Community season 2 episode 21 review: Paradigms Of Human Memory

Diorama building leads to uncovered memories, shouting and the sudden desire to grease up and crawl into air ducts in the latest episode of Community…

2.21 Paradigms Of Human Memory

After the corporate espionage shenanigans of last week, our favourite study groups downshifts somewhat, as they complete their final anthropology assignment in Paradigms Of Human Memory. Apparently, anthropology homework requires a certain degree of sculpting skill, as well as an incredibly thick skin…

With the questionable teaching abilities of Professor Duncan, perhaps it’s no surprise that the anthropology coursework consists of building wholly unnecessary dioramas. As they have to complete it together, the gang are stuck in the library, diligently modelling clay effigies – even Chang gets a look in.

As is always the way, a monkey appears out of nowhere, kicking off a wander down Community memory lane, with a slight twist. This isn’t a clip show, filling the tail end of the season. Rather, this is an ‘all the stuff you didn’t see’ episode, in which we are privy to the adventures that didn’t teach Jeff an important life lesson, and therefore the edited highlights are all we need to see.

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The monkey is, of course, Annie’s Boobs, last seen exercising his light fingers and relieving the gang of some of their most prized possessions. It’s Chang’s grease-covered discovery of the monkey’s treasure trove that starts the reminiscing, although we could have quite happily spent eternity not seeing the little ex-Senor in all his Vaselined glory.

Anyhoo, it’s apparently been quite the busy year for the gang, with ghost town, Glee club and St Patrick’s Day adventures among the delights we didn’t see. The Glee scene in particular is hilarious – it’s been a while since the over-earnest karaoke show has been subject to the Community treatment. Brief as it is, the scene manages to encapsulate the entire show with just one word: sing. Genius.

Shown as a series of punctuation points while the gang fight – something they do almost as much as Jeff checks his hair – the cut scenes are amusing for the most part. There is though, just the faintest sense that the plot device is an all-purpose excuse to cram in all the jokes/good ideas they can before the end of the series.

Clearly, the Chang/Shirley offspring will dominate at least one of the remaining episodes, and with a two-part paintball finale planned, now is as good a time as any to plunder the joke surplus.

It also gives the writers a chance to let us in on a little secret. Been wondering why Jeff and Britta haven’t been quite so argumentative lately? Curious as to where all that sexual tension has gone? Well, it seems they’ve been releasing that sexual tension on a pretty regular basis – all over each other. Yup, apparently, they both enjoy an illicit hook up, but once the group have given their blessing, suddenly it doesn’t seem anywhere as much fun. So, secret out, and over.

There’s also something of a resolution to the Jeff/Annie question. Annie’s convinced that there’s been something going on between them all year, and reels of a list of evidence to support her claim on Winger. Unfortunately, Annie’s definition of sexual tension, involving one or two glances, and Jeff saving her from choking to death, is a reach at best, but she’s a dreamer. Aim high, Annie. Winger, of course, denies any attraction, but he’s a lawyer first and foremost, so scepticism would be the most prudent course.

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As the tension and volume of voices increase, one thing becomes clear: Britta is incredibly annoying. Actually, they’re all pretty annoying in their own ways, which is exactly what the episode is pointing out. Luckily, most of them have some redeeming qualities, not least Troy’s pathological insistence that cartoons are real.

Except Pierce. He is annoying in every conceivable way, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Paradigms Of Human Memory is an odd beast. Not quite an end of season clips show, it contains no outright spoof or homage, and no furthering of the storylines in any real sense. Instead, we’re treated to a Seth MacFarlane-inspired cut away fest that, while funny and as well written, as always, is curiously unsatisfying. But, it is way better than last week’s effort. It does leave one question unanswered though – what the hell happened on St Patrick’s Day?

Read our review of episode 20, Competitive Wine Tasting, here.