Community season 6 continued today with episode three, “Basic Crisis Room Decorum.” Like the second episode of the season, this one delivered on laughs but had a shaky story.
Everything begins with Annie Edison calling everyone in for an emergency meeting. City College is planning on running an attack ad on Greendale that asserts they gave a degree to a dog. Jeff says that the truth doesn’t matter, but Annie and Frankie insist on looking into whether the claim is true. When they discover that a dog did take and pass several classes at Greendale, but her degree was withheld due to an unpaid library fine, things get complicated. Frankie is happy that the truth is on their side and they can have the ad pulled because of libel. But, Annie thinks that the fact that the dog only failed to graduate on a technicality means that in spirit what City College is claiming is true and that it would be stooping to City College’s level to take advantage of the technicality. A big problem with the episode is that everyone has to spend a lot of time explaining the nuances of their moral stances so we can follow where the conflict between the characters is coming from. That takes up a lot of screentime that could be spent on jokes and feels repetitive.
A larger problem is one that is fundamental to the series. In the episode’s climax, Annie declares that she’s going to transfer out of Greendale if they have the ad pulled. The problem is that at this point no one in the audience should be rooting for Annie to stay at this school. This goes for both the other characters and the audience. Anyone who cares about Annie at all would want her to move on to better things rather than spending a sixth year at the most poorly rated community college nearby. But, this is never acknowledged in the episode and it’s treated as a happy ending when Annie decides to stay.
The episode also treats Britta terribly. I know making fun of Britta, for better or worse, has been a staple of this show for a long time, but by now I wish they’d realize they’re at their best when she has some amount of dignity. This episode just felt downright cruel. Did we not learn in season 3 that everything is better if you let Britta sing?
The episode had enough laughs for me to enjoy it on the first watch, but the problems were too big for it to become a staple of future Community rewatches. I’m hoping the rest of the season picks up and returns to the quality of the season premiere. But, we know what Frankie Dart would say about hoping.