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Community's latest episode, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics,” is one of the show’s best episodes to date. The episode offered a wonderfully realized spoof on not only David Fincher’s cinematographic style – replete with downpours of rain, dimly lit scenes, and the queasy greens and cool blues taken straight from Fincher’s color palette – but the famous Zodiac killer that took San Francisco by storm in the 1970s. And in true Community fashion, amongst the goofiness that ensued, Dean Pelton made a substantive realization about the relationship between Jeff and Annie, showing that Community will always offer up some substance along with its style.
Oh yeah, Pierce is also dead.
“Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” was about the return of the “Asscrack Bandit,” an anonymous villain who would wait for someone to bend over before sliding a cold quarter down the back of someone’s pants, which is also know as “cracking or being cracked." The Asscrack Bandit starts sending Dean Pelton letters, much in the vein of the Zodiac killer, which tells how no one will ever catch him and includes a Dave Matthews Band inspired limerick about ants – which Jeff and Annie take as a major clue. Soon, Annie convinces Jeff to help her find the Asscrack Bandit as she believes he is actually a teacher and Dean Pelton refuses to look into teachers.
It is the juxtaposition of such high quality filmmaking and the inherent goofy, over the top humor of Community that makes “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” such a treat to watch. While Community is no stranger to doing entire episode spoofs – the paintball finales, Christmas specials, or the Law and Order spoof come to mind – this was the most fully realized of them all. Fincher’s style was almost exactly replicated in both look and story and the show never lost itself amidst this grand parody. “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” felt very much like creator Dan Harmon has wanted to do an episode in this style for quite some time and he wasn’t going to waste his chance to do it this time around.
While all this was going on, the question of what exactly is Jeff and Annie’s relationship was continually brought up. Dean Pelton, in a classic detectives being chewed out by the captain scene, first brings it up saying that perhaps they are placing more importance on this in order for them to feel justified in working closely with one another. Later, Annie asks what exactly Jeff is doing when he grabs her shoulders and he replies with “plutonic shoulder holding.” He then demonstrates the same on Leonard, which makes Leonard go in for a kiss.
Of our normal group, Troy is the only one who gets cracked and throughout the episode acts as if he were a true victim, being wheeled around by Abed with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. Perhaps Troy will no longer like butt stuff, as he has so long intimated over the seasons of the show. “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” also saw the return of somewhat recurring characters Professor Duncan and Starburns. Duncan ends up thoroughly creeping Annie out in one scene after Starburns, the supposed Asscrack Bandit has been caught and a dance is being held celebrating his capture.
As Jeff and Annie sift through the foggy dance to find the Asscrack Bandit they come across Shirley who tells them that Pierce has died. This was rushed, as was the group dealing with it, but when there are only so many minutes in a half hour show. The ending montage, where it is clear that everyone suspects everyone of being the Asscrack Bandit, was a nice touch and gave the spoof the finality it required.
While there were a few missed opportunities, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” was an amazing half hour of television. Whether it was Chang walking backwards but dressing up as if he was walking forwards to prevent from being cracked; Leonard selling overalls to prevent crackings; Ben Folds’s random appearance; or the hilarious song about the Asscrack Bandit playing on the campus radio station; “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” not only brought a fully realized noir spoof but also plenty of Community style hilarity that hearkens back to the glory days of the show.