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Wednesday, 26 of February of 2020

Community – “Origins of Vampire Mythology”

“Or are you a human mirror?”

Community Title CardHello types of Community episodes that just give me warm fuzzy feelings.

And I don’t just mean that it’s a Britta-centric episode. Though that does factor in. Rather, it’s a wonderful episode, as Kelly noted, about broken people that find strength in one another.

“Origins of Vampire Mythology” provides the type of emotional moments that “Pillows & Blankets” should have provided, but failed to do so because it was too wrapped in parodying Ken Burns. Instead the episode provides nice insights into a few of our characters (insights we already knew in some capacity), and it sets up what could be some really beautiful payoffs down the road.

For me, one of the pleasures of Community has always been when the character interact with one another because this cast gels so well together (Chase’s apparent raging ego aside). So when Britta, worried about calling an old flame named Blade, who is a  carnival worker,  insists that Annie, using her time as a pill addict, helps her survive the night without contacting Blade, I am game for this.

The episodes breaks off the group into small groups, with Britta and Annie  back at the apartment with Troy and Abed (who have decided to watch to Blade) while Shirley and Jeff are at the carnival to get a look at Blade. Pierce, still frustrated that the group is excluding him, hangs out with Chang at the carnival. And what this does, with the exception of Shirley and Jeff and Troy and Abed, is pair the 4 remaining members of the cast together in ways that don’t happen all that often.

It gives Jacobs and Brie some nice new beats to play in particular since the two of them aren’t often just with one another during an episode. So their scene in Annie’s room especially just excels as Jacob nicely plays up Britta’s manipulative side, taking advantage of Annie’s innocence and need for love, something Brie has honed to a reflex (so much so that the show, through Dean Pelton, calls attention to the show’s reliance on Brie looking happy one moment and then frowning three seconds later).

So when the big moments come, Britta losing interesting in Blade after “he” texts something nice to her and Jeff’s shame speech (which fits nicely here, I think), the episode has earned both of these moments. But then it takes that extra step and does a series of nonverbal communication moments, particularly highlighting the long-simmering Troy and Britta relationship. It’s so elegantly staged and done that I just hope the show keeps this going, because this is what I want from Community.

But there’s just a range of nice jokes here as well, from the riffing on Blade/Blade in the study room (which is really nicely edited, by the way) to the inexplicably funny junkie banana to Pelton’s pajamas (were those jellyfish?), that the episode just felt really nicely layered. And while I don’t feel there’s been as a strong an episode in that regard since Shirley’s wedding (which really wasn’t that long ago), I do think that “Origins of Vampire Mythology” is probably the strongest episode since the show’s return.

This isn’t to say it’s without small problems. While Jeff’s need to have Blade’s allure explained is plenty reminiscent of his interactions with Rich (remember Rich? Wasn’t he going to make Jeff a better man?), the association with Britta does spin it in a new way (as does the explanation that Blade cannot feel shame), and I always love when Shirley and Jeff have time together, because the dynamic between McHale and Brown is just a delight.

Pierce’s plot, such as it is, is more of a toss-away thing, but does help emphasize, by his return to the apartment (and Pierce just walking in and locking himself in Annie’s room was very funny) that no matter how much he may complain, he does acknowledge that this group accepts him (to whatever degree) for who he is, and is there for him. I do feel like Pierce has been a bit aimless this season, especially after the great stuff they did last season, so I’m hoping something better is coming down the pipeline.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Lockers still there! Can they not use exteriors at all any longer?
  • “No. I don’t believe in love because of thismannamedafterakickboxingvampiremovie.” I really cannot state enough how great Gillian Jacobs was in this episode.
  • “He’s working at the bebe gun duck shooting gallery. I guess he got that promotion.”
  • I feel like this was a real waste of John Goodman, and I really hope it didn’t count to his episode contract.
  • “Make me a scotch and soda!” “Make it yourself!” “I don’t know how!”
  • “This is junkie talk.”
  • “I need help reacting to something.”

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