‘Community’ recap: Episode 3, ‘Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps’

This is not gratuitous at all.

It’s Halloween again at Greendale Community College and rather than focusing on another ill-fated campus-wide party like last year (tainted taco meat from the Army, anyone?), the group is having a pre-party, hosted by a more-on-edge-than-usual Britta. She quickly confides in Jeff that the anonymous psych test she gave to the group earlier has revealed that one member of the group is a psychopath.

In the spirit of the season—and to make the potential psycho out themselves—Britta sits the gang down and tells them her take on the urban legend of the escaped mental patient with a hook for a hand. As how this is “Community,” simple story-telling won’t do and Britta’s story is enacted the way she is telling it – poorly. The killer has a “hook hand thingy” per the announcer on the radio, and the couple at the center of the story (Jeff and Britta) could not seem to care less that they are probably going to die at the hand – err, hook – of the psycho outside of the car.

Britta’s story doesn’t get the quick and easy outing of the psycho that she was hoping for, but instead launches the group into a round of competitive story-telling.  Abed’s is hyper-logical (the couple at the center of his story–himself and Britta—hear about a killer on the radio after listening to a full song and then stand back-to-back holding knives after calling 911) and Annie’s is the most gruesome (she competes with “skanky concubine” Britta for the affection of vampire-Jeff, winning him over by teaching him to read, but as vamp Jeff prepares to bite her, Annie turns into a werewolf and eats him, describing it all in graphic detail.)

Troy, annoyed with Annie’s constant besting of everyone, comes up with his own tale: He and Abed are “Top Gun”-style pilots who get captured and sewn together by mad doctor Pierce. The surgery  gives Aboy (Trabed?) telepathic powers that they use to hit Pierce in the head with a pan repeatedly, and then conduct a little surgery of their own. Pierces’s butt is sewn to his chest, and his hands are switched with his feet (so he can’t play with his new near-boobs.) This leads to Pierce’s story, centered more on his self-perceived studliness than any sort of horror trope: Britta, Annie, and Shirley are in lingerie trying to lure Pierce to bed, but after he brushes them off, Troy and Abed bust in to rob him. He beats them up (knocking out would-be-thief Troy with his penis) and then goes to get a birthday spanking from the girls.

Shirley’s tale also offers a decidedly non-horror movie (and totally Shirley) take on scary stories: Jeff, Annie, Tory, Abed, and Britta are having a weed-fueled party when they hear on NPR that the Rapture has occurred. The Devil (Dean Pelton) shows up and is scared off for a minute by an Angel Shirley. But Angel Shirley says she can’t save the group, and she leaves as the Devil Dean leaps back in wielding a chainsaw and screaming “Gay marriage!”

At this point, Britta spills that one of them has the potential to be a psychopath and as the group starts giving each other the side-eye, the lights go out for a second. When they come back on, everyone’s in attack mode and has ashioned weapons out of nearby supplies (Troy is brandishing knuckles full of sharpened pencils). To restore order to the group, Jeff tells a brief story where the gang is attacked and the would-be killer is none other than Chang, who is motivated by the fear of being unloved and is stopped from his spree by a group hug.

As the accusations fly, Jeff admits he put in random results for the test, but says he knows he’s not the sociopath because he knows what he did was wrong. Annie then points out that Britta totally “Britta-ed” the tests by running them through the reader upside-down. When Britta reruns them the results come up that they’re all crazy, except for one person (it’s later shown to the viewer the Abed is the lone sane person). Calmed in their own weird way, that knowledge, the group leaves the study room and the episode ends.

Much like the various timelines in the episode “Remedial Chaos Theory”, the story-telling in “Horror Fiction” functions as a character study – but instead of illuminating how each member’s absence impacts the group, the stories showcase each member of the groups‘ role within it/ Britta is always trying to help, Abed is always logical, Annie always has to be the best, Troy’s strength is his innate awesomeness, Pierce is always trying to prove his alpha maleness, Shirley’s got a holier-than-thou thing going on, and Jeff’s the peacekeeper. And although digging into the layers of these characters is always fun, we ave to say that a couple more actual Halloween costumes wouldn’t have hurt (although the thought of Abed and Troy just hanging out dressed as Inspector Spacetime and the Constable, and not considering those costumes, is nearly enough).

What did you think?



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