I have to say I was a little disappointed Community was going to try for a concept episode so soon into the new season. I think it could’ve used at least one more “normal” episode before getting into the really strange and wonderful places this show has gone before. That being said, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” had plenty of jokes that even the simplest of minds could enjoy. In fact, I can’t help but feel that was the point of the episode. How many times was the word butt used? Certainly more than any other episode of Community. That’s where the magic comes together; “Intergluteal” takes the snobby homage aspects of Community and marries it with the easy humor of butt jokes. It’s a beautiful mesh and plenty funny.
Let’s tackle those two aspects individually, starting with what made the episode so funny. The idea of there being a mysterious villain lurking about Greendale, sneakily dropping quarters into the butt cracks of unsuspecting victims is ridiculous. It’s not exactly the most invasive crime, but “Intergluteal” sells it as a sexual violation. Troy was the big pusher for this idea, taking coffee from Abed and wrapping himself in a blanket, which he proceeds to wear for the remainder of the episode. He even manages to procure a wheelchair and give awareness speeches in the lunchroom. Also on fire was the Dean, who delivered such instant classic lines as “If you wanna make Trouble, go work for Parker Brothers!” and “What is this creepy business?” But the joke that hit me hardest didn’t pay off until the end of the episode. Early on, Abed takes a jab at those TV procedurals that have a detective with some mental illness who can solve crimes almost like magic. With words like “Painful writing,” Abed tells us he’s tired of this fad. At the end this proves true when he goes through his DVR and deletes such shows as The Bridge, Hannibal and something called Johnny Spectrum. I might be on my own on this one, but I clutched my sides laughing at that bit of humor.
Actually, the funniest part of the episode might’ve actually been the return of John Oliver as Professor Duncan. He enters the study room and it’s almost as if he wasn’t missing for two seasons. He brushes off his absence by saying he was looking after his grandmother and now he’s back to make sexually forward remarks at Britta. That is until he’s left alone in a room with Annie, who believes he’s the Ass Crack Bandit. That scene is ripe with creepiness and Oliver plays it up. The way he asks Annie if she’s going to pick up her keys is shiver inducing. I’m glad he’s back and I’m also glad he didn’t turn out to be the Bandit. It wouldn’t have fit with his character, even though he was too funny playing that level of creepy.
As for the style of the episode, this isn’t a straight up parody of any given intellectual property. Instead, we can see aspects of several different source materials. There’s the CBS procedural in Jeff and Annie’s trying to solve the crime, the Bandit’s actions bring to mind any number of thrillers, and the color palette could be a play on the overly green worlds of David Fincher’s filmography. The dreary, rainy atmosphere suits the homage well, but nothing could have sold it as well as Shirley’s two boys did. The first victim of the Ass Crack Bandit, Garrett, takes what’s coming to him as the boys sing a suitably creepy rendition of “Creep.” It was the perfect way to set up the feel of the episode.
But where “Intergluteal” truly succeeds is the drastic turn it takes when Shirley finds Jeff and Annie to tell them Pierce has died. This wouldn’t have been nearly as impacting if we hadn’t just seen Pierce – granted, in hologram form – in last week’s premiere. Thankfully, we do feel that blow, but not nearly as hard as Jeff. Pierce was many things, but firstly he was Jeff’s odd mentor. And now Jeff doesn’t have that man in his life anymore. Pierce may not have been a huge everyday part of Jeff’s life, but now he never will be a huge part of anything ever again, except in the hearts of his friends. The episode doesn’t spend much time mourning Pierce, but that’s okay. I think it’s better that nobody got to say a real goodbye to him; now they can have that hanging over them that they never spent much time with him. It’ll be interesting to see how Pierce’s death affects the show going forward.
The episode ends with the identity of the Bandit still unknown and its okay. It could’ve been anyone and, really, it was just a serial prankster, nothing to get really upset about. Still, I can’t help but feel this won’t be the last we see of the Bandit. Or maybe I’m just being hopeful. I’m certainly hopeful of Community’s chances of continuing with great stories like this.