• Community recap: “A Fistful of Paintballs”




    The opening is apocalyptic, with Fat Neil running from a paintball-gun-wielding Anthony Michael Hall. (I forgot he was on this!) Annie (or, Ace of Hearts) saves the day, only to turn on him. Fat Neil pleads with her: They’re friends after all; they played D&D together. But D&D was a game, Annie says—this is paintball.


    As we pan over the status of Luis Guzmán (does any show do continuity as hilariously well as this one?), we see the dean—in a half-shirt and cowboy hat—addressing the student body (more cowboy hats) at the end-of-the-year picnic. (No explanation for the cowboy theme. Need one? Nah.) He’s got a surprise: They’re going to end the semester with a quick round of paintball assassin—nothing like last year’s, of course. Just a harmless little game with a prize so piddling it’ll all remain all in good fun. Only…the super-creepy cowboy-hate-bedecked ice cream cone mascot informs everyone that the prize is actually $100,000. Oops.

    Abed (Ace of Clubs) shows up to steal Annie’s beans and try to recruit her to join him and Jeff (King of Spades), who’s currently fighting the math team in the study lounge with Chang. Chang betrays Jeff to save himself, and Jeff and Abed end up reuniting with Annie. The plan is to find Pierce and steal his stash of ammo, but before they can set off, someone’s spurs are ticking down the hall. It’s the Black Rider, a.k.a. Sawyer acting totally Sawyer-like. (Josh Holloway, look, I love you, and you are so, so pretty, but your next role has got to be something warm and fuzzy. Try for a rom-com with Kate Hudson or something. I worry you will be typecast as brooding sex meat. Xo, Carla.).

    Our trio narrowly escapes him and his gigantic guns—but not before Annie and a really unsupportive bra run in slo-mo down the hall—and they secret themselves in a room where, turns out, Britta, Shirley and Troy (Queen of Spades, Father Guido Sarducci—with her purse!—and King of Clubs, respectively) are squatting. They’ve been deputized to protect Ft. (Pierce) Hawthorne, and their No. 1 goal is to bring Jeff in, gay or alive.

    Turns out Pierce isn’t such a bad sheriff, or so say Britaleyloy. (That’s Britta, Shirley and Troy, you guys.) He’s even set up a combat-free place for people to rest and congregate. Of course, we know that Pierce is the one guy who doesn’t need $100,000, so he’s probably just getting his kicks, using the game to exert the power and control he lacks in the study group. The group is suspicious, but tonight, they feast!

    Chevy Chase

    (PS: My deepest apologize to Vicki, whom I’ve been calling Debbie for like, two recaps. Vicki who dances for Twinkies. Blammo. Committed to memory. I won’t forget again.)

    Pierce says he knows where a cache of ammunition is and suggests they find it, end the game and split the prize money seven ways. The group is understandably hesitant, but then Pierce gives one of his convincing “this group is all I have/you guys are really important to me/let me do this for you” speeches and they give in. Me, I’m still suspicious. But I’m even suspicious of my suspicion, because if there’s one thing we know about Community, it’s to always expect the unexpected. (Unlike that last sentence, which was totally trite and predictable. Sorry!!!)

    To the study group!

    Along the way to find ammo, we learn that Troy calls peeing pumping and that Chang has betrayed the evil cheerleader alliance. Sentence? Pretendsies death. But before the cheerleading turned firing squad can pull the trigger, Annie gets her gun and takes them out one by one.

    Chang flees and Annie sets off after him. (I guess she wasn’t saving Chang before so much as inflicting nerdgirl revenge on the Barbie crew.) But then Sawyer flusters her with his handsomeness (he’s really not that handsome, Jeff insists), Abed and Jeff save the day and Sawyer’s off.

    Britaleyloy find the dean holed up in a filing cabinet. “Why does this keep happening?!” he sobs. Poor dean. The other three descend, too, and demand all the leftover ammo. “Ok, Black Rider,” Jeff says. “Now let’s see who’s attractive.” “Dude, you have a problem,” Troy counters. Annie grabs an Uzi and goes to find Pierce. “She’s pretty awesome today,” Abed says. Agreed!


    Back at Ft. Hawthorne, Black Rider has decimated the place, but Vicki still dances. Yes, she dances! Pierce materializes, white flag waving, but it’s no use: Annie’s coming for him, guns blazing, and he runs right into a circle trap of study groupies.

    We’re in familiar territory here: Pierce is jealous of Jeff’s general winning at life and specific winning at paintball last year. But they’re always nice to Pierce, Troy says. Wrong! They so are not! Three days ago Pierce walked in on them playing cards without them (hence all the card-playing flashbacks (that I totally didn’t mention)). They weren’t playing cards, Annie says, they were voting—about Pierce. They were deciding whether to invite him back to the group next year. Lucky for him, it had to be unanimous, and there was one holdout: Jeff.

    We’re all so distracted that we’ve forgotten about Sawyer, whose telltale spurs are clicking down the hall. “It’s Jeff Winger,” our hero says to the echo of spurs. “I know you’ve heard of me by now.” (“No,” Sawyer meanly and terribly mocks him from the shadows.)

    It’s handsome-guy showdown time. Only now Pierce is saving the day with one of his fake heart attacks. (And there it is! Sawyer’s un-type-casty moment! Way to go, James!) Pierce offs Sawyer, grabs a rifle and flees.

    Black Rider calls his employer (the ice cream company, or rather, the shady operation backing the ice cream company) to tell them he’s out. See, he’s not a Greendale student after all (though he does take one course online). He was a plant to win his employer’s money back. (Point?) But this thing is so much bigger than any of them know, he says ominously before departing for a Coldplay concert (see below).

    Chang finally meets his end when he’s taken out by a bunch of storm troopers/creepy ice cream cone mascot minions hiding out in the truck. CICCM mandates that no Greendale student can win the prize money, so she initiates plan B: Operation Total Envy. (Operation Total Ending? I don’t know, something like that.) We won’t know for sure what Operation Total Enemy (?) entails until next week, when part II of the season finale airs. (OMG, what am I going to do when the season’s over? Do you guys mind if I write recaps of my life or something? “Bought a coffee.” “Bailed on what sounded like fun plans to sit home in my comfy chair and watch reruns of shows I’ve already seen.” Sound good? Cool!)

    So what did you guys think? Did paintball hold up? I think it did—it wasn’t the same, but it wasn’t really trying to be. What was the significance of their card suit alter egos? I thought maybe Jeff would be the only red one (to reflect his Pierce vote), but he wasn’t. And what was the episode an homage to? Can some of you movie nerds help a girl out? I thought maybe Tarantino, but I don’t think this show would do that twice. Was it a specific movie or just the genre in general?

    Carla Sosenko

    Carla Sosenko is a writer and editor from Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Self, Jezebel, The Hairpin, The NY International Fringe Festival and some other places. She received her MFA in creative writing from Emerson College, where she majored in choppy sentences. Carla thanks you for reading her words and kindly asks you to read more of them at carlasosenko.com. Follow her @carlasosenko. She thinks you rule.

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