Community’s “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” proves NBC show is back on track

I like it already, folks! Seven is precisely one more than the number of parallel story lines we explored in Community’s last time-bending ace—and exactly the number of people in the group. (Those numbers would be the same if Jeff weren’t such a lazy git determined not to go down and get the pizza. No matter.) The title alone means we’re in high-concept territory, and I am ready to get my motherfucking meta on. To the recap!

We start where all good Community starts, in the study lounge. Britta’s organized a Halloween pre-party party replete with Lucky Charms, Froot Loops and a few sad taco shells. Sooo…she’s clearly up to something. (PS: The extra-manscaped eyebrows were a nice touch on Jeff’s Fast & Furious getup, makeup team! Those were extra-manscaped, right?)

Britta wants a word: Turns out that when all those *allegedly* penis-shaped Scantrons came back last week, the test results pointed to one member of the study group being deeply disturbed. (The dean is back in drag! Yay!) Is there a psychopath among them, or has Britta Britta-ed the test results? (Eh. Viewers old enough to remember Friends know that “pulling a Monica” meant screwing up long before Britta was old enough to…well…do any of the idiotically lovable things Britta does. No points for originality there, Community.)

Troy’s eager to get to the dance, where there’s free taco meat from the army (FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER AND DEFINITELY NOT THE SAME TACO MEAT THAT WAS AT LAST YEAR’S PARTY THAT NOBODY REMEMBERS). But first, some scary stories!

Up first in Britta’s 5 and Dime-Store Psychology…Store…of Horror? (What? I don’t know.) Our resident Practitioner of the Mental Arts: Britta and Jeff are going at it in a car, ‘80s-horror-film-style, when news breaks that there’s a guy with a hook thing where a hand should be. Hook-thing-hand gets Jeff. He’s a goner. Reactions?

Abed’s not impressed. He can do better: Abed and Britta are a couple (eek) sequestered in a log cabin. Abed’s commitment to realism means the only deaths on the horizon are the group’s, due to boredom. So it’s down to Annie, who opts to scare the bejeezus out of everyone with a Victorian horror story. In this quaint yarn, the damsel (Annie) is saved from distress by the gallant yet vampiric hottie (Jeff), who feeds on a tainted bitch dog (did I get that right?/Britta, obvs) instead of sullying his perfect new lady friend with his bloodlust. Annie teaches him to read, and it’s all Wuthering Heights up in here, only he can’t resist her milky neck forever. But oh, turns out she’s a werewolf…yadda, yadda, yadda… and scene. Actually, Annie’s story was pretty gross. Damn girl, why you gotta make her floss with his tendons? (Easy money’s on Annie as head psychopath, but…too obvious.)

What I’m going to say now may seem like a) a copout and b) reminiscent of what I said about the parallel-time travel episode. And look, it’s not because I’ve had a couple of beers and have to be up in five hours to catch a flight. I really, really want to spend time with you guys, but hear me out: This is one you have to see. I know! I said the same thing last time! But it’s true. Isn’t this just a parallel-timeline story reboot? Which is fine! But to describe it won’t do it justice. It’s worth saying this one isn’t as terrific, but it’s pretty good. It’s still got that Community stamp of smarts.

The subtle ways each scene reminded us whose imagination we were in (Britta’s dippy newscaster, Abed’s overuse of exposition, Pierce’s notion that black people in horror films are Coolio) were spot-on. The tributes to different horror genres (Abed and Troy fused together at the torso is as close to seeing Human Centipede as I ever want to get), also brillz. My personal favorite? Shirley’s. Hers was legit the scariest one around, and not just because of Pilates, the demon who eats your genitals.

So hear the stories the way they’re meant to be heard: from the study group. Only six out of seven of them are straight-up insane, and that’s only if you believe some penis-shaped Scantrons—WHICH I DO.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

Bonus! Check out this behind-scenes-video of the making of the Halloween episode:

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 Follow her @carlasosenko. She thinks you rule.

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