Community Review: Intro to Knots (4.10)

Summary:

Overall, Intro to Knots is a solid and humorous episode that drops plenty of subtle references and callbacks.  The inclusion of Malcolm McDowell as Professor Cornwallis is a very welcome appearance and his antagonistic spirit gave the episode plenty of bite. The dark tone brings the group to a new low and doesn’t do a good job of redeeming them. If you can look past that fact, you’ll be rewarded with a comically sharp, and cleverly written episode that show’s Community isn’t down and out just yet.

With the last two episodes of Community being less than favorable I was a bit worried heading into Intro to Knots (4.10). The quality this season has been an up and down roller coaster and ratings have been dipping pretty drastically. Being so close to the end with bad ratings made it look very grim for Community but hopefully last night’s Intro to Knots was a good indication of a strong three-episode home stretch.

Community Logo

The episode opens up with Annie arriving early at Jeff’s apartment in order to set up Christmas decorations. One by one the group members arrive and the holiday festivities begin. Once everyone is settled in Annie reveals to the group that she has found out that the group has received a failing grade on their history paper. Annie invites Professor Cornwallis to the party in an attempt to coerce the professor into raising their grade up.

Intro to Knots starts off a bit slow and awkward. The episode pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, and features long continuous shots in the earlier scenes. It comes off as strange and out of place for Community especially if you don’t catch the reference. Personally I wasn’t familiar with the reference material so this bit was lost on me until I was able to look through discussion boards online. The episode abandons this technique as the show continues so it’s not that big of a distraction.

Christmas 2

There’s also a strange opening scene with Jeff and Annie. Conventions of Space and Time (4.03) revealed that Annie often likes to plays house with Jeff in her imagination. It was a rather creepy revelation and Intro to Knots brings that creepiness back into focus this episode. She arrives and immediately begins decorating the house as though she was living there. The exchange between Jeff and Annie is a tiny bit uncomfortable but fortunately it is dissolved once the other members begin to arrive.

Once the episode hurdles past those opening setback the episode quickly moves up as one of my favorite episodes this season. The inclusion of Malcolm McDowell as Professor Cornwallis tied this episode together really well. McDowell fits right in with the cast and brings an antagonistic energy that gave the episode bite. Once Cornwallis discovers that he is being sucked up to he slowly begins to try and dismember the group by verbally turning the members on each other one by one.  His manipulative dialogue and dry delivery kept me captivated from scene to scene.

The episode shares a very similar spirit to season two’s Cooperative Calligraphy, which is one of Community’s best. The group always seems to be at their best when they are attacking and calling each other out. The dialogue was humorous and sharp and produced a lot of laughs. It also introduced a very interesting plot about Annie and Shirley’s competitive academic performance at Greendale. There’s a dark vibe to Intro to Knots that makes it feel similar to an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. We see the group reach a very low point and it doesn’t do a very good job of redeeming them as good people. This is the make or break factor for the episode but personally I was able to look past it.

Community - Season 4

There are few aspects to Intro to Knots that feels a bit tacked on. I know NBC is to blame for a Christmas episode airing in April but I don’t understand why the writers felt the need to make a Christmas episode that wasn’t really in the holiday spirit aside from the decorations. Christmas episodes are gems from each season and it feels like this one was a waste, especially given that they tried to tie in a Die Hard homage that didn’t quite reach the mark. Abed is the only one that ever seems to make any mention of Die Hard throughout the episode and he continuously spouts off references to the movie. His passive observational comments while the group was in a dire situation are humorous and it did set up for some funny visual gags. However, I would have rather waited to see a Die Hard Christmas episode given the proper festive treatment it deserved instead of tacking it on here.

Overall, Intro to Knots is a solid and humorous episode that drops plenty of subtle references and callbacks.  The inclusion of Malcolm McDowell as Professor Cornwallis is a very welcome appearance and his antagonistic spirit gave the episode plenty of bite. The dark tone brings the group to a new low and doesn’t do a good job of redeeming them. If you can look past that fact, you’ll be rewarded with a comically sharp, and cleverly written episode that show’s Community isn’t down and out just yet.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at ThinkCinematicReviews@gmail.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

Connect with me at:
Twitter: @Treyrs20o9
Twitter: @Think_Cinematic
Email: ThinkCinematicReviews@Gmail.com

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One response to “Community Review: Intro to Knots (4.10)

  1. Pingback: Movie Monday Update Week of April 22st | Thinking Cinematic

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