COMMUNITY 3.18 ‘Course Listing Unavailable’

"Greendale has warped me like a Barbie in a microwave!"

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Course Listing Unavailable"

Writer: Tim Saccardo

Director: Tristram Shapeero

Last week's episode of "Community" hilariously lampooned "Law & Order," as events unintentionally led to the death of the would be meth dealer, Star-Burns (Dino Stamatopoulos). And as the consequences played out in "Course Listing Unavailable," the study group itself was destroyed.

It's not that Star-Burns was particularly well loved at Greendale… or even well liked. By almost all accounts, the man was a scumbag and it's telling that he had no friends to sing his praises at his memorial service. All that was left of Star-Burns was some horrendously bad greenscreen footage he left behind for Abed (Danny Pudi) to craft into a video tribute.

The immediate fallout of Star-Burns' death was that Professor Marshall Kane (Michael Kenneth Williams) resigned from Greendale and left the Biology course incomplete, rendering the entire class a waste of time for everyone in it. Even though nobody was really grieving for Star-Burns, Britta (Gillian Jacobs) jumped at the chance to play grief counselor and get the study group to deal with their supposedly buried emotional responses to the tragedy.

Of course, Jeff (Joel McHale) has always been shamelessly self-involved, so his only emotional response came when he learned that his summer would be lost to retaking Biology. And somewhere deep inside of Jeff, this set off a powder keg of pent up frustrations that exploded during his eulogy for Star-Burns. Jeff angrily said that he admired Star-Burns for doing the one thing that he never could: leaving Greendale!

Annie (Alison Brie) followed with her own scathing indictment of Greendale, followed by Troy (Donald Glover) & Abed and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown). The similarly disgruntled Greendale Human Beings responded to their anger, and when Pierce (Chevy Chase) told them to burn the college to the ground they were all too eager to do so.

In the midst of this, Chang (Ken Jeong) made his move for expanded powers with a crudely drawn document presented to Dean Pelton (Jim Rash). And so, Chang and his child army of security officers violently put down the riot.

Not wanting to lose the study group (but more likely because he doesn't want to stop fondling Jeff), Dean Pelton agreed to make Chang the fall guy for the incident. However, Chang outmaneuvered the Dean with a look-alike who took his place. With Chang's puppet in power and the college board practically eating cookie baskets out of his hands, Chang manipulated the discipline hearing to have the study group expelled from Greendale for inciting the riot.
Up to that point, "Course Listing Unavailable" had been a perfectly adequate episode of "Community." But it was everything that came after that made it something special. Holed up at Trobed and Annie's apartment, the former study group wallowed in their misery as Abed revisited the idea of multiple timelines from the brilliant "Remedial Chaos Theory." And for a while, it was looking like this was the darkest of all possible timelines. Britta even seemed doomed to be engaged with the weird Pizza guy from that episode, whom she was obviously attracted to at first sight. This is classic Britta. She goes for the wrong guys because she hates herself.

In "Remedial Chaos Theory," the darkest timeline unfolded because Troy left the room. Thus it was fitting that Troy saved the day by telling Britta that she isn't the worst, she's the best. Britta never even looked at the Pizza guy after that. And Abed lifted their collective spirits by reminding his friends that they are still together even if the study group is no more.

Now, does anyone out there really think that the Greendale 7 are going to remain expelled at the end of this season? The answer should be "No! Of course not!" There's no way to get #sixseasonsandamovie if they're done with community college already. This might even be a good way to keep them in the college itself for more than four years.

But even if this was the season ending cliffhanger, I would have been alright with that. The emotions of the group in the apartment hit all of the right notes. We don't watch "Community" just because the group attends a bizarrely crazy college. We watch it because these are terrifically funny characters whom we care about; which is further justified by the unique friendship they have with each other.

In short, they're a makeshift family. And if their bond can survive this crisis, it can last beyond their time at Greendale.