Community: Modern Espionage
May 19, 2015 7:41 PM - Season 6, Episode 11 - Subscribe

It's paintball again! Except this time (a) Frankie's trying to shut it down and the game's gone underground, and (b) someone from City College is running it anonymously.

The episode starts out at Vicki’s one woman show, Veni Vedi Vicki, which Alex “Starburns” Osborne (who has...stars painted on his face now?! What is that?) is not enjoying. “I’m going to get a shovel because theater is dead,” he says. Heading out to his car , he’s met by Todd, asking him about the paintball game. What paintball game, I hear it’s been banned...this of course leads to them both shooting at each other in the parking garage. Nice mirrored sunglasses and flamey rifle, Todd. As Vicki sings sweetly, the song is interrupted by paintball gunfire and car alarms going off. Todd spots Starburns’s top hat... propped up by a traffic pole. Just as they’re about to get each other, they’re shot by...

NEW CREDITS! WITH WEAPONRY AND NEW SONG! BADASS! I was wondering where the hell their budget was all season!

Frankie is going after all paintballers this year. Starburns claims the mess on his shirt comes from “huffing paint, I swear.” After she calls him out by his real name, he’s so flummoxed he spills everything. “Hold your horse panties, I didn’t know you knew my name.” He claims a ghost with silver paint shot them. “I’d call him Silver Ghost, but that’s probably already taken by an indie comic book or a terrible tequila.” When the dean tries to butt in, Frankie says, “Dean, I respect that you are my boss, so either fire me or let me handle this and go to your office.” She says the paintball era is over now that mommy’s home, and everyone with a gun will be fired or expelled. (So you’re gonna take out the entire class, then?)

Frankie wants to introduce Jeff to Deputy Custodian Lapari (Kumail Nanjani), who hates Jeff for causing all those messes in all those other paintball games. Jeff says he’s quit paintball. Frankie is throwing a Gala for a Cleaner Greendale and is giving Lapari an award and she wants Jeff to introduce him. Why? Because he’s the de facto leader of Greendale, so if he comes out against paintball, it’ll help. IF you won’t do it for the school, do it for me? Jeff will think about it.

Jeff goes into another study room meeting saying that Frankie is upset. Britta is all, did she break up with someone, and of what gender? Not that she cares, but.... Also, nice Cosby sweater, Elroy--who also claims not to know what paintball is. Annie claims paintball is for freshmen, but Britta’s won a few times. Jeff says that Frankie is their friend and it would break her heart if they all played. “Glad we all agreed not to do this,” Chang says, pulling out his golden gun...only to have everyone else but Jeff pull one out and shoot him too. Elroy is still claiming not to know what paintball is. Cut the crap, Elroy! Jeff can’t help but grab other people’s guns and join in on the dramatic shooting, which declares him a player even though he said he wasn’t. “For a guy not playing, you are shooting a bunch of mothers,” Elroy says. “That was instinct, I can’t help being a badass,” Jeff replies.

A kid Jeff shot whines and moans loudly through the halls that Jeff Winger shot him. Frankie hears it and heads to the meeting, which has now devolved into another round of The Ears Have It. Jeff is starting to get offended by Frankie’s suspicions! After she leaves, everyone breaks out their guns again, and Abed has something to show them all. “The thing to hate this year IS the game.” Why is that?

Abed takes them to the storage room: The game this year is being run anonymously (and 80’s like) through an online server and a cash prize is being offered--if someone’s this good at programming, why would they be at this school? (Ditto if they’re offering a cash prize.) Abed notes that the top player is “Silver_Ballz” (note: “Clint Paintwood” is #3) and he’s figured out that that guy is from...City College! He must be a spy! The Dean walks in, very noisily, stepping in everything while he tries to deliver the line, “Desperate deans call for deanspirate measures. From here on in, you work for me.” Jeff says the only way to lose is to play the game and they should tell Frankie. Abed says if they play to win, they can save Greendale and Frankie (and out whoever’s at City). Dean wants to declare them some kind of secret task force...he eventually settles on Dean Force One. He’s also sad that nobody needs him any more because Frankie is here.

Abed heads to the “Club Club” room, “the last club I thought I’d ever join.” Inside, there’s a perpetual club party with neon. Abed is looking for a paintball dealer over the age of 30 using the name “FunDad.” He finds him incredibly quickly and it’s the MeowMeowBeanz guy, Koogler, who’s advertising what’s in his pants. That was easy. Abed asks for ammo and Koogler asks if he’s a narc. “Would I answer that honestly?” Of course not! (Incidentally, there’s a signup for Club Club Club.) Koogler announces that the first rule is that we’re not Fight Club, the second rule is hot ladies have to have sex with him, and....well, now a lot of lawsuits and things are being added. Abed asks for silver paint and Koogler runs for it, but Annie’s waiting and armed in the hallway. Koogler says he’ll accept sex or beer for ammo, but not Bitcoin. Annie asks about “Silver...Man,” but Koogler says he’ll be “pretensies dead” if he says--and then Silver_Ballz in disguise gets him. But Abed got his flash drive!

Cut to Elroy and Britta, as Elroy deals with the tech and Britta wears glasses. “Why did they pair us together?” Elroy asks. Good question. They check Silver’s ammo order and it’s for the upcoming gala. Also, he picked his signature color based on what would look good against a navy blue jumpsuit. “Who wears a jumpsuit to a black tie gala?” Why, it’s... Deputy Custodian Lapari! Guess we’re gonna have to get dressed up. “I’ll measure Jeff!” the Dean offers.

Cut to the formal gala, where Frankie has an incredibly pretty, lit-up, never-gonna-happen model of Greendale, including a monorail. It’s a fake model of how the school could feel! She asks Jeff why he’s got that comm on his ear, and he claims he’s raising awareness of Armenian stereotypes. Should stereotypes HAVE their awareness raised? Frankie wonders before giving up on trying to figure out this idea. Meanwhile, Abed and Annie are dancing dramatically (and it’s really cute, hotter than the Smiths, I say), and Elroy is examining a spoon. The Dean wants in on the mission, but is being told to keep checking the custodial wing and the perimeter of his office. As the Dean enters the elevator, he grumbles that he feels very vulnerable without a gun. And then a bunch of suspicious dudes enter with him...

Britta spots a bogey with a gun, but gets obviously noticed trying to call this in and she attempts to pretend it’s a sandwich order. Elroy goes into the kitchen and won’t let Britta come in ever because she’s too sloppy. He asks the kitchen staff about the paintball game and you betcha they’re playing! Their new strategy: let the idiots come to you. “Britta, you can come in now,” Elroy says, and a glorious shoot-em-up ensues.

The Dean is trapped in the elevator with paintballers, he grabs a gun and plugs them all. GO DEAN.

Jeff, speaking as “one of the biggest perpetrators of paintball mayhem,” is giving a speech about how the only heroes were the janitors cleaning up all the messes. He can hear the shooting and screaming over the comms as he presents the Custodial Innovation Award to Lapari, who’s now added freaking epaulettes and shit to his uniform. The assassin’s not in the kitchen! He’s still at large and now Frankie wants to pop balloons for some reason! Jeff spots a suspicious guy and shoots him, so that he lands into the fake diorama. The custodians were running the underground paintball tournament! They want Greendale to be reliant on them!
“Who’s heckling me? Of course, it’s the Indian guy,” Lapari bitches. “Arabic.” The Dean asks him fro the truth and points a gun at him, and then the other custodians come in shooting. Abed and Annie romantically shoot over each other’s shoulders (so hot!) and slap hands, until they’re both shot. They scream NOOOOOOOOOOOO and grab each other on the way down. Pretty much everyone else on Dean Force One is shot except for the Dean and Jeff, who chase after Lapari. “Cover me,” Jeff says. “Dreams do come true!” says the Dean.

I bet Nathan Fillion is soooooooooooo bummed he couldn’t be in this episode.

They follow Lapari to the Museum of Custodial Arts (not a closet). There’s a Steamy Pipe Exhibit. Lapari has a mike, the Dean has a beer, and God has a plan. Um, what? Jeff identifies that remark as an old line used by standup comedians on hecklers. They go through the Hall of Perfectly Clean Surfaces and shoot up a room full of mannequins dressed as custodians. “Must be a mop jousting bridge over Sawdust Canyon,” Jeff guesses. Over the mike, Lapari muses that he and the Dean are both dinosaurs because Frankie is making them obsolete. “You think I’m a villain, but I’m not. I’m defending a place where we all get to be our own heroes. We’re all here because none of us can have nice things.”

Everyone pulls guns on each other, and the Dean realizes that if the school gets clean, we’re useless here. We’re tobacco! And Frankie is turning us into carrot sticks! No, we’re Robert Downey Jr, says Jeff, and he turned into Iron Man. We’d rather be heroes and villains than normal sucky people trying to be less sucky. Jeff pleads that Frankie will forgive us and that he will quit if these two get fired. She can help us, we just have to cool it. Frankie walks in and confirms that she won’t get anyone fired. “I’ll see you Monday. Idiots.” She walks out. “On the count of three, we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot,” Jeff says. They all shoot each other instead, in the guts.

Once again, Chang has been gone for most of the episode and wasn’t missed! But we’re all back in the meeting room, where every day for a week the committee has to wear baby bibs, bonnets, and pacifiers at Frankie’s demand. She makes them read baby talk off cards. Jeff likes big trucks. Elroy made a stinky. Annie asks how you pronouce pasghetti, Chang asks if we can go to the zoo. We can do anything we want if we GROW UP! Frankie yells. All in favor? Wah!

The end is Garrett’s one-man show, “Grin and Garrett: Monologues About Surviving Veni Vedi Vicki.” He’s making fun of Vicki’s dead mother--big deal, all moms die! Vicki enters, saying she’s sorry her show didn’t honor her mother’s memory properly and she’ll try to make it up to you. Also, she and Garrett are now doing a show together! Let’s have a hand for Vicki’s mom, Connie, who is not only not dead, but in the audience! Everyone boos. “We’d rather you boo! It means you felt something!” Vicki yells. “Andy Kaufman loved booing!” Garrett says.
posted by jenfullmoon (25 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I loved the baby thing. That was awesome. Frankie is awesome.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:50 PM on May 19, 2015

Damn this was a good episode. A+
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 8:57 PM on May 19, 2015

Best episode this season. When it got going, I thought Paget Brewster was going to play detective as a nice callback to her previous role -- but too obvious I guess. But it was a great homage (not a parody) to crime/mafia-type action films. And I love Kumail Nanjani in Silicon Valley (only recently noticed he was a custodian in Community in season 5) so it's fun to see him doing this.

So many tropes! The kitchen battle! The steamy pipes in the final showdown! Annie and Abed shooting over each others' shoulders!

Koogler was a creepy addition -- could have done without the "all girls have to have sex with me" lines.
posted by tracicle at 12:06 AM on May 20, 2015

The second half of the "desperate deans" line after he got past the trash can absolutely slew me somehow. Just… perfect timing.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:54 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

This might have been the best episode of the last three seasons. Like the very first paintball episode, it drew upon so many tropes and images from shoot 'em up/action films, but did so naturally, gliding from one to the other to another. Dean is Captain America, Abed and Annie are Mr. and Mrs. Smith! (Alison Brie stated on twitter that her and Danny Pudi had actually thought up quite a number of ridiculous dance moves, but they were all cut out for the most part).

One hanging item. Did we ever really know who Silver Balls was?

The episode was just perfectly edited and shot. I would watch an action movie by Rob Schrab after this (and hey, he's doing Lego Movie 2).

I'm ready to let this be the last paintball episode. It's a great send off.

Missed opportunity: (Unless I missed it?) a portrait of Nathan Fillion in the museum.

Loved this episode!
posted by Atreides at 7:04 AM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Did we ever really know who Silver Balls was?

I don't think so. Maybe it was the Ass Crack Bandit?

For a moment I seriously thought it was Nathan Fillion leading the charge of the small army of custodians.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:45 AM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, the set posters made me laugh harder than anything so far this season.

"Veni, Vidi, Vicki"

I'm paraphrasing this one somewhat: "Are you looking for a career in the service industry? Join the world."
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:46 AM on May 20, 2015

"I'm raising awareness of Armenian-American stereotypes."
posted by leotrotsky at 10:05 AM on May 20, 2015

I would watch an action movie by Rob Schrab after this

Schrab's action-sci-fi short film Robot Bastard is definitely worth watching. This season he's been on fire as a director. "Ladders", "Laws of Robotics and Party Rights", "Advanced Safety Features", and "Grifting 101" were all great, and "Modern Espionage" is the first episode this season that unarguably belongs in a Community top ten.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:55 AM on May 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Definitely agree this is one of the best for a while. Absolutely packed with good lines and nice details. Annie and Abed were hilarious in the melee.
Not sure if this was intentional or not, but the guy who's selling the ammo being named "Koogler"...the German word for "ball" or "bullet" (from the old days when bullets were round) is "Kugel", so "Kugeler" could be read as "one who sells bullets".
Still curious about who Silver Balls is. (At the beginning of the episode I thought it would turn out to be Frankie, and she'd "kill" them all in the end.) Maybe we'll find out later in the seasonester.
posted by uosuaq at 4:40 PM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Not sure if this was intentional or not, but the guy who's selling the ammo being named "Koogler"...the German word for "ball" or "bullet" (from the old days when bullets were round) is "Kugel", so "Kugeler" could be read as "one who sells bullets".

Might have been a reason to bring the character back, but Koogler (Mitch Hurwitz) was in the Meow Meow Beans episode last season with no connection to balls nor bullets.
posted by Etrigan at 4:53 PM on May 20, 2015

The dude who was talking as the silver baller, to Starburns, in the introductory scene was definitely voiced by Kumail Nanjiani, so I guess that was him, but it definitely felt weird that they never directly explained that.
posted by destructive cactus at 5:46 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lapari is Silver Balls. When you see him pull out his paintball gun at the end of the episode, it's the same one with the lightning bolt on the side as we see zoomed in on earlier in the episode.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:03 PM on May 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

That was my guess, but I have one complaint, why didn't he use silver paint balls in his fight after the ceremony?! It's the only real inconsistent thing that bothered me, as everything did kind of point to Lapari, but at the end, he was shooting green paint balls. I figured that was an intentional decision, not an oversight, and the mystery of Silver Balls would remain unsolved.
posted by Atreides at 6:44 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

This season he's been on fire as a director. "Ladders", "Laws of Robotics and Party Rights", "Advanced Safety Features", and "Grifting 101" were all great, and "Modern Espionage" is the first episode this season that unarguably belongs in a Community top ten

I actually thought that "Ladders" was kind o' lame, but I am certain that that climactic "LADDERS!" was perhaps the single most hilarious moment in the season.

That was my guess, but I have one complaint, why didn't he use silver paint balls in his fight after the ceremony?!

Yeah, if Lapari was indeed silver balls that was a very mishandled reveal. I was still banking on this being a surprise two-parter.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:44 PM on May 21, 2015

In fairness, Silver Balls *did* shoot his own silver-ammo dealer...
posted by uosuaq at 7:20 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had to rewind a couple times to fully enjoy the Dean's elevator scene. That was masterful.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 7:59 PM on May 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

Yeah, the writers could have turned him into James Bond but that wouldn't have rung true. This worked. (I still miss his over-the-top outfits.)
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:30 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

As a fan of Marvel's AoS, I found the fight choreography surprisingly well done, particularly the parking lot and elevator scenes.
posted by klarck at 6:26 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I saw a bottle of Ghost whiskey at the supermarket today. Sadly, it wasn't Silver Ghost or we would have definitely purchased it.

Some of my favorite bits.

FunDad to Abed: ‎Lemme show you what I got. These are blue travelers. I think I've got some sarcastic mellow yellows in here. Those are great. And these are green meanies. They explode on contact and they mark your target with paint. 

Abed: That's a description of every paintball. ‎

FunDad: Ok, so you know your stuff. Why don't I give you a pro discount?‎
Annie: Who is Silver. . . man?
FunDad: My accountant? Well how do you know David?‎‎
Abed: And the pope looks at the giraffe and says, "I'm in the roooooom!" Sorry, I can't remember the whole joke.

Jeff: That's okay. It sounds very funny based on the last line.
Dean to Lapari: Did you do stand-up? Is that how you became a custodian?
The way the dean kept saying MAN was hilarious.

posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 12:57 PM on May 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

A Crafted Narcs
Scare and Raft
Aced Narc Frat

posted by Monochrome at 4:13 PM on May 23, 2015

P.s. Of course this is my favorite episode of the season.
posted by Monochrome at 4:28 PM on May 23, 2015

I was seriously expecting the identity of Silver_Ballz to be a surprise reveal of a still-alive Pierce, because he would absolutely choose that name.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:08 PM on May 23, 2015 [10 favorites]

Also, I'm just now catching up on Community and binge-watched this season while sick for the past two days - I waited this long to watch this season because I really wasn't that excited for more after the past two seasons. But this season is better than it's been in years, and this might be the best paintball episode since the first one.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:10 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well is a hole in the ground when you’re thirsty.
posted by Monochrome at 1:42 PM on May 13, 2021

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