Community Season 3-05 ‘Horror Fiction In Seven Spooky Steps’ Recap

Community has set a pretty high bar for Halloween episodes. "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" had a lot to live up and I’m happy to say it exceeded expectations. From Britta as a verb all the way to a terrific Chang cameo, just about everything worked in 'Horror Fiction.'

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My first Community recap; here’s hoping I don’t Britta the whole thing up.

Community has set a pretty high bar for Halloween episodes. “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” had a lot to live up and I’m happy to say it exceeded expectations. From Britta as a verb all the way to a terrific Chang cameo, just about everything worked in ‘Horror Fiction.’

On this week’s episode, Britta (Gillian Jacobs) is throwing a pre-Halloween party but of course, she has an ulterior motive. As she explains to Jeff (Joel McHale), the personality tests she gave the study group as part of her psych class, revealed that one member of the study group may potentially be a killer.

Jeff is skeptical, assuming that Britta had ‘Britta’ed things up while gathering the results of the test. Nevertheless, Jeff goes along as Britta initiates a round of ghost stories with arguably the worst ghost story ever told. Totally ‘Britta’ed.’ Particularly brilliant in Britta’s story of a couple, she and Jeff, making out in a car in the woods is the radio warning about a serial killer on the loose, in the woods:

“In the news tonight top story an escaped convict from the asylum has escaped and he’s mental and he’s on the loose and stuff.”

Naturally, Abed (Danny Pudi) finds fault with the story and the characters and especially the logic of the story. Abed’s story, on the other hand, does not lack for logic. Abed is aware of avoiding holes in the plot and he manages to suck the fun right out of his horror story of a couple in a cabin in the woods with a serial killer on the loose, with far too much logic.

Britta: “What’s that noise?” Abed:  “Based on that news report that we just heard but not just, just heard, I assume it’s the deranged hook handed killer who escaped when the asylum’s antiquated security system failed.” Britta: “I guess they shouldn’t have cut corners although it is understandable given the recent economic downturn.”

With Annie (Alison Brie) being the youngest member of the study group it comes as no surprise that she would envision a Twilight-esque story of an innocent girl, herself, and a Vampire, Jeff. The brilliant twist is having Annie’s story, after starting as a romance, devolve into a violent revenge fantasy.

Is the study group fully aware of Annie’s feelings for Jeff? It’s unclear, but we are certainly aware and the surface level sub-text of Annie turning into a werewolf and tearing the flesh off of Vampire Jeff was yet another wonderful piece of character building by Dan Harmon; both slightly disturbing and howlingly funny.

The best gag of the Annie story wasn’t even the violent end but her dismissive, jealous use of Britta as essentially Vampire feeding trough. Gillian Jacobs’ delivery of the line ‘I’m okay with this,’ was simply priceless.

Troy’s (Donald Glover) story is, not surprisingly, brilliantly weird. Though I was frightened of the notion of a Human Centipede send-up, Troy and Abed being sewn together at the hip was a clever twist. Troy’s childlike wonder never ceases to amaze as does Donald Glover’s ability to play Troy’s innocence as naiveté and not stupidity.

If you thought the end of Annie’s story was disturbing, Pierce’s (Chevy Chase) story somehow managed to top it, though not with violence so much as shocking, shocking racism. After imagining himself as a hero named Magnum, Pierce fends off Troy and Abed as pair of horrifically stereotypical gang members, culminating in Pierce seeming to floor Troy by hitting him with his massive penis.

Shirley’s (Yvette Nicole Brown) arc in season three has been unusual. Dan Harmon and Yvette Nicole Brown are exploring in increments Shirley’s feeling like an outsider. It’s a delicate balance for her as she remains true to herself while seeking a likable identity within the group. Her frustration boils over a bit in her story which imagines the study group as grunge era slackers partying with drugs on judgment day. While she is raptured to heaven, the rest of the group is tortured by the devil, in the form of Dean Pelton (Jim Rash).

As in last week’s “Remedial Chaos Theory” Jeff’s story is the closer. In his typical hurry to make a point, Jeff attempts to defuse the growing tension in the group by dismissively simplifying what everyone is concerned about, a possible nutjob among the study group. It was a nice touch for Jeff to use Chang (Ken Jeong) as his idea of a potential serial killer, not to mention distressingly appropriate given Chang’s arc this season.

If you didn’t realize that Britta had pulled a Britta on the test results you obviously weren’t paying attention. That predictability aside, the gag about Abed being the only member of the group who’s actually sane was a nice meta touch; Dan Harmon sees Abed as his main surrogate on the show.

Random notes:

  • Yes, Troy and Abed were dressed as the main characters from “Inspector Spacetime.”
  • In the library scene, as the killer is sneaking up behind Britta in the closing fantasy sequence, Britta is reading a book by “Warren Piece;” a wonderfully Britta mistake.
  • Who is Jeff texting all the time? All of his friends are in the study group?
  • Shirley’s vision of the devil carrying a chainsaw screaming ‘Gay Marriage’ is the clearest indication yet that Shirley may be Michele Bachman supporter.
  • Is there really anything funnier than feet hands?

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Sean Kernan
I have been a film critic online and on the radio for 12 year years. I am a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association as well as a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association.