Intro to Debate…B-
Of the three sub-plots this week, none of them entirely worked out for me so it’s hard to put this anywhere north of the B range. However, the plots collectively the episode had enough moments to invoke a general feeling of gooey goodness in me by episode's end. A lot of it came down to the climax of the debate where the hot shot debater in the wheelchair does something completely unexpected to seemingly win the debate until Annie does something even more unexpected to really win the debate and tie up the B-plot nicely. Tying plot points together in a Seinfeldesque manner like that is always impressive enough to at least partially redeem an episode's lackluster plotting.
In the A-plot, Dean Pelton wants the debate team to do well and Jeff is seen as a prime candidate. He offers a carrot on a stick of sorts to get him to join. This plot’s been used before two or three times but maybe it’s the show’s go-to-move and I’m not supposed to dock it points for unoriginality. Annie wanting to be popular again convinces Jeff to put more effort into what he’s doing. It’s a redo of the episode where Annie bawls her eyes out to get Jeff to attend her Halloween party.
As for the B-plot, I would think it's a little early in the series for Abed’s meta-textual gags to work. Besides, where is he getting the free time and actors to create another TV show? The B-story ties into the A-story because Abed has a strange ability to predict the future and he predicts that Shirley will be chased by a werewolf and that Jeff and Annie will make out. Jeff and Annie start feeling (strangely) unexplained chemistry (kind of abrupt, since they've had zero up to this point). The A.V. Club’s review says that the sudden falling-in-love scene was supposed to be mocking the convention of how the librarian starts becoming sexy once she lets her hair out. Not buying it. The chemistry becomes hastily explained by Shirley telling this week’s will-they-won’t-they pair about Abed’s prediction.
The problems with the debate scenes themselves is symptomatic of one of the show’s main problems: Painted in too broad a stroke. The theme of the debate-within-a-show (that occupies a little too much screen time, in my opinion, btw) is whether man good or evil.
Lastly, the C-story is about Britta trying to quit cigarettes and Pierce volunteering to hypnotize her out of it. I might have missed this: Was he claiming to be an amateur psychologist in addition to being a toastmaster, keyboardist and fashion consultant (as when he designed the mascot) Sometimes it stretches it that Pierce is like the jack-of-all-trades until you remember that he’s not particularly adept at anything. Instead, he’s just that eager beaver who is willing to pick up any extracurricular activity and volunteer for any task because he wants to fit in and be respected so badly. That’s actually a relatable character in any college or group, so I have to give it that.
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