Community recap: 'Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps'
We interrupt your death metal to bring you this heavy recap. The good news is, if you’re reading this, you’re the coolest people in the world. The bad news is that after reading this you’ll have to wait a whole week for a new episode of Community. But I don’t care. I live in New York.
It was Halloween night and Greendale’s infamously remedial study group congregated to celebrate all things spooky and ooky at Dean Pelton’s Halloween Scaretacular dance. The lights were rigged to flicker (and set to do so throughout All Saints Month), party favors of taco shells and Trix were ready for the eating, the rubber spiders were all in place, and a playlist of Spooky Party, the Beetlejuice soundtrack, and a killer NPR interview of Errol Morris by Michele Norris was playing on a loop. Troy and Abed were in their totally non-Halloween-related Inspector Spacetime finery, while Jeff was dressed as some random dude from the Fast and the Furious franchise, even though he doesn’t watch that “shallow crap.” This year there was no chance of a zombie outbreak, even if the Dean was again serving taco meat from the Army. No invasion from City College’s stormtroopers. No fracture in the space-time continuum. All was well. Right?
Wrong! Overzealous psych major Britta discovered while processing the results of the anonymous mental-health tests she’d administered to the group that someone among them is borderline psychotic. Check that. Has major homicidal tendencies! Who could it be? We already know Abed has some undiagnosable personality disorder. Annie’s pill-popping history suggests murky crevices in her otherwise sunshine-and-lollipops soul. Pierce may literally have skeletons buried, for all we know. Shirley’s proclivity for demon rum isn’t a good sign. Troy’s obsession with Kickpuncher and not-a-boy-not-yet-a-man insecurity issues are surely a recipe for latent mania. And Jeff’s shameless hipsterism has “sociopath” written all over it. He was also the one to first suggest that Britta had “Britta-ed” the test results. Suspicious! Yes, Webster’s, take note. To Britta now means “to make a small mistake.”
To further test her friends’ mental health, Britta suggested that they tell each other scary stories at their pre-party. She started.
Story 1: “Once upon a time there was a couple in a car in the woods making out or something.”
So began Britta’s tale. Yes, she imagined herself and Jeff as the couple making out in the woods. Britta’s spooky-story avatar heard something go bump in the woods. “It’s just the sound of my heart, baby,” Jeff said. Then the radio blasted, “An escaped convict from the asylum has escaped, and he’s mental, and he’s on the loose and stuff.” Remember, Britta’s telling this story. “He was last seen in the woods and has a thingy for a hand, a hook-thing where his hand should be, you know what I mean.” So Jeff exited the car to investigate and was immediately stabbed in the chest by the hook of the aforementioned escaped convict. Everybody could see what was going to happen except for Jeff. It’s like Don’t Look Now but without a dwarf.
Key Line: “I’m sure it’s no biggie, but I am a horny man, so I’m only half present.” –Jeff, as imagined by Britta
NEXT: Abed enjoys Muzak and the subtle moistness of Britta’s lips. Also, vampirism is revealed once and for all to be nothing more than a metaphor for sex.
Story 2: Abed’s Highly-Logical Horror
Abed wasn’t buying Britta’s story. In fact, he said he was “embarrassed” for her irrational characters. “Do you believe because they were stupid, they deserved to die?” Britta fired back, hoping that Abed wouldn’t notice what a loaded question that was. Abed responded with his own tale. He and Britta (interesting…this definitely means he finds her a more likely/more enticing sexual partner than Annie, right?) take up residence in a cabin in the woods, sharing passionless directives like Abed’s “I’m comforted by your shiny hair and facial symmetry. I just brushed my teeth so this would be the optimal time to kiss.”
He brought a portable radio with him so he could be alerted for any news about the local insane asylum and any possible escapees. Of course, this being Abed, he noted that they wouldn’t tune in to the emergency broadcast right away and would instead be treated to the soothing lull of jazzy Muzak. (Could that close-up of Abed humming that banal Weather Channel music have been more perfect? Oh, wait, yes! When we got that reaction shot of Troy bopping along to it.) Once they received the radio warning, he would call for help on his fully-charged cell-phone, then stand back-to-back with Britta in the middle of the room while they held knives. They would only die…once it had been earrrrrned!
Key Line: “I’m turned on by how logical you are.” —Britta
Story 3: I am a monster. And I must feed.
Okay, it’s probably not much of a stretch to recognize that Annie’s a likely Twihard. So she dove deep into the sexy vampire well for her scary story. Vampire Jeff rescued Damsel-in-Distress Annie in the woods and brought her back to his cabin. When she wasn’t noticing, he extended his fangs and got ready to sink them into her porcelain neck before turning away with a shout of “Be gone, innocent one!” He then pulled out a visibly chewed Britta, his “drained and tainted bitch-dog,” for a quick snack, clearly showing none of the concern for her virtue he holds for Annie. (This is what’s so brilliant about “Remedial Chaos Theory” and now “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps”: these episodes seem like a random collection of sketches, but actually reveal deep truths about the characters and their relationships. Is this not how Jeff actually does regard Annie and Britta?) Annie ran out in horror, but Jeff cried, “Wait…teach me to read.”
Annie must also be a big fan of Beauty and the Beast (and who isn’t?), because I half expected her to start singing “Something There” during her montage of literacy tutoring. But reader though he had become, Jeff’s vampire had not changed and still craved the warm, tasty nectar that is her blood. Little did he know that she’s a werewolf! And not just a werewolf, but a werewolf “who feeds on selfish vampires.” She changed in the light of the full moon into a veritable hellbeast, and “she ripped into his torso like a gerbil shredding a Quaker Oats box, sending chunks of viscera and an aerosol mist of blood all over the skanky concubine.”
Key Line: “You should be so proud of how much I’ve changed you.” –Damsel in Distress Annie to Vampire Jeff
NEXT: Troy and Abed are finally joined at the hip, Pierce imagines himself a white, elderly Shaft, and Shirley imagines the End of Days
Story 4: You tried to destroy Troy and Abed. But you only made them…more awesome!”
Troy objected to Britta’s “praise” of Annie’s story as “discompassionately macabre, as if without the slightest regard for human life.” His tale would be like The Human Centipede by way of Stuck on You. He and Abed were top gun fighter pilots, the best of the best. Their F-15 just went down in the woods, and they came across a cabin occupied by a mad scientist: Pierce. Instead of offering help, the scientist (we did mention he’s mad) drugged them and…sewed them together. Oh, the horror? Oh, the opportunity! Trobed found out that being sewn together gave them psychic powers. They telekinetically neutralized Pierce with a flying skillet. Then they sewed Pierce’s butt to his chest.
Key line: “You fools! With my butt sewed to my chest, you’ve given me boobs I can touch all day!” —Mad scientist Pierce to Trobed.
Story 5: Pierce-sploitation
Pierce objected to being cast as a racist old scientist and threatened that he’d no longer be Troy’s racist old friend. The previous stories may have shown other characters’ current sexual proclivities, but Pierce’s shows his sublimated lust for ALL the study group gals. Annie, Shirley, and Britta became his virtual harem in a decadent ‘70s-tinged fantasy. Magnum — that’s Fantasy Pierce’s name — didn’t just face three disappointed women when he spurned their horniness in order to swirl his expensive post-coital brandy. That jive mother faced a home invasion from none other than a dread-froed Troy and alarm-clock bling-wearing Abed. Needless to say, Magnum — and his magnum — made quick work of the invaders, who surely will think twice before trying to steal anyone’s brandy and hubcaps again.
Key Line: “You. Are. Still. Relevant!” Dread-fro Troy to Magnum.
Story 6: In case of Rapture…
Pierce’s story left the group appalled. “It’s like an episode of a show we’re all too young to have heard of,” Troy said. Shirley objected most to the violence, and she offered a counter-narrative that would be a battle of good versus evil: The study group was having a drug-fueled raver. Britta poured a canister of weed over her body before she even had a chance to use her marijuana lighter. Suddenly, something happened. “Yo, Jango, check it out!” raver-Annie said. “Swarms of locusts, tornados, and frogs!” Britta wasn’t deterred from stepping outside because she’d lived in New York. Of course, when she returned she looked like Carrie at the prom. Then the Devil, in the guise of the Dean, showed up, promising an eternity of being buried in scorpions and enduring lava enemas, followed by Pilates. And no, not that Pilates.
NEXT: The study group finds themselves among the Left Behind, and without Kirk Cameron.
Shirley the Christian friend they used to make fun of returned as an angel, and blew Satan away! Yay! She was, after all, one of the good Christians who’d been raptured away. But she couldn’t stay. After telling everyone, “I forgive you,” she floated off, leaving them to the Dean and his insatiable chainsaw.
Key Line: “I just came to say goodbye on my way to Abraham’s bosom.”–Angel Shirley
Story 7: I Need a Hug
After Shirley’s and Pierce’s stories revealed that this exercise had devolved into a grudge-holding contest, Britta leveled with everyone. As a practitioner of the mental arts, she couldn’t let them leave, because a psychopath was in their midst. Everyone quickly devolved into animalistic versions of themselves—Shirley brandishing a smashed bottle, Annie a switchblade, Troy sharpened #2 pencils.
Only one man could stop this. And that man was Jeff. He imagined a story where the study group was gathered in a kitchen drinking hot cider, while wearing snuggly holiday sweaters, then redeemed the hook murderer (Chang) through the rehabilitative power of hugs. Awww.
Key Line: “Fear. I kill because I’m afraid.” —Chang
Well, no one bought it. And tempers were almost set to runneth over even further when it was discovered that Britta had indeed Britta-ed the test results…by running them through the machine backwards. A quick re-run through the ScanTron and it turns out everyone, except for one strong-minded soul, is insane! At Shirley’s suggestion, though, they decided not to find out who the one sane person among them is, so that any one of them can cling to hope that he or she might be the one.
All of that was great. But it couldn’t compare to that fantastically demented ending, with Trobed still sewn together and telepathically contemplating their new, even more co-dependent existence, as Abed scratched Troy’s chin. They’d used their psychic powers to repair their F-15 and planned to leave Mad Scientist Pierce behind, his feet and hands still swapped. But not before one last, in-unison recitation of their new theme song: “Troy and Abed sewn together!”
Genius. I thought after “Remedial Chaos Theory” that Community had set the bar so high for character-driven comedy that it would be tough for them to meet that level again anytime soon. Boy, was I wrong. “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” was every bit as funny, while still revealing ever so much about the desires and hang-ups of each member of the gang.
What did you guys think? Was it a winner for you too? And can we please have a new version of the “Troy and Abed’s new apartment/Troy and Abed sewn together” theme song every week?
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