Where do you go after your best ever episode? That was the question facing Community this week after blowing minds with last week’s “Modern Warfare.” Would “English as a Second Language” match the awesomeness of its predecessor? Would Jeff and Britta come face to face with their recent tryst? Would Greendale simply move on after the war like they’re prone to do?
It’s finals time at Greendale and The Study Group was stressing out, though for different reasons. Everyone obviously wanted to pass the Spanish 102 final, but Annie was equally concerned with making sure that they all could remain a study group next year. With Spanish 103 (I love that there’s no 200 level course) at 6:30 in the morning, she was proposes anthropology for everyone to take. Everyone seems fine with it, except Jeff, who’s reverted back to his old self. You see, Jeff remembered why he was at Greendale, and he wasn’t going to take any classes that he didn’t need to so that he could get back to being a lawyer, which seemed to bother Annie more than everyone else.
I think part of the reason we were reminded that Jeff was once a lawyer was to facilitate what happened next. Senor Chang approaches Jeff before class (promptly dismissing everyone from the room first), asking him where he got his fake diploma. It seems that Chang’s keytar ambitions got in the way of his education, and he’s been faking it as a professor. He warns Jeff that if he shares this information, their entire year of Spanish could be completely negated. Jeff promises, but doesn’t realize that Annie’s digital recorder, which she uses to record all her lectures, has been sitting there the whole time, getting every word.
She naturally turns Chang in and he’s replaced by a real Spanish teacher, and now the whole class is in trouble. Jeff flips out on Annie for it (after a nice sequence in which everyone’s groans is can’t disguise Annie’s happy sigh), and convinces the whole group not to give in to her young cuteness (“Picture her as Paul Giamatti!”). Annie storms off, and when she doesn’t show up for the final, Jeff comes to his senses and gets everyone to go find her. Turns out she’s with Senor Chang, who’s showing off his keytar skills, and they announce that Senor Chang is going to enroll in some music and education classes and work on becoming legit. Jeff and Annie apologize to each other, and turns out everyone passes Spanish (thanks to Pierce sleeping with the professor) and Jeff encourages them to take anthropology next semester.
I liked the goofier side of the episode, in which Troy discovers his gift for pluming, more than I did the main plot. It started hilariously with Troy approaching a chalkboard full of math equations, Good Will Hunting style, and I laughed pretty loudly when he picked up the chalk, only to pocket it. But it turns out Troy is really good at pluming, and they school’s maintenance staff keeps trying to get him to join them. It was a pretty turn around on the Good Will Hunting lines, and the part where Abed tells troy the best part of his day is when he thinks he’s not in class was great.
Overall, I think “English as a Second Language” was an off-kilter episode. It felt like a season finale (that’s next week), it brought back the earlier season “I’m just here because I have to be” version of Jeff, and it had a funnier B-story than main plot. It was an episode full of zingers and great lines, but it felt so oddly out of place. I can only assume that the intention was to establish that they were all going to be together again next year before the finale so that it can focus on something different, and I do remember that the mid-season break had an episode that felt like a winter sweeps episode the week before the actual one. I have a lot of confidence in this show after “Modern Warfare,” so I’ll differ to the writers on this one, but here’s hoping that Community rallies before it closes out its first year at Greendale.
Favorite line of the night was Annie to Britta: “It’s obvious from your name your parents smoked pot.”
Michael’s Score: 65
TUiW Grade: B-