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Community Recap Season 5 Episode 1 “Repilot”

New characters come in, regulars shift roles, and some even drop off.

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We were lucky enough to get two episodes of Community last night, and after watching “Repilot,” it was clear why the premiere was an hour long (aside from the fact that rabid TV fans have come to expect such premiere events from shows). “Repilot” had to do a lot of the heavy lifting to get the characters back together after Jeff graduated from Greendale, and by the time season 5 picks up, so have the rest of his friends.

Of course, being Community, even though the first episode had a lot of setup to do for everyone to wind up back at Greendale, it was carried off in the usual self aware manner that fans have come to expect. It might not have had a lot of big laughs, but the episode was a sneaky way to slip in a little exposition about how the show has been going and where it needs to go to get itself back on track, and it was reassuring to see that acknowledged on screen.

Oh, and Dan Harmon (whose absence last season was noticeable) is back in charge of the show, which involved a lot of reasserting his dominance through the characters’ words in the first episode, and that was pretty great.

Anyway, here’s how Community’s “Repilot” went down:

The episode jumps right into a battle between Jeff Winger and a giant robot, because why wouldn’t it? As it turns out, this is a commercial for Jeff’s new law practice (which is failing), and the TV it’s playing on is disconnected and taken away by repo men. So is everything else in his office, because apparently being a nice guy lawyer who helps people battle “the man” (artfully represented by the giant robot) isn’t going so well for Jeff.

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Objection!

That’s when Rob Corddry drops in as Jeff’s perfect scumbag ex-legal partner/rival Alan Connor to throw him one last chance at redemption. Redemption, in this case, means turning back to his pre-Community ways of talking arson victims into preferring their houses burned down and being a huge jerk, because that would be super helpful for Connor to win a case against Greendale.

Greendale-educated engineer Marvin Humphries designed a bridge that collapsed, and Connor wants Jeff to get the student’s records for a lawsuit before they’re shredded by the school. That’s where the two lay down some setup for the rest of the episode as Jeff argues that Greendale wouldn’t do something like that, and Connor tries to convince him it’s a diploma mill that Jeff should be as angry at as anyone else.

He tries to resist, but upon losing the source of his powers (alcohol) to the repo men, Jeff has nothing left to lose but the humanity he gained at Greendale.

Cue the theme song. Uplifting so far, huh?

So, Jeff returns to Greendale, which is pretty much the same as the study group left it, and after a quick pit stop to yell at Leonard, he drops by the school office in search of Humphries’ records. That, of course, is where he runs into Dean Pelton, who immediately assumes Jeff wants to help Greendale with the case.

Seeing an opportunity to get the records and get out, Jeff tells the Dean that he’s forming the “Save Greendale” committee, and the Dean directs him to the records room, which has overtaken the group’s study room in their absence.

After he takes a brief look through the school’s humorously unsettling records, Jeff’s five walking consciences (the rest of the old study group minus Pierce) show up to join the committee he suddenly regrets creating and save the school.

They all gather `round the study table like old times, Jeff can’t take the guilt of returning to his old ways and excuses himself from the room, and Abed fulfills his usual role by talking about how they’re repiloting like Scrubs season 9 and what that entails. He also mentions Jeff becoming a teacher, which Jeff quickly brushes off and mocks, but now you know it’s totally going to happen.

Troy has an outburst about Zach Braff leaving Scrubs early in a fun nod to the very not-fun fact that Troy will sadly only be in a handful of Community episodes this season.

If you didn’t already know that, pause here to recompose yourself. We’ll wait…

As Jeff is about to reveal the plot against Greendale to the Dean, he enters Pelton’s office to find that he was shred-dean Humphries’ records, which Jeff was certain that Greendale was too upstanding (or bumbling. Or some combination of the two) to get rid of. After seeing Humphries thesis work on bridge engineering:

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Structurally sound.

Jeff informs Connor, who also has nothing left but the case they just lost to a shredder, but with his faith in Greendale destroyed, Jeff sets out to convince the rest of his friends that they’ve been wronged by Greendale and deserve compensation.

He gets them to brainstorm ways a student might have been wronged by the school, which leads them all to finally tell us what’s been going on in their lives since they left. Annie is a pill pushing representative for a pharmaceutical company, Britta is a “modern day psychologist” which is her way of saying bartender, Abed is now a computer programmer whose only filmmaking gig was shooting Jeff’s robot commercial which we should have realized sooner because of the robot, and Troy is waiting around for Abed to get rich off of apps so he can sue him The Social Network-style.

That’s the first of a few times the show tries to make the point that Troy has the least character out of the group to presumably lessen the blow when we lose him later in the season, but come on—nothing can soften that blow.

The revelations about how they’ve missed their aspirations cause the group to start arguing, which degenerates into a full-on pity party with the revelation that Shirley has lost her business and her husband, again.

Meanwhile, Jeff informs Connor that this case is his now, which involves half of an evil monologue, whipping him with his own tie, and a promise to make the last four years of his friends’ lives un-happen. A fresh start! Repiloting!

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No monologue for you!

Back in the study room, everything is going according to Jeff’s evil plan, and everyone has become pretty sure that Greendale is to blame for everything that’s gone wrong in their lives. Their solution? Re-enroll at Greendale!

Wait, what?

Luckily for Jeff, that’s when Chang decides to bust out of his cardboard box fort at the back of the room and Chang-es everyone’s mind about Greendale with the revelation that they’ve rehired him as a math teacher. You know, despite all of the school burning, kidnapping, and general insanity.

They’re all in such disbelief at the school’s idiocy that they don’t even really seem to care when Connor drops by to tell them Jeff is playing them. No, all it takes is a quick reminder from Jeff of how their characters have strayed to get them on his side again, and that’s where Dan Harmon basically makes us all a promise to right the show’s wrongs and take it to even better places in season 5.

And no, in Jeff’s words, he won’t blame it all on the last season which they all refer to as the “gas leak year.”

In classic Jeff Winger fashion, he tells each of the characters exactly who they used to be and how they’ve lost that, but he focuses on everyone but himself. They all agree that if Jeff is really still the same evil lawyer he always was, then Greendale has failed, and they sign his ambiguous “sue Greendale” legal document.

Of course, Jeff is not the same scumbag he was when the show started, which is another nod by Harmon that the show has also done some things right, and he’s reminded by a hologram of Pierce Hawthorne (unlikely voice of reason) that he shouldn’t turn his back on the school.

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Really. Full Jedi ghost style and everything.

He tells the Dean that Greendale needs to shape up if it was that easy to get the study group to turn against it, and the Dean offers him a gig as a teacher so that he can stick around and help the school fix its problems.

Jeff finds the study group as they prepare to burn their table outside the school and tells them that they should stay and continue to work on becoming the people they want to be together, and despite Jeff’s manipulation, everything falls into place basically as Abed predicted, as usual.

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Oh, and they accidentally still set the table on fire, which is a nice image to ceremonially reboot the show.

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And Jeff is a teacher now, but we’ll get to that in the next episode.

Overall it was a solid start and was a second pilot exactly as promised, but the episode that aired after it certainly got to have a lot more fun.

(images via Community)

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.