I’ll try my best not to fat dog this.
One of the more watchable episodes (if not the ONLY watchable episode) from the Dan Harmon-less season 4 was “Herstory of Dance.” That episode introduced the coat check girl, played by Brie Larson, that Abed meets, and it’s nice that Harmon liked the character enough to bring her back. I worried what Troy leaving would mean for Abed, since each’s existence was so reliant on the other, and I still do. I doubt a rising movie actress like Larson will be available for too long for the show, but that could be moot if Community even stays on the air for much longer. I just made myself sad.
Britta wanting to spoil a Game of Thrones-esque TV show for Abed was kind of sitcom-y and silly, but relatable for those who watch the show but don’t read the books. I liked the mention Britta makes earlier in regard to the cute blind girl as another girl Abed falls for and totally forgets (in reference to the coat check girl). Nice dig at season 4, a.k.a the gas leak year, but at least Larson surprisingly showed up anyway. She wasn’t totally forgotten, even if she had just made up her coat check position.
We get a little more backstory about former cop Professor Hickey as he and Annie set out to get a bulletin board from the school. I remember the Pierce/Annie pairing as being more grandpa/daughter, with Annie as the more mature one of the two. Hickey is a more no-nonsense, hardened character, and his funny grit against Annie’s “win at any cost” spunk was more interesting. Her need to get the bulletin board at all costs (which included convincing an IT head played by Paget Brewster to stop blocking porn on the school’s computers so guest stars and custodians Kumail Nanjiani and Nathan Fillion could enjoy them, and also dealing with Robert Patrick) was just as comically intense as Hickey’s world-weary attitude toward playing ball with Greendale politics. The camaraderie Annie and Hickey have after he brings his bulletin board from home made him more than just a grisly old dude. Especially since it was the one he used to hold rejection letters from attempts to get detective work. All the broken souls end up at Greendale. Hickey > Pierce.
Chang is a character that has been all over the place since the very start of the show. Originally the Spanish teacher in season one, he then became: unemployed, briefly lived with Jeff, lived in the school, was head of security, plotted to take over the school, experienced “Chang-nesia,” and now he’s a pseudo-member of the group who wants to help but screws up a lot. I’ve been on and off with how funny the character is. I like him best when he’s a foe, but that avenue’s been overdone. Here he screws up the banner he, Jeff, Shirley, and Duncan have to prepare for a school dance by having it slightly reference a bear mauling that took place at a birthday party. I liked the clever commentary on the “too soon” dilemma we face after the too-frequent occurrences of school/mall/anywhere shootings. Plus, “fat dog” might be the new “streets ahead.” Or not.