Episode: “Intro to Political Science”
This week, we’re thankfully back in the Greendale study lounge, free from the bedridden clutches of Pierce the Puppeteer. He’s fresh out of rehab (where he got a look at Tom Sizemore’s junk and HILARIOUSLY dubbed him Tom Sizeless), and that, we can only hope, is the end of the Pierce-as-drug-addict story line. (In fact, do you mind if I ignore him for the rest of the recap? Mostly he does a lot of pointless bullying and then gets a pencil to the cheek. Cool, thanks.)
With Pierce out of the way, Community hits us with its secret weapon: metafabulosity. With no more pill drama to deal with, no Neils of Unusual Size to save, no missing pens to find, Troy asks what everyone in the study group wants to: “What should we do now?” Study for anthropology? Britta meekly suggests. Because, y’know, they’re in a study group? And that’s ostensibly their purpose? But then in struts our trusty dean (sadly, not in assless chaps, as I predicted last week), and they are saved from having to pretend to study for the sake of sitcom verisimilitude. As Bingbong the Archer might say, huzzah!
The dean’s got news: The vice president, as part of his Biden Time Talking About Teaching Tour (“Folksy yet progressive,” Sourface says), has been visiting community colleges across the country. Next stop: Greendale.
The vice president’s arrival explains all the shifty-looking characters Abed’s been noticing on campus—they must be Secret Service. Jeff pshaws away our all-knowing weirdo’s big-budget-thriller imagination, but we know better. (“We’ve been made,” an agent disguised as a janitor says into his earpiece thingy.)
So what does the dean want with the study group? The VP will be meeting with the student-body president—only, there is no student-body president. That means the gang has seven hours to elect one! Everyone comes down exactly where you’d think: Annie wants to run, Jeff thinks it’s stupid, Britta is anti-everything. (While they yammer on, we are introduced to the most brilliant use of the study-room table since it cordoned off the groups by gender for body-cavity pen checks: Abed notches the table for every witty Classic Winger to come out of Jeff’s mouth, Jeff notches it every time someone mentions his abs, and Troy (oh god, again, poor Troy), well, he just…notches the Notches. Even before it happens, it’s pretty clear that sooner than later, Annie’s Pollyanna-ish zeal for civic duty will somehow goad cynical Jeff into running. But how?
“Politics are all about ego, popularity and parlor tricks,” Jeff tells wide-eyed Annie. “Don’t kid a lawyer.”
“If I see one, I won’t,” Annie replies to law-degree-faking former-high-power attorney Jeff.
Oh, that’s how.
As she takes to the stage in the Greendale caf to give her stump speech, Annie promises to make Greendale the signature community college of the entire west three-quarters of the entire Greendale area. And that’s when Jeff enters the race. What’s his platform? Well Jeff’s just a fella who thinks beer should be cold and that 9/11 was bad. Uh-oh, Annie. Game on. (Britta storms the stage with a platform of anarchy, but nobody cares because really, Britta is the AT&T of people.)
Meantime, Abed is accosted by two Secret Service agents (one hot and female) who want to know how he figured out they were on campus. Hot Female takes a particular interest in Abed, and it’s hard to tell if it’s because she’s a smitten kitten or because she wants to recruit him. We’ll have to stay tuned.
The most exciting development of the election is that Troy (a.k.a. Buttsoup) and Abed get to bring their study-room pretend TV show to life, via Greendale closed-circuit television. In their crack rundown of the candidates, we learn that Annie’s ethnicity is “hot,” Leonard the old guy’s changed his last name to Rodriguez to court the Hispanic vote, Starburns’ DJ name is Sparkles, Jeff’s Kryptonite is women’s tears (this actually surprises me), Magnitude’s eye color is ultra violet and Pierce followed BNL for a summer. (Did the writers get high one night and decide that BNL would be a funny, random running joke? If so, good call, writers!)
With the debate underway, Annie promises to improve the school, starting by bringing the Ass-crack Bandit to justice. Jeff, determined to make Annie admit that politics are a joke, continues to wow the crowd with his innate skills as Popular Guy, despite his utter lack of trying or caring or having anything of substance to say.
Hot Female is back, and she’s got a question for Abed: What was the reason he had to repeat first grade? Turns out there were several: He couldn’t use scissors, he sat in the middle of the seesaw and he found the distinction between duck and goose to be arbitrary. “Couldn’t you just pick the sixth kid every time?” Hot Female asks. “That’s what I…would have done.” OMG, Abed’s found his soul mate–and may also be an excellent candidate for the Secret Service? (This was a brilliant turn, by the way. Abed’s oddball stoicism and obsessive observation are similar to Hot Female’s. Throw some dark glasses and an earpiece on the kid and he’s not so weird anymore, he’s intimidating and powerful. Yay, Abed!)
The problem is, Hot Female (Robin, it turns out), is a busy lady. She’s in the Secret Service, did I mention? In order to warrant her time, Abed’s got to be a potential terrorist. And because dear Abed is of course not a terrorist, his strange, monotone other half departs.
The race for president (not surprisingly) comes down to the Annie and Jeff, the two archetypes sitcom elections always come down to: The humorless do-gooder who actually wants to improve the school and the cool guy who promises to put Coke in the soda fountains (actual platform of various candidates in my fifth-grade class elections—true story).
Desperate and running out of time, Annie has no choice but to play dirty. Her ammunition? Jeff’s audition tape for the Real World: Seattle. In it, Jeff—with a Kid (or is it Play?) ’do, passionately shakes his groove thang to “Faith” by George Michael (see video below).
Uh-oh, there goes his ego again. Only, this time Annie’s gone too far. The regret seeps into her face almost immediately. Can any of us really live happily if Jeff Winger’s confidence has been shaken? But he got what he deserved, he tells her, and equally ashamed of their respective behavior, both withdraw from the race. (Is it me or has Jeff been having a lot of self-realizations at the end of episodes lately, then miraculously forgetting them a week later?)
In the end, a runoff between Magnitude (pop-pop!) and Leonard leads to South Park being elected student-body president, and Vice President Biden gets rerouted to City College due to a terrorist threat at Greendale. (The terrorist? Abed, sending coded love notes to his Hot Female in the form of a recipe for Napalm on GCTV.)
“Intro to Political Science” wasn’t as self-referential or high-concept as some recent aces, but it gave us a lot that we love (Greendale, the Abed-Troy bromance, the Jeff-Annie will-they/won’t-they thing without actually going there) and scaled back some of the things we maybe love a little less (Pierce, Britta and Shirley). I usually adore the latter two, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, ya dig? (Regarding Shirley, though, what’s happening with the Changby in her womb? How much time has passed since Horizontal Halloween?)
So there it is. Did you love tonight’s episode? Are you hoping that Jeff and Annie get together, or are you a fan of Community’s Adam and Eve, Breff? (Jitta?) Or…do you want to try on a Jeff-Shirley tryst for size? Does anyone even read these questions? Don’t answer that. Or do. Either way, I win! Pop-pop!