I’ll admit that without Dan Harmon at the helm this year, the fourth season of “Community” has been a bit rocky for some people (and critics alike) to watch. And it’s normal – when a showrunner departs, things cannot stay exactly as they were. But this show, as Abed said during Halloween, used to be and will always be about a group of misfit friends who found one another, loved one another, and became a family at a wacky community college. And THAT notion is what “Alternative History of the German Invasion” returned to this week.
“Alternative History of the German Invasion” finds the study group lamenting the fact that they could not get into History of Ice Cream and instead have to take a real history class (reinforcing the fact that the Greendale Seven have, in fact, really not learned a whole lot while at college) with a tough, new British professor. Jeff encourages the group to think on the bright side: they’ll actually LEARN something. Unfortunately, just as the group walks into class, they encounter a trio of German students who badgered Jeff and Shirley the year before over a foosball table. Needless to say, the groups aren’t thrilled at the reencounter.
In class, the group discovers that they’ll have a test on Monday and that they will have to learn to see war from both the perspective of the victor and the vanquished. Professor Cornwallis challenges them, in fact, to see war from the perspective of those who lost rather than those who won. When the group enters their study room after class, they find the trio of Germans already occupying a corner table. Annie (against the urging of Jeff) insists that it’s fine that they stay – after all, she’s trying to be hospitable to the trio. Unfortunately, the following morning, the group finds their table occupied – the Germans have staged a coup and have decided to take over the entire study room. The Greendale Seven, in turn, declare war.
The battle for the study room is unsuccessful at first (they end up being banished to various study rooms, all in shambles), but eventually (through blackmail), the group wins back their room… at a cost. Upon entering, they notice that all of their classmates, the ones they have ignored and disregarded over the course of four years at Greendale Community College are staging a protest. What are they protesting? The study group and their subsequent selfishness, it turns out.
The Greendale Seven come to a realization in this episode – war always contains the victors and the vanquished. But, as Annie recognizes, just because the study group felt victimized didn’t mean they WERE victims. In fact, they were the selfish ones. To make amends for their behavior, Jeff suggests that they help bring what the study group has found in Study Room F to the rest of the school by cleaning up the shoddy study rooms their classmates use on a daily basis. He admits to having found his family in the study group and in that particular room. It was selfish, then, to hoard that feeling without giving back to the rest of the people at Greendale.
I think that what I honestly loved about this episode was the flawless combination of humor and heart (as well as TWO Winger speeches!), and the poignant reminder that this may be the study group’s story but it’s not the ONLY story. Their actions aren’t self-contained and the repercussions, whether good or bad, reach other classmates as well. It was a perfect example of the show “Community” started out as, and the show that it can continue to be when it remembers to slow down for a moment.
What did you think about the episode?