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'Community' recap: Dancing the night away

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Last night’s Community episode, titled “Interpretive Dance,” was one of the show’s strongest, and ironically, it wasn’t stuffed with laughs. From the opening shot, in which the camera spun in circles while descending upon the study group’s table, you could tell this episode was, well, a bit different. One explanation is that Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, Fast & Furious) was in the director’s chair this week (Lin also directed the superb Halloween episode), and while last night’s show didn’t feel as if it were directed by a Hollywood filmmaker, it definitely had its own distinct pacing. We were provided with a number of scenes devoted to characters analyzing themselves as they struggled with identifiable dilemmas: Jeff’s trepidation about the consequences of entering a serious relationship, Troy’s crisis of masculinity when dealing with his passion for dancing, and Britta’s internal confusion regarding her feelings for Jeff. And while Community‘s writers still felt the need to insert one too many cultural references into those scenes, Lin’s direction let them play out with a measure of patience.

For me, the scene that sealed my opinion of this episode was when, during the dance recital, Britta saw Jeff holding hands with Professor Slater (a spunky Lauren Stamile). Britta froze, her face morphing into a state of romantic panic, and Lin let the moment last much longer than it would in real life. But during those extra uncomfortable seconds, my heart genuinely broke for Britta. True, that’s a testament to the fact that the more we’ve gotten to know Gillian Jacobs’ Britta, the more engaging she’s become. But it’s also testament to the show’s growing emotional concern for its characters. That’s what Community is going to need to survive its first season, and “Interpretive Dance” was a skip in the right direction.

Top five moments after the jump:

1. Annie: “I’d like to have a preliminary pow-wow, or prelimawow, about what I’m calling our library’s back-door conumdrum.”

Abed: “Sounds like a porno with Kate Winslet.”

2. After Dean Pelton revealed to Jeff and Professor Slater that the school has a “watch list” for the physically attractive students and teachers who may get involved in a student-teacher relationship, he offered this warning: “Two people of your rankings in this small room, with this type of lighting, and his upper body, and what her heels and hemlines are doing to enhance what were already quite a few favors from God — It’s all the more important to keep it tasteful.”

3. Troy: “I am spending a lot of money on breakaway clothing.”

4. Troy again: “Girls are supposed to dance. That’s why God gave them parts that jiggle.”

5. The marvelous scene between Jeff and Slater about the nature of “truth.” Jeff started off with this point-of-view: “The biggest truths aren’t original. Truth is ketchup. It’s Jim Belushi. Its job isn’t to blow our minds, it’s to be within reach.” Slater retorted that being in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship is “the Jim Belushi of sexual commitments. It barely means anything, and it grows on what’s there over time.” Whoever decided to work Mr. Belushi into this philosophical argument deserves a pat on the back.

PopWatchers, let’s hear it. It may have taken awhile, but has Britta won you over by now? And who’s the better dancer: Troy or Abed?

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