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Pierce deals with his mom’s death in the only way he knows how; denial. This leads to him going further into his religion’s (cult’s) belief system as he carries around a lava lamp which he believes carries the vaporized essence of his mother. Any time the show gives Chevy Chase a chance to spout off on his religious beliefs, it’s not a bad thing. Jeff meanwhile, goes into an existential crisis when he finds out he has a slightly elevated cholesterol level. While this might not be the funniest bit the show has ever done, it does allow for the welcome return of Patton Oswald as “Nurse Jackie.”
In a completely unrelated plot-line, Brita and Annie attempt to raise money to aid in an oil spill cleanup. This section is easily the episode’s weakest, as it never ties in to the episode’s other stories and has absolutely nothing to do with the life and death themes running through the rest of the show. Also, the plot seems cut short, with Shirly feeling jealous about being left out but then never saying or doing anything about it. It what is otherwise a thematically tight episode, these scenes seem extremely out of place. But, they do give us a scene where Brita and Annie imitate each other, so it isn’t a total waste.
And where’s Abed though out all of this? Well, in a plot-line so subtle I missed some of it my first time through the episode, Abed, absent from the show’s main action, appears in the background of multiple scenes helping a woman through the end of her pregnancy. We see them meeting, then him helping her as she goes into labor, and finally him delivering the baby in the school parking lot. As someone who appreciates it when shows reward us viewers for paying close attention, this was my favorite storyline. But the episode still worked well enough on its own that you could get through the whole thing, completely miss Abed’s section, and still really enjoy it.
While this wasn’t the most hysterical episode Community has ever done, it was one that showed they have enough confidence in their ability to get a laugh out of almost any situation, and rightfully so. While I certainly don’t watch this show looking for lessons about life and death, I love their fearlessness as writers and can’t wait to see what tragedies they’ll be able to milk laughs out of next.