Welcome to Looking Streets Behind, a Community retrospective column! Join me as I dive into a Community episode that has reached its 10th-anniversary milestone! This go-round, we’re delving into “Geography of Global Conflict,” a.k.a. the start of a vibrant, pulsating love story between a lone security guard and his “hippie.” A woman who refuses to stop raging against the machine and a man who longs to protect and serve.
“Geography of Global Conflict” might not be Community’s strongest episode, but even a so-so Community outing fares better than most sitcoms nowadays. It contains some of my favorite subtle jokes and an excellent introduction for Irene Choi as Annie Kim. Additionally, it’s an examination of Jeff and Annie’s relationship and an important one at that.
So, without further ado, I present you with “Geography of Global Conflict,” an episode where everyone fesses up to the crime of flatulence. CRISIS ALERT!
Professor Cligoris (Martin Starr) calls upon Annie (Alison Brie) in class — well, Annie Kim (Choi), that is, our Annie’s archnemesis. Britta (Gillian Jacobs) wanders through the corridors with Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), and our new psych major finally feels like she has a handle on things. Side note: the “highlight” joke took me about ten years to understand, but here we are. It’s brilliant.
Next, Britta learns her former protesting buddy was arrested, and she punishes herself for not fighting for a cause.
Meanwhile, it’s Chang’s (Ken Jeong) first day as a Greendale security guard, but he soon learns from Sergeant Nuñez (Mel Rodriguez) that he possesses little authority.
Annie introduces Annie Kim to Jeff (Joel McHale), Britta, Shirley, Troy (Donald Glover), Abed (Danny Pudi) and Pierce (Chevy Chase). The study group notices the pervasive tension between both Annies. Our Annie vows to start a Model UN for the school. After Annie Kim departs, the crew notes that AK isn’t her friend — they’re competitive foes.
Later, Britta stirs up trouble by antagonizing Chang. It’s a symbiotic arrangement: Britta gets to “fight the man” while Chang fulfills his Greendalian purpose as a protector. Plus, it’s an excuse to play “Hello” by Lionel Richie.
Then, Jeff and Annie confront Annie Kim after she steals the idea to form a Model UN. Thus, Annie creates her own Model UN comprised of the study group, and both UNs will duke it out to determine which one will represent Greendale.
Meanwhile, Chang takes Britta into custody after he finds her protesting in a cage, and Sgt. Nuñez questions her. As it turns out, she isn’t going to commit a crime.
At the Model UN competition, Garrett (Erik Charles Nielsen) offers various “crisis alerts” that each UN group must solve. Our Annie’s team currently leads, but everyone gets distracted by a putrid fart. After Jeff cracks a joke, our Annie throws a temper tantrum, and this scene is easily one of my favorite Annie bits ever.
Next, Annie and Jeff hide away for a while. Even though Annie scolds herself for acting like a petulant child, Jeff takes responsibility, citing that treating her like a kid led to this moment. It’s preventing her from maturing and, considering the feelings they have for each other; it’s creepy.
Upon returning, Abed reveals his plan to win the game. The cutaway after Jeff claims “nobody’s cutting away” is masterful. Britta sends Chang a message about her causing a ruckus at the Model UN competition.
So, Annie and her team dub themselves “Earth 1,” and they visit Annie Kim’s group, a.k.a. “Earth 2.” Earth 1 offers to join forces with Earth 2 to achieve world peace across the globes. Despite Annie Kim’s objections, Professor Cligoris overrules her and declares our Annie the winner.
However, the event faces interruption when Britta makes her grand entrance, and Chang heroically intervenes, tasing her. Chang carries Britta out.
End tag time! Troy and Abed are playing a live-action version of Operation on a slumbering Pierce, nicking his watch and attempting to steal his glasses.
The one-liners, gags and facts!
It wouldn’t be a Community episode without a Winger zinger: “Annie, stop! You’re acting like a little school girl and not in a hot way!”
Or the Britta bit that spawned a zillion GIFs — “Maybe I don’t want a new path or any path. Maybe my path is a warpath that leads to the Terror Dome, N-words … okay, maybe I went too far. Maybe I don’t want to offend my African American friends, but the larger point is maybe I’m not done RAGING AGAINST THE MACHINE!“
And this Britta gem: “You know what else was the best? The rainforests. Too bad the fascist oligarchies are raping them to make hamburgers. Look it up.”
Pierce gets a good line as the final button of the episode with “I told you to stop playing Operation on me! I’m not your damn board game! At least you didn’t get my spare ribs.”
“If embarrassment were bountiful zinc deposits, I’d be Zambia” from Annie keeps on theme with the Model UN competition.
If there’s one thing Community‘s good at, it’s squeezing every drop out of a scene from foreground to background. When Britta’s engrossed in her “rage against the machine” monologue and gesturing wildly with her hands, Abed attempts to follow her hand movements but looks increasingly dizzier with each motion. Abed’s no stranger to filling up the background on this show.
When Britta’s pouring red paint on the globe, it’s reminiscent of the Sherwin-Williams “Cover the Earth” logo.
Of course, the “I farted” bit is a play on “I am Spartacus” from the 1960 film Spartacus.
When Dan Harmon first conceived the idea for Community, he wanted Annie to be Asian, but this changed when Alison Brie joined the roster. So, Annie Kim is an homage to Harmon’s initial idea.
Troy represents Georgia in the Model UN game and, in true Troy fashion, mistakes the country for the state, so he adopts a Southern accent. Donald Glover hails from Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Season Three background extras Jeremy and “Long-Haired Guy” are featured heavily in “Geography of Global Conflict.” Jeremy sits behind Professor Cligoris during the Model UN showdown while Long-Haired Guy competes on Annie Kim’s team. Both appear in multiple episodes throughout Community, with LHG recurring in 14 episodes of Season Three alone.
The fart of it all!
“Geography of Global Conflict” is a fun episode that puts Alison Brie’s comedic gifts on display and blesses us with the delightful Chang/Britta rivalry. That said, I prefer the B-plot (Britta/Chang) over the main story.
Looking back, I appreciate the impact Jeff and Annie had on each other, especially how she made him a better person. But romance was never Community‘s forte, and that’s okay. To me, the study group is most effective as a whole — a ragtag bunch of cut-ups embarking on strange (and sometimes meta) adventures together.
I have a confession to make: I also farted, so mind your p’s and q’s!
What do you love most about Community’s “Geography of Global Conflict”? Sound off in the comments below! Join me next week as I dive deep into “Competitive Ecology,” wherein we all learn that Arizona backward is still Arizona, a.k.a. a palomino!
Until then, stay streets ahead.