The Greendale Seven are expelled from community college. May God have mercy on their souls.
Licensed psychologists will tell you that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Based on last night’s Community, Britta Perry, the
licensed unlicensed psychologist psych-student who specializes in grief-counseling grief-causing, thinks that these are the five stages: denial, role-playing, puppies-on-fire masochism, riot-worthy rage, and expulsion.
“Course Listing Unavailable” began with the reading of Star-Burns’ will. Actually, he read it to us himself via a grainy, self-produced video. The fact that we were watching it meant either that he was showing it to us or that he’s dead. Sadly, it was the latter. Star-Burns’ one-armed lawyer dropped it off at Casa Trobed because, in addition to leaving herpes to his ex-wife Magda, he was bequeathing a collection of general purpose video footage, of himself running in place or air-kissing an imaginary woman, to Abed to edit together into a tribute of his life. Oh, and also Line of the Night #7: “As for my collection of Styx albums, I leave them to no one, because that’s who appreciated Styx as much as me.”
Death is hard to deal with, we all know, and Star-Burns’ passing particularly affected Troy. At least he could comfort himself with the knowledge that he’s in a better place now…Troy’s own Blu-Ray shelf where Star-Burns’ urn made the perfect objet. Line of the Night #6, Courtesy of Abed Nadir: “The small one’s his lizard.” That’s right, never forget, gang, that when Star-Burns’ mobile meth lab exploded, two lives were lost: the dealer himself and his pet lizard.
The study group was understandably depressed. Something really serious had happened, and Annie suggested that they had to face it head-on. “Is it always about the Holocaust with you people?” Pierce asked. Jeff took a more pragmatic view, saying that they should honor Star-Burns by talking about him in death as much as they did when he was alive. Death is a reality that we all have to face. It’s a natural part of life. After all, by the time he finished that sentence—or I finish typing this sentence—100 people will have died in China. I gotta admit I’m so completely on Community’s wavelength at this point that even before Troy said Line of the Night #5 I thought, “WHY did you stop talking?”
Of course, Britta was there to offer her (lack of) grief-counseling skills. She stuck on two felt star-shaped sideburns, and the doctor—not even close—was in. Line of the Night #4, Courtesy of Jeff Winger to Britta: “You seemed smarter than me when I met you.” Well, at least this way Britta could act as a conduit for Star-Burns’ ghost so they could tell him what he meant to them. Of course, they really just wanted to ask the big questions: “What’s heaven like?” “Glittery.” “Have you seen Tim Russert?” Line of the Night #3, Courtesy of Shirley. My God, how amazing was that? Seriously, Tim Russert was awesome. A fine journalist and a charismatic guy. But the way his untimely death in 2008 was turned into a deranged media circus was simply astonishing—definitely not the way to deal with grief, least of all for his family. Though obviously Shirley would disagree.
NEXT: The Dean delivers tragic news to the study group, and it’s not about Star-Burns. Garrett proves he is very much not saved.
Rejoice, EW.com commenter chewbaccasmom! As you said last night during our Community live chat, “I have found my sanitizing, stapling song at last.” Yeah I gotta say, the next time I use Purell I’m going to find it pretty difficult not to sing “Come on, I’m Dean, and my hands are so clean at this moment!” Has Dean Pelton officially become Pee-Wee Herman? Well, into this joyous scene walked Chang, hungrier for power than ever now that he was a fanatically loyal cadre of black-shirted prepubescents to do his bidding: The Changlorious Basterds. He wanted the Dean to sign a crayon-written order authorizing him to institute martial law, the suspension of habeas corpus, involuntary cavity searches, and, worst of all, the banning of soft serve. Liquids of more than three ounces, be gone!
Back in the study room, Britta was leading the feel-bad therapy session of the year, making everyone imagine puppies catching on fire. I have to say the sound of Troy’s cry brings me incomparable joy, and I say that in the least sadistic way possible. His sob here evoked sweet memories of that other Britta-inflicted psychic pain from “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking,” when Troy shouted, “Stop saying I’m different!”
And then, of course, the Dean stopped by to make a bad situation even worse. Dressed like a can-can dancer straight out of the Moulin Rouge, he announced that Prof. Kane had resigned in the wake of Star-Burns’ death (remember, his meth lab had been created using bio lab beakers that Kane obviously hadn’t secured), they were all getting incompletes for the course, and now they had to retake it over the summer. Let that sink in.
Next we knew it, the study group, seething with unspeakable rage, convened for Star-Burns’ wake in the cafetorium. Garrett began by singing a glass-shatteringly high-pitched rendition of “Ave Maria.” I believe it was Gounod’s version. Also, what’s higher than falsetto? Castrato? Because I think Garrett found it. And to think we thought he’d been saved….
NEXT: Jeff incites the Greendale student body to riot against this “Fallujah of higher learning.”
Jeff took the mic to say that he’d reached acceptance over Star-Burns’ death, prompting a “Whoo! Closure!” from Britta. It wasn’t that kind of acceptance, though. He praised Star-Burns as a hero for doing the one thing none of them had even dared to attempt: leave this Fallujah of higher learning…or die trying. Annie was then called to the podium to add a little sugar to that spice and pay tribute to this fallen “Greendale human being.” Instead, she went on her own fiery rant. I mean, if she thought that getting a C on her yam project was tantamount to getting pregnant at a bus station, to what could getting an “Incomplete” for the course be comparable? Line of the Night #2: “We’re not even the best community college in our community. Let that sink in!” If you ask me, that’s way harsh. We all know Greendale has the most advanced typing course in the southeastern Greendale area.
At least Shirley could bring some of her soulful Christianity to bear at the wake, right? She looked on the bright side of Star-Burns’ checkered life, praising his drug-dealing as indicative of an entrepreneurial spirit. The same kind of entrepreneurial spirit Greendale crushed when they turned down her proposal for a sandwich shop in favor of Subway! As much as the Dean wanted, there was no way of keeping this wake light. And he had a full riot on his hands once Pierce shouted, “Let’s burn it to the ground!” Vicki shouted “Helter Skelter!” and trashcans were tossed, cafetorium tables were overturned, and Subway was thoroughly raided. Needless to say, this would not have been the time to order my trademark Italian BMT on Italian Herbs & Cheese with only oil and vinegar. Eat fresh! It was then that the Dean finally signed Chang’s proposal, and the Basterds came storming in with their Kevlar and pepper-spray. It’s so peppery, indeed, Garrett.
The riot was bad. But Chang’s response to the riot was even worse. The Dean prepared to tell him that he was fired. However, Chang had foreseen this day, so he shot Pelton with one of his brother-in-law’s tranquilizer darts and replaced him with the Moby impersonator from the Doppel Gäng. Phase One was complete.
Phase Two was set to begin when the Greendale Seven, as the study group was now called in the wake of their riot-incitement, convened before the Board of Directors to await their fate. Jeff argued passionately that the riot was exacerbated by Chang’s response, but just then the General himself showed up to plead his own case. And by “plead his case” I mean he brought fruit baskets to placate the Board, because, like Michael Scott, Chang knows that fruit baskets solve everything. Line of the Night #1: “I never forget a face or a favorite cookie.” The Greendale Seven were expelled, and the Board went off to lunch at the Rusty Bucket. Hopefully the manager there likes Die Hard.
NEXT: Life After Expulsion, Or Is This Really the Darkest Timeline After All?
The study group was dejected. “I was going to be the first in my family to graduate from community college,” Troy said. “Everybody else graduated from real college. Now they’re really going to give me a hard time.” They all convened back at Casa Trobed for some pizza, just like they did months ago when they pondered the multiple timelines they could follow depending on how they dealt with the delivery man in “Remedial Chaos Theory.” In an ingenious episode throw-back, Abed now concluded that this may have been the darkest timeline after all. But, come on, Britta doesn’t have a blue streak in her hair; Pierce isn’t dead; Jeff hasn’t lost an arm; and they haven’t felt the terror of the Norwegian Troll. Actually, since they were all still together, this was the ideal timeline. And Britta, per Troy, wasn’t the worst. She was the best.
Unless…we’re thinking about this all the wrong way. We’ve assumed that all of these timelines are discrete. But what if they can overlap? What if the barriers between these different quantum realities are breaking down. Think about it…a one-armed lawyer dropped off that videotape of Star-Burns for Troy. Could it have been Jeff Winger from a different timeline, but in disguise? I mean, Jeff is also a lawyer. And he lost an arm in that “darkest timeline.” Which also means that, in another timeline, Star-Burns is still alive! We’re into full-blown Fringe territory here, my friends.
As the episode closed, the expelled enjoyed watching Abed’s tribute video to Star-Burns, or Alex as he preferred to be known. It was the best that a student filmmaker working on FinalCut Pro could muster, with the top-hatted one himself surfing, rocking, making out with a sex doll, and finally flying off into the sunset via jetpack.
What did you think of “Course Listing Unavailable” and more importantly what are your favorite memories of Star-Burns? His top hat? His failed Greendale presidential bid? The fact that, as HanleyUS noted, he once called Annie “Hannah”? His drug dealing? The lizard? And did Star-Burns’ tribute to Styx top South Park‘s? Could anything?