Did this need to be a two-part episode? I was left confused "Digital Exploration Of Interior Design" didn't wrap things up, partly because it left me thinking I hadn't responded as the writers must have hoped (i.e. anxious for next week's conclusion). I guess we'll see exactly how much continues into "Pillows & Blankets" next Thursday, but my guess is that only the Troy (Donald Glover), Abed (Danny Pudi) and Vice Dean Laybourne (John Goodman) subplot will see any meaningful development.
Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed a great deal about "Digital Exploration Of Interior Design", but I have to admit the episode started to drag in the last-third. The subplot with egomaniac Jeff (Joel McHale) confronting the fact a student died thinking he was a dick was okay, for awhile, although the twist that dead "Kim" was actually the (male) messenger of said bad news felt too obvious; Troy and Abed made another college-spanning pillow fort, which felt like a reheated joke, but I loved how Laybourne tried to split them up by making Troy feel there's an imbalance in their friendship (so Troy can embrace his true calling as a plumber/repairman); and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) had a very fun romance with a student who's changed his name to "Subway" (Travis Schuldt) to promote the fast-food chain, while trying to assure Pierce (Chevy Chase) and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) that she's actually sabotaging the corporate stooge from inside-out. Loved this story's Cold War spy tropes, the general satire of corporate sponsorship deals, and the lovely nod to 1984, too.
By the by, Subway seem to love sponsoring geek-friendly, low-rated NBC comedies, having seemingly jumped onto the Community bandwagon now Chuck's finished. And while Chuck's references to Subway were cute concessions the fans accepted, Community is already offering more invention with a similar sponsorship deal. Making "Subway" into a romantic lead for a leading character? How's that for thinking outside of the box? Brilliant.
As often happens with Community, there was a mix of good and forgettable material here, but nothing outright bad. I just wish the show was making better use of John Goodman; having given him a great introduction when season 3 began, only to seemingly forget he exists! I'd actually forgotten he's on the show, in all seriousness. Hopefully the remainder of this year's episodes will make the Laybourne/Troy situation more central in our minds—if only because Goodman, or rather his rumbling voice, are great to have around.
written by Chris McKenna / directed by Dan Eckman / 29 March 2012 / NBC