Modern Warfare (Community)
The study group in a standoff during a paintball war.
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Justin Lin|
|Written by||Emily Cutler|
|Original air date||May 6, 2010|
"Modern Warfare" is the 23rd episode of the first season of Community and originally premiered on May 6, 2010 on NBC. In the episode, after the Dean announces the prize for a friendly game of paintball, Greendale sinks into a state of all-out paintball war, with every student battling for supremacy. During the chaos, Jeff's study group teams up in order to last longer in the game. Meanwhile, Jeff and Britta confront their unresolved sexual tension.
The episode was written by Emily Cutler and directed by Justin Lin. The episode's plot is a pastiche of multiple action movies, such as Battle Royale, Pitch Black, The Matrix, Die Hard, Terminator, 28 Days Later, The Warriors, Rambo, Predator, and the films of John Carpenter and John Woo. The episode received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and came third in its timeslot. Three sequels to this episode, "A Fistful of Paintballs", "For a Few Paintballs More", and "Modern Espionage" followed this episode.
When Jeff and Britta enter the library arguing with each other again, the rest of the group complains and Abed remarks that the constant sexual tension between the two is dividing the study group. Angry over the claim that he and Britta have any sexual tension between them, Jeff leaves to take a nap in his car. An hour later, he wakes up to Greendale resembling an apocalyptic wasteland covered in paint. When he enters the school, he is told by Garret, a casualty of the paintball war, that the prize of the Spring Fair Paintball Assassin game announced by the Dean raised the stakes of the event. Before Jeff can discover what the prize is, Leonard shows up with a paintball gun, shoots Garret multiple times, and then goes after Jeff. Jeff flees until he meets Abed in the hallway (decked in a Rambo-esque uniform), who shoots Leonard, saving Jeff.
Abed takes Jeff back to his base, where he has teamed up with Troy. Abed and Troy reveal that the coveted prize of the paintball game is priority registration, which gives the last student standing the ability to have first choice when scheduling classes next semester. They convince Jeff to join forces with them in order to last longer in the game. After eliminating the chess team, the three run into Pierce and Starburns, who are raiding the vending machines for supplies. Pierce eagerly betrays Starburns for the other three and joins them. Jeff, Troy and Abed take a bathroom break only to find themselves in a trap set up by Shirley, Annie, and Britta, who have joined forces. Caught in a Mexican stand-off, Abed insists that all seven of them should join forces, even Jeff and Britta, who argue at first, agree that an alliance would be beneficial. The group heads to the outer campus and is attacked by the Glee Club, who take out Troy and Annie before the rest of the study group takes cover. Jeff lures Pierce into the open as bait for the Glee Club, and then he, Britta and Abed take out the rest. The four remaining group members hide inside the ruined cafeteria and talk about what they'd do with priority registration. Shirley says she'd take morning classes to spend more time with her sons, and Britta says that any one of them that wins should give the prize to Shirley. Jeff becomes annoyed and accuses Britta of being a phony, and Shirley and Abed almost shoot them to stop them from arguing and take them out of the game. The four are then attacked by a group of roller-skating-disco-junkies, who are beaten by the group, but Abed and Shirley are taken out.
Britta and Jeff escape to the group's study room, where they forgive each other for their past arguments and insults and make fun of Abed's take on their relationship. Jeff says that it would serve the rest of the study group right if they had sex in the study room and held it over them. Britta agrees, and the two actually have sex on the table. Afterwards, Britta unsuccessfully tries to betray Jeff before Señor Chang—employed by the Dean to take out any remaining students—barges into the room and attacks the still-dressing couple. Britta uses Jeff's last clip of paintballs and sacrifices herself to take out Chang, leaving Jeff as the winner of priority registration. Jeff narrowly escapes the blast of several paintball bombs strapped to Chang's chest, and heads for the Dean's office. The Dean reveals that priority registration is illegal, but gives it to Jeff anyway under pressure. The next day, Britta and Jeff decide to pretend they didn't hook up, which is almost foiled by Abed's insistence that something within the group has changed (he finally deduces it in Season 2, "Paradigms of Human Memory"). Jeff gives the priority registration form he won to Shirley.
The episode was written by Emily Cutler and directed by Justin Lin, his third directing credit for the season and series.
In addition, Abed comments that Jeff and Britta's relationship lacks the heart and soul of Ross Geller and Rachel Green's relationship from the television series Friends, and that of Sam Malone and Diane Chambers from Cheers.
Chang's entry into the fight is reminiscent of Scarface, and his "self-destruct" is similar to the Predator's demise at the end of the film Predator. The opening scene refers to 28 Days Later.
When the roller-skating-disco-junkies come and attack the group, Shirley makes a little speech, inspired by Eli's quote just before a fight scene from The Book of Eli. She is shot by a girl from behind before finishing it. Jeff refers to the first disco fan as Disco Stu, a character from The Simpsons. Disco Stu's chant of "Come out to play-yay" is a reference to the final scene from The Warriors, when Luther taunts the Warriors at Coney Island.
"Modern Warfare" first aired on NBC on May 6, 2010. In its original American broadcast, the episode was viewed by an estimated 4.35 million viewers, and it scored a 2.0 rating in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic according to Nielsen (Nielsen ratings are audience measurement systems that determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States); this means that 2.0 percent of all households with viewers aged 18 to 49 years old were watching television at the time of the episodes' airing.
The episode received much acclaim from critics. Jonah Krakow of IGN gave the episode a 9.7 out 10, calling it "Incredible," and also stated: "Most sitcoms don't have as many water-cooler moments as serialized adventure shows like Lost or 24, but I know this episode of Community will be an exception." Jason Hughes gave the episode a positive review, noting that "like most action movies, there isn't a whole lot more to say about the plot. But, like action movies, it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch it all go down."
The episode later won "Comedy Episode of the Year" at the Gold Derby Awards. Sean Gandert of Paste gave the episode a 9.1/10, calling it "phenomenal" and describing it as within "spitting distance" of being the best episode of the season. TIME critic James Poniewozik named it the third best TV episode of 2010, writing "A lot of sitcoms can make you laugh. It's a rare one that can so fully share the sense of joy its cast, writers and crew have in making the show."
In TV.com's ranking of all 110 episodes of the series, they placed the episode third overall, and wrote "one of the purest expressions of genre appreciation and compact sitcom storytelling that we've seen on broadcast TV in the 21st century."
- Lee 2014 p. 7.
- Lee 2014 p. 141.
- Lee 2014 p. 144.
- Jonah Krakow (May 7, 2010). "Community: "Modern Warfare" Review". IGN.com. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
- Ponto, Arya (March 19, 2012). ""The Hunger Games" and the Bloody Legacy of "Battle Royale"". Just Press Play. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- Jason Hughes (May 6, 2010). "'Community' - 'Modern Warfare' Recap". TVSquad.com. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
- Lee 2014 p. 145.
- Lee 2014 p. 140.
- Seidman, Robert (May 7, 2010). "Thursday Finals: "Survivor," "Bones," Adjusted Up; "30 Rock" Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Zap2it. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
- "'Modern Family' and 'Mad Men' sweep Gold Derby TV Awards". Los Angeles Times. August 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- Gandert, Sean (May 7, 2010). "Community Review: Modern Warfare (1.23)". Paste. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- Poniewozik, James (December 9, 2010). "The Top 10 Everything of 2010". TIME. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
- Barker, Cory (June 11, 2015). "Greendale Forever: Ranking ALL The Episodes of Community (TIER 1: The Best of the Best)". TV.com. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
- Lee, Ann-Gee, ed. (2014). A Sense of Community: Essays on the Television Series and Its Fandom. McFarland & Company. ISBN 9781476615714.