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Community: Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality Review

Considering the strong return to form that Season Five of Community has yielded so far, I had high hopes for “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality” and while the episode wasn’t what I expected, it was still a strong return to form for the series. In fact a lot of early responses are comparing the episode to Season 2’s “Mixology Certification” and I think that’s a very fair comparison with the majority of the episode centering on the same sort of bittersweet realizations that differentiated that episode from Community’s usual fare.

The general setup is that Duncan convinces Jeff to help him seduce Britta whilst Abed’s plans to see the new Kickpuncher reboot go awry when Hickey tries to teach him a life lesson. Whilst the episode did push Annie and Shirley to the side (something it was all too aware of) it was nice to see the show reintroduce the friendship between Jeff and Duncan. The riffing between the pair was fun to watch, with the opening scenes and Duncan’s later proclamation of himself as “British-Jason-Briggs” standing out as really fun scenes. Duncan was a character I really missed over Seasons 3 and 4 and the scene where he drove Britta home really showed off how great a member of the cast he is.

Community - Season 1The drastic shift in Britta’s character from anarchist to the-butt-of-all-jokes has been something that the show has already brought up more than once this season and it was good to see that tackled head-on in this episode. The scene where she spots her friends (“I don’t think he likes himself, why doesn’t he just pronounce it Michael?”) and is confronted with the idea that because she defines herself by how her friends see her their deprecating view of her means that she is meaningless and worthless. I think it’s easy to write Britta’s existential crisis in this episode off as a bit of an over-reaction, but there is a meaningful point that Community is trying to make here and considering Britta’s psycho-analytic aspirations, it’s only appropriate that she be the one to make it.

As always, Chang was the wildcard of the episode, and his M-Night-Shyamalan-inspired back and forth was a lot of fun. That said, it would’ve been nice to see his madness bounce off the similarly unhinged Dean Pelton, who was nowhere to be seen this week sans the post-episode sketch.

One of the biggest problems that Season 5 of Community is going to face is the handling of a post-Troy study group and the scenes this week between Hickey and Abed were a good way of addressing this. I think having the two bond as frustrated creators was a really clever move, and I think it could lead to some really interesting character development for Abed, who I feel hasn’t developed all that much since “Virtual Systems Analysis” back in Season 3. Between Hickey’s insistence that “THEY ARE DUCKS AND PUBLISHERS ARE INTERESTED!” and the back and forth between the pair, there was a lot to like about this side of the episode. This season seems to be making heavy use of Hickey with everyone sans Shirley, and having an episode that threw the bitter Criminology Professor together with one of the study group was brilliant. It’s nice to see the show make such good use Jonathan Banks as a member of the cast.

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It feels like we’re hitting a turning point in this season of Community. The show is making the shift from recapturing the charm that was lost in Season Four to redefining itself for the future by setting up things like Jeff and Duncan’s friendship and the creative partnership between Hickey and Abed. In any case, “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality” was a fine episode that recaptured the bittersweet creative tone of past episodes and set the stage for episodes future.

Join us next week for Leviathyn’s review of Community’s next episode “App Development and Condiments” and although the episode title doesn’t give too much away, I suspect an Abed-centric episode could be in the cards. In the meantime however, there’s a ton of great shows returning like Hannibal, Agents of Shield and House of Cards and you can check out Leviathyn’s coverage of these shows in the entertainment section of the site.



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