Tonight's summary is presented to you in real time as we watched the episode for the first time. Well, with lots of pauses. God bless you, DVR technology.
It seems like we're back to airing the episodes in order. Tonight's episode starts with Dean Pelton excitedly opening the Cafetorium's new Subway franchise, and although the product placement is pretty naked -- how much you want to bet at least one character actually tries a Subway sandwich later on and loves it? -- we've got to give them points for having Dean Pelton gnaw the ceremonial ribbon open with his teeth. Which is undoubtedly tastier than an actual Subway sandwich.
The exposition flies fast and furious right off the bat; Troy, Abed and Annie's building is being tented for termites, so Annie is staying in a sleep lab and Troy and Abed are, of course, going to build a pillow fort right here in school. Oh, this promises to be whimsical.
Shirley and Pierce try to shut down the new Subway by showing Pelton a Greendale bylaw which states that any shop run on campus must be 51 percent student-owned, but no dice; through a new procedure called "Corpo-Humanization," Subway has manifested itself in human form and is now matriculating as an actual student. A squared-jawed, blond-haired, clean-cut student who is actually a corporation? Everybody check the writing credits and see if Mitt Romney's name is tucked away in there.
Subway tries for a dap with an enthusiastic "Eat Fresh? Eat Fresh?" We stare awkwardly down his arm in a POV shot which can only be described as DapCam. Abed finally takes mercy on him and provides him his dapback. Opening credits.
Jeff is stunned to discover that lockers exist at Greendale, and frankly, so am I. He opens his locker for the first time in two and a half years and finds innumerable dance flyers, one for a "Save Garrett" fundraiser ("What's wrong with Garrett?" "Nothing, now. We saved him."), and a hate letter calling him out as an inconsiderate jerk from someone named Kim. I like you already, Kim.
Conflict continues to build between Troy and Abed and for now, it's still completely asinine. Instead of putting a stop to their already-impressive pillow fort -- a cadre of extras in pajamas are helping to erect it -- Dean Pelton challenges the boys to go for a world record. Troy thinks the record would be easier to break building a blanket fort. Abed maintains that they set out to build a pillow fort, and so a pillow fort it shall be. Angst.
The good news is that Vice Dean Laybourne is back, still portrayed by the invaluable John Goodman, now with a goatee and French-braided ponytail ("I'm going through some stuff, Troy, don't worry about it."). The bad news is that so far his only purpose is to sow the seeds of discontent between Troy and Abed by comparing them to some kind of ancient sci-fi show. He should have compared them to Star Wars, because this subplot seems FORCED. See what I did there?
Britta antagonist-flirts with Subway, who champions George Orwell and the Veggie DeLite Subway sandwich in practically the same sentence. Britta is getting a lot of good lines this week ("You're a human puppet with Big Sandwich's hand up your ass."). Pierce and Shirley rejoice that their plan to ingratiate him to Britta and then destroy him is proceeding as planned. Yes...(Britta stares longingly into the distance)...exactly as planned.
Jeff and Annie find out that Jeff has only shared a class with one person named Kim, and as of two weeks ago, she's dead. The news is given to them by an unfamiliar bespectacled student with an unusual amount of lines. They don't give out SAG cards for scenes like this. We'll see him again.
Subway and Britta continue to flirt in the library. Britta wants to know who he was before he was Subway. He isn't allowed to say. Joel struggles with the knowledge that someone died thinking he was a dick, and he can't make things right, which gives his dickishness a kind of immortality. This subplot is hovering dangerously close to real gravitas. I hope they introduce a funeral director-emu named Pierce's Taint or something.
Speaking of: Pierce and Shirley encounter Britta in the library as she orgasmically enjoys a foot-long Subway sandwich. Told you, but oh well; product-placement-as-fellatio-metaphor is probably the best product placement we're ever going to get. Anyway, Pierce and Shirley inform Britta that she has one final mission, after which she's being pulled out of her undercover assignment. They can see she's developing feelings for Subway. Pierce drinks the ink out of a pen because he is even more out of it than usual this episode, which is saying something.
Troy is now building a blanket fort to rival Abed's pillow fort. Pelton reveals that there's only enough room on campus for one fort to break the world record, and Troy tells Abed he wants him to tear down the pillow fort. Abed agrees. If that recap bored you, imagine how I felt watching it.
Britta finds a cozy, private spot inside the pillow fort, strung up with Christmas lights -- WHIMSY! -- and meets Subway there. They begin making out as the camera pans away in a traditional "They're Gonna Bone Now, So We'll Go Over Here" maneuver, and a tiny bug planted in Britta's backpack carries their moans to Shirley and Pierce, who are monitoring the goings-on next to a hilariously anachronistic reel-to-reel recorder like the kind Colonel Kurtz's message was played upon in Apocalypse Now. Shirley doesn't have the stomach for it and walks. Pierce keeps going and slams another penful of ink because of course he does.
Jeff issues a heartfelt yet still oddly funny apology to dead girl Kim's locker when -- surprise -- we learn that Kim is neither a girl nor dead. Yes, it's that bespectacled guy from the previous scene, who reveals himself to be Kim and that his grudge stems from the fact that even though he and Jeff hung out often during Jeff's first year, Jeff never remembered his name and always thought he was a girl. Annie becomes enraged, having earlier thought she was standing up for the multitude of girls Jeff has romanced and then discarded (hint hint), only to find out it was all about this weird dude we've never seen before. She leaves in a huff.
Before Abed can pull the self-destruct cord on his pillow fort, Laybourne appears and gives him a downright Randian little motivational speech encouraging him to be all he can be and leave his lessers in the dust. Abed appears to consider it. Or should we call him The FountainAbed?
Shirley and Pierce play the recording of Britta and Subway having sex for a Subway executive, who at first approves of their wholesome, human romance, but then whatever noises are on the tape turn weird -- we don't hear it, we only see his reactions -- and he throws the headphones down in disgust and fires Subway, who we discover is named Rick. The Subway executive won't get out of his chair. It's strongly implied he has a raging boner. Pierce has taken on a ghostly pallor with dark purple bags under his eyes. He's been drinking a lot of pens, for real. This is a pretty fine scene, actually.
Just as Annie apologizes to Jeff for flipping out earlier, Britta runs into the new Subway, who is not Rick, yet who acts in such a way as to continue his and Britta's storyline. "I enjoyed having sex with you in the pillow fort last night," the stranger says, "except for that one deviant sex act which you initiated without my consent." New Subway gives her a horrendously creepy smooch on the forehead and leaves just as Garrett shows up to tell everyone that there's trouble in the study room.
Sure enough, Troy and Abed's respective contingencies are facing off for a rumble with Dean Pelton in the middle. Pelton orders Abed to tear down his fort. Abed refuses. Pelton moves to tear it down himself, but finds his path blocked by Starburns, who hurls a pillow that destroys part of Troy's blanket fort. The rumble explodes. People fight. Horses neigh. A gunshot rings out. Jeff plays blithely on his phone. Abed and Troy share a dramatic, slow-motion glare across the battlefield, both too proud to back down but neither willing to actually strike the other physically. They each retreat inside their pillow forts as epic music plays. This subplot has ballooned into a surprisingly funny sequence, which is all to the credit of the actors, writers and editors of the series. Abed stares directly into the camera and says, "To be continued."
Unfortunately, continue we do, as in a brief epilogue Vice Dean Laybourne reveals (to a janitor) that his plan to rend Troy and Abed asunder so that Troy can proceed unencumbered to his destiny is going exactly according to plan. Troy's destiny: to join Laybourne's Air Conditioning Repair school. Dumb. Ending on a down note this week. Let's hope next week the admirable cast and crew turn this tiresome subplot into something worth watching as they did this week -- even if the shining moment was relatively brief.
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Out of Context Quotes:
"I totally predicted this in my high school newspaper column, 'Britta Unfiltered.'"
"You never lived anywhere. You're a weapon designed for sex."
"Put it in a letter, Jane Austen!"