I recently saw the "Paintball" episodes again and it occurred to me that this was the point at which the show "jumped the shark". From this point (i.e., in season three) there were several times when they made episodes that were somewhat random and disjoint and moved further and further away from what made the show great at the start.
One thing that I love about this show is that an episode can transform into anything (and we know this especially because this is a western-style episode and the part two turns into a Star Wars theme). There was so much about this episode that I loved! The costumes, for one were awesome! Annie in particular, for example.
I have said this before, that I hate what they do with Pierce's character in season two. They make him the bad guy all the time. They have the rest of the group exclude him constantly, and after a while I just got sick of it. But he makes quite a name for himself for the better part of this episode. His motives weren't pure of course. It was all in an attempt to bring down his fellow study groupers (mostly Jeff).
Josh Holloway as the Black Rider was a nice touch. I love the cameos in Community anyway, so this was a bonus.
But, they trashed the school again, that is the best part!
Last year I tweeted Community as the most impressive and creative comedy of the year. While the debut season was more focused on comedy writing, 2nd season was all about creativity. Community took an ironic and sarcastic stance on pretty much every ounce of popular culture. Almost every episode in season 2 had a theme to it. From the bottle episode to pulp fiction parody, Halloween, xmas, valentine's day, it was all there. But the stand out episode, (after getting rave ratings in season 1) was the return of the paintball battle. Only this time, twice as much fun. Season 2 saw a two episode special paintball battle to close season 2. I have to admit after season 1, I thought using the same theme (trick) would be a bit of a drag, but, it was quite nicely done. Star of the western themed first part of the 2-ep finale was none other than Annie. She has been the goody two shoes of the show thus far, but this episode saw a welcome change. Annie came of age, and quite nicely ( ;) ). The episode also had a few guest appearances of note; well mainly Josh Holloway of 'Lost' fame. All in all it was a solid 25ish minutes of entertainment (50 for both episodes). Scene below shows Annie in a way we had never seen her. For more reviews please see my blog 'T.V et al' at
The paintball episode in the first season may have been one of the first times that the show went completely towards a specific theme. It's been awhile, but we're finally getting back to the Paintball episode, and as the first part of a two part episode, it was actually very entertaining. The show touched on a lot of western themes and actually added in some of their own stuff. We also get some minor character development.
I suppose the episode wasn't the best the show has done, not even the best of this season, but it was undoubtedly the funnest one yet. Watching Annie become a powerful woman, taking the lead, watching Jeff deal with his insecurity against the "Black Rider" (played mysteriously by Josh Holloway a.k.a Sawyer from Lost), watching Pierce deal with the fact that the group may be kicking him out.. and Chang just being Chang. I'd say it's an all around great episode of Community.
If there's one thing that I'd like to see more of, it's character development. We had some good momentum here with Pierce, and the idea that he may not be back next season in the study group, is an intriguing plot point. If the show can mix the genre experimentation with the great character work it's done this season, we may have a great season finale on our hand.
It took all year but paintball finally returned to Greendale this week as Community's A Fist Full of Paintballs hit the airwaves. To say I was excited for the beginning of the two-part season finale would be a dramatic understatement given how phenomenal season one's "Modern Warfare" was, and much to my complete and utter lack of surprise, it absolutely killed. Possibly not the best episode of the season as it has some fierce competition, but an absolutely outstanding twenty minutes of television nonetheless.
Throwing us in at the deep end, the episode opens with an introduction to the badass western paintball warrior version of Annie "The Ace of Hearts" Edison, saving Fat Neil before being forced to strike him down as well. You could kind of tell by this point into the episode that it was aspiring to do so much more than they did last year and they really didn't let up in their efforts. The credits alone deserve a solid mention as the cowboy theme continued throughout them as well before we finally come to understand just why everyone is dressed like it's 1865 and are hunting each other down once again. In a flashback scene we see that at the end of year picnic - sponsored by Pistol Patty's Cowboy Creamery - the Dean announces that a light hearted game of paintball assassin will cap off the year, but to stop the madness of the previous year, the prize has been downgraded from priority registration to a mere $100,000. The choice of using non-linear story telling was an interesting one, but once it all pays off, it was actually a pretty great way of bringing it all together. Five hours later, Abed "The Jack of Clubs" Nadir brings a ridiculous amount of cowboy charm as he convinces Annie to meet with Jeff "The King of Spades" Winger about forming an uneasy alliance to head into the newly erected Fort Hawthorne, and steal Pierce's fabled stockpile of ammo. It would be a lie if I said that Abed wasn't already my favorite character in the show, but moments like this one really remind me why. Danny Pudi's ability to convincingly playing anything from a charismatic cowboy to Batman is simply ridiculous, especially for a man that no one would ever consider to give an award to.
Before they can head off on their mission the group encounters a heavily armed and thoroughly handsome cowboy known only to others as The Black Rider (played by Lost's Josh Holloway). Declaring his intention to win the paint filled bout, The Rider then forces our heroes into running as they are out-gunned. Coming across Britta "The Queen of Spades" Perry, Shirley "The Ace of Clubs" Bennett and Troy "The King of Clubs" Barnes - all working for Pierce's group - Jeff, Abed and Annie are taken for an audience with the old man. At Fort Hawthorne - a safe haven/saloon established in the cafeteria - the study group reforms a bigger alliance under Pierce's rule with the intention of going to find the weaponry used in last years fight so that they can finish the game once and for all, splitting the prize between them. On their way, Annie saves Chang from the cheerleading squad - one of the many groups he has joined and betrayed - before hunting him down as well. Another confrontation with The Black Rider reveals that Pierce loaded Jeff's weapon with blanks and the group decides that his betrayal is one step too far. After arming themselves to the teeth with last year's guns, they head off to take out Pierce.
The only real character driven moments of the episode come when the group confronts Pierce and he reveals that he is hurt by getting left out all of the time - citing a card game he walked in on three days earlier. Annie, feeling guilty, reveals that the group wasn't playing cards but was in fact voting on whether or not Pierce would remain a member of the group; requiring a unanimous vote, Pierce was saved by a solitary red card - Annie's Ace of Hearts. As the group squares off in a duel, The Black Rider shows up one final time before getting taken out by Pierce when he fakes a heart attack. As Pierce flees the scene, The Black Rider reveals that he doesn't attend Greendale, but works for the ice cream company and was put into the game to ensure no student took the prize. With his reported failure, we see the ice cream company move to plan B, "Operation Total Invasion", as a group of Storm Trooper looking paintball soldiers take to the college to finish off the survivors. The idea that the group would vote out Pierce came as kind of a shock to me; despite his racism and general demeanor his character has always been a sort of focal point for the group. Although they may not like him, everyone has had some sort of meaningful interaction with Chevy Chase's persona over the season and though he will obviously be around in season three, the change in the group dynamic caused by this revelation will be interesting to see.
When all is said and done there is no other way to put it than to say that this is niche television. If you're a nerdy 18-35 year old male, you're genetically set to love it. If you're a woman that likes attractive men, you're genetically set to love it. Other than that, you're basically going to be wondering what the hell is going on on your screen. Community has so consistently done well at jumping outside of the box that anyone with half a brain has to respect it, but A Fist Full of Paintballs is nothing more than pure silliness and colossal amounts of fun. If for some reason you don't like that, that's your choice, but I have to ask...What is wrong with you?? The set up for next week's finale seems solid - the remaining students will band together to fight the ice cream warriors - I guess we'll just have to wait and see how they decide to wrap it all up.
when community anounced that it was doing paintball again i got worried, it seemd risky doing the same thing, specially since "modern warfare" was the best episode in season 1, but after watching 30 seconds of "a fist full of paintballs" all my worries went away. it was AMAZING! it was a round episode, it had funny moments and just enough drama to make it excelent! josh holloway as the black rider was super and annie being a bad ass was just fantastic. pierce has come across as a villain all season and it plays out great in this episode. i just loved it! to me, the best community has done so far.
Spoilers! 'Last year's mistake was way too valuable a prize' according to the Dean. So how about big cash money versus last year's priority registration? Go nuts, Greendale!
Well, it wasn't that cut and dry. Sure the prize was a big enough motivation to start the story, but our study group has something to prove. After all, last year the group got knocked out pretty quickly to pave the way for the first of evidently many Jeff/Britta hook ups. With a two part finale, the group has plenty of time to make up for missing out last year.
The post apocalyptic vibe returns in the opening; the halls dingy and strewn with paint splatters and overturned furniture. Annie is shown roaming the halls on her own and for a second I worry that we've already missed out on the main story. Thankfully we quickly learn that is not the case. The study group may be partially separated, but they are all still in the game. A game much different from the previous year. I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest Annie fan. I don't always understand her character. When I first watched this episode, I had those same feelings of not understanding her motivations and actions once again. But after I thought about it, I had to agree with Abed. She's kind of awesome in this episode. And not just awesome for the sake of needing someone to be awesome. She's the Ace of Hearts in this storyline for a reason. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn the study group has had enough of Pierce and has decided to put it to a vote via some sort of anonymous card vote system. But amongst the black cards, there is one red. Without a unanimous decision, Pierce is presumed to be in the group still though he has no knowledge of the vote and assumes the group is just excluding him from their games again.
As the Ace of Hearts amongst the other black suited cards, Annie is revealed to be the hold out and the only one wanting Pierce in the group. But Pierce sets Jeff up for an almost certain paint "death" and Annie takes this as a betrayal to the group. They were going on a dangerous mission to retrieve scare ammunition from the Dean's office and a run-in with a mysterious student reveals Pierce's treachery. Pierce's actions result in a stand off of sorts which on the first viewing had me confused as to why Annie was being portrayed this way. At the time, to me, it didn't make sense to her character but after I thought about it I realized Annie took it the hardest and had the most dramatic change because the whole thing became personal. She was the only one on Pierce's side and she wanted the group to see accept him. Instead, the situation turned around and she saw him more as the rest of the group always did. That's why she revealed she was the hold out; to try and convey to Pierce that he didn't have many allies left.
Did anyone else think after Pierce's "heart attack" and subsequent "assassination" of The Black Rider, the group would accept him back? Hopefully he will redeem himself in the next half of the finale. I don't know who will win, but that really isn't the point of the story being told. I just want to see what twists and turns come next and how the study group handles this big shadowy boss threat. I mean, it's an ice cream cone in a cowboy hat but it still manages to be menacing with quasi-storm trooper cronies wielding machine guns full of paint.
Great acting, great storyline, great homage, great way to prepare for the finale, great photography, great to see Alison taking centre stage. Pierce's so obsessed with Jeff and the idea of Jeff being gay that it also seems he's actually in love with him ... yet, the way Jeff also obsesses over other men (Rick, and now the Black Rider) may imply Pierce was right after all. I don't think the writers will make Jeff gay or come out, but if they did, it'd make sense in retrospect, and it'd be way more realistic than Teddy Montgomery (90210) or Callie Torres (Grey's Anatomy).
What's up with Annie's libido though? She's had crushes on virtually every age-appropriate (or around age-appropriate) bloke on the programme, but then again it makes sense for a girl with such a strict upbringing to go bersek while at college (or whatever Greendale accounts for). I've seen it in real life.
At first I was skeptical about Community remaking my favorite episode to date. But this was lit-rally... actually better. It was laugh out loud funny from start to finish and I really can't understand why the overall score is in the 6's. Are there people who spam shows they hate with low scores regardless of whether they watched it?
In any case, awesome two-part episode (although the first part was funnier). The slow-mo shots were hilarious. They basically used all the cliches and over-used sequences of action movies and turned them into a hilarious montage. And having Sawyer from Lost (I don't know his real name) make an awesome guest appearance was just the cherry on top.
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