30
Sep
2010
Community: Season 2, Episode 2
Accounting for Lawyers
Jordan
After getting all of the establishing work out of the way last week, Community gets to settle down to the business of expanding the world it created last season. As years of watching television have taught me, the best way to expand the world of your show in its second season is to delve into the backstories of your characters. Finding out what brought each of them to the place that you met them creates a better understanding and allows each character to feel more wholly realized. The show began that process tonight with "Accounting for Lawyers," which shows us what Jeff Winger was like before he was disbarred and sent to Greendale, and also gives us a glimpse of how far he's come in the last year.

It all begins when Jeff's old colleague Allen (Rob Corddry) shows up at Greendale for an NA meeting and invites Jeff to come to a work party with him. Jeff is excited to get back to the world he left behind, and even more invigorated at the idea of leaving behind his uncool friends at Greendale. We haven't seen asshole, too cool for the group Jeff in a while, but the show quickly regressed him when he was faced with the chance to reenter the life he was forced out of. Normally regressing a character to fit plot needs is problematic at best in my eyes, yet I found Jeff's return to his old cynical ways realistic. because watching him grow out of them was so well handled. Jeff is a guy who wanted to be a lawyer at a young age (we learn tonight, after seeing the successful divorce lawyer walk away from dismantling his parent's marriage and seemingly not caring at all), and learned that being as cold, uncaring, and duplicitous as possible was the way to do that. He spent most of his life acting that way until he met his study group at Greendale and realized there was something more meaningful in forming a community.

His return to his old firm, whose senior partner (Drew Carey) started the place to get people to stop making fun of the giant hole in his hand, let's Jeff realize how much he's grown. It also gives the rest of the cast the chance to pull off a quick caper as Annie and the gang try to prove that Allen was the one that got Jeff disbarred. Hijinks ensue, especially when Troy and Abed are caught by a janitor and a panicked Annie chloraforms him. Not sure how to handle the aftermath, all three lie down and pretend they were chloraformed as well. When the janitor is unconvinced, Annie chloraforms him again and they decide to just run.

In the smallest subplot, Chang secures a place on the study group's pop and lock team, and gets a promise that if the team wins, he can join the group. When no one shows up (being that they are all at Jeff's old firm pulling a caper) he pop and locks for 5 hours. Of course, when everyone shows up to save him last second, having rebonded, they are almost immediately disqualified (but not befor Troy and Jeff show off their awesome moves). The "Chang wants to join the gang" arc isn't particularly complex or origninal, but it is consistently very funny, mostly because Ken Jeong sells it with the perfect mixture of desperation and sheer insanity. So long as Chang is as crazed in his efforts as he has been for the last two episodes, I think this subplot could be kept up for several more weeks without any diminishing returns.

On the whole, "Accounting for Lawyers" wasn't as funny as the premiere, but it did some excellent character work, and it had its heart in the right place. Community rarely has to sacrifice laughs to move its story along, and this week's episode had plenty of hysterical moments, even if it did spend more of its time on laying out the plot than it did on executing the gags. In short (and to sum up the reivew in as blunt a way as possible) I didn't laugh quite as much this week, but everything was so well handled and came together so fluidly and heart-warmingly, I didn't mind at all.

Grade: B+

Notes:

-"Let's get a drink." "Are you allowed?" "Yeah, I quit doing blow, not being rad!"

-"Did you know that gogurt is just yogurt?"

-"Follow my lead."-Pierce, directly before he knocks over a tray of drinks.

-"The credit card doesn't work, the chloraform does."

-"Thank you, Jeff. You make me want to be a worse man." I like that Jeff can completely rationalize amoral and even immoral behavior (because he's a damn good lawyer), but I like even more that he believes his own bullshit less and less as the show goes on.

-"Shirley, don't sue a stripper." "Why not?" "Life already sued her, and she lost."

-Troy freaking out over the body of the chloraformed guard was hysterical. I love his squeals.

-"Somebody...chloraformed...all of us..."

-"It is bad to hunt man for sport." "Bad ass!"

-Another great blip, in keeping with the Troy and Abed can't fail principle. "You have to believe, Troy...Wait, you don't have to believe!" "...I didn't..."
Tags: Community
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