‘Community’: What are you, a demon? Did Clive Barker write you?

Review: ‘Community’ Season 6 Ep. 4

Jacob Judd, Staff member

“We really need Wi-Fi.”

“Let’s not get carried away; we need oxygen.”

“We have oxygen, we need Wi-Fi!” exclaims Elroy as the cast of lovable misfits bemoan their disconnected campus.

Yes, art imitates life once again as Greendale Community College loses wireless internet barely a week after Diablo Valley College recovered from its own multi-day outage.

The culprit, rather than a construction crew severing a cable, is a bird’s nest built around the router. As the newly appointed “I.T. lady,” Elroy and his faithful Abed discover this complication and debate what must be done to restore the school’s internet.

Elroy the tech engineer believes these birds stand in the way of a human population’s needs, and therefore must be sacrificed. Abed, in a moment of empathy, stands up for the birds and pleads for more time to save the birds.

This debate about the idea of nature standing in the way of man’s progress is a really big idea. It was also my favorite part of the episode. Tragically this plotline gets the least screen time as the A and B plots take precedent.

In the episode’s main narrative, Dean Pelton is front and center once again. Offered a dream job on the school board, the dean is thrilled. The catch: this is an explicitly token appointment. After canceling a pride parade, the school board needs the good P.R. of hiring an “openly gay” member. Even setting aside the dean’s struggle with tokenism, he wrestles with the dishonesty of narrowing his complex sexual identity (“‘Gay’ doesn’t even begin to cover it!” he states) with a specific label.

This storyline had so much potential. Of particular note is a scene where Jeff, the dean and Frankie discuss the dean’s identity and its relevance to his work and public persona. Even in our relatively gay-friendly media, bi, pan, fluid and label-less sexualities are tragically under-represented.

Unfortunately, this well-intentioned political satire is somewhat undercut by the school board members who come off as such broad cartoon characters (even by the standards of this show) that it becomes difficult to take the larger story seriously.

The episode’s final thread follows Annie and Chang as they’re cast in a theatrical adaptation of the original “Karate Kid.” Jason Mantzoukas (“The League”) has a fun turn as the play’s out-of-control director, seeming to channel J.K. Simmons’ Oscar winning role from the recent “Whiplash.”

The jury remains out as to whether the result of a good performance is worth the director’s abusive tactics, making this an interesting counterpoint to “Whiplash’s” certainty on the matter. Annie and Chang make a fun duo. We rarely (if ever) see them paired off and her bubbling optimism matched against his emotional instability make for a fun, if somewhat forgettable B story.

Even with the longer running time, this episode feels cluttered. It would have been better to see one of these plots moved to another episode in the interest of letting the others breathe.