“Remedial Chaos Theory” demonstrates what Community does better than any other show on television. This densely contrived episode, divided into seven different mini-stories each with their own unique and notable details, examines the dynamic of the Community cast and characters in ways that other sitcoms can’t begin to imagine.
Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) have moved in together and are throwing a housewarming party. The center of the party is an attempt at a game of Yahtzee that is interrupted by the arrival of the pizza man. In seven different stories, each member of the Greendale study group will leave to get the pizza and a different story proceeds without them.
First up is Annie (Alison Brie) who leaves behind a relatively benign series of events save for the discovery of a gun in her purse. The classic Hitchcock rules apply here, a gun introduced at the beginning of a story must go off by the end of the story. Stay tuned.
Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is next and her story reveals that she has adopted baking as an identity within the group. In an effort to break Shirley of her baking habit the group has promised not to eat her food. This leads to a confrontation and a meltdown and eventually Shirley leaving in a huff; not before she touches on a topic that bubbles under much of the episode, the romantic dynamic between Jeff and Annie, Jeff and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) and Britta and Troy.
Pierce (Chevy Chase) is next and his absence allows for further exploration of the romantic side of the group. Jeff and Annie bond over making fun of Troy and Jeff hitting his head on the ceiling fan. Troy finds comfort with Britta in the bathroom as they talk about how Jeff has been hard on Troy lately. Is this the seed of a love quadrangle with Jeff-Annie-Britta and Troy? There is more to come with this story.
Britta’s turn begins with an odd revelation. Britta is the engine of conversation in the group. With her gone an odd discomfort sets in as everyone waits for someone to talk. It’s never occurred to me before what role Britta plays but indeed on a number of occasions Britta’s gaffes or even her honest attempts at observation are what drives the group’s dynamic. This story also highlights Pierce’s continuing jealousy of Troy and Abed’s friendship.
Troy’s story is the most disturbing. Part of what defines Troy is his wonderful innocence. Remove Troy from the group and bad things begin to happen. Annie trips getting up from the table and the gun in her purse goes off striking Pierce in the leg. The scuffle causes Pierce’s bottle of scotch to fall to the floor and break. When Britta runs out of the bathroom with her lit joint still between her lips it falls to the ground starting a fire.
Abed’s story is told next and it’s hard to say if anything would have been all that different without him. In this timeline Jeff and Annie kiss before recognizing some of the deeper issues that have kept them apart. Britta gets high and reveals to Shirley the group’s plan to ignore her baking and Pierce and Troy fight again over Pierce’s horrific housewarming gift. The most resonant of the stories is Britta and Shirley’s. These two have been thrown together repeatedly in season three and their conflict is indicative of the issues the group as a whole struggled with in “Competitive Ecology.”
Finally, Abed reveals that Jeff’s use of the roll of the dice to decide who goes for the pizza was really a ruse to keep him from having to go himself, Jeff is forced to leave for the pizza. This is our actual timeline as Abed prevented the roll of the dice and we find the study group dynamic with Jeff out of the way for the moment to be fun, loving and goofy.
A fellow Community blogger noted that as Pierce was last season’s villain, Jeff is being positioned as this season’s villain. In “Competitive Ecology” Jeff was the driving force of division due to his ego and self-serving antics. This week, in a moment without Jeff the group is having fun and bonding in ways that Jeff prevented in the other timelines. Will this be a rolling storyline or are we just over-thinking the room? We shall see.
- On Twitter Gillian Jacobs revealed that Pierce’s creepy Norwegian Troll was nicknamed Torg though the moniker is never used in the episode.
- The sci-fi story close revealed Evil Abed, Evil Troy and the Evil study group in which Pierce died from his gunshot wound, Shirley became a drunk, Annie went to an insane asylum, Jeff lost an arm and Britta put blue streaks in her hair. Will the evil study group find a way to get back to the original timeline? I think a web-series in order.
- Yes, Troy and Abed were watching “Inspector Spacetime” at the end of the episode.
- “Remedial Chaos Theory” was supposed to be the third episode of this season Community but it was delayed. The episode opens with Annie and Britta at Troy and Abed’s apartment with the number 303 on it and Britta asking if the apartment is 303 or 304, a reference to the switched episode numbers.
- The switch also explains Pierce’s Eartha Kitt story which was referenced in “Competitive Ecology” but not fully revealed until “Remedial Chaos Theory.”
- The structure of “Remedial Chaos Theory” is said to have been inspired by Run Lola Run.
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