This week ("Virtual Systems Analysis" S3E16), we get another look inside the head of Abed (Danny Pudi), in a much more existential way than usual. When Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) informs the study group that one of their classes has been cancelled, it frees up a few extra hours for everyone to take a long lunch.
While Jeff (Joel McHale), Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Pierce (Chevy Chase) go off to do their own thing in "Virtual Systems Analysis," Annie (Alison Brie) sees it as a great opportunity to get Troy (Donald Glover) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) alone together to explore the potential of a romantic relationship between the two of them. The only issue is Abed, and in order to get him away long enough for Troy to spend some alone time with Britta is by agreeing to spend some time learning how Abed's make-believe, Dreamatorium works.
From there on out, "Virtual Systems Analysis" focuses on Annie and Abed's journey into Abed's imagination, while Annie tries to help Abed feel empathy toward others, even when she finds herself sucked into the imaginary world Abed has created. When Annie forces Abed to confront his lack of empathy for others, he starts to take on the personas of other people from their study group.
First, Abed takes the form of Jeff, playing with Annie's mind and her underlining attraction toward Jeff. Even when Annie starts to fight back in "Virtual Systems Analysis," she soon realizes that in order to beat Abed as his own game she must find a way to play it better than him and get him to figure it out on his own.
When Annie wants some alone time, Abed takes that as an opportunity to give Annie a chance to talk to herself. Annie figures out a way to turn the tables and starts pretending to be Abed, which in turn forces Abed to confront some old demons in his subconscious. Only then does Annie understand just how important it is to Abed to have a place where he feels safe and in control, and she does what she can to be a good friend.
"Virtual Systems Analysis" ended up being really deep, but just like Abed calls out, turns out being a little anti-climactic. Community never disappoints when it comes to bringing us original, creative stories unlike anything we've ever seen before, and having taken my fair share of psychology courses, I can appreciate this episode for delving into this kind of subject matter with pride and confidence. On the other hand though, I can see this episode being a little too much for the average person, who just wants to sit back and relax on a Thursday night.
That being said, I do not fault the show for trying to raise the bar and be smart, creative, and funny all at the same time, especially in "Virtual Systems Analysis." I applaud them in their effort, and hope that in the future, they continue to deliver the same quality of show that they have proved they are capable of making, while still staying true to their characters and the world that they have established.
I give this week's Community a 4 outta 5.
"Guys! We don't have to cram last minute anymore! Last minute got moved to tomorrow," Britta Perry - "Virtual Systems Analysis" S3E16