Tonight’s Community was one of my favorite types of Community: the world-building kind. Titled “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics,” the episode was a committed (and thoroughly hilarious) genre parody of David Fincher-style suspense thrillers. And it went full-on macro, venturing into new and unknown regions of the Greendale universe, turning the community college into a Springfield of its own. Not that I don’t like those bottle-episodey group therapy sessions where the only things that are explored are feelings and emotions – those are also great, but these are a little greater if you ask me.
Over the course of the episode, we learn that the school has A) a robust enough media culture to support three separate newspapers (including a Spanish language one) and an FM-style radio station, B) a terrible baseball team and a soccer team of unknown quality, C) an indoor plant lab, and D) a stable (which catches even the Dean by surprise). There’s so much going on that even John Oliver returns as Professor Ian Duncan.
So what warrants this expanded lay of the land? Greendale has been plagued by an unidentified villain who’s been perpetrating the strangest crime: giving people money. Well, okay, that’s not the crime exactly – it’s that he’s giving people money through their butts. Dubbed the Ass Crack Bandit by the school’s tabloids, the perpetrator sneaks up behind people who have bent over and inserts a quarter into their plumber’s cracks. Here’s the history of the Ass Crack Bandit as told by the newspaper-headline montage:
“ASS CRACK BANDIT” TERRORIZES CAMPUS: PRANKSTER DROPS COIN DOWN BACK OF STUDENT’S PANTS
COIN DROPPER CLAIMS THIRD VICTIM
THREE MORE STUDENTS CRACKED
FOUNTAIN POOPER CAUGHT! COULD HE BE THE ASS CRACK BANDIT?
FOUNTAIN POOPER CLEARED IN ASS CRACK BANDIT CASE
HUMAN BEINGS LOSE 21-4: GAME FURTHER MARRED BY SEVENTH-INNING CRACKING
DEAN DENIES EXISTENCE OF ASS CRACK BANDIT
ONE YEAR LATER: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE ASS CRACK BANDIT? WEDNESDAY MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF LAST CAMPUS CRACKING
But the anniversary has passed, and the Bandit is on the loose again, prompting Jeff and Annie to become the lead investigators in their own dark BBC detective drama. Here’s what we know about the villain: he likes “Dave” (as in Matthews) and sounds a lot like Adam Driver on the phone. Oh, and he might be a she.
And that’s pretty much all we know about the perp, because, well, they never solve the case. That’s right, this procedural ends un-procedured (or something), and the episode ends with the Ass Crack Bandit’s identity still a mystery – just like The Killing’s first season. And to make matters more unsettling for the group, another major plot point inserts itself into the picture in Pierce-like fashion: Pierce. He’s dead, “for real this time,” we find out from Shirley. It happened inexplicably, off-screen of course, because we’ve all known Pierce was gone for a while now.
But hey, it was all still worth it. You know, it’s about journey, etc. Plus, the episode produced some great one-liner gems:
Prof. Duncan: “The nature of the Ass Crack Bandit’s crimes would suggest he’s angry, or just fell in love.”
The Ass Crack Bandit (via a letter):”I am the Mad Hatter, if hats were butts.”
Prof. Duncan: “Oh bloody hell, my shoe is untied by British standards.”
The Dean: “You want to make trouble? Go to Parker Brothers!”
Jeff: “The important question is, ‘Who cares?’”
Also, impossible to put into words is Chang’s backward-assed costume, designed to dupe the Bandit. It literally made me cackle like some sort of evil Coven witch. But what did you guys think of the episode? And who do you think the Bandit really is? Still Duncan, as per Annie’s red-herring run-in? (There could be two Ass Crack Bandits working together, with Duncan getting “cracked” by his partner to throw off the scent, a la Billy and Stu in Scream.) The episode ends with the suggestion that anyone could be the Ass Crack Bandit, and perhaps all of us are, in our own way. Still, my money’s on Chang (so to speak), given that his name is one letter away from “change,” which is just absurd enough to make sense on Community.