As promised in the previous episode “Repilot,” Season 5 of Community is working as more of a reboot than a continuation. The biggest change so far is that Jeff Winger is back as a teacher. It’s clearly a change for him, as well as for the audience. He’s quickly learning how different being a teacher is than a student.
Whereas in previous seasons Jeff made a habit of hitting on any woman he encountered, it plays as inappropriate now that he’s a teacher. Even his regular insults to Leonard get called out. He’s now sharing an office with Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks as Professor Buzz Hickey, a jaded criminology professor.
The rest of the study group is working hard to keep things going as they always have been. Abed rebuilt the study group’s table and labeled it the “Mark II,” because of course he did. The group decides to take a class on whether or not Nicolas Cage is good or bad, which seems like the kind of thing that, if it happened in the Dan Harmon-less Season 4, people would have criticized as the show trying too hard to be like Dan Harmon. Is Harmon trying too hard to be Harmon?
Just in case you didn’t catch that Jeff is a teacher now and hates it, Dean Pelton saunters in to treat Jeff like a Mr. Potato Head. (Pictured above.)
Kevin Corrigan is back as drama professor Sean Garrity to teach the study group, and us, about the pros and cons of Nic Cage. The class quickly feels reminiscent of the episode where Abed took a class about Who’s the Boss and just as quickly as you realize that, the show calls it out, because Community knows what you’re thinking.
Winger’s new friend Hickey is showing him the perks of being a teacher by stealing Leonard’s meatballs (not a euphemism, they really take meatballs off his plate.) He then takes Jeff to the teacher’s lounge, where as the students of Greendale probably suspect, everyone is drinking and doesn’t care about things like curriculum. Winger even gets some teaching pointers from Chang.
The study group is watching a Nicolas Cage movie. Abed is focusing on answering the question of whether Cage is good or bad, despite specifically being told not to. It sets up Abed’s storyline for the episode, but it seems a little forced.
The next day we see that Winger’s sort of hit his stride as a teacher, at least in the sense that he’s buddied up to the other faculty and yells at a kid for running. He even makes a reference to oxford commas, because Community is pretty great. Jeff’s stride is almost immediately broken by the realization that Annie has enrolled in his law class.
She’s calling him out on his complete lack of knowledge on the material, and Hickey suggests “taking her out… of the class.” It sounds more ominous coming from him, considering his Breaking Bad work. Hickey continues picking on Leonard, and it seems to be sinking in for Jeff that maybe that’s not what he should be doing. Hickey gives Jeff advice on how to deal with Annie, and says he should just give her A-‘s until she drops the class.
Back to the B-story, Abed’s deep in a Nicolas Cage rabbit hole. As was evident from the start, he’s getting too deep into the question of whether or not Nicolas Cage is good or bad.
In Jeff’s class, Annie tries to call him out again for not actually teaching anything. When they argue, Jeff uses his old lawyer tactics to frustrate and confuse her until she storms out of the room. The class is impressed by his ability to out-argue Annie, and he launches into an actual lesson on how he used to win cases.
That makes him realize he could actually enjoy teaching, so he goes to apologize to Annie. She’s upset, but not because of Jeff. She holds up a dead rat she says is from Professor Hickey. We get it. He played a badass of Breaking Bad. Let’s not overdo it here.
In reality, it’s her project for his class. She’s upset because he gave her an A-, which is what Hickey told Jeff to do to her. She thinks it’s because she’s over-extended herself with too many classes and says she’ll drop Jeff’s course.
In Nicolas Cage class, a debate breaks out about the merits of his career. Abed shows up late, and has a Nicolas Cage-inspired meltdown. It still feels like they’re trying too hard to redo some earlier Abed stories.
Jeff confronts Hickey about Annie’s A-. They argue about teaching, make weird comparisons between teaching and having a meaningless relationship, and argue about Hickey’s cartoon duck Jim. When Jeff tells Annie that her grade is now an A because minuses are made up, she goes bananas. Troy starts shouting “Et tu, Brute?” and then a riot breaks out.
Abed is clearing out his DVD collection because he’s lost all faith movies. Shirley uses the opportunity to try to convert him, but instead they end up connecting over Hellraiser and they learn an important lesson: Nicolas Cage is both great and terrible.
The riot reaches the cafeteria, and we get Jeff’s speech for the episode. The theme of which is that everyone at Greendale is terrible, and they’re all in it together. No one’s buying it, which isn’t how people usually react to one of Jeff’s speeches. The end result is that Dean Pelton orders Jeff to start a student/teacher alliance to save the school. Hickey comes in to apologize and quit, but Jeff makes him join the alliance instead.
For the first meeting of the alliance, they meet in the old study room, because of course they do. Now we realize that Hickey isn’t just some weird new teacher — he’s the new Pierce.
(Images via Community)
- Check out our recap of Season 5 Episode 1 “Repilot”
- Or see Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs talk about the premiere
- Watch a Greendale recruitment video with Dean Pelton