Community Review – “Modern Espionage” S6E11

The 11th episode sees the gang waging a secret war. A paintball war. An illegal secret paintball war. Despite Frankie’s constant recriminations against paintball, City College is offering a cash prize for the person who paints the most ball. In the midst of it is the mysterious sharpshooter Silver Balls. Can the gang wage their secret war, beat back the creeping scourge of City College, and unmask Silver Balls? I dunno. Prolly.

Pros:

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STAR BURNS, MOTHER F*CKERS!!: Being the kind of guy I am, I am all over the Harmontown podcast and Community subreddit, and this has been a constant question all season: where is Star Burns? As hard as it may be to believe, the truth is Dino Stamatopoulos hates acting on Community, which sounds utterly inconceivable to us mortals. It’s nice that they gave him a character wrap up as nearly satisfying as Dr. Spaceman’s.

There is no paintball: This season has been real anemic on the side-characters. It’s great seeing Todd, Vicki, Starburns, and Garrett get such prominent roles.

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Abed corrects us on homage vs. parody: I love Dan Harmon correcting the misapprehensions of his fans via Abed.

Koogler!: So, if you don’t know, like, if you were on a Japanese submarine since 1935 and didn’t learn the war was over, or you just got released from a Victorian asylum, The Koogler (or Fun Dad for this episode) is creator of Arrested Development and all around comedy god Mitch Horowitz. And if you don’t listen to Harmontown, well, I’m not sure what you’re wasting your life on, but go listen to it right now, and listen to any of the episodes with Mitch as guest star. Plus, this scene is great because Abed hasn’t gotten to do much this season. I love Jeff’s command that there be no “references, no callbacks” right before Fun Dad Koogler appears. And I love Abed’s line, “That’s the description of every paintball.” Oh, so you know your stuff.

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“Desperate Deans call for dean-sperate measures”: I’m glad the double-deaning is back in play.

Abed and Annie in the morning: Abed and Annie teaming up is one of the best things to happen since King T. Rex defeated Hitler’s Murder Go-Bots.

Last action dean-ro: A dean action scene is unexpected, but deeply satisfying.

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Who’s heckling me?: Abed. Abed is heckling you. Also, I love Kumail Nanjiani. He was a longtime Harmontown staple, plus he runs his own fantastic podcast, The X-Files Files, AND he stars in Silicon Valley. I love that he can take time out of a busy day to mastermind a hostile takeover. I also like their exchange about Indian vs. Arabic. Kumail is Pakistani, and talks, frequently, about the terrible stereotyping he experiences in the pursuit of acting gigs.

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Frankie’s revenge: Frankie’s revenge is amazing. She’s been spending this whole season trying to fit in with the group being unsuccessful. I think she’s finally cracked it in her own way. Plus, this is the first time I’ve felt she’s clicked as a main character.

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Monologues about Vicki’s solo show: These post credit sequences this season have been the most satisfying. I love the line they’ve struck between funny, touching, and uncomfortable.

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Cons:

Club Club: I love the joke of Club Club, and the place of nightclubs as a threshold for heroes in the action genre. However, and this is my only criticism of this episode, the club looks cramped and cheap. In fact, this whole season periodically looks small and cheap. It doesn’t dissolve my ability to enjoy the show, but how many scenes have been shoehorned into that janitor’s closet in the last 3 episodes alone? Meanwhile, I’m not even 100% sure I’ve seen a classroom or the quad once this whole season.

Final Ramblings:

This is the best episode of the season so far. It continues this frustrating “Save Greendale” theme that’s permeated the last two seasons, but it mixes in some pure, bizonkers buhnaynays for good measure. The theme of saving Greendale has really dragged this season down, but this episode was able to synthesize that compulsion into the school’s longstanding rivalry with City College. And turn away if you don’t want spoilers, because, y’know, SPOILERS… but am I wrong in thinking that the janitor was Silver Balls? That was my suspicion when I watched the episode the first time, and I could have sworn that was even explained, but the second time through I can’t tell. Either way, best episode of the season so far, and the more restrained smaller scale espionage story really spiced up paintball, which otherwise might have been kind of a burnt out idea.


Hush Comics gives “Modern Espionage” an A for being able to muster up enough school spirit to make us remember why we love Community in the first place.

All images belong to Yahoo! Screen.

Published by

jh montgomery

I'm a guy with opinions. Some of those are about science fiction. Like a voice shouting into a hurricane of voices, I write about science fiction for Hush Comics. I grew up watching the original Star Trek with my mom in our basement. I have shockingly few memories of it, apart from the silver and gray grid covered VHS boxes old Star Trek tapes came in, but it left it's mark forever. My first memory of being in a movie theater was Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. A group entered dressed as the crew of Star Trek, acting the part (the man dressed in Vulcan robes addressing the man with a middle-aged lesbian perm as captain). I nearly lost my mind with the excitement of sharing a theater with Leonard Nimoy. No no, my mom would tell me: that's someone dressing up. Impossible. Later, I would walk in on my parents watching the wrong movie at the wrong moment and be mortally terrified of alien abductions from the age of eight to thirteen. This fear was so strong, I couldn't watch the X-Files until it came to Netflix. As a teenager, hearing the theme song coming from another room in the house would give me anxiety. Science fiction, at its best is the pursuit, and evolution, toward transcendance: cultural, technological, spiritual. Transcendance marked me early, and forever.

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