COMMUNITY Recap: 'A Fist Full of Paintballs' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

COMMUNITY Recap: ‘A Fist Full of Paintballs’

May 6, 2011 by  

A year ago COMMUNITY’s “Modern Warfare” episode took the sitcom concept to a whole new level. Some (including this writer) took it to be one of the best episodes of any show that year. Why? Because it was epic. It took the conceit COMMUNITY had been working under all season — that they could play around with the same tropes as every other sitcom, but they’d try to do it a little differently — and worked it into a masterly crafted homage to action and apocalypse movies. And it did this all while simultaneously taking a huge leap with what was the show’s biggest will-they/won’t-they couple. Paint was spilled, references were made, and story arcs heightened. And it was glorious.

Last night marked the airing of the first of the two-part follow up to that legendary episode. And, if you don’t mind me saying, it was magnificent.

According to Dean Pelton (dressed to the nines as…a stripper cowgirl), the big mistake of last year’s apocalyptic paintball game was far too valuable a prize. To tame the actions of this year’s game, the reward is set at…$100,000 cash, according to the Pistol Patty ice cream cone of Pistol Patty’s Ice Cream Creamery, who volunteered to sponsor the school’s end of the year picnic.

Give a Greendale students an inch (or the prospect of a hundred grand), and they’ll take a mile. Soon the whole campus has transformed into an old fashioned war-torn Western, full of cowboys, wenches, and a complimentary landscape and soundtrack to complete the mood. It’s every student for themselves, but our study group inevitably finds each other through the various avenues of Western tropes they’re wading through, aided by the fact that they are all very rapidly running out of ammo.

Along the way they run into The Black Rider (former LOSTie Josh Holloway), a mysterious ringer who promptly threatens Jeff with his good looks and fight-flirts with Annie, all while simultaneously taking out almost everyone in his path.

In their search for more firepower they come to the realization that the one person who has the most ammo is also the one they’ve had the most contention with throughout this whole season: Pierce. And this is where the episode gets a lot of its depth; many (including me) have argued that Pierce’s behavior throughout most of this season has been more akin to that of a villain than a friend or peer. Pierce obviously has a different point of view, maintaining that he behaved the way he did because the group was constantly excluding him. It’s basically a “chicken or the egg” situation, but with human emotions involved.

Annie, by the way, is bringing the badass as the gun-slinging wench. Alison Brie (Annie) definitely earned herself the title of this episode’s MVP. For far too long this season Annie’s been mooning over Jeff (or fighting with Jeff because she was mooning over Jeff). But we all know that deep down she’ll always be the whip-smart badass who takes over the school through sheer force of will and cunning use of paint bullets. She’s also Pierce’s favorite, and when she finds out Pierce supplied Jeff with a paint gun filled with blanks, she is none too happy. Their confrontation is simultaneously badass and surprisingly touching, given that hours before the group had taken a vote on whether or not to let Pierce back into the group next year. It had to be unanimous, and there was one holdout — to me, obviously Annie, given the hints and her general personality, although she’d be loathe to admit it just yet. But Pierce is still betraying the group, and Annie’s not taking any of that b*llsh*t (as Abed notes, “she’s pretty awesome today”), and challenges Pierce to a classic western-style showdown. It’s a shockingly gripping moment, emotionally, even when there are cowboy hats involved.

Their showdown gets interrupted, however, by The Black Rider. And as we soon find out, Pistol Patty’s got some ulterior motives—she hired The Black Rider as a ringer to make sure that no student won the competition, and she’s got plenty of backup minions just in case The Black Rider and his beautiful stubbled chin gets taken out.

I was hesitant that they were going for such a direct companion episode to “Modern Warfare” — at first. I thought, “How could they ever compete with the original?” The answer is that they can’t. That much is obvious when the original stands on its own so well. But “A Fist Full of Paintballs” does damn well for itself for what it is, and after watching last night’s episode I feel that, while sharing a conceit, it feels like an episode that can claim its own personality while still sharing in many of the elements that made the original so great.

With all this tension building, it’s sure to be an epic end to the season. Are you excited?

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One Response to “COMMUNITY Recap: ‘A Fist Full of Paintballs’”

  1. Danielle on May 6th, 2011 2:31 pm

    Does anyone think the voice of Pistol Patty’s sounded like Aziz Ansari? I’m really curious to learn who is in that ice cream cone costume!