At the tail end of episode 3-17, ‘Basic Lupine Urology‘, a bombshell was dropped. Greendale’s resident deviant, Alex “Starburns” Osbourne (Dino Stamatopoulos) suddenly died in a freak meth lab accident. This episode of Community deals with the aftermath of that fallout. Even though the Study Group didn’t know him too well, his death has affected them all in ways that they couldn’t have imagined.
“Starburns died how he lived – in a meth lab explosion” – Annie
‘Course Listing Unavailable‘ begins with Abed (Danny Pudi), Troy (Donald Glover), and Annie (Alison Brie) watching the video will of Starburns. Abed was given the important duty to take pieces of this video will and splice it together to form an awesome video of the deceased as a present to his ex-wife. Being the nice guy that he is, Abed obliges.
During the next day, the Study Group is noticeably somber as its members sit in the library. Troy is visibly shaken at the notion of death, while Jeff (Joel McHale) is unemotional about it. Then again, he’s like that with everything. Britta (Gillian Jacobs) offers her services as a psychology major to help everyone through this troubling time, despite Jeff’s derision:
“The death of a peer, especially at our age, can trigger a whole range of emotions. As a psychologist…(“student!” – Jeff) I hereby offer my licence (“unlicensed”) services as a grief councillor (“grief causer”). If anyone needs to talk the doctor (“not even close”) is in” – Britta
Everyone humoured Britta and went along with her ridiculous therapy motions except for Jeff. However, he let his emotions fly when Dead Pelton (Jim Rash) came in to let the group know that their Biology course was canceled in light of Starburns’ passing. As a result, the group would have to take the course during the summer.
Later that day, the Study Group joined its peers in the cafeteria for a memorial service. Still racked with anger over the idea that his summer will be taken away, Jeff takes the podium and directs his anger at Greendale, saying that the school “hates its students; it sucks the lives of their bodies and forces their desiccated husks to attend summer school.” One by one, the Study Group’s members take the podium and reveal their dissatisfaction with Greendale, which evokes a riot out of all the attending students.
Head of Greendale security, Ben Chang (Ken Jeong), takes this opportunity to convince the Dean to sign his petition, which will allow him more liberties to enforce brutal security measures at the college. Leading his squad of pre-teens equipped with riot gear and pepper spray, Chang subdues the student upheaval at a high cost. To make matters worst, the Study Group (now referred to as the Greendale Seven) was blamed for the riot, and ends up being expelled for its actions.
‘Course Listing Unavailable‘ was a smart episode that used one plot device to trigger an even bigger plot device; one that will probably hold the show for the rest of the season. Even though he was a minor character Starburns was a very visible presence in the school, so it would make sense that a school-wide assembly would ensue, especially given the Dean’s obsession regarding creating a close-knit community.
It is risky giving Chang a much larger role in the series as he is a very polarizing character. Then again, by giving him a dictator-like hold over Greendale, there are now tons of opportunities for ridiculous and epic shenanigans for the last few episodes.
‘Course Listing Unavailable‘ was a fun episode about very unpleasant things. Even though it mainly served as a set-up episode for the ones to come, it still contained plenty of the Community weirdness we’ve all grown to love.