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Wednesday, 22 of September of 2021

Community – “Geography Of Global Conflict”

How progressive of you to have a multi-cultural evil twin.”

Community Title Card“Geography Of Global Conflict” is a fun, enjoyable episodes that I doubt many folks will remember on down the line, except for me since it serves up a delicious dish of Greendale insanity that I have been missing. Model UN-off! Britta being the worst! Chang abusing his power! Twinning! It was all very season 1-esque, and I really appreciate that.

That said, the episode is a little too busy to give itself the time to do some stronger character work that it’s interested in doing (particularly with Jeff and Annie). And it’s not even really that interested in doing it though, either, since much of it, like Jeff’s beats last week, are focused on relatively familiar ground.

For instance, Britta’s political activism harkens back to how she used to be, which was politically-aware to all the CRISIS ALERTS around her but not as engaged as she once was (and frustrated when Annie and Shirley didn’t exactly get how to protest). So when she sees a friend of hers is in jail in Syria, a small crisis (ALERT!) of faith is had and she reverts back to her old self, having nonsensical protests in which she is locked in a cage, protesting a model U.N., or later, dressed in discarded Barbie-dolls. Not sure what that was about.

And tied to this (and how often did these two get any time together in the past?) was Chang’s new role as a security guard on campus. Allow me to state how much I really love this place for Chang. He was locked in too-silly holding pattern last season, and Chang, as season 1 shows, is at his best when he has a modicum of power to abuse but is restrained by just how much he can do. So with Britta, they both solve their own problems. Britta needs to buck the system to feel like she’s making a political difference again and Chang needs to tase someone so he feels like he’s making a difference again. They give each other what they need (as, of course, the brilliant use of “Hello” makes clear (that video is hella creepy, by the way, guys)).

And it’s all funny too boot. Yes, the show’s attitude toward political activism on campus is very dismissive (I’ll circle back to why I think it has to be for the characters though), but it’s enjoyably dismissive. Britta locking herself in a cage and dousing a globe with red paint makes no sense whatsoever, but the frenzied look that Gillian Jacobs brings to it sells it. I didn’t even groan at the tasing, like I did a couple of weeks ago during the pilot for 2 Broke Girls (second episode: HORRIBLE) because the show earns the moment.

As for Annie and Other Annie and Model U.N. and Model U.N.-Two (like Earth-Two (it wasn’t a Fringe reference, Cory!)), I dug it. Sure, Other Annie is a nice riff on White-Abed from season 1 as well, but it was just very deftly funny how everyone just fell into behaving as themselves paired with countries that didn’t exactly fit them: Pierce viewing Somalia as a paradise (okay, that kind of fit), Shirley being super-helpful despite being China, Troy doing a Gone With the Wind southern accent despite it being the former Soviet-block Georgia.

And Garrett yelling “CRISIS ALERT.” Still so funny.

It all falls into Annie’s need to be successful, which, yes, we’ve covered before on the show. And we’ve even covered how Jeff needs to stop treating her like a (school)girl (that was awkward, Jeff). But like Britta/Chang stuff, and Jeff’s beats last week, it all still felt like worthwhile ground to tread again because the contexts give us something new to explore it through, and brings us back to a larger central question that the episode presents: why don’t these people leave Greendale?

Sure, we had that very-very-very brief mention of Annie wanting to transfer out of Greendale and head over to City College (that idea went nowhere), and she probably should have. Greendale is dysfunctional and isn’t a place for people who want to truly succeed to do so (as Rosenberg points out in the link above). But the fact of the matter is that Britta, Chang, and Annie couldn’t succeed elsewhere. Britta’s attempts at political activism make no sense because she doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on it (she thinks she does), and that would lead her to being very radical on another campus; Chang would’ve been fired already; and Annie would’ve been swallowed up by another other campus that is full of similarly-like minded people.

As the show has demonstrated, these people need Greendale to work through these issues, to find a balance for their lives. If they left, they’d never grow or mature. In that way, it’s still a lot like college, and I’m glad that show is remembering that they are, in fact, at a college.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Did the show miss an opportunity to make an Earth-2 version of the study group with Other Annie at the center of it (as opposed to Other Jeff)?  Yes. I hope this is rectified later in the season because I love bizarro episodes (and, yes, it means that Danny Pudi will be doing double-work in that episode as White Abed).
  • In 2009 I totally looked how Martin Starr looked in this episode.
  • “CRISIS ALERT!” I love you Garrett.
  • How wonderful was Yvette Nicole Brown’s delivery of “I farted.”? So so so wonderful that if you don’t agree, you’re the opposite of Batman.
  • Episodes we’ve had without Shirley even mentioning her new baby: Two


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