Community Review: Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations (4.05)

Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations is easily the strongest episode of season four. After a grab bag of mixed tones and chaotic storytelling Community delivers on a wonderful episode that finds the perfect balance between emotional and humorous storytelling. Jeff’s reunion with his father delivers on some incredible emotional closure as well as a near tear jerking performance for Joel McHale. The episode finally figured out what to do with Pierce and he didn’t seem obviously isolated. The biggest setback is the inclusion of Adam DeVine as Jeff’s half brother. The character is awkward and over the top and doesn’t add much to an episode that reveals so much growth.

The arrival of Jeff’s dad William Winger has been a moment that has been teased for quite some time. Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations (4.05) finally brings Jeff and his dad together at long last. Community welcomed James Brolin last night in an episode that hit a lot of strong notes.

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The show opens up with the gang in the study room as they’re discussing their plans for Thanksgiving. Shirley invites the group over to her place for Thanksgiving Dinner, while Jeff casually denies due to prior plans. Eventually it’s discovered that the reason for Jeff’s denial is that he is finally meeting with his father. Britta asserts herself into Jeff’s plans, not wanting to miss a chance to experience the long awaited reunion, leaving the rest of the group to spend Thanksgiving with Shirley.

Cooperative Escapism in Familiar Relations is the strongest episode of season four that found the perfect amount of balance between humorous and emotional storytelling. Shirley’s Thanksgiving carried a lot of the comedic weight this episode and featured a lot of great performances. Donald Glover has been nailing it this season and continued to do so last night, but he was not alone. Danny Pudi, in an attempt to pay homage to Shawshank Redemption, narrated the episode as Abed and helped set up a lot of the great jokes. The best part of all is the fact that this was the first episode this season that decided to include Pierce, and more than just being there. It was nice to finally see Pierce feel like he was part of the group again. There wasn’t an obvious attempt to isolate him from the rest of the group and there were dedicated jokes given to him. The exchanges between Pierce and Abed were fantastic and I liked the growing frustration on Abed’s face.

Jeff’s storyline delivers so much emotional resolution on a plot line that has been teased for so many years. Joel McHale delivers a near tear jerking speech that revealed so much growth for his character. A lot of the great emotional moments that this plot produced did seem somewhat sacrificed for the sake of a joke but after all this is a comedy and understandable. Through the great writing and fantastic acting the reunion with Jeff’s dad was incredibly satisfying, except for a couple of set backs.

Commuity - Season 1

The biggest problem that plagued this episode was the inclusion of Jeff’s half brother, Willy Jr. played by Adam DeVine. Willy Jr. is extremely over the top and at times felt extremely unnecessary, especially when it was paired with such a monumental moment. Personally I’ve never really found Adam DeVine’s comedic style all too funny and his appearance in Community didn’t change my mind. The character type isn’t new to Community seeing as how Troy often plays the over reacting man boy that Willy Jr. tried to emulate but it was in DeVine’s delivery as well as the story pairing that made it feel awkward. It also doesn’t help that Willy Jr. really doesn’t add much to the story. I wouldn’t want to see the character completely written out of the show, but I would have rather seen him introduced in an episode that wasn’t as meaningful as this one.

This last complaint is something that is hard to discuss. Ever since season three Britta has become somewhat of a wild card, moving from the smart and witty foil for Jeff and becoming uncharacteristically dumb and the butt of all jokes. It wasn’t constant but it was enough to notice it. Season four seems to have been working on dialing it back but it still comes through every now and then. Last night’s episode was the perfect example of this. It was great to see her go toe to toe with Jeff again matching wit for wit and showing that’s shes not just a dumb character. I would have liked to have see them dial back on the claiming she’s a therapist bit but it’s easy to forgive especially when it produced a fantastic moment as Gillian Jacobs runs out of the room holding a dinner roll. I don’t think we’ll ever see a complete retracing of Britta but I’m hoping that the writers can find a stronger balance for it as the season progresses.

Overall the episode feels like things are finally hitting its stride. Much like the rest of season four things end on a really heart warming note and things are tied together really well. A very pivotal episode for Jeff and I’m excited to see the way things go from here. For next week’s episode I’m hoping that the Changnesia plot line will finally start to develop and we’ll see more from Chang/Kevin. Last week’s episode left us on a cliff hanger and I can’t wait to see more of the study group’s reaction to their arch enemies confusing return.

Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations is easily the strongest episode of season four. After a grab bag of mixed tones and chaotic storytelling Community delivers on a wonderful episode that finds the perfect balance between emotional and humorous storytelling. Jeff’s reunion with his father delivers on some incredible emotional closure as well as a near tear jerking performance for Joel McHale. The episode finally figured out what to do with Pierce and he didn’t seem obviously isolated. The biggest setback is the inclusion of Adam DeVine as Jeff’s half brother. The character is awkward and over the top and doesn’t add much to an episode that reveals so much growth.

Community airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC! Check out last night’s episode here on Hulu!

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Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

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One response to “Community Review: Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations (4.05)

  1. Pingback: Movie Monday Update Week of March 11th | Thinking Cinematic

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