“Step Aside, "Modern Warfare” Community Goes Even Bigger With "A Fistful of Paintballs"

Wow. The episode, titled “A Fistful of Paintballs,” a play off of the Clint Eastwood classic, A Fistful of Dollars, brings us the most action-packed episode of Community, yet. This was like “Modern Warfare” on steroids, and because this paintball adventure, sponsored by Pistol Patty’s Cowboy Creamery, is being drawn out as a two-episode finale, the central characters are being allowed more prominent roles than the last time they painted the halls of Greendale Community College red, green, yellow, orange, or blue.

The story-telling in this episode was brilliant, with loose ends finally being addressed, if not necessarily tied up. Chang was finally allowed to participate with the study group, only to defect at a moment’s notice. Likewise, Pierce’s behavior throughout the season had finally caught up to him, as the gang took a vote on whether or not Pierce would be welcomed back into the study group next year. Lucky for him, though, the vote to kick him out needed to be unanimous, and there was one holdout.

Speaking of Pierce, he managed to takeover the school’s cafeteria, transforming it into Ft. Hawthorne, his very own saloon with entertainment provided by Leonard playing keyboard and Vicki and Garrett dancing on stage for Twinkies. As Pierce is most confident when he finds himself in a position of power, he uses this role to his advantage, offering the study group ammunition and protection in return for their loyalty.
After laying out his plan, Pierce reloads the other six study group members’ weapons and sends them out in search of the guns and ammunition that has been locked away from last year’s game of Paintball Assassin. It soon becomes apparent Chang wasn’t the only one to double-cross the gang, as Jeff’s paintball gun was reloaded with blanks.

Also, for all of Abed’s talk of wanting more paintball this year, he continued to shine bright in combat, at one point taking out the entire math club by himself. He isn’t the only one who takes the term paintball assassin to heart this time around, though. Annie must have taken her early elimination personal last year, as she has transformed into the ultimate badass, eliminating a group of school bullies, putting Fat Neil in his place, and allowing herself personal revenge on the cheerleading squad. She also had some of the best lines in the episode, and from the opening sequence, too. In true Abed form, he responds to her vowing to go after Pierce by acknowledging that “she’s pretty awesome today.” Leave it to Abed to say what we’re all thinking throughout the episode.

Lost‘s Josh Holloway guest-stars as The Black Rider, a hired-gun paid to ensure that no Greendale student wins the $100,000 prize. He comes close to succeeding, too, all while stalking the study group throughout the episode. He manages to single-handedly wipe out Ft. Hawthorne after barely escaping a three-on-one shootout with Jeff, Annie, and Abed, all while getting under Jeff’s insecure skin. The final showdown features the episodes two antagonists, Pierce and The Black Rider, standing off in a quick draw with Annie and Jeff, with The Black Rider only letting his guard down to tend to Pierce, who has faked a heart attack. Of course, Pierce thanks The Rider by shooting him in the stomach and stealing his shotgun, before running off and vowing revenge on the study group. Of course, with The Black Rider now out of the game, it is revealed that there is something much bigger than Ice Cream at hand.

All-in-all, this show just continues to do things that a sitcom shouldn’t be allowed to do, and it continually succeeds at it. Creator Dan Harmon addressed this matter on Twitter in late 2010, saying that when it’s all said and done, he’d want to go down having created the best sitcom in the history of television. Creatively and qualitatively speaking, Community quickly approaching that realm.

And while we still half another half-hour of paintball fun to look forward to, the fact that Community has decided to make use of their hour-long finale by bringing back paintball may suggest that this may soon be their trademark end-of-year extravaganza. After getting a first taste at this encore, one could only hope this to be true.

Notable Quotes:

“We’re friends, Annie. We played Dungeons and Dragons together, remember?”
“That was a game, this is paintball.”

“I heard a rumor you never shoot an unarmed man.”
“Whoever started that rumor didn’t eat my beans.”
“Then I guess it’s lucky for me that I’m not unarmed, seeing as I’m… eating your beans.”

“Math club, I’m Asian. You guys Asian?”
“That’s pretty racist, man.”
“That wasn’t a no. I’m coming over… Don’t shoot me, shoot him. He’s white and he’s out of ammo.”

“What have you heard about Pierce?”
“I hear he’s still alive, holed up near the cafeteria.”
“Well, I hear he has more paint than a French kindergarten.”

“Does that guy even go to this school? He’s really good looking, like network-TV good looking. And did you see how big his guns were?”
“Why don’t you just marry him, Abed?”
“I’m just saying, Paintball is tough this year.”

“My forehead’s not that big, right?”
“It’s not small.”

“I’m not risking my butt hauling ammo back to the guy who has Vicki dancing for Twinkies.”
“She’s a dance major Jeff, and she loves Twinkies.”
“OK Black Rider, now let’s see who’s attractive.”
“Dude, you have a problem.”

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