Community is a show that couldn’t exist without over 50 years of pop culture references to make and movies/television shows to nod to.
Part of what made the show special was the cast’s chemistry. All the performers fit into their specific roles so well that as more left, the show seemed to lose a part of its soul. Even though seasons five and six had their satisfying moments, they in some ways could never match what Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Allison Brie, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Chevy Chase were able to create in the first three seasons.
“Remedial Chaos Theory” is perhaps the show’s comedic height. It is not only a bottle episode but also a “What If.” Bottle episodes are about putting all the characters in a room and letting hijinks ensue. In this case, the study group meets up at Danny and Abed’s brand new apartment for a night of pizza and boozing. In this case the “What If” is a series of vignettes showing what would happen if each character ended up going downstairs and getting the delivered pizza.
Abed warns Jeff about starting six different timelines, but naturally Jeff doesn’t listen. Things start normal enough when Annie goes to the delivery person, but things slowly descend into madness as tensions rise. Certain gags such as Pierce mentioning having sex with Eartha Kitt come up every time. Various sexual tensions are brought up in one timeline and then more directly addressed in the next. Dan Harmon shows reward audience members who pay attention and don’t dick around on their phone.
Britta’s timeline is where things turn around as Pierce teases Troy with a housewarming gift and Britta decides to marry the pizza guy. Perhaps the most famous moment takes place during Troy’s timeline as things go completely insane. Annie breaks a table. Pierce is shot. Britta starts a fire. Then Troy walks in and sees the awful looking troll that was Pierce’s housewarming gift. Jeff and Annie kiss during Abed’s timeline while Pierce tries to hide the troll from Troy; basically, when Abed leaves, all of the other character relationships break down quickly. Jeff’s timeline is where everyone else in the study group decides to have fun and break out of their shackles. He’s also the seventh person even though he’s rolling a six sided dice.
While a show like Cheers gets credit for its understated quality, Community gets credit for creating six different characters and not being afraid to getting meta. The theme of the show and specifically this episode was Jeff being the one to both hold the group together and perhaps be the one who held them back. The end of the episode used the term “darkest timeline,” something that came up again and again on the show and other aspects of pop culture.
This 20 minutes will tell a viewer everything they need to know about the characters while also providing some genuine laughs at a breakneck piece. It’s amazing that NBC allowed a show like this to run at all let alone for five seasons before Yahoo allowed it one final season.