Community: Basic RV Repair and Palmistry
May 12, 2015 6:34 PM - Season 6, Episode 10 - Subscribe

The gang (minus Chang) is on a mountain road in Elroy's RV with a giant hand lashed to the top. Abed tries to exposit via flashback, then tries to solve act-ending problems via flashback, but ultimately has to learn that it's not a show, it's real life.

Yes, we actually get Jeff telling Abed to stop breaking the fourth wall, using those words.

Jay Chandrasekhar of Broken Lizard (and his turn as Gupta Gupti Gupta, offensive campus comedian) directs this episode, written by Dan Guterman. The end tag is hilarious, then dark, then darkly hilarious, then hilariously dark.
posted by Etrigan (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
(jenfullmoon, please feel free to recap in your awesome detail)
posted by Etrigan at 6:34 PM on May 12, 2015

I'll post a recap tomorrow morning. I got as far as watching the episode before I had my class tonight and made notes, but since it's 11 p.m. right now...tomorrow morning it is!
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:05 PM on May 12, 2015

Haha, Jeff trying to act like he knows about mechanical stuff by interrupting Elroy with simple words and nodding knowledgeably. I feel like I know people who do that.

Your RV is full of crazy women!
posted by tracicle at 11:13 PM on May 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

My wife and I talked a lot this morning about how this season of Community feels very different, thematically, from earlier seasons. There's a strong sense of worry about loss of sense of self, or something, that forms a sort of sad undercurrent to what is otherwise still a very funny comedy. I have no real problem with that, personally — similarly to Bojack Horseman or Adventure Time or Achewood, the melancholy complements the funny like salt complements sugar, but it's definitely a much stronger presence than in, say, season two. There's a sort of feel of… not necessarily "finality," but of the realization that, much like one's college years (in theory), nothing can last forever, and it's entirely possible to overstay your welcome if you're enjoying one part of your life at the expense of what comes next ("and a movie").

Other thoughts: I laughed so hard that my sides hurt at the "message" at the end of the episode. Matt Besser in the epilogue(? stinger? "credits" doesn't sound right, because that last scene no longer plays during the credits, but before them) was a delightful cameo. He's so good at doing over-the-top seriousness about really ridiculous things.

Also, you forgot the "thickstraps" tag.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

GREAT episode, though I kind of feel like the Abed climax was kind of treading water; the show's been there before. Best episode of the season, maybe, though.

There's a strong sense of worry about loss of sense of self, or something, that forms a sort of sad undercurrent to what is otherwise still a very funny comedy.

I'd agree with that, though I think there was sadness in the previous season as well. Sadness is in the show's bones. Every new season of Community is only possible because the characters remain trapped in a place intended to be transitory. That can be happy at first, but by now the adventure of returning to Community College has kind of lost its shine.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Okay, here's the recap.

The episode starts out with everyone in Elroy's RV, which now has a giant hand tied to it.

Three weeks earlier, Abed says, introducing the trope of flashbacking. Very briefly because nobody else is in support of this idea. For the record, the "three weeks ago" is in the study room as Frankie decides what to do about the giant hand, and every time I use that phrase, that's what we're going back to.

The Dean and Elroy talk "privately," which in this case means they pull a fake wood panel between them and the rest of the RV and everyone can hear them. Anyway, Elroy's about to run out of gas because he didn't judge that so well. Jeff's response is "gosh darn it, I want to hijack this RV, but I'm foiled by it's pre-2001 security measures!" Just keep driving, says the Dean. Frankie figures out what's going on and the Dean freaks out because the needle is gone.

"Stop yelling!" -Elroy
"Stop being out of gas!" -Dean
"I'm yelling even louder so you have to stop!" -Jeff.

What can we control in this situation, Jeff asks. Hey, is everyone's phone charged? Charge them! "See, we turned panic into preparedness."

"For the love of god, stop charging your phones!" Elroy yells. Uh-oh, old RV. The RV stops.

"What happened?" -Dean
"I'm not telling you." -Elroy
"Fair enough. We're all going to die!" -Dean

Three weeks earlier: Abed still wants a flashback. Jeff says no, meeting adjourned. Back to the RV, as Abed inserts some fourth wall about this.

Annie has learned a new trick from Frankie: when on hold, hang up and call back. "I got nothing but fingers and time, pal," Frankie says. Turns out that this is happening on Armed Forces Day, which is really boning them because all of the tow truck drivers are in the same parade, and nobody reroutes a parade. (Except for Kennedy's, Britta points out.) Britta Britta'd herself--"Yes, I use it too."

Anyway, all of this came about because the Dean bought a giant hand off eBay for some reason (so he can put it on the quad with a sign). They can't return it, but Frankie has managed to find some weirdo on the Internet who will buy it, and now they are hauling it to him.

The Dean decides they'll eat Annie first. It's not about judgement, it's about biology! Jeff has had enough of Abed's troping: “I’m sick of it! It’s a show. It’s not a show. It’s your show. It’s my show. It’s a good show. It’s a bad show. I’m sick of it. I don’t want to hear the word ‘show’ again.” Elroy announces that the RV battery is dead, they killed the engine and the secondary battery has maybe 3 hours of charge. We may have to sit for a few hours or spend the night here. Can we rewire it? Will we spend the night with no heat. Elroy is all, let's hope we've all learned to stop charging our phones. Where are they now? Nobody's running to unplug yet....he flips the light switch and finds all of their cell cords. "There is a bright side to this. Most conventional weapons don't require electricity," Elroy says.

Three weeks earlier, Abed still wants flashbacks, Jeff still says no. The Dean is failing at making conversation and Elroy doesn't think these people are worth a heart attack. He admits this is all his fault. Jeff is all, we're sorry that charging our perfectly normal phones ruined your ancient weird hooptdy. Britta apologizes for getting high, which everyone else figured out already.
Three weeks earlier! Jeff still says no! Annie apologizes for buying snacks without asking other people's preferences. Frankie admits it's unprofessional to yell at the Dean in front of others. The Dean forgives you all and does not apologize, despite the glaring from everyone else.
Three weeks earlier, Abed is describing how acts one, two, and three must go, but everyone's left him alone in the study room. In real time, they are staring at him. The Dean apologizes for being a bad dean, like he always does. Jeff demands an apology for the hand, without crying. The Dean calls them all bullies and he's NOT sorry he bought that hand, he loves it and we're not selling it. The Dean is kicked outside, with Frankie remarking that this is like crate training for her. Abed follows the Dean out, climbing up on the roof with him and the hand. Abed knows that structurally, we're doomed for disaster, and then the hand shifts. Dean, flashback with me! Trust me, we'll make it work, he says, and then something obviously fell off the roof.

Three weeks later,
Abed asks that we use extra thick straps for the hand, please. The Dean tasers Jeff so he can't say no, and then they do a little dance while chanting, "extra thick straps!" Did that work? No, obviously something fell off the roof. Everyone else comes out to try to find the Dean underneath the hand (Abed is obviously fine), but the Dean wasn't under the hand! He goes inside and closes the door! Britta climbs into the hand, calling dibs for body heat. "What's wrong with me that that's hot?" Jeff says. Elroy shouldn't have mentioned that side door might be unlocked.

The Dean calls Annie a real sociopath and says that Abed's the only human among you, and we all know how ironic that is--no offense, Abed. None taken. He admits that his obsession with flashbacks has kept him distant from the story and he didn't bond with the Dean. Talk to him anyway, Jeff says, it's our arc. Frankie figures out how to make this work--she tells Abed he's really in the future flashing back to NOT to help us:

Thirty standard galactic time units later: Future Space Frankie and Future Space Abed want to save the species. Space Elder Britta walks up, wanting to know what they're talking about. Abed discovered the function of the giant hand: it's to grip and release, and without these, it's useless. The hand was sent to us as an invitation to the mastery of holding on and letting go. At this point, the Dean opens the door. Space Elder Ghosts approve of this, Star Wars-style. Elroy realized the other door was locked too.

Three days later, everyone's back at school. Chang shows up, covered in feathers because... And the hand is now erected at school, with a plastic "Keep A Loose Grip" bracelet on it.

As for the ending of the show...the poor bastard who bought the hand online (Matt Besser) is wondering where the hand is, because he bought a giant watch for it and thought that would look cool. What will he do with it? His wife (played by his IRL wife) is all, they're not coming, are they. She's mad at him for buying giant sized things, especially since their normal sized son disappeared because dad gave him a giant sized kite. They never found a body! (And sadly, I just clued in on what this meant.)

"I am going to walk the dog and eventually leave you."
"I'll put the watch in the garage. Probably not showering."
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

A bottle episode/road trip was just what this season's the main cast needed to finish jelling. Confined in close quarters, without the distractions of other characters, and with some extra farcical energy of the situation, everyone comically bounced off one another more spiritedly than many of the earlier episodes. Compare this with a similar opportunity of a show-within-a-show in the lackluster "Intro to Recycled Cinema", which was, well, less than stellar.

Also, Keith David nailed it this episode with Elroy balanced between barely restrained panic and barely restrained exasperation. "You know I'm starting to suspect the unthinkable... Namely that in spite of all we've experienced, there's a cartoonish vampiric orgy of personal devices somewhere in the RV sucking away our battery. I only draw limited comfort from the fact nobody's running to unplug anything."
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm glad to see that other people really liked this episode. I've been sort of meh about a lot of this season, but I absolutely loved this episode. So much so, that I had trouble watching it at first because I kept rewinding and watching bits over again. I agree that the only place where the episode lost some momentum was with Abed's final bit, but to me that's a quibble. The rest of it just hurtled along, hitting every mark.

And then the stinger -- that was a thing of beauty. There's real genius in these. I mean, there's genius in the show proper, too, sometimes; but some of these stingers are just perfectly formed. This one was.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:55 PM on May 13, 2015

Yes, this was a great episode. The opening scene, in particular, had me laughing pretty much constantly. It seems that they really nailed the timing of everything during that scene.

Oh, and I loved this:

Frankie: “What’s going on? Did we run out of gas?”
Dean: Yes! It’s all empty! It’s all empty! I have never seen anything like it! The needle is invisible!”
Annie: “Oh my god!”
Dean: “There’s no needle! It’s gone! It’s under the plastic or maybe the engine tried to use it as fuel!”

Maybe the engine tried to use it as fuel? Hilarious!
posted by crLLC at 7:28 AM on May 14, 2015

jenfullmoon: no offense, Abed. None taken

Except what they really said was even funnier: “no offense, Abed. None possible.”
posted by traveler_ at 12:51 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's interesting how divided the internet is on this episode. I loved it.
posted by mecran01 at 7:56 AM on May 16, 2015

Well, the half of the internet that didn't like it are obviously morons.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:51 AM on May 16, 2015

An RV broken down with a dead battery in a remote location and not one Breaking Bad reference.

I'm not sure if I should be impressed or disappointed.
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:40 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

They never found a body! (And sadly, I just clued in on what this meant.)

What did this mean to you?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:37 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

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