Community recap: Being Abed Nadir

Annie goes where no woman has ever gone before: The Dreamatorium.
Ep. 16 | Aired Apr 19, 2012

Annie finds herself wooed by a virtual Jeff Winger. Yes, she's being seduced by a fake version of a man whose primary characteristic is that he's fake.

“It’s almost too conceptual. But…I love it.”

Abed’s line from a few episodes ago could pretty much sum up how many of us feel about Community. And especially last night’s “meta meta” installment, “Virtual Systems Analysis,” a half-hour of white-hot coruscating genius that more than once dipped its proverbial toes in the obscure. At one point during our live chat on EW.com I even wrote, “This is all some Jungian deconstruction of the latent desire to annihilate the Self, right?” For all its silliness—pillow fights, blanket forts, Dreamatoria, “Daybreak”—Community has become one of the most profound shows on TV. So much more than just a clever hodgepodge of pop culture references. To quoteTroy, “There are so many levels!”

On one such level “Virtual Systems Analysis” was a master class in high concept that required Community’s actors to impersonate Abed and Annie impersonating their own characters. Community seemed to be entering the end stages of deconstructing itself. But on a deeper level, this high concept set-up revealed an essential existential truth: we can’t ever truly know another person. We can come close, sure. But we can never perceive objective reality, as it were, because the very act of perception changes reality. All we know of the people around us, even our most cherished love ones, is filtered by our personal histories, innate preferences and prejudices, desires and aversions. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle applies to so very much more than just electron behavior. It tells us that, in the end, we all truly do stand alone.

That’s why “Virtual Systems Analysis” is fundamentally different from “Remedial Chaos Theory.” While that masterpiece of characterization prismatically dissected the entire study group, “Virtual Systems Analysis” was really just about the craggy fissures and folds of two singular psyches, Abed’s and Annie’s, as revealed through a makeshift game of mental chess. Did Charlie Kaufman write this episode?

It all began with a mnemonic device: “Kevin, please come over for gay sex.” (Line of the Night #7, Courtesy of Pierce Hawthorne) Many of you probably agree with our Community live chat commenter Ipyngo when he said, “Wish I had that in high school biology!” Yes, the study group was cramming for Professor Kane’s bio exam. Despite their continual presence in the study room, they never actually seem to get anything done. “Definitely maybe” because they have such fun together.

NEXT: Professor Kane has the flu. Maybe he’s gone back to Baltimore? And Annie plays Cupid for Britta and Troy.


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