'Community' Season 3, Episode 16 Recap - 'Virtual Systems Analysis'
I was just saying last week that this season seems to alternate the calm, character-driven episodes with the epic, story-driven episodes. This one is one of the latter, favoring a pretty neat gimmick to get us inside the mind of Abed and advance his relationship with Annie and to the rest of the world.
Now that Annie knows about Troy and Britta's mutual crush, she decides to set them up on a lunch date. However, that leaves Abed alone with his Dreamatorium, so Annie offers to look after him while Troy is literally out to lunch. The problem is that Annie isn't so good at Imagineering, so Abed gets impatient quickly.
So, Annie messes with the Dreamatorium's "engine," changing things so that Abed has to think about others and use empathy. This just about breaks him, and we're taken down a delightfully meta and very trippy rabbit hole that has Abed impersonating everyone in the group to avoid being himself.
That involved Abed becoming Jeff to show Annie that she may have set Britta and Troy up to get Britta out of the way (a bit of a "Grey's Anatomy" spoof/homage helps out there), becoming Troy and Britta and making out awkwardly, and even becoming Annie so that Annie can have a conversation with herself.
Pretty soon Annie starts getting the hang of the Dreamatorium and becomes Abed, which creates a serious system error. That's when we get to the root of the problem: Abed has insecurities, just like the rest of the group. He worries that they won't be able to deal with him anymore after a point, and worries that he'll never find anyone who will. But Annie reassures him that that makes him just like the rest of them, so he's not as isolated as he thinks.
The really nice touch in all this are the effects, and the way that characters will briefly adopt the voice of either Abed or Annie as they are moving to imitate them. The sound blend is especially nice. And a great performance from Joel McHale, who manages to do Jeff as played by Abed very well.
It's a strange episode to say the least, and one that would be completely inaccessible to someone who had never seen the show before. But that's nothing new, and it is otherwise a great episode for fans, full of striking character moments and delicious little meta bits.
Notes & Quotes:
- "Kevin, please come over for gay sex."
- "I think I went too far with this one." In fact, Pelton's whole journey this episode was fantastic. Jim Rash has been on fire the past couple of weeks.
- I totally want to see Troy and Abed play dinosaurs versus riverboat gamblers.
- Abed's kissing simulation
- "I use Hitler comparisons to win arguments on the Internet at the drop of a hat!"
- "Meta meta."
- "I almost sat on my balls."
- The jazz song "Daybreak" comes in a third time!