Finally, the Community Christmas episode!
Given the chilly weather we've had the past two days in H-town, a Christmas Community seems just about perfect. I will now sip brandy in a snifter and eat sugar cookies.
The study group has their first ever "grown-up Christmas party"; recall that last year they were in a glee club and the year prior they became claymation cartoons. Jeff plays host to a nice, quiet Christmas party with the whole clan bearing gifts, which they were told not to bring. Naturally, Jeff has not purchased anything for anyone. Chang has, though; he's been told that no presents means presents. "So no means yes."
Abed is somewhat disappointed by this type of party since he was hoping for a re-enactment of Die Hard. Troy does him one better and gives him an early Christmas present of a bloody Die Hard tank top.
Annie breaks up the group's good mood with some bad news: She has found out that they failed their group history paper. What to do? Oh, why not invite the history professor over to the party and see if you can coerce him into changing the grade? Sounds like a recipe for delicious disaster.
Their history professor, Professor Cornwallis (Malcolm McDowell), shows up looking annoyed, yet is happy to drink Jeff's high-quality scotch and ogle the ladies. In a private moment, Jeff admits to Brita that he is the reason they got a failing grade. Rather than doing his share of the work, he went to a Tom Waits concert. Interesting excuse for not doing your homework. Jeff assumed that they would only get a C- despite his lack of effort. Jeff decrees that he is going to make this right.
As Jeff tries to smooth-talk Cornwallis into a better grade, it comes out that the group has gotten a C, which no one but Annie considers failing. She's on her way to being valedictorian and needs an A. But Jeff is so pushy and obnoxious with Cornwallis that he turns their grade into an F. What!
Jeff calls the group into a private meeting and assures them that all will be taken care of. Just kidding, Chang has tied the professor to a chair to prove his worth to the group. Rather than untying Cornwallis, they decide to use the situation to their advantage. They will keep him tied up until he changes their grade.
This is when the episode gets really fun.
Cornwallis uses the power of historical knowledge to try and break the study group's pact, promising that whoever unties him will be given an A while the others will get an F.
"Empires are always destroyed from within," says Cornwallis as he slowly picks at their weaknesses.
Abed makes some popcorn because this is better than any movie ever.
Brita and Jeff used to sleep together and now she sleeps with Troy. Love triangle!
Annie is gunning for valedictorian and her only competition is -- surprise -- Shirley!
And Jeff is forced to admit that he is the reason the team got a poor grade. He blames Tom Waits.
Then...the doorbell rings! Ahh!!!
Nah, it's just Dean, who is rather peeved that he wasn't invited to the party. So was I.
When the group turns back around, the professor is untied. Who did it? No one will admit to it, so they decide they should just tie him up again. But they quickly realize, through opening up Chang's gifts, that Chang doesn't know how to tie a knot and Cornwallis was never tied up to begin with. He is just a lonely, manipulative old man with nothing better to do than to mess with the study group. To appease the group, he gives them all a C+ and life is okay again.
Or is it? Chang steps outside to "take a deuce" and pulls out a flip phone (which is already creepy because who has those anymore?); his plan didn't work. He'll have to try another way to get the group expelled. The long con continues.
As the episode winds down, Abed mentions that while all of this is nice, he wonders what is happening in the darkest timeline. If you remember, Abed has created a different timeline that the study group could (should?) be following, one in which currently Annie is insane and a one-armed Jeff is defending her in trial. They laugh manically, announcing that they are on a mission to destroy.
This was a fun episode. Was it the best? No. But it certainly was quite enjoyable and filled me with Christmasy joy. What I found interesting about this episode was that it was one of the few where the group finds a real sense of solidarity. The typical Community setup involves a split in the group that ultimately ends up with them admitting their rift and a return to being friends. Sometimes this setup feels forced because these guys love each other; they are bros. But, again, this is the norm for this show. I thoroughly enjoyed the alteration.
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Brita says the reason she failed was perhaps her "Falocentric world view."
Troy describes Cornwallis as "the human version of Scrooge McDuck."
Dean comes over to give all the study group kittens and two are named Jeff.
Jeff as an evil lawyer with one arm says that despite this fact, he is "armed" with what's right. I thought that was silly and it made me laugh.