Community – “Paranormal Parentage” (season 4, episode 2)
All along Community‘s history of having Halloween episodes there have been themes of inner-conflict. Hell, each episode of Community practically has a theme of inner-conflict that a character just can’t find the words to describe it. “Paranormal Parentage” lives up to its name by dealing with the ghost of Pierce’s dad, Cornelius Hawthorne. On the flip-side however, Jeff deals with his ghost-like dad internally.
But how internally is that thought for our Jeffrey Winger? There are many times in “Paranormal Parentage” where Britta reminds us that yes, she is a Psych major and yes, she thinks she can psychoanalyze someone. At first it seemed like the show was playing catch-up with us on her character’s route, but in time it was just setting us up for a lacking payoff dealing with Jeff and his daddy issues.
See, that’s the thing with this episode as a whole. It feels very, very predictable and contrived. We know that Jeff is going to confront his daddy issues once Pierce brings up his dead father and Jeff immediately gets angry. We know that just as we know that Pierce is planning all of this in a usual Pierce-revenge plot that ultimately goes nowhere and leaves us questioning why the group still bothers to keep him around. Each scene (save for one) doesn’t have much time to breathe in the entire episode.
So Pierce sets up a haunted mansion routine, the group all fall for it because that’s how things need to be in order for the episode to work, and each character is paired off with another. Generally a character pairing is something that is valued or unique though. Maybe both the characters have huge tension between each other! Or maybe there’s an odd secret stirring underneath that only the audience is aware of. In this episode though, each pairing feels like it is doing nothing but trying to create tension. Britta tries to interrogate Jeff, Annie loses Abed, and Shirley out-of-the-blue starts suggesting to Troy that Britta is a little weird. It’s these types of scenes that truly bring down the episode by feeling like the show needs to move on, that it needs to create development.
“Paranormal Parentage” feels like it’s a Halloween special blended with a bottle episode: A goddamn mess, to say the least. In what will hopefully be the lowest grade of this season, the show really needs to pick up at least some originality. At this point, last episode felt like it had something more to it.