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Relationship Recap: Jeff and Shirley Bond on Community “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism” 

Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

What’s going to suck about TV in 2012? We’ll have to wait and see how long it’s going to take Community to get back on NBC after the network benched it from the mid-season schedule. The show may be ratings-challenged but it has an extremely vocal and loyal audience having just won the 2011 TV Guide Magazine Fan Favorite contest. And just as Community graces the cover of the entertainment magazine (well, graces three covers), it rolls out one of the best episodes of the season: “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism.” Game on.

Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

What was great was that it showcased Jeff and Shirley in the same storyline, something that hasn’t happened to this extent since Season 1. It broke down some of their issues with each other and gave their relationship a back story. In flashbacks, we found out how the two actually knew each other when they were kids and how significant Shirley was in influencing the Jeff we know today. And it all centered on that evil, vicious game known as foosball. Who knew that foosball was such a brutally competitive game? Or that it was the “soccer of Ping-Pong?” Or that Shirley and Jeff would end up bonding over battling some foosball-loving Germans? Hilarious.

Don’t you get it Jeff? They’re not evil people that are good at foosball. They are good at foosball because they’re evil. It’s an evil game that brings out the worst in us like out of town weddings where the reception’s in the same place as everybody’s rooms.” “Great. After three years of religious advice and carb-laden pastries you finally have one thing I actually need and-“

Shirley gives him a look.

“I’m sorry. That was rude. It shouldn’t be so important to me. I’ll ah…I’ll see you Monday.”

When Jeff can’t defeat the Euro dorks that have commandeered the school foosball table, Shirley comes to his rescue. It turns out she’s a foosball master. How awesome was that little display she gave? After some prodding from Winger, she reluctantly agrees to be his guru. You see, it takes a special kind of evil to rise to the challenge.

“Don’t judge the side of me that might come out.” “Shirley, I’m gonna be perfectly blunt with you. The few times you’ve been bad are the times I’ve liked you most.”

Tapping into that dark place inside is never a good thing. But it’s a necessity if you want to be great. Shirley’s all religious and while we know she has a dark past, most recently, she’s been the moral compass of the study group. So it’s a big thing for a spiritual woman like Shirley to unleash the evil within her.

Photo Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Meanwhile, the usually too-cool-for-school Jeff ends up revealing something pretty huge about his past in order to let his friend know why he needs to take out the Euro trash for good. When he was young, he loved foosball. It was a game a lonely kid without a dad could play because he didn’t have that father or father figure who could play catch with him. But then he started getting bullied and quit the game forever. Shirley tells him to be ready at dawn the next day where she takes Jeff on a trip to that dark, dark place.They scream and they yell “kill” and they bond. Later, Shirley tells Jeff why she had to quit the game.

In flashback, we see a young Shirley beating this kid in foosball. She’s totally trash talkin’ him and jabbing him with the rods to the point the kid starts crying and subsequently pees himself. We realize that the kid she brutalized was a young Jeff. All the kids were laughing at Tinkletown (Jeff) and Big Cheddar (Shirley) was the leader. Jeff doesn’t take it well and he walks out.

Later, when Shirley wants to meet up, neither of them know what to say to each other so they take it to the foosball table. But the thing is, Shirley has done her job too well and now Jeff’s skills rival her own. The level of competition is so high, Jeff and Shirley’s game can only continue in anime form (weird but good) where things did get pretty emotional. We learn how Shirley went through a rough time after she grew abnormally tall and everyone stopped liking her. And Jeff confesses he measured his status as a man based on winning foosball games. Even though the game used to be so important to them, they realize they’re good people now so they both back down.

The next day, they are ready to take the foosball dorks down. They dazzle them with their mastery and place the ball on the table so that neither team can get to it. Then they just walk away. They’ve both had enough foosball to last them a lifetime. They’re gonna catch a movie, which confuses the rest of the group.

“Since when are those two so close?”

Because we really wanted to focus on Jeff and Shirley we didn’t include any of the awesome Teutonic punnery in the episode, but how great were the actors playing the German students? Das gut (that’s German), right?

Only one Community left before it goes on an indefinite hiatus. Boo. Community airs a holiday episode Thursday December 8 at 8/7c.

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