"A Fistful of Paintballs"
Directed by: Joe Russo
Written by: Andrew Guest
Original air date: May 5, 2010
Episode Guide
"Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts"
"For a Few Paintballs More"

"A Fistful of Paintballs" is the twenty-third 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 new game of paintball. The winning prize being 100,000 dollars cash, 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" appears.

The episode was written by Andrew Guest and directed by Joe Russo. Unlike its predecessor, the episode is inspired by Spaghetti Western films directed by Sergio Leone.


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 years 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 Hawthorn. During a dinner in the fort with Pierce, he express 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 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". The rest 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 supply's 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 also confesses that she was the only one who voted to keep Pierce in. "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".


The episode was written by Andrew Guest, his sixth writing credit of the series. It was directed by executive producer Joe Russo, his 15th directing credit of the series.

It was reported of February 28, 2011, by Entertainment Weekly that Josh Holloway would guest star in the season finale as a mysterious character.[1]

Originally scheduled to air as an hour-long season finale on May 12, 2011,[2] 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 an out-and-out war happens. 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.'"[3]

Playing Card Character IntroductionsEdit

The "game" that Pierce caught them playing wasn't a game, it was a secret ballot vote about if they should include him in the study group the next year. Each person received a red and a black card. Black cards voted to expel Pierce, red cards to keep. The vote had to be unanimous to eject him.

Each character is introduced in the episode with an animation revealing the card they used to vote on expelling Pierce, and there are multiple flash back fades to the vote casting scene. Annie is the only one who voted to retain Pierce in the study group.

Name Card Voted on Pierce
Annie Ace of Hearts
Abed Jack of Clubs
Jeff King of Spades
Britta Queen of Spades
Shirley Ace of Clubs
Troy King of Clubs

Cultural referencesEdit

The episode is a tribute to Western films, specifically the "Dollars Trilogy" by Sergio Leone.[3] The opening title sequence is a parody of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The episode title, "A Fistful of Paintballs," and the season finale's title, "For a Few Paintballs More," are allusions to A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.

Troy's costume is that of Bart from Blazing Saddles. Annie's costume resembles Lara Croft. In flashbacks she is shown to be wearing a satin skirt western outfit with floral top. How this transforms into her later outfit is only hinted at with "Yeah, and I want pants. A lot of people want a lot of things."

At the end of the episode, as Pistol Patty's commando team assembles and goes through a roll-call, one of the commandos can be heard uttering Luke Skywalker's "Red 5 Standing By" from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

In both this episode and its sequel in the following episode, Jeff finds the proposed tactics of the study group to be childish and remarks that they are not the Little Rascals, whereby the character Leonard (resembling Mickey Rooney) insists that he, in fact, was.



In its original American broadcast on May 5, 2011, "A Fistful of Paintballs" was viewed by an estimated 3.49 million viewers.[4]


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."[5] Kelsea Stahler of called the episode "a worthy paintball redux" and "a fun, riotous companion to the classic episode."[6]

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."[7] TV Fanatic reviewer Jeffrey Kirkpatrick loved the episode, saying that it even tops the original paintball episode and very much enjoyed the performance of Alison Brie, calling her a "showstopper."[8] 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."[9]

References Edit

  1. 'Lost' star Josh Holloway to star in 'Community' finale -- EXCLUSIVE Entertainment Weekly. Lynette Rice, February 28, 2011
  2. NBC Sets Hourlong Finales for 'Community,' 'Parks and Rec' The Hollywood Reporter. Philiana Ng, March 8, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 'Community': Guest star Josh Holloway and creator Dan Harmon on the paintball season finale] Entertainment Weekly. Dan Snierson, April 29, 2011
  4. Thursday Final Ratings: 'American Idol,' 'Big Bang Theory,' 'CSI,' 'The Mentalist,' 'Community,' 'The Vampire Diaries' Adjusted Up; 'Bones,' 'Parks & Recreation' Adjusted Down Seidman Robert. TV by the Numbers, May 6, 2011
  5. A Fistful of Paintballs VanDerWerff, Todd. The A.V. Club. May 6, 2011.
  6. 'Community' Recap: A Fistful of Paintballs Stahler, Kelsea. May 6, 2011
  7. Review: 'Community' - 'A Fistful of Paintballs': The good, the bad and the Pierce HitFix. May 5, 2011
  8. Community Review: "A Fist Full of Paintballs" TV Fanatic. May 5, 2011
  9. Recaps: Community, Season 2, Episode 23, "A Fistful of Paintballs, Part 1 Koreen, Eric. National Post, May 6, 2011.

External links Edit