I wish we could switch bodies
This episode caught me off guard by putting Troy and Britta’s relationship center stage. It’s been a background feature of the season, but it hasn’t really seemed to matter to the stories we’ve been shown. We haven’t seen enough of their relationship for me to have an opinion about whether it’s going well or poorly. As I noted in response to Herstory of Dance, Troy didn’t seem to have very much fun while playing the dutiful boyfriend to Britta the dance-planner, but that seemed to have less to do with Britta and more to do with Abed (as usually is the case with Troy). So here we are, asked to believe that Troy thinks there’s really something wrong in their relationship that makes it too much work. I guess it would have felt more plausible if the problem was just that they didn’t seem to matter much to one another as romantic partners, but both Abed-as-Troy and Troy himself indicate there’s a bigger problem. Overall, then, a Troy- and Britta-oriented episode didn’t feel called for.
I did think that Troy being the one who had an emotional need for the body-switching bit was a welcome change from the show featuring Abed as the one who relies on pop culture references to express or cope with his feelings. While I can believe that Abed, always ready for the imaginarium and other adventures, immediately would jump on board with Troy’s declaration that they had switched bodies, I did question whether he would intuit the reasons Troy needed that experience. The episode both asked us to see Abed as a robot in Troy’s performance of him and to see actual Abed as empathetic and intuitive enough to understand that his role is to break up with Britta on Troy’s behalf. On a couple of levels, then, the plot motivating the body-switch didn’t work for me.
It still was fairly fun and funny, but I guess I would rather have watched Troy and Abed perform one another with a different motivation. The dean’s performance of Jeff was the funniest of the impersonations, complete with raised eyebrow and exposed abs. Those and other moments at the edges of the Troy-Abed-Britta story, like the custodians playing murder mystery during the day, were the highlights of the episode.
Don’t forget to check your light switches-
Oh, E – it seems we can never agree! I actually enjoyed this episode, thinking it was perhaps the strongest of the season, and for a few reasons. I think the very fact that we don’t know much about Troy and Britta’s relationship – except its awkward moments – is precisely what has been letting us know that it doesn’t work. I’ve been puzzled that they’ve kept it up. So given that the classic sitcom spin is to get two characters together/married in the last few episodes (something Parks and Rec and 30 Rock both debunked this year), I thought this episode took that debunking one step further – it’s possible for there to be a significant break up in the last few episodes, and to have that have significant emotional import as well. We get to see the failure of a relationship (which has actually been brewing since the first season – when I rewatch old ones, I’m surprised to see that the Troy/Britta pairing is about as old as the Annie/Jeff one) as a good thing – the return to friendship of Troy and Britta, and the solidifying of the fact that the Abed/Troy relationship is actually perhaps the loveliest one on the show.
My only disappointment was that the body switch was revealed to be a big psychological experiment/game, and that no mystery was left as to whether or not it might have *actually* occurred. This is a show that allows that kind of magical realism/ridiculous narrative – after all, characters sometimes turn into puppets or claymation figures. But even this disappointment intrigued me more than any episodes have had the chance to do yet this season – just where is the line for Troy and Abed between fantasy and reality? Isn’t their play-acting actually a truer version of ‘reality’ (?) than much of anything else they do sometimes?
I hear you on Abed’s supposed compassion and intuition – my read of that was that Troy had actually told Abed all his feelings…and so Abed’s cool, rational, lack of empathy actually allowed him to be more of a service to his friend’s needs than an emotional investment would have been. He can remember and explain complex emotions that he doesn’t necessarily feel or intuit because he’s spent his whole life trying to do just that. And so he was the perfect person to explain the situation to Britta. I thought it was a lovely insight into the emotional complexity of Abed and Troy’s relationship – something that happens offscreen in the mystery of their friendship.
I agree with you on the Dean, though – brilliant! And I loved that we never had to have his motivations for becoming Jeffrey explained.
wishing I’d gone to a college where I got three wishes whenever I got scolded!