Episode Title: "Origins of Vampire Mythology"
Writer: Dan Harmon
Director: Steven Tsuchida
Following the devastating events of the pillow-blanket fort war, "Community" kicked off this week with the reunited duo of Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) inventing a new secret handshake to cement their restored friendship… as Pierce (Chevy Chase) openly wondered why he didn't have a best friend in the group. But "Origins of Vampire Mythology" largely belonged to Britta (Gillian Jacobs) and her misguided affection for a man called Blade (Kirk Fox).
Much to the enjoyment and derisive laughter of her friends, Britta admitted that she had once dated a carnival worker named Blade and she was hopelessly addicted to him despite the knowledge that he was bad for her. While Annie (Alison Brie) agreed to help Britta break her dependency on Blade as he swung through town in the carnival, Troy and Abed seemed to get a nerdgasm at the constant mention of his name and they resolved to watch the first "Blade" movie that night.
Back together, Trobed are kind of asexual when it comes to women. They both show occasional interest in the opposite sex, but when Troy and Abed feed off each other's love of all things geek, it keeps them in a codependent relationship that transforms them both into overgrown kids. Looks fun, doesn't it?
But Troy is the first one to realize that Britta has her own codependency issues, possibly because he's attracted to her himself. Like any addict, Britta forgets that she asked for help and she constantly tries to get her phone back from Annie in the faint hope that Blade called her. Britta even plays on Annie's emotions by declaring her sisterly love for her before manipulating Annie into handing over her phone.
As it turns out, Annie was savvy enough to swap her phone number with Blade's so she could intercept any messages sent by Britta… which come almost immediately. Partly out of spite and anger over the breach of trust, Annie sends an angry and rude text back in response… which only makes Britta want Blade even more! Troy put it best: Britta is only attracted to men who treat her badly. And as soon as he sends her a complimentary text from "Blade," Britta immediately looses interest in him.
Meanwhile, Jeff is also obsessed with Blade and he drags Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) with him as his wingwoman while he checks out his… rival? No, that's not the right word for it. And not even Jeff can fully explain why he's so desperate to know why Blade has this power over Britta; whom Jeff professes not to love. Shirley lays out an explanation that exposes Jeff's creepy and narcissistic motivations for his actions… but rather than take it as an insult, Jeff tells Shirley that she's the only one who understands him.
And maybe Shirley really is the only one who understands Jeff. She's certainly the only woman in the study group whom Jeff has no sexual attraction towards. The foosball episode late last year established the beginning of a Jeff and Shirley friendship that seemed to genuinely grow out of their shared experiences. As opposed to Chang (Ken Jeong) and Pierce, who amusingly try to force a friendship between themselves and rub it in Jeff and Shirley's faces.
Oddly enough, Jeff is more driven by Blade than even Britta, as he alienates Shirley by spending almost the entire night at the shooting gallery in a vain attempt to show up Blade or get under his skin… which proves to be impossible. $300 and several hours later, Blade reveals the truth to Jeff. And the revelation sends him running to Troy and Abed's apartment, where he quickly shares the news with Britta: Blade has no shame. Literally, he has no shame because of brain damage; which makes Blade simultaneously irresistible to women while also unable to find work outside of a carnival.
Jeff actually makes a moving speech about how Britta doesn't need Blade and that they don't have to hate themselves and constantly punish themselves for their self-perceived shortcomings. Even Annie seems to be reached by Jeff's words, as he appears to be her "Blade." Earlier in the episode, Annie also manipulated Jeff's vanity just to see him take off his shirt. Of the study group, Jeff and Annie seem to be the most likely to head into a relationship. But the question is this: will their inevitable pairing simply prove to be as self-destructive as Britta's flings with Blade?
Somewhere in the middle of this was Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), who hilariously showed up in pajamas at Trobed's door to convince Troy to join the air conditioning repair school at the bidding of the evil Vice Dean Laybourne (John Goodman). While the Vice Dean has made a few attempts to recruit Troy, it felt like his subplot about dominating the Dean had been dropped since the third season premiere. "Origins of Vampire Mythology" brought that back to the forefront, hence the Dean's not very well thought out attempt to win Troy over.
Getting the Dean into the episode that way was a ridiculous sitcom contrivance that almost all of the characters openly challenged and questioned. If Rash wasn't so funny, that wouldn't have come off as well as it did. Less successful was the Chang and Pierce pairing. It seems like the "Community" writers don't really know what to do with either of them anymore, but a Chang and Pierce team up has potential.
The problem is that Chang and Pierce are such cartoon characters that there's nothing about them that grounded their plot out of sheer farce. Everyone is kind of ridiculous on this show, but Shirley mitigated some of Jeff's over-the-top moments while Annie and Troy brought some humanity to their genuine concern and disappointment with Britta.
At the end, most of the group is reunited as they gather around to finish watching Blade… the movie, not the carny. Sure, Annie is still making googly eyes at Jeff and Pierce locked himself in Annie's bedroom to detox from Chang. But that's still a happy ending by almost any standard.
"Origins of Vampire Mythology" was definitely not among the best episodes of this season, but it still had some fun moments that further defined our favorite characters. I'd call that a win.