In Slate’s Community TV Club, Aisha Harris will IM about each post-Dan Harmon episode with another Community fan. This week, she discusses “Advanced Documentary Filmmaking” with Anna Husted, digital-content coordinator intern at Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Anna Husted: I want to have a Mimosa with Dean Pelton. I'm just putting that out there now.
Aisha Harris: Oh, yes. And his Dalmatians. So Chang—er, Kevin—returned tonight, and the study group was attempting to put together a documentary to get funding for a cure for "Changnesia." First of all, did you see that fake-out coming all along, or was it just me?
Anna: I did have my doubts after Jeff was convinced.
Aisha: I was hoping that perhaps I was wrong—maybe Community was going to go double on our character evolution and have Chang grow as a human being, just as Jeff did last week.
Anna: I basically thought the same thing. I'm also fairly gullible—I wanted to believe that Chang was getting a do-over. Then he could become a nicer version of Season 1 Chang. After all, that’s a theme that runs through a lot of Community: A person is more than his worst decision. Even if that decision is attempting to kill the study group and keep Dean Pelton as a hostage and take over Greendale.
Aisha: The thing is, I just really wish it weren't so obvious that Chang didn't change. I mean, the “MacGuffin Neurological Institute” was a bit on the nose.
Anna: Haha. I agree, but we also know a lot about film. But then so do most of Community’s fans.
Aisha: Did you catch Abed's moment at the end—the clear homage to Werner Herzog and Grizzly Man? When he says he can't show us the footage of Jeff being pried away from Kevin/Chang's wife, but will let us watch his reactions to him watching the video?
Anna: Haha, yes. Herzog is the worst!
Aisha: That was one of the few moments that really worked for me. I kind of felt like this episode was all over the place. I didn't fully understand what was going on between Shirley and Britta especially.
Anna: That storyline was unproductive. Except to emphasize that Britta is a horrible photographer. But maybe their only purpose was to set that camera up in Shirley's Sandwiches, which furthered the plot of Chang.
Aisha: If so, that was a pretty clumsy way to do it. I had no idea why Britta wanted to be behind the camera so badly, and only pretend to shoot footage of Shirley telling her emotional story.
Anna: I guess because she's always been a "photographer." She took those photos from the Civil War documentary episode that were horrible and black and white. Britta has been less Britta to me this season.
Aisha: Yes. She's become less the valiant, yet clueless, protester of everyone and everything, and is now the attempted savior of everyone and everything.
Anna: Maybe they are maturing her so she has moved on from her crazy protests and is now trying to be helpful to those closest to her. And in general she's still one of the best female characters ever written for TV, in my opinion. That said, she still feels off.
Aisha: As far as the MacGuffin goes, I can't help but wonder what's next. Are we going to be forced to deal with another multiepisode Chang storyline in which he (again) tries to kill everyone at Greendale? Because if so, I really don't want to be a part of it.
Anna: I was basically going to ask you the same thing: How long does Changnesia last? And who's on the other end of that phone call? Probably the City College Dean. So hopefully the Changnesia won't last too much longer and the real villain will surface.
Aisha: Did Chang ever actually have Changnesia? Or was this all one extremely convoluted scheme?
Anna: I'm sure it's a scheme.
Aisha: Maybe this is all leading to another paintball showdown?
Anna: Ooh, I hope so!