Now this is more like it. After last week’s disappointing premiere, ‘Community’ rebounded with a quite solid Halloween episode. Of course, it’s nowhere near Halloween, but that’s what we get when NBC delays the start of the season by several months. This year, the study group is planning to go to a party in theme costumes, but a call for help from Pierce delays them.
At Pierce’s mansion, now left dusty and half-abandoned following the death of his father, the group finds him locked in his panic room, complete with 1980s interface panel. Pierce can’t remember the code to unlock the room and let himself out, so he asks if someone can find the notebook with the codes in it. Of course, being Halloween, and in a dusty old house, things are bound to go wrong.
Right from the start, episode ‘Paranormal Parentage’ feels far more like ‘Community’ than the season premiere did. Jeff arrives wearing a boxer’s robe and gloves (prompting Britta to question whether or not he chose that costume because of how much of his chest it reveals), and Annie is meant to be his ring girl. Annie is a ring girl, but misinterprets Jeff’s text and dresses up in a Samara (from ‘The Ring’) costume, with an inspired entrance. Of course, I will always hate the new showrunners for denying us a whole episode of Annie dressed as a boxing ring girl (and hate them even more when Dean Pelton pops up dressed to complement Jeff’s costume).
The search through Pierce’s house is full of wonderful moments, such as Troy and Shirley coming across Pierce’s sex room (complete with sex swing and gimp outfit). Shirley is worried that Britta, being an “experienced” woman, might be pressuring Troy into things he’s not ready for. However, Troy seems wholly innocent, and has no clue what Shirley is talking about. (He thinks that the sex swing is simply a regular swing.) This is far and away the best use of the Britta/Troy dating storyline to date.
Annie and Abed search together, and Abed finds a secret passage in a bookshelf (which he declares is the best moment of his life) that leads to Pierce’s security tapes. In a brilliant moment of Abed-ness, he begins watching everyone as if they were characters in a TV show. This is prime Abed, and Danny Pudi plays the part exactly right.
Britta and Jeff pair off, and Britta manages to actually get Jeff to open up about his father. Jeff reveals that he’s had the phone number of his father for several weeks and hasn’t called him. Jeff and Britta’s interplay is classic ‘Community’, and just as good as any of their exchanges throughout the series.
When the group finally gets into the panic room, another family reveal is even bigger than Jeff’s. The episode’s conclusion features a great use of Pierce, who once again gets short shrift this episode. However, at least by placing the action in his house and using his call as the basis for the plot, his presence is felt more strongly. In fact, everything is felt more strongly here, in an episode that proves that ‘Community’ can carry on under new management.