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The other reviewer has it all wrong, this one of the best episodes of Community
While most of the episodes for Community have at least one review on here, I was more than surprised to see this one have a pretty damning summarization by the only reviewer. I know it's only one episode of the show and this probably won't be read, but I have to stick up for "Virtual Systems Analysis". It is not only one of the most pivotal episodes of the season in terms of relationships between the characters, but also one of the most imaginative and dense outings the show has ever had in terms of pure writing.
This episode takes place in a three hour span when the Greendale 7 go out for lunch. Annie is able to get Troy and Britta to go on an impromptu date and has to fill in for Troy in the Dreamitorium, much to Abed's chagrin. What begins as some awkward playtime becomes one of the most honest and inventive character journeys for both involved.
I have to preface my further love for this ep by saying the Troy/Britta relationship is my absolute favorite thing about the show. The episode before this is also in my top 10 or so episodes of the whole show because of it. While Community is certainly ambitious and succeeds mightily because of it (Pillows and Blankets, Lupine Urology, A Fistful of Paintballs), it always struck me the most when it kept things small. And nothing has been smaller and more gratifying than the budding relationship with Troy and Britta.
That being said, they aren't in a whole lot of the episode, and while I probably should have felt cheated, I was elated to see what Abed really thought about them and Annie's realization of others' romantic feelings besides her own (while she was mainly a "lovestruck teenybopper" in season 2). Up to this point, the show had seem to have written Abed into a corner. He could be awesome and nerdy, basically a surrogate for the megafan (like myself) watching it. But he also could be selfish, arrogant, and less than kind. After Pillows and Blankets, I thought he might gain some perspective, but he was the same in the next episode. Here, the writers give this thought its due, showing Abed as more than just socially awkward, but cripplingly self-centered.
This is all done through re-enacments of the study group from Abed and Annie in a make- believe "Greendale Hospital School" and instead of being confusing or dispassionate are streamlined fast and furiously into surprisingly emotional revelations for Abed as well as Annie. Annie comes to terms with her crush on Jeff and Abed must face his insecurities instead of pushing them (and his friends) away. It can also be downright hysterical such as Troy's breakdown from truth serum and Jeff's description of Pierce as "heart-wrenching, Alzheimer's patient and Emmy contender Pierce Hawthorne". It always seem logical and even when it zooms to other "people" in the Dreamitorium, we never lose focus on Annie and Abed.
This is probably my favorite episode of the show. I have watched it alone at least six or seven times and I every time I catch something new. The above reviewer says there is usually a B or C plot to take us away from the drama of the A plot, but this episode is so rife with originality and urgency, we don't really need that this time. And for the complaint of it being dull, maybe we should look back to when Shirley said "their relationship itself is a journey." That's the core of this episode and, through all the parodies and ingenious plot setups, the core of this show.
When I marathoned these first three seasons I remember it was the trio of the Troy/Abed conflict masterfully put on display in Pillows and Blankets, Troy's text from Vampire Mythology and this episode that made me fall madly in love with Community and say "this could very well be the best show on television." "Virtual System Analysis" is an example of what this show does best. Exhaustingly inventive, electrifying in terms of imagination, and emotionally honest, it is this episode that turned me from a fan to an adorer of the gem that is Community. Don't let the other review put doubt in your mind, this is might be the best half-hour the show has ever had.