We start with the gang wandering the halls, kvetching about having gotten shut out of the History of Ice Cream and having to take a class that sounds like it’s probably called the History of Everything Other Than Ice Cream. Instead it’s off to class with their new hard-ass, degree-having British teacher. Oh, and you know who else with? Those German foosball jerks who lost to Jeff, except there are two replacement jerks because Nick Kroll is off doing his fancy show and, actually, I’m not sure if the other non-blond German is new. He may be old. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that, hey, no hard feelings. They’re not grudge-holding Germans. Mmmkay.
So here they are. Reinholt (new jerk) kind of sounds like Kermit. (Also, is Reinholt the boom guy who’s fallen in love with Pam on The Office?) More bad news: their history teacher, Prof. Cornwallis, is that guy who always plays bad guys and he used to teach at Oxford. History, so says Cornwallis, can be seen from a multitude of vantage points. (Stow it. Seems important.) For the gang’s first test on Monday, the prof wants to know how the story would read if it were written not by the victors, but by the vanquished. (Seems like a clear enough assignment!)
Oh, hi, Dean! Heads-up, you’ve been Changed. That’s CHANG-ed. A mental health professional is in the dean’s office to dean Chang into the dean of the dean. Ugh. We knew it was coming, but still—ugh.
Abed senses great evil, and when Abed senses anything, I take notice. Turns out with Der Coffeehousën closed, the nefarious foosball three have nowhere else to study but the gang’s trusty lounge. Scheisse. Annie says no big, they can stay. But Jeff says no way, because that’s appeasement. (Oh boy. We’re really going there, aren’t we. Okeydoke!)
Except Abed is sleeping with the enemy. Or at least gaming with it. Turns out he and Karl (the blond one) are video game pals. Coolcoolcool.
Oh, those consultant guys. When did we last see them? Paintball? (Ohh, paintball. I miss thee.) Anyway, they’re still incompetent greed monsters with questionable positions, but the thing is, they’ll get their money (from an endowment that rewards colleges that take in the criminally insane, I guess?) whether or not Chang is faking, so the dean can go ahead and prove it for all they care. Side plot.
It’s tomorrow and Annie’s I-told-you-so-ing as Annie is wont to do, but something is amiss in the study lounge. Oh yeah, it’s that Peter, Paul and Moritz (reaching) are sitting at the table. Turns out the study lounge is more pleasant than Der Coffeehousën (no doi). (Also: “Hi, Karl.” “Hi, Abed.” Aww.) Only one way to figure out who gets to stay and who has to go since they cannot all stay in this enormous room together: The security guard asks for their papers. (You guys, you don’t even realize you’re in the mood for a Holocaust-themed Community until it’s happening, amirite?) Anyway, no papers, no lounge. And guess who doesn’t have their papers. Bye-bye, study group. You’ve been vanquished.
War for the Study Room, Day 1. Flawless German timepieces get the trio there first, so Jeff and co. are remanded to a flickering-fluorescently lit basement spot. “This is like a Darren Aronofsky film,” says Troy. “Please don’t fucking let it be because I haven’t prepared myself and also I need to take a Xanax,” says Carla. Pierce will fix the light. Oh, he’s getting electrocuted. His teeth are glowing. It smells like barbecue. (Are we still on the Holocaust? Because I’m vaguely uncomfortable. Only vaguely! I’m no prude! I thought the Quvenzhané Wallis tweet was funny! I’m just wondering.)
Day 2: Late again, back downstairs. A strange breeze wafts through the air ducts. The smell is overwhelming terrible and breathtaking. (Ok, yup, still on the Holocaust.)
Day 3. Everyone’s a little grayer. Beaten to the punch one more time. And now their chairs are breaking!!! (Abed’s breaks in slo-mo.)
Okay, hang on, Holo-break, back to Chang. The Dean is not amused by Chang’s ‘nesia. Remember (I forgot), that Chang had Dean Pelton locked up for months while the look-alike dean roamed his precious landscape. He is an evil figure. And he must be up to something.
The Germans continue to mock the gang in class (no dioramas for Monday’s exam, btw). Annie is deflated. Jeff is enraged. Abed is experiencing some sort Night Porter–level Stockholm Syndrome because of Karl. Time for Jeff’s monologue (it’s a good one): He didn’t always have much family—that is, until he met the study group. And he’s not just going to up and surrender the place where they became a family. It’s Hogan’s Heroes time: The lovable misfits always win, and the bumbling Germans always lose. So it is writ. Cue the ruse.
Oktoberfest! Luftballoons! A cartoonishly large German chocolate cake. Oops, but the foosballers are onto them: Troy’s inside said cake. Busted. (I detect a ruse within a ruse. Can’t wait.) Oh, don’t have to, because it’s done. Say Emmentaler, jerks, you’re on candid camera, and Greendale has a strict rule about no student celebrating his own holidays. It’s why the dean keeps a list of everyone’s race and religion—to prevent bigotry. (Honestly, I can’t. Community is too fucking good tonight. What sweet respite from last night’s Chris and Rihanna–themed SVU starring Dave Navarro and Jeffrey Tambor. Tambor played Chris Brown. No no, I kid. He played Rihanna.) Anyway, no big thing, the Germans are simply banned from all watersports (hahahaha) and, of course, the study lounge. Victory!
Er, except, the study lounge has become Zuccotti Park. Turns out not everybody beloves our beloved gang. In fact, to most of Greendale, they’re not the underdogs but the alphas, hogging that study lounge like they own the place. Gareth and Vicki and Todd (poor Todd) have had it. They’re not wrong. In fact, when you think about it, our underdogs are actually usually the aggressors.
There was the time they locked everyone out of the study lounge while they sequestered themselves and stripped in service of finding Annie’s Pen. (The best.) There was that other time when they played D&D all night. (Also best.) Then there was that time, um, Jeff in a figure skater’s costume and guyliner. (Swoon.) Huh. Is the gang a bunch of dicks? Yep, says Leonard. In fact, they’re like the Nazis in Hogan’s Heroes. And Shirley is even wearing a S(hirley’s)S(andwiches) T-shirt. (Holy hell, marry me, Community.)
Chang’s in a jail. He’s put himself there because he (apparently) has remorse, which means he (apparently) really does have Changnesia, because the real Chang would never have remorse. The dean bails him out and takes him back. ( Not sold. Been burned too many times. Will revisit.)
The gang eats their feelings with German Chocolate cake (gross, you guys; Troy’s BUTT was in there. Clothed, but still) as they come to terms with what they’ve become. Britta: “This is what happens when a group of people blindly follows a charismatic golden-throated leader.” (Side note: Difference between pre-Harmon and post-Harmon Community: Jeff’s response here is, “Are you actually comparing me to Hitler?” I feel like in season’s past, the writers would have trusted viewers to get that yes, Britta is comparing him to Hitler. It’s a little thing, but I have felt wee deficiencies like that this season. I’m not starting anything, you guys. I think this episode is TOPS! And did you NOT just hear me propose to the entire show? I’m just saying. Okay, let’s keep going.) Anyway, that line was very good. Nice job, writers!
Oh look, Professor Britishpants wants to discuss something. He set this whole thing up! Getting the school to pretend to hate them! It was an elaborate ruse staged in service of one giant lesson. And the lesson has been learned! Oh, nope. Turns out they all just missed their test, so, y’know, fail.
Reparations time. Lightbulb. Chairs. Dead-skunk removal. Podcast with Karl.
Tonight’s episode wasn’t the most high-concept ever or even the most subtle, but holy fuck was this fantastic. It’s the kind of episode that my mother would hate (and then, were she a regular Community viewer, she would convince all her friends to boycott it). Tonight was ballsy and while (I would argue) it doesn’t make fun of what happened in World War II, it certainly does make light of it. But it does so, I think), in a way that paid off laughs-wise. It always takes Community a few episodes to go from good to great. We’re there. And I can’t wait to see what happens next. Until then, auf Wiedersehen. Or as my people say, shalom. (It means hello, goodbye and peace. Aren’t we economical?)