Things have certainly changed since the study group has been gone. Pierce has horrifying brown hair, and Troy and Abed are trying to be normal. What I like so much about episodes like this is that they come along just as something’s about to start bugging me. For instance, I’ve been saying for a while that Shirley needs some better storylines, and then bam! First episode back and it’s all Shirley, all the time.
Greendale often becomes a prop on the show, and it’s easy to forget why these people are there in the first place (or understand how they support themselves with no jobs). But in this week’s episode, Shirley may not have been selling brownies as she originally intended, but she teamed up with Pierce to open a sandwich shop, and in the process, showed off everything that she’s learned in the past two years.
Andre returns, singing “Motown Philly,” and ready to marry Shirley. It’s a fantastic proposal, and Shirley understandably says yes. And while an impending wedding is a good enough reason as any to avoid going into business with Pierce, Britta obviously takes umbrage at Shirley’s quick slide into bride-ville. As Britta takes over Shirley’s wedding, it looks like she and Jeff may be in danger of taking over the episode with their drunken selfishness, daddy issues, and all-around hilarious assholeishness.
Luckily, Shirley pops back to the forefront in a way that I’ve been longing to see. While she’s usually relegated to a pleasant, if not vacant, “that’s nice,” or dismissed as a Jesus-freak mother character, in this episode, we get to really see the smart, intelligent and newly independent woman that she is. While Andre’s transition from sweetheart to “make me a sandwich, woman,” to “naw, you’re okay. Why don’t you run my business?” was a little quick, it’s nice to see Shirley as a three dimensional character who’s struggling between the woman she was in her marriage and the woman she’s become over the past two years surrounded by her motley crew of study pals.
While Shirley getting married means that we’ll never really see her as a sexual being (and Chang doesn’t count, because: ew.), or ever see her date the Old Spice guy, this episode left me hopeful. I’d love to see Shirley running Andre’s stereo store, or her own sandwich shop, while continuing to be an intelligent, caring, bad-ass lady. She could give Troy and Abed jobs! Because what’s weirder than basing a business model on the assumption that iPods are just a passing fad? Those dudes are just the people who could convince me to buy a stereo. But mostly, I just hope that their product placement deal with Subway (which actually wasn’t that intrusive) will help them get to next season so we can see whatever is going to happen.