A Fistful of Paintballs
|"A Fistful of Paintballs"|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Joe Russo|
|Written by||Andrew Guest|
|Original air date||May 5, 2011|
|List of Community episodes|
"A Fistful of Paintballs" is the 23rd episode and part one of the two-part second season finale of Community. The episode originally premiered on May 5, 2011 on NBC. Acting as a sequel to "Modern Warfare" from the first season, Dean Pelton once again announces plans for a game of paintball. The winning prize being $100,000, the study group teams up. However, this year they are short on ammo and their friendship is once again tested. During the game a man only known as "The Black Rider" (played by Lost star Josh Holloway) appears.
Mike (Anthony Michael Hall) is seen chasing "Fat Neil" down a corridor with his gang when suddenly Annie emerges and defeats the bullies, but she gives "Fat Neil" a gun, since he is unarmed and leaves. Just as Annie is turning away "Fat Neil" attempts to shoot her but is headed off by Annie.
Through a series of flashbacks it is revealed that the paintball game was started by Dean Pelton and "Pistol Patty's Cowboy Creamery", an ice cream company. The Dean explains that the reason last year's paintball assassin was unsuccessful was that the prize was too important. He then lets Pistol Patty, the ice cream company's mascot, a giant ice cream cone in western attire, explain the prize. The company has made the prize 100,000 dollars in cash, at which point pandemonium breaks out.
Annie comes back to her base where she is greeted by Abed. Abed proposes she join him, Jeff, and Chang in the library. Meanwhile in the library, Jeff and Chang are trapped by the math club, so Chang betrays him. Abed saves Jeff just in time, but Chang gets away. Jeff informs Annie that he too is low on ammo and they discuss whether they should join Pierce, who is hiding in the cafeteria, or steal his ammo since he has "more paint than a French kindergarten". They are interrupted by a stranger (Josh Holloway), who they believe does not go to Greendale, and manage to escape from him.
On their way to the cafe they run into Britta, Shirley and Troy and find out they are working for Pierce, who has set up a safe zone in the cafeteria, known as Fort Hawthorne. During a dinner in the fort with Pierce, he expresses his desire to team up and split the cash. He informs them of the location of a stash of ammo. As the study group is looking for ammo, Annie finds Chang who has betrayed and is about to be "executed" by a gang of cheerleaders, whom he betrayed the math club to join. Annie shoots the cheerleaders but Chang tries to get away. Annie chases Chang when she is caught by the stranger she met earlier. They find out that he is known as "The Black Rider". Jeff and Abed arrive and save Annie but she finds out that Pierce loaded Jeff's gun with blanks. The study group finds Dean Pelton hiding in a closet and get all of last years paintball supplies from his office. Annie takes the paintball machine gun Chang used last year and storms off to confront Pierce.
Back at Fort Hawthorn the group finds that it's been demolished by "The Black Rider". They find Pierce and confront him. Pierce confesses why he loaded Jeff's gun with blanks: He walked in on them playing cards without him 3 days ago. Annie also confesses that they weren't playing cards but were actually voting whether Pierce should join the study group next year. She does not, however, reveal who played the card to keep Pierce in the group, stating, "Lucky for you, it had to be unanimous. There was one holdout. One red card". This information, as explained below, is revealed in not by the dialogue, but by the character introductions at the beginning, when each character is first met, although it is implied by the dialogue at certain points. "The Black Rider" emerges and gets into a stand-off with Jeff as Annie is still in the stand-off with Pierce. Just then Pierce starts to have what appears to be a heart attack, but when "The Black Rider" goes to help him Pierce shoots him as he was just faking it. "The Black Rider" reveals that he only takes a class online and was hired by Pistol Patty's to keep the prize money. Pierce runs off alone, vowing revenge.
Chang is seen looking for another alliance to join when he is shot by a paintball-machine-gun from the Pistol Patty's. The back of the van opens up and a commando team dressed in white exit the van. Pistol Patty exits as the commando team bow to her. Pistol Patty goes on to say it's time for "Plan B: Operation Total Invasion".
Originally scheduled to air as an hour-long season finale on May 12, 2011, the episodes were split into two parts airing May 5 and May 12, respectively. Regarding the concept of the two-part season finale and the return to paintball, creator Dan Harmon said, "It's designed to exist both as one story but also two separate episodes. [The first] one has a Sergio Leone Western motif, so there’s more emphasis on tension, scarcity of ammo, and who might draw on who. But the second one erupts – the Western motif falls away and all out war ensues. There's a kind of an epic, wartime, band-of-rebels-against-a-larger-force Star Wars feel to the second one ... If we only did the Western one, there might have been some people who said, 'Oh it's great, but it's not 'Modern Warfare.' And then there's other people who, if we had only done 'Modern Warfare,' would say, 'Eh, same thing again.'"
In its original American broadcast on May 5, 2011, "A Fistful of Paintballs" was viewed by an estimated 3.49 million viewers.
The episode received positive reviews from critics, much like "Modern Warfare". Several critics noted the obvious comparisons to "Modern Warfare" when reviewing the episode, saying it does not top "Modern Warfare", but is a worthy companion episode.
Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club commented the episode "isn't the season's funniest episode, but it might be the most FUN, and that's where the episode, ultimately, gets me." He also said, "There are so many goofy, winning touches in this episode that it almost feels churlish to write too much that's negative about it." Although he graded the episode an A-, he felt "that it's hard to watch the first half of an intended two-parter and be able to say much about the work as a whole. I'll say that I think this is a pretty great set-up, but it's essentially ALL set-up, and that means a lot of how successful it is depends on next week's episode and how it goes." Kelsea Stahler of Hollywood.com called the episode "a worthy paintball redux" and "a fun, riotous companion to the classic episode."
HitFix critic Alan Sepinwall applauded the episode, saying "the new installment went for depth instead of breadth, focusing entirely on the style of the spaghetti Western and doing a very impressive job of it. The revamped opening credit sequence was gorgeous, the score sounded very much like Ennio Morricone's work on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the different showdowns had the requisite number of close-ups, etc." He also enjoyed Alison Brie's performance as Annie, commenting that "She was so fierce, so kickass as a strong loner heroine that I could very easily imagine her as the lead of an actual, not-for-laughs Western." TV Fanatic reviewer Jeffrey Kirkpatrick loved the episode, saying that it even tops the original paintball episode and very much enjoyed the performance of Brie, calling her a "showstopper." Eric Koreen of the National Post said the episode "was daring, stunningly shot and completely unafraid to try to do more than any sitcom ought to."
- Snierson, Dan (April 29, 2011). "'Community': Guest star Josh Holloway and creator Dan Harmon on the paintball season finale". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (May 6, 2011). "A Fistful of Paintballs". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- Sepinwall, Alan (May 5, 2011). "Review: 'Community' - 'A Fistful of Paintballs': The good, the bad and the Pierce". HitFix. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- Rice, Lynette (February 28, 2011). "'Lost' star Josh Holloway to star in 'Community' finale -- EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- Ng, Philiana (March 8, 2011). "NBC Sets Hourlong Finales for 'Community,' 'Parks and Rec'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- Seidman, Robert (May 6, 2011). "Thursday Final Ratings: 'American Idol,' 'Big Bang Theory,' 'CSI,' 'The Mentalist,' 'Community,' 'The Vampire Diaries' Adjusted Up; 'Bones,' 'Parks & Recreation' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
- Stahler, Kelsea (May 6, 2011). "'Community' Recap: A Fistful of Paintballs". Hollywood.com. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- Kirkpatrick, Jeffrey (May 5, 2011). "Community Review: "A Fist Full of Paintballs"". TV Fanatic. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- Koreen, Eric (May 6, 2011). "Recaps: Community, Season 2, Episode 23, "A Fistful of Paintballs, Part 1"". National Post. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- Barnes, Brooks (February 28, 2014). "A Blockbuster Landed in Their Laps Anthony and Joe Russo on ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’". New York Times. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- "A Fistful of Paintballs" at NBC.com
- "A Fistful of Paintballs" at the Internet Movie Database
- "A Fistful of Paintballs" at TV.com
- "A Fistful of Paintballs" at TV Tropes