Episode Eight – “Intro to Recycled Cinema”
This week’s Community opens with Chang in LA being interviewed by a gossip reporter and, I admit, I was supremely confused. Is Ken Jeong being written out of the show?! Why? Is he doing a movie? Did someone really green-light The Hangover Part 4? WHAT IS HAPPENING. I breathed a sigh of relief after a quick Google search revealed that no, Mr. Jeong is signed for the entire season and I was just being an idiot. Was I, though? It wouldn’t have exactly been unprecedented…
I learned in that moment of panic that I’ve come to love season six Chang. He’s become a legitimate successor to Troy Barnes. He’s just as funny, just as clueless, and – sometimes – just as sweet. The writers have worked hard to make him over as “one of the gang,” along with Dean Pelton, and he’s definitely helped round out the cast and make the empty seats a little less noticeable.
All that being said, Chang isn’t around much in “Intro to Recycled Cinema” because his role in a ham commercial (I guess he’s acting now) and new catchphrase “Haaaaaam, girl!” have catapulted him into Hollywood stardom, hence the opening interview.
That’s right, folks! Chang is a star!
The gang is understandably annoyed, especially after Chang throws shade at them on live TV, but when Abed reveals he has footage of Chang from a movie the pair never completed, the gang endeavours to finish the film and cash in on their ousted friend’s newfound fame.
The problem is that Abed must stretch a 20 second clip of Chang as a hard-nosed detective into an 81 minute Guardians of the Galaxy-type space opera that, according to a big Hollywood producer (Steve Guttenberg), will land Greendale a cool half-million distribution deal. Even more difficult, Abed wants to make a legitimate film while everyone else wants the paycheck and doesn’t care about the final product.
Could you imagine if filmmakers behaved like that in real life?
So, in a very Simpsons-like twist where one story morphs into another, “Intro to Recycled Cinema” becomes about Abed and his struggle between his love for film and making his friends happy.
The story makes sense because, as we know, Abed doesn’t make films for the money. He uses movies to express himself because he has trouble doing it on his own. To others, films are cheap entertainment. To him, they’re something sacred not to be hurried or trivialized. So it follows that when the rest of the gang urge him to cut corners to ensure Greendale a big pay day, he’s unwilling to do so.
Seeing Jeff and Abed go head to head over their disparate values is always fun, but it’s also the sort of story we’ve been seeing since season one. Six seasons on, these characters need something more to reveal to avoid the show spinning its wheels and becoming tiresome.
That moment thankfully comes when, with the movie completed and all sides apparently happy, Jeff inexplicably freaks out and steals Abed’s laptop. When Abed confronts him, Jeff admits a deep fear that’s been brewing all season. Chang making it big confirms Jeff’s fear that everyone will leave Greendale before him. He’s accepted that Annie will become president and Abed a famous director, but Chang? Chang was his safety-friend – the one he could count on to finish last every time and make Jeff feel better about his position as a lowly Greendale professor.
Abed initially doesn’t know what to do with this information (because he’s Abed) but once again this is season six and Abed and Jeff have been through some shit. So Abed tells Jeff what he learned about making movies and how it applies to life:
“It’s okay to plan some stuff and it’s okay to figure out what we did wrong but our plans are going to randomly fall apart and our lessons are randomly going to be wrong, and if we just keep the cameras rolling and shoot a lot of crap eventually Annie is going to reach down her shirt and pull out a laser-bomb.”
Translation: So what if things aren’t going to plan? Like movie production, life is prone to falling off the rails. But if we just keep rolling along, eventually, something great will turn up. And I can be a total bro and agree Annie pulling a laser-bomb from her blouse is the epitome of good things happening, but I’m going to choose Jeff and Abed’s embrace after they pour their souls out to each other instead. My reasoning is that Jeff and Abed weren’t capable of such a moment in season one. Only after all this time have they both become human enough to recognize a friend in need when they see one. It’s evidence of a friendship forged by fire (well, hot lava and paintballs), and personal growth.
Six seasons in, Annie’s boobs can produce all the space-age incendiary devices they want, I’ll take honest character moments over them any day.
Most days. Eight out of ten.
Justin Rawana is recapping Community season 6 in a week-by-week format. He has also recently reviewed Harmontown.
Read all recaps of Community Season 6 episodes: 7 here, 6 here, 5 here, 4 here, 3 here, 2 here and episode 1 here.
Community airs every Tuesday on Yahoo Screen.