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Published on May 21st, 2015 | by Vyctoria Hart

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Community Season 6 Episode 11 “Modern Espionage” Review

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It’s been a while since the last paintball episode but it’s finally time for another ‘flawless, postmodern homage to action adventure mythology mischaracterised by the ignorant as parody’ with Community Season 6 Episode 11: Modern Espionage. This weeks episode kicks off with a re-creation of the opening sequence of Highlander, with Starburns (Dino Stamatopoulos) being hunted through an dramatically lit parking garage by a paintball rifle wielding Todd (David Neher). After Todd explains that paintballing has gone underground, and Starburns inexplicably defeats him they’re both shot by a mysterious figure using silver paintball pellets. When Frankie confronts Starburns the next day, demanding the names of those behind the resurgence of the messy mock warfare, he dubs the mystery man “Silver Ghost” though he soon becomes known as Silver Balls to everyone except Annie, who refuses to say it. Having expelled Starburns for his part in the mess Frankie begs Jeff to speak to the other students as their defacto leader and ask them to stop this pastime for the sake of the school custodians. She then introduces Custodian Laperi (Kumail NanjianiSilicon Valley) revealing that she intends to hold a ‘Cleaner Greendale’ gala in his honour and present him with an award for innovations in custodial arts.

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When Jeff asks the committee not to take part in the latest round of paintballing they agree; Chang’s inevitable betrayal happens immediately and he is promptly shot by the entire group. In trying to stop them Jeff ends up accidentally shooting a number of passing students, mostly with their own weapons, with the occasional dramatic roll over a table. Having almost been caught by Frankie the group decide to investigate the origin of the underground tournament and find evidence pointing back to City College (see S2E23 – “A Fistful of Paintballs”) as the source of the coordination. They decide that the only way to beat the situation is to play in the tournament. The Dean (who had been hiding in a corner) admits that he feels left out since no one needs him now that Frankie is around and asks the group to work for him in this plan, which Frankie would not approve of, as a unit called the Dean Force. The group half heartedly agrees and with the aid of large highly visible ear pieces begin their undercover investigations.

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Abed visits the “Club Club” where he finds the Meow Meow Beanz guys from season five (S5E08 “App Development & Condiments”) partying amongst the glow stick waving students, he soon finds that one of them is known as FunDad and is the source of the c paintball ammunition. Jeff tells Abed that they have no time for call backs and before the name of Silver Balls can be revealed FunDad is shot with silver paintballs, in a reference to practically every spy film ever. Elory discovers a thumb drive that reveals that Silver Balls intends to target Frankie’s gala and Custodian Lapeti’s award ceremony. The gang take the opportunity to dress up in formal evening wear and take up positions around the gala venue, loudly speaking various code phrases in their ear pieces. Whilst Britta and Elroy get embroiled in a dramatic gun fight in the kitchens, the Dean has been sent off on his own. He soon finds himself trapped in a elevator with a number of hostiles, resulting in a rather screamy homage to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and a whole host of other action films. Jeff becomes increasingly edgy as he gives a speech thanking Custodian Lapeti for his service and condemning paintballing as the screams of others echo through his ear piece. Frankie then decides to start a tradition of popping balloons and in his eagerness to protect the Custodian, Jeff accidentally shoots a man on crutches in the face. A disheveled Dean bursts into the room and reveals that the true source of the paintballing tournament is actually the the custodian department themselves. As an army of janitors storm the gala an epic gun battle ensues, with Annie, Abed, Britta and Elroy hit after a variety of fancy shooting. As the only survivors Jeff and Dean Pelton go after Lapeti aka Silver Balls – “Cover me!” “Dreams DO come true!” – following him into the Museum of Custodial Arts, which includes a number of 1980s action movie staple exhibits, such as ‘The Hall of Perfectly Clean Surfaces’, ‘Steamy Pipe Exhibit’ and the classic ‘Room of Mannikins Dressed as Custodians’. Lapeti becomes flustered when Jeff immediately sees through the mannikins ploy and they end up in a Mexican standoff. The janitor explains that Frankie has pushed his staff too hard, and that striving for a “cleaner Greendale is like a healthier cigarette”. The Dean breaks down and admits that the college is basically tobacco, whilst Jeff counters that they’re really Robert Downey Jr (he was once messed up and now he’s Iron Man). Frankie agrees not to fire anyone over the whole debacle, though there will be punishments. Until everyone agrees to grow up they have to dress as babies, I never expected to see Keith David in a bonnet say “I made a stinky.” Ew.

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I apologise for the quality of this weeks review, I know there were a lot of specific action movie references that I missed, unfortunately I rely on closed captioning in order to watch most television and of the two airings I could find of this weeks episode, one was significantly out of sync and the other was missing captioning entirely. As such I can’t comment on a lot of the content. The person I viewed the show with said that the mystery of Silver Balls identity was slightly spoiled by Kumail Nanjiani’s distinctive accent, though I personally missed the reveal entirely due to the subtlety of the silver paint in amongst the choreography and other paint colours of the gala fight scene. I honestly thought that mystery would remain to another episode, or that it was Chang all along, so I’m not sure that element worked quite as intended. The Highlander sequence was brilliantly done and it was great to see Starburns and Todd again as they haven’t featured much this season. Conversely this was the first episode where Garrett fell flat for me and the theatre sequences that bookended the show – Grin & Garrett and Vini Vedi Vicki – were cringe inducing but slightly more so than you’d expect from a standard community college drama department. That sequence was about as far as it’s possible to get from “The Butcher and The Baker” ending of the season opener. Overall an ok episode with a lot of fun fighting, some standout moments, a few laughs but not quite enough weight behind it.

Vyctoria Hart

Vyctoria Hart

Steampunk illustrator, disabled cosplayer, cat wrangler, maker of terrible puns. I draw under the name of Phantoms Siren.
Vyctoria Hart

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