Community #3.11 “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” Recap & Review Community #3.11 “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” Recap & Review
Derek B. Gayle reviews March 15 return episode of NBC's Community. Community #3.11 “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” Recap & Review

We’re finally out of the darkest timeline, back with a big wedding episode!  Well, Library Community College Re-wedding, at least.  Was this low-key, not-at-all high concept debut episode worth the long wait?

Recap:

Greendale’s coffee shop has closed down, sparking an idea for Shirley to use the space to start a sandwich business with financial backing from Pierce, who is “investing in new products.”  However, Andre proposes to Shirley for the second time, which puts the business venture on hold as they plan the wedding—which of course is being held in the study room of Greendale.  Britta goads Shirley on to still go with the sandwich idea, which she does after discovering that Pierce was actually fired from Hawthorne wipes after his father died.  Meanwhile, Troy and Abed decide to purge themselves of their weirdness in the Dreamtorium to be “normal” for Shirley’s wedding.  Jeff struggles with writing his toast for Shirley’s wedding, due to his belief that weddings are meaningless, driving him to drink.  Britta also realizes how she’s given in to her destiny of becoming the Betty Crocker/Martha Stewart/”Steppenwolf Wives” she never wanted to be, and turns to alcohol.  Shirley is late to her own wedding rehearsal after the sandwich pitch to Dean Pelton makes her run late, resulting in an argument between she and Andre—he wants to get married so he can stop being “Mr. Mom” and pursue his career, and thus isn’t happy about Shirley’s business endeavors.  Jeff and Britta, now completely drunk, get into an argument about marraige/try to get married in the chaos, and Shirley and Andre have to break them up, inadvertently making them realize exactly what marriage means.  They get happily married right there on the spot.  Sadly, Subway buys Greendale’s space, so the sandwich business can’t take off.  Also, Troy and Abed go back to being weird thanks to Annie’s Boobs (the monkey) and Inspector Spacetime.

Review:

Aaaaand we’re back!  So, was this the best episode?  Well, no—it was solid, but despite the fairly big developments, this probably won’t go down as one of the most memorable episodes.  But just because it doesn’t stick out among the show’s most daring endeavors doesn’t mean the debut episode back was anything but strong.

What I admired most was how well the character arcs between Shirley, Pierce, Andre, Jeff and Britta converged.  The show usually goes one way or the other between either episodes involving all seven at once, or episodes like “Studies in Modern Movement” where each story is distinct and doesn’t really touch any others.  But here, we got a nice domino effect, as every character’s interference in the wedding affected the next, until it all collapsed it on itself—which, ironically, is what saved Shirley and Andre’s relationship.  What began as a funny little “laugh at their drunkenness joke” not only revealed some things about Jeff and Britta (minor and expected as those things may have been) but also concluded the overaching plot.  It’s a fairly standard sitcom convention to have an argument bring out someone else’s revelation, but it’s still effective when it’s done as it was here.

Shirley got a rare moment to shine, as we explored her oft-forgotten ambitions beyond being a mom.  I’m glad her business sense came to the forefront; thanks in part to last season’s pregnancy, it’s seldom touched on that she came to Greendale for business (although even the Dean was surprised she’s actually gotten this good of an education from Greendale.)  The biggest thing we learn about her?  That her super-high voice is actually her “sexy” voice, according to Andre.  Speaking of Andre, he came off as a bit of a jerk with his “get back in the kitchen” attitude.  Then again, this is the same guy that cheated on her, so it makes sense to see some shades of jerk in him.  He came around by the end—and really, who could stay mad at Malcolm-Jamal Warner in his Cosby sweaters?

So, it turns out Britta’s actually good at something—wedding planning!  (Too bad people are dying in Uganda, though.)  But all this wedding business sheds a light on Britta and Jeff’s big issues; Jeff’s problems are rooted in his father leaving his mother and his belief that no one stays together, while Britta is worried because she thinks being a good wedding planner makes her destined to fail her feminist crusade.  Sure, not massive developments—Jeff having daddy issues and Britta struggling with feminism isn’t exactly news—but it was at least relevant and in-character, and ultimately contributed to the plot.  There could have been plenty of easier ways of getting the characters drunk without connecting it to their own pre-established issues, but this show has never taken the easy route with sitcom staples, has it?  I will say that I’m not sure I totally like Gillian Jacobs playing drunk, but it kind of suits Britta in a weird way.

Troy and Abed’s “de-whimsified” plot was cute, and basically what we’d expect—and with this being Donald Glover and Danny Pudi, they pulled it all off just fine.  Also, apparently being normal sounds really, really sarcastic.  I do wonder if it would have been better to see a little bit more of it.  As it stands, their extra-weirdness to contrast the normalcy (crab walk, Dreamatorium outfits, Inspector Spacetime) were some of the most entertaining parts of the episode.  Then again, seeing too much of the normalcy could have been over-the-top, oddly enough, so it’s probably best it was kept toned down.

I was actually surprised at how subdued the reveal of Pierce’s unemployment was, though he’s obviously still got money in the bank (and probably a share in the company even without owning it) so things can’t change that much.  But it will still be interesting to see where Pierce is taken.  I just hope we never see Chevy Chase with brown hair-dye again…maybe I’ve just grown attached to the gray, but brown doesn’t work for him anymore.  Annie was basically the sane one in this episode (well…aside from the giant wedding scrapbook) but still got a few well timed-squeaks and Annie-grunts in, most notably her reaction to Jeff asking for her help.  Sadly, there was no Chang this week and very little Dean.

In terms of analysis, this wasn’t the smartest episode; not too many layers beyond what we were presented.  Does that make it bad?  Not at all—the little things were still funny and cute, and it had the typical heartwarming wrap-up.  It’ll be interesting to see how much the character developments make an impact on the rest of the season.  But really, just seeing these guys back at all is going to be worthwhile.  Welcome back, Greendale 7!

Some stray tidbits:

  • The Tag: Chevy Chase vs. an ice cream machine.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Andre’s proposal was to a Boyz II Men song.  Typical Community viewers are old enough to remember them, right?  …Right?
  • The “Literally two full minutes later” gag is something you’d expect to see on a Cartoon Network show, so it feels a little out of place.  But I don’t care, it’s still great.
  • Jeff/Annie shippers must have gone insane after seeing all the Annie images pop up  in Jeff’s heart.
  • I tried Googling the Limburg Lean, and sadly it doesn’t really exist…yet.  Get on that, internet.
  • Can you name another low-rated NBC show that made shameless Subway plugs?  Although, Community’s wasn’t exactly as…affectionate.
  • Britta is “Pro-anti,” Shirley’s church looks down on Calico cats, Pierce has invented wireless racism, and his website URL is just glorious.
  • Abed has a spontaneous bout of offended yelps and the group isn’t that shocked.  They really have been together for three years.
  • “This is hardly the time.”  “Or is it hardly…the space?”  I hope Inspector Spacetime references don’t get old.  Also, that wedding episode sounds like something Steven Moffat would pull off.
  • The floral guy was wonderful: “We don’t call any color by it’s name, that’s like day one floral school stuff.”  “Color me lavender!”
  • “It’s the Jim Belushi of speech openings—it accomplishes nothing, but everyone keeps using it and no one knows why.”
  • This week’s Brittaism: An analogy is a thought with another thought’s hat on.
  • Meta-reference of the week: “There are a lot of layers to this.”  “It’s almost too conceptual to follow, but I love it.”

Derek B. Gayle

Derek B. Gayle is a Virginia native with a BS in English, Journalism and Film from Randolph-Macon College. In addition to being an avid Power Rangers and genre TV fanatic, he also currently co-produces, writes and performs in local theatre, and critically reviews old kids' cartoons. You can check out his portfolio here.