Last night’s Community was some kind of magical oddity. The episode was punctuated with Charlie Kaufman-esque moments of ordinary-life surrealism and kooky flashbacks of the subconscious. For some Community fans (and most likely the majority of television viewers), “Beginner Pottery” may have been too out there. But for me, it was an absolute wonder. I found myself leaning forward, exhilarated by the show’s willingness to indulge in its strange fetishes, which I’ll get to later in this post. But first, hats off to the episode’s writer, Hilary Winston, who also penned Community‘s first slam dunk, “Football, Feminism, and You.” Also, kudos to whomever wrote the epic cinematic score, which managed to simultaneously poke fun at the preposterousness of our gang’s adventures while also supporting the action on screen. When those violin strings kicked in as Jeff tirelessly struggled to perfect the art of pottery (and, in effect, maintain his own concept of self-worth), it became one of those scenes that, against all reason, simply worked.
Now on to the show’s highlights:
1. Right off the bat, Shirley opened with this line: “I had to get up so early for my bus, I caught the tail end of what Cinemax gets up to at night… subscription canceled. I got that channel for Eddie Murphy movies, not stimulation.”
2. Jeff: “This class is like a redhead who drinks Scotch and loves Die Hard. I suggest you all get her number.”
3. The pottery teacher explaining his class’s one “zero-tolerance” rule: “I will tolerate no reenacting, whether it’s ironic or sincere, of the Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore pottery scene in Ghost. Ever since that movie was released in 1990, I have seen every conceivable variation of what I call ‘Ghosting.'”
4. Abed and Jeff staring at Annie as she delicately stroked her, um, penis-shaped “vase.”
5. Jeff’s two internal flashbacks, both featuring a 7-year-old version of himself being given advice by his mother. In the first flashback, Jeff was told that he’s a very special boy. In the second flashback, Jeff’s mother instructed him, “Jeff, you’re a normal person. There’s nothing very special about you at all. You’re going to be great at a few things, but really crappy at many more. And that takes a lot of the pressure off, so you can live a full, happy life. Oh, and sorry it took me so long to tell you that, but it was only in your imagination. My bad.” What an utterly bizarre and refreshing way to depict Jeff’s realization that he can’t be the best at everything in life.
6. Pierce, Shirley, and Troy’s sailing teacher: “Most importantly, you’ve stopped giggling at the word ‘seamen,’ and that’s the mark of a real ‘seaman.'”
7. Shirley: “Reef the mainsail and throw the jib!”
Pierce: “Is that nautical talk or urban speak?”
8. The pottery professor pointed to his anti-Patrick Swayze poster and then added, “I had it made before he died. It’s not in bad taste.”
9. Troy: “Pierce is going to be the only person ever to drown in a parking lot… twice.”
10. And finally, the perfectly designed shot of a student looking out the classroom window and seeing a sailboat slowly cruise by.
PopWatchers, were you on board for this eccentric chapter of Community? And what was the strangest class you took in college? Can anyone top a sailing class in a parking lot?