06 April, 2012

Review - COMMUNITY 3.14: 'Pillows and Blankets'

As the saga of the fort war between Troy and Abed continues, a hero named Jeff arises from the feathery carnage of this terrible uncivil dispute.

In one of the greatest episodes in television history (though, isn't every episode of COMMUNITY one of the greatest episodes in television history?) that a huge portion of humanity didn't watch, nor will they watch because it isn't totally stupid, Greendale Community College is given the Ken Burns Civil War treatment as a documentary crew is at the college to film Troy's apparent record breaking fort, but instead end up documenting the course of events that led to the resolution of this nasty battlefield that no one at Electronic Arts or DICE had any hand in nerfing.

As anyone who has been paying attention to this show knows, any time there is a film crew on school grounds, things may not turn out well. In this case, things get worse before they get better.

Segment 1 - Introduction
The narrator (yes, that's Keith David from PLATOON, the Mass Effect games, and THE CAPE) describes those involved.

Segment 2 - "Community: Pillows and Blankets"
The Dean asks Jeff to mediate Troy and Abed's issues. He attempts to give them invisible friendship hats but they resist.

Segment 3 - "The Cause"
The narrator documents the events that caused the fort war.

Narrator: Troy Barnes and Abed Nadir, friends so close they once graced the cover of Friends Weekly, a pretend magazine of their own design. Earlier that day, they begin construction on a fort made of pillows. Its name, New Fluffytown. Its goal, to be a newer, fluffier town than Fluffytown, their blanket fort from the previous year.

Narrator: When an opportunity arises for a world record, it creates a rift. Troy wants to go for the record using blankets for rapid expansion. Abed insists on pillows, declaring world records to be 'dumb.' Troy declares the declaration lame, stating that 'thinking records are dumb is stupid.' He secedes from New Fluffytown and begins constructing Blanketsburg on the other side of the campus. Abed renames his fort Pillowtown for the sake of conceptual symmetry. Both forts expand until both are in each others way.

The start of the war is documented via cell phone cameras.

Segment 4 - "The All Tomato"
The mediation fails and Troy makes an ultimatum... I think.

Troy: The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg says Pillowtown has until midnight tonight to surrender its territory.
Abed: The United Forts of Pillowtown declines the request.
Troy: It's not a request. I'm giving you an all tomato. Meaning, that you give me the whole tomato, or else.

The narrator then explains how Pierce sides with Troy because Abed is weirder. That is until Troy appoints Shirley his second-in-command, after she joins to make sure Britta doesn't put him on the weed. This causes Pierce to join Abed.

At midnight Blanketsburg soldiers attack Pillowtown in the library. Pillowtown counter-attacks.

Narrator: The battle lasts six minutes. No territory changes hands.
Abed: (voice-over) Blanketsburg has drawn First Blood. Pillowtown will draw First Blood: Part II.
Troy: (addressing his troops over a PA) Citizens of Blanketsburg, I ask you now to prepare for war. And I ask Garrett to please fix the microphone on my laptop. It's doing that thing again (echo)!

Segment 5 - The War
The narrator describes the stalemate of the war as soldiers fight but make little headway. Britta acts as a combat photographer.
Narrator: Unfortunately for Britta, and millions of photographers like her, just because something is in black and white, doesn't mean it's good.

We see pictures of the results of battle and exhaustion. The narrator then tells us of Jeff's sudden transformation from cool-guy-who-doesn't-care to an inspirational leader.... who is just doing it to avoid school work.

Annie has become a nurse who tends to the war's casualties. Her back-and-forth texts with Jeff read like letters from the great war except with smiley faces and special icons you apparently have to pay for in the app store.

Meanwhile, Pierce approaches Abed with plans for a magnificent weapon. When Troy learns of this through his spy networks, he jumps into action, using Chang's insanity to his advantage. His troops attack.

Narrator: Chang has recruited an army of pre-teen security interns while moonlighting at a local Bar Mitzvah. They were later nicknamed the 'Changlourious Basterds,' like 'Inglourious Basterds' but with 'Chang' instead of 'In.' I don't get it either.

The Changlourious Basterds are like little pillow ninjas and no one can stop them. That is until Abed unleashes his doomsday device. Pierce's part-man, part-pillow, all-carnage suit of armor. Pierce successfully defeats Chang's fighters.
Abed: (voice-over) The war won't stop with First Blood Part II. It will escalate to Rambo III. Which should really be called Rambo 2: First Blood Part III. But the Rambo titles never made sense. And neither does war. Abed Nadir, Facebook status update.

Segment 6 - The War Continues
Annie and Jeff meet in the triage area because she's been ignoring his texts. She wants him to be more expressive and write his thoughts in a journal. Jeff seems willing as long as it means she will like him again.

When Troy's extremely capable spy network intercepts an email from Abed where he details Troys' weaknesses, it drives an even bigger wedge between the two roommates.

During a cease fire, Jeff summons the two to a secret meeting place to try to mend fences by talking about how their friendship used to be easy.

Abed: He's right. Our friendship is dead.
Jeff: What?
Troy: Yeah. I think we should agree right now that whoever wins this war can stay in the apartment. Loser has to find a new place.
Abed: Agreed (they both leave).
Jeff: Uhhhh... I wanted that to go different.

Segment 7 - "The Battle of Greendale"

After a confusing description of the battleground, the narrator finally gets us to the final battleground of the war: the Cafeteria. Where the Subway store is prominently displayed for all of us to see so that we get hungry and want some tasty sandwiches. It works. I'm hungry. DAMN YOU SUBWAY! By the way, I never got my free $100 gift card. I hate them now.

The battle is intense, with Shirley utilizing DICE's latest massive upgrade to the suppressive effect in the Battlefield 3 patch, rendering anyone she attacks at her mercy until she is done with them.

The battle finally ends when the Dean announces that the Guinness World Record dude isn't coming and that the fort battle is over. Everyone leaves except for Abed and Troy who continue to slowly beat on each other. Jeff tries to break it up but they continue anyway, because they believe it is the last thing they will ever do together (awwww).

Jeff fixes their friendship by retrieving the fake invisible friendship hats and placing them on Abed and Troy. The two are besties again. Annie thinks he pretended to be gone long enough for it to seem like he went all the way back to the Dean's office, but we discover he actually did and he then notes in a journal, which he then hands to the documentary team because when he does something good, he has to be recognized for it.

If I had to rate this episode, and Dan Harmon has promised to play a video of me dancing in the nude to a crowd of strangers if I don't, I'd give it:

97.4443 out of 100

An epic episode. Not full of laughs but full of genius. I feel sorry for every other show on last night for not being able to measure up. If you didn't love it, then perhaps you should have been watching the Idol results show. No thinky too muchy!


  1. Genius is the perfect word for this episode. I laughed so when I saw Pierce as the Stay-Puff Pillow man.

    Good review.

  2. I got the BF3 references! Great episode and review too. Can't say the same about the patch.

  3. It wasn't just the Ken Burns spoofing that was brilliant, but having his style modernized to include today's social media. "Leonard likes this post," got me.

    There were so many tiny details that were cool. The IV bottles seemed to be upside down gatorade jars with yellow gatorade in them.

    An episode that will bare re-watching dozens of times to catch all the little stuff.

  4. I cannot believe there aren't more comments about this episode. I thought it was one of the finest in the entire series. They held onto the Civil War theme just long enough for me to still find it entertaining while not wearing out its welcome. I've watched it 10 times already and am still finding things I missed.

    Great writeup too. You put in a lot of effort and I appreciate it.