Community season 3 episode 3 review: Competitive Ecology

It’s the third episode of Community season three, and it’s another great one. But where’s John Goodman? Here’s Emma’s review of Competitive Ecology…

3.3 Competitive Ecology

Greendale Community College could never be described as a place for particularly sane people, but this week the crazies took over the asylum – in one instance, literally, in Competitive Ecology.

After Britta’s lame protesting shenanigans gave Chang the taste for meting out justice, the crazier than ever Ex-Senor Chang is desperate for a real case, just like a real detective. Sadly, being an unpaid, homeless security guard doesn’t leave much room for actual police work; thank God then, that Chang doesn’t live in the real world, and can invent a noir-esque conspiracy based on nothing but his own craziness. And staring at girls.

This, of course, allows the Greendale gang to beautifully spoof 40s noir movies, complete with inner monologue and just a hint of creepiness – it is Chang after all. And not only did we get a great spoofing, but we also got a rather large dose of the amazing Ken Jeong, keeping Chang just on the right side of horrific, and constantly hilarious. 

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Rather than locking the loco security guard away for the good of the community, Dean Pelton promotes Chang to head of security, despite the fact that the Ex-Senor set fire to the building and defiled a mannequin. Admittedly, it’s mostly because the actual head of security quit, but it’s still a chilling prospect. Clearly, Dean Pelton is as mentally unhealthy as everyone else. But it does mean that Chang will be creeping out the student body for a while yet…

Meanwhile, down the hall, our fave study group have discovered that it’s more than likely that they don’t actually like each other very much at all. In a Breakfast Club reversal, the group spend 24 hours discovering and then listing the things they hate about each other, under the guise and drama of choosing lab partners for biology. With an assignment to complete for the superb Professor Kane, and seven rather large egos getting in the way, the group crumbles under the weight of its own vanity with the addition of an eighth (temporary) member.

Deciding who should work with whom, and who gets stuck with Todd fractures the group’s fragile dynamic, and the claws come out in spectacular ways – including not completing their assignment. Thank God that Prof Kane is literally the only person in a 10-mile radius who is immune to their crap – failing the entire group was a genius touch, as was Annie’s reaction. Could it be that Greendale finally has a half decent teacher?

The addition of Todd (Funny Or Die’s David Neher) as a foil to the group’s repressed anger allowed them to broach subjects that ordinarily they wouldn’t dare touch. This was not only interesting, but also added a touch of reality to the proceedings – Shirley’s religion-based distrust of science would surely be an obstacle to passing the course, and Britta’s being dumb as a post just isn’t something that can be brought up in regular conversation. Although, maybe it should be – her future patients would thank them for it.

Although perhaps what was most telling is the fact that, when Annie fainted over her failure, no one, but no one, attempted to help. Ouch. In a deeply crazy episode, there was really only one thing that could have made it even crazier, and therefore perfect – the dulcet tones of one Mr John Goodman. His absence is without doubt a downside, but a small one. That’s the problem with superb cameos – once just isn’t enough.

Goodmanlessness aside, as is to be expected these days, Team Community have delivered the goods once again, albeit in a more traditionally Community way – film spoofs, squabbles, crazy little men, and Cry Baby referencing Iraq War vets are what this show does best. Long may it continue.

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Read our review of episode three, Geography Of Global Conflict, here.

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