Community season 5 episode 3 review: Basic Intergluteal Numesmatics

Review Caroline Preece 10 Jan 2014 - 16:51

Community is back to its old high concept tricks with a David Fincher-themed episode. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

5.3 Basic Intergluteal Numesmatics

Last week’s ‘re-pilot-ing’ of Community was a reassuring return to form for a show that had experienced more problems that almost anything else on the air over the past couple of years, but there’s still a definite sense that fans can’t rest easy just yet. Despite the presence of Dan Harmon back in his creator’s chair, the countdown to Donald Glover’s equally troubling departure has begun and, while it might be wiser to just sit back and enjoy the final hours of Troy and Abed, that’s easier said than done.

Thank God then, that Basic Intergluteal Numismatics was another solid instalment of the show that, through a few creative choices, managed to quell some fears about the post-Troy future of the series. While last week gave us two hours of entertaining damage-control, the third episode reminds us much more of the high-concept Community that got into its stride in seasons two and three. We’ve had Die Hard, Law and Order and (eeek) Hunger Games parodies, and now we can add every David Fincher crime movie to that list.

These ambitious half-hours of Community always seem to split viewer opinion, and I should disclose right now that I’m one fan who enjoys these departures from sitcom norm more than other, more generic episodes. Community is almost always funny and inventive, but there’s something about episodes like Basic Intergluteal Numismatics that draw me in like nothing else. Here, the set-up is that of an ‘Ass Crack Bandit’ on the loose in Greendale – a case complete with a dark filter, ominous music, a final twist and a sexually-charged team up between Jeff and Annie to solve the case.

We also saw the return of several old faces, such as John Oliver’s Professor Duncan, who explained his lengthy absence by claiming he was taking care of his sick mother, and Starburns, who we all thought had been killed off a couple of seasons ago. The supporting cast on Community has always been stellar but, with the departure of Pierce and the introduction of Hickey improving the overall mood of the show, this world seems bigger than ever. And, while I’m not thrilled that Troy got so little to do this week, it did feel for the first time like the show could survive without the dynamic it built itself around.

What’s most strange about this fifth season is how dark it’s become. Despite the fact that this episode was a full-on parody, and hilarious as a result, the three weeks together look utterly grim when compared to past seasons. Is this what Harmon had always intended for the show, but never been allowed to indulge in? As proven by the not-played-for-laughs death of Pierce and the general melancholy of the show right now, maybe Community has reached that stage in its life where it can do and be anything it wants. That darkness has always been there – it’s just been brought to the surface.

Last year proved that any Community isn’t necessarily good Community, but season five has thankfully maintained the rebooted quality that, while not exactly deviating from what came before, is doing things in a slightly different way. If that means more great episodes like Basic Intergluteal Numismatics, then maybe our collective fears will be disproven. It’s the vision of the show, especially in these high concept episodes poking fun at the things we all love, that made us fall in love, and that charm and inventiveness seems thankfully to have returned for good. 

Read our review of the previous two episodes, Repilot and Introduction To Teaching, here.

Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.

Disqus - noscript

Personally i think this is the best of the 3 new episodes so far, and i'm surprised to see a number of other sites' reviews be quite down on it compared to last week's.

Good point about the darkness though, obviously it was fitting in the Fincher-esque context tonight, but rePilot was equally maudlin and gloomy and Jeff's angry snark seems a lot more pointed than it used to - i dare say Harmon has some demons to work out of his system, as well as setting the tone for the 2 major characters' separate departures, so let's hope things will cheer up soon once the rePilot reBoot is complete.

3 ep's in, i'm mildly concerned how sidelined Britta appears to be this year, and am hoping that "the gang" have more scooby adventures together, not split into factions.

I'm sure it was confirmed already that Star-burns had faked his death, so we knew he was going to return at some point.

We've had three episodes and no Troy and Abed sketch... I really hope they do a final one. I'm also going to miss the random Dean entrances, as I assume there won't be anymore now he's banned from Save Greendale meetings.

Did not expect them to kill Pierce, although it does explain what the episode where Giancarlo Esposito returns will be about.
I hope the episodes stay at the same level throughout the series, or even get better. there are too many series on at the moment that have a few high points, and a lot of lows.

there was a troy and abed sketch, the tag in the second episode

and this episode also had troy and abed as a duo

It is darker, which is what makes me worried about how Troy is going to be leaving.

Best episode so far for me. While I normally enjoy the show with a smile and a chuckle, this one had several laugh out loud moments. 'Exhibit a and exhibit b', for example.

Re: Britta, I wouldn't worry just yet - on the evidence of this episode they seem to be building Duncan and Britta as a double act will-they-won't-they which is an interesting direction.

I thought it was a solid episode. While initial response to S5 so far seems a little muted, it's worth remembering that Community has always been a show that unfurls and improves with every rewatch - and I found that to be the case with eps 1&2.

If I have a concern its that they are somewhat recycling old material - we've already had a crime procedural parody back in S3, 'Jeff and Annie team up to unmask a conspiracy while bonding' has already been done to death, the Nic Cage stuff last week was a direct sequel to the 'Who's the Boss?' episode, there's going to be a Dungeons and Dragons sequel later in S5 and (apparently) now a second Pierce 'bequeathing'. Community has (almost) always done the unexpected and pushed forward, and it'd be a shame to see the show falling back on tried-and-tested formulas and call-backs to previous highs as so many great sitcoms inevitably do.

This episode blew my head off!!! When I saw the cafeteria worker (facial close up of someone we have never seen before) I had a stroke. I am 99% sure that she is Sofie grabol, the lead actress in the original danish version of "The Killing". Can someone out there in the internet please verify this?!?! Thanks

or you mean, troy and abed in the morning, no they didn't had that one

What really struck me about E.3 was how much it reminded me of an odd-ball French thriller with a nonsense plot from 2000, Crimson Rivers (Les Rivieres Pouprees), directed by Mathieu Kassovitz and starring Jean Reno and Vincent Cassell.

No mention of the Ben Folds cameo? I enjoyed the episode a lot. And M is right, it was made clear in the season 3 finale that Starburns was still alive in the final montage which gives me a bit of hope that Pierce may live again!

I actually think that the best part was that the Ass Crack Bandit was mentioned in S2 in Intro to Political Science when Annie was running for student body president and catching the bandit was a major campaign promise she made. Some continuity there :P

Sponsored Links