoes, despite his lack of women's feet, as noted by Troy. Annie even plants the remains of Abed's DVD in his closet to frame Rick, which causes Troy to exclaim "Who are you?!" It's a fair question. As Troy said earlier, Annie was supposed to tone down Troy and Abed and make them more human. Abed has done some crazy things in his time at Greendale, but he's never Batmaned into someone else's apartment before.
The police aren't very helpful and at best the trio have a stalemate with Rick, who confesses to stealing the shoes (including Annie's shoes), but not to the DVD. Annie finally apologizes to "Batman," who accepts it, but then warns her not to tell Abed because he's ruthless. Quick question for the fans at home. Do you think that Abed would carry the delusion so far that he would pretend that he didn't know the truth? I think he would. Because in his mind, he is Batman… even if he's just pretending. If Abed were to acknowledge that he knew something only Batman and Troy heard, then it would expose his secret identity.
Troy even plays into this by pretending to not realize that Abed was Batman; which freaks Annie out even more. Abed and Troy have the emotional capability to be more than little boys in the bodies of men. But they clearly don't want to grow up. It's just too much fun being who they are.
Which brings us to the meet of the episode, an unexpected team up between Jeff (Joel McHale) and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) as they go up against a trio of evil German foosball enthusiasts. They're like the soccer hooligans of foosball and they're very annoying. After they humiliate Jeff, Shirley warns him not to get sucked into their wicked game while demonstrating incredible foosball skills of her own.
When Jeff's initial attempt to get Shirley to tutor him fails, he backs down with an apology which may have been insincere and calculating. Regardless, it works and Shirley is soon teaching Jeff the dark art of foosball. Even a human foosball demonstration from the evil Germans fails to dissuade Jeff and Shirley and they con the Germans into agreeing to a foosball showdown that would ban them from the foosball table for good if they lose.
At dinner, Jeff asks Shirley how she became so good at foosball and why she gave it up. Shirley relates a story about how she humiliated a young boy when she was a child and made him piss his pants after a vicious game of foosball. Jeff reacts in horror and says "You're 'Big Cheddar'?!" Yep, that poor awkward boy was none other than the young friendless Jeffrey, who lost bladder control when Shirley sent one of the handles into his crotch.
Hoping to save their friendship, Shirley summons Jeff to the student lounge to talk it out. But instead, they have an epic foosball game against each other. And the game quickly descends into Anime madness.
That was brilliant. "Community," don't ever change.
After an exhausting battle, Jeff and Shirley realize that the incident hung over both of their lives and led them to becoming who they are today… which are two relatively good people who like each other.
Once an emotional understanding is reached, Jeff and Shirley are an unbeatable team. They dominate the Germans with ease and leave them bickering among themselves before walking off together to see a movie. Pierce (Chevy Chase) and the rest of the study group can only look on in surprise as he asks when Jeff and Shirley got so close. And in one last masterful touch, we see them as Big Cheddar and young Jeffrey arm-in-arm.
This isn't rocket science. Comedy plus genuine heart is the formula that makes "Community" one of the best sitcoms on TV. These are characters that we've come to care about and it's refreshing to see them grow and change even incrementally. And even though Britta (Gillian Jacobs) was marginalized in this episode, she still had a fantastic line about a monocle being too pretentious for her one-eyed cat.
Fortunately, "Community" saw a slight uptick in the ratings last night. But it can only keep going with your help. Spread the word about this show and get people to tune in for next week's Christmas show/"Glee" parody. We've got something special with this series and I don't want to lose it.
Crave Online Rating: 9.3 out of 10.