Director: Tristram Shapeero — Writer: Erik Sommers — Aired: January 9, 2014 —Season: Five — Number: Three Summary: A campus investigation into a serial bandit leads to a surprising confession Jeff finds suspicious.
A camera in the bathroom is better than a quarter in your butt.
At Greendale, a ribbon cutting ceremony is held in the cafeteria for the "Shirley's Sandwiches" relaunch. As Shirley's childrensing for the occasion, Garrett is at his hallway locker. After someone drops a quarter down the crack of his exposed derrière Garret runs to the cafeteria and proclaims the "Ass Crack Bandit" is back. Publicly at a press conference Dean Pelton denies this but in private he confides to the Save Greendale Committee he received a not from the Bandit . Pelton tasks them and the recently returned Professor Ian Duncan to investigate. Later, Annie goes to Jeff's office with a theory the bandit is a teacher but he refuses to get involved.
And so it begins...
Back in the study room, Troy picks a teddy bear off the floor only for the Ass Crack Bandit to strike again. Afterwards, Buzz Hickey's criminology class inspects the study room for clues. Annie finds a taunting note in the teddy bear from the Bandit. Pelton removes her from the investigation when she suggests a faculty member is the culprit. Later Jeff finds Annie in the student lounge and agrees to help her. Meanwhile, Pelton bans coins at school which Leonard and Shirley exploit for profit. He also has Chang wear a backwards costume to catch the perpetrator as Jeff and Annie analyze the bandits note. Jeff notices several references to Dave Matthews Band songs and Annie compiles a list of faculty members who are fans.
Ian Duncan returns to help find the Ass Crack Bandit.
In the cafeteria, Troy speaks at an assembly advocating Pelton's plan to put cameras in the bathroom when the Bandit stealthily assaults Vicki. Later, Annie and Jeff meet up after eliminating every suspect except one, Professor Bublitz. He runs when they attempt to question him and in pursuit they wreck his lab. After catching him they learn he ran because he was growing sativa. Afterwards, Pelton reprimands the pair in his office suggesting they are investigating just to spend time together. As punishment Pelton suspends Annie and forces Jeff to join him in coaching a water polo class. A phone call interrupts them from someone claiming to be the Bandit.
An Ass Crack Bandit fan.
The Dean, Jeff and Annie track the call to the campus stables and find a disheveled Star-Burns living there. Another press conference is held where Star-Burns confesses to the crimes. Jeff storms out and tells Annie Star-Burns can't be the bandit since he's not a teacher. Annie tries to accept the outcome and suggests the Dean may have been right about her and Jeff's true motivations. Later, Annie sees Professor Duncan in his office and learns he's a Dave Matthews Band fan. At the party, Jeff confronts Star-Burns who admits he made a deal with Pelton to confess in exchange for not having meth charges brought against him.
"I've been cracked!"
In Duncan's office, Annie notices a roll of quarters on his filing cabinet and awkwardly leaves to find Jeff. At the same time, Jeff discovers a laptop connected to the school's automated switchboard that has a recording of the bandit's phone call to the Dean. Annie then arrives and tells Jeff her suspicions about Duncan but when they are unable to locate him due to the smoky and crowded hallways. They then hear that Duncan himself got "cracked" and spot the bandit fleeing around a corner. Shirley unexpectedly stops the pursuit with the news that Pierce has just died. They join the rest of the study group to mourn as the entire school observes Pierce's passing.
Star-Burns tries to make his get away.
The next morning, Jeff and Annie muse on life's unpredictability. Annie suddenly considers the possibility the Bandit could be female. At the same time other suspects act suspiciously: Britta identifies herself as the culprit on a paper she's writing; Abed is rolling a quarter on his fingers; Shirley counts money she made from the incident; Professor Hickey studies a newspaper clipping of a serial killer who got away; a cafeteria worker looks wary; and Pelton plays quarters with his assistant. It's then revealed that no more crackings have taken place since the last incident, Star-Burns recanted his confession, Pelton still officially claims Osborne was responsible and that the investigation remains open.
The investigation is derailed by something more important.
The Greendale student newspaper, "The Greendale Gazette Journal Mirror," first featured in the Season One episode "Investigative Journalism," has now split into the "Greendale Gazette" and the "Greendale Mirror."
Dean Pelton institutes "Troy's Law" in this episode which allows cameras in the school's restrooms. Pelton originally thought of this idea in the Season One episode "The Politics of Human Sexuality" to stop pranksters who were stealing toilet seat covers.
Dean Pelton and even the Ass Crack Bandit comment on the nature of Jeff and Annie's relationship.
Professor Duncan makes several advances on Britta.
Jeff talks about how holding Annie's shoulders is platonic, and does it to Leonard to prove his point, but then Leonard tries to kiss him. Later, Annie confronts Jeff about the Ass Crack Bandit being Duncan, while grabbing Jeff's shoulders. Jeff smiles at this contact. They later hug for a lengthy time, away from the others after finding out about Pierce's death.
School song: The song "Ass Crack Bandit" is heard early on in the episode and then later at the end. It was written for the episode by Ben Folds, who has a brief part in the episode as Professor Bublitz.
Recurring or debuting running gags in this episode:
A dollop of whipped irony:
Pelton calls Jeff and Annie unprofessional and creepy due to them teaming up only to sublimate romantic urges they have in acceptable ways. He then does something creepy and unprofessional by forcing Jeff to become the new water polo coach while Pelton himself is the assistant water polo coach.
Despite Troy's repeated statements about liking "butt stuff," he is traumatized by actual (and rather innocuous) butt stuff happening to him in this episode.
Butt stuff: Troy is victimized by the "Ass Crack Bandit."
It's a mixer, it's a mixer: Dean Pelton suggests, “Abed, you're special. Can't you just stand at the scene of the crime and see what happened?”
Man crush: Dean Pelton is the assistant coach of the water polo team and makes Jeff coach of the water polo team.
Product placcement: The Dean tells Annie, "You want to make trouble? Go to Parker Brothers!", in reference to the board game.
Shout out: Not being a “real fan,” Star-Burns mistakes the epithet "Dave" for David Lee Roth.
TV Guide: Abed's DVR shows that he recorded popular shows such as "The Bridge" and "Hannibal".
Use your allusion: "Numismatics" is the study or collection of currency including paper money and coins. "Intergluteal" means something in between the muscles which make up the buttocks. The episode title, "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics," refers directly to the Ass Crack Bandit's M. O. of dropping quarters into the space separating the two major muscles of his victims' gluteal region.
When Annie and Jeff analyze the letters left by the ACB, the radio on Jeff's desk begins playing J. S. Bach's "Air" from Suite No. 3 in D Major." This is a reference to the 1995 film "Se7en when Morgan Freeman's character, Det. Somerset, does lengthy research on the seven deadly sins in a library to catch a serial killer, during which the same music is played. Jeff and Annie, however, only play it for a few seconds before finishing their research and turning off the radio.
Troy's confrontation with Star-Burns at the press conference is similar to a scene in Jaws where the mother of a shark victim slaps Police Chief Brody after learning he didn't close the beaches after an earlier attack.
Some aspects of the episode parallel the free form mystery drama "Pretty Little Liars." Specifically, the opening sequence and the ass crackings of Garrett and Troy parallel the antagonist of the series "A."
Abed repeatedly drapes a blanket around Troy's shoulders and hands him a Styrofoam cup before saying, "This is how they comfort victims in movies."
Professor Duncan's and Britta's analysis of the bandit poke fun at the sometimes scattershot nature of criminal profiling.
Abed’s references to lazy writing and detective characters with behavioral disorders references characters like Shaun Spencer, Adrian Monk, and Sherlock Holmes.
Abed's speech at the scene of the crime mimics many fictitious criminal profilers, such as Will Graham, and is also a critique of formulaic procedural/crime drama TV shows.
Up against the wall: Ian Duncan explains his long absence from the school by saying he had to care for his sick mother.
“As a parody of serial killer thrillers like "Zodiac," I thought it worked very well. The best "Community" parody episodes, though, function both as loving tribute to a particular genre and as a character study of one or more members of the study group; it was less successful on that front.”— Alan Sepinwall
“"Dark," by the way, is a literal thing in this "Community" episode. With a blue filter on the camera and a whole bunch of mood lighting, the show takes on a new identity. This makes sense though. When a criminal is sticking coins where the sun don't shine, there can be no true sunshine for anyone.”— Laurel Brown
“Season 5’s first focused “parody” episode was a standout installment of Community. The Seven/Fincher homages were terrific and hysterical and this will likely be one of the most quoted Community episodes ever among fans, with one awesome line after another...(9.5/10)”— Eric Goldman
“The Community writers are NEARLY there, but they’re still hesitant when it comes to completely committing to or developing the show’s romantic element. And whether you ship Jeff/Annie or Duncan/Britta or Troy/Abed for all I know, this unsatisfaction, this not-quite-there element WILL leave a tiny, gerbil-sized void in the series as a whole.”— Jennifer Marie
“Though parody episodes have been a TV staple for longer than anyone reading this has probably been alive, no one executes them with the fervor and all-around excellence of Community. Those same qualities that sometimes work against the show - that obsession with detail, that willingness to reach conceptually far beyond where any sane TV writer would go - pay off wildly during these kinds of installments. (4.9/5)”— Gabrielle Moss
“It’s lucky I’m easily amused by jokes about the buttocks because quite a lot of this episode rides on them. For peop”le unlike me, I could see this episode being a completely alienating experience—Community finally managing to too heavily indulge in its immature side. But to you I say: have you no heart? Or at least no place in your heart for butts?
“Not to say “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” isn’t a funny or enjoyable episode of Community, but there’s so many homages and stories crammed into the final ten minutes, there isn’t enough time for anything to breathe – and ultimately, buries two-thirds of the cast in the background for the entire episode, with nothing to hang its hat on besides its butt jokes and tired Jeff/Annie material.”— Randy Dankievitch
“What continues to please me about Community after so many years, after all the acknowledged and well worn ups and downs, is that when the show just goes right down the pop culture rabbit hole, and I mean really burrows deep and just owns it and has fun, it goes to a place of such joy, a special place for us die hard fans, the ones who held on.”— Ben Umstead
“Still, while “Numismatics” ended up being a big old mess, at least it was Community, with strange jokes and references and more ideas than it could keep track of, rather than the undead beast that called itself by the same name last season...(6.7/10)”— Sean Gandert
“It’s thrilling (to see Annie and Jeff together again), scandalous (the underuse of the rest of the cast) and at times downright scary (DON’T TOUCH THE BEAR TROY) but most importantly it’s Community done right and that’s something everyone can enjoy...(B+)”— Jon Bowling
“It’s the juxtaposition that sells it—the decision to partner what might be the single silliest plotline in Community history with a parody of one of the most decidedly not silly filmmakers in Hollywood, the dour David Fincher...(7.7/10)”— Matthew Guerruckey
“The best concept episodes tie flawlessly into either a character arc or character dissection (see "Critical Film Studies" or "Pillows and Blankets"). This one doesn't quite achieve that level of perfection, but it certainly honors the genre with highly detailed and highly entertaining confidence”— Derek B. Gayle
“An amazing return to form by Community with a concept noir episode that is sure to be a classic. The only stain on an otherwise fantastic episode was a narrative shift in gear at the climax...(9.5/10)”— Jared Russo
“Otherwise, a solid episode that makes good use of Greendale's expansive supporting cast and earns lots of laughs from their more random character attributes. And ultimately it might inspire someone to see Fincher's Zodiac (which is his best film but also the lowest grossing), so it's a winner in my book.”— Brian Collins
““Basic Intergluteal Numismastics” is the perfect blend of everything we love about the show: it’s got humor and loads of heart adorned with loving and clever metatextual references to television and film.”— Britt Hayes
According to Zap2it.com, the episode was watched by 3.58 million viewers placing second in its timeslot behind The Big Bang Theory and seventh overall for the night. In the 18-49 age range it garnered a rating/share of 1.4/4.; this is an increase from the Season premiere which received an 18-49 rating/share of 1.3/4. viewers and ratings from the season premiere. The ratings were also an improvement up from the 3.49 million who tuned in the previous week.
“I am the Ass Crack Bandit. Humans make better banks than piggies. Whenever I get more change at the store I can't wait to drop it down your butts. I think I will go to the bank and get so much change and take all my dollars and make them into change and drop it all down there.”— ACB letter
“I hope you enjoyed my work again. You can't stop me because what are you going to do, not have butts?”— ACB Note#1
“I am the mad hatter, if hats were butts. I am neither left nor right. I am the space between. To me you are all like ants marching to class, freaks on parade.”— ACB Note#2
“This is the Ass Crack Bandit. I find it funny that you ever thought you could catch me.”— ACB phonecall/recording
“I've enjoyed our game of cat and mouse. It's funny how close your two little helpers get to catching me. I liked watching them run in circles. Although sometimes I wonder, are they chasing me as an excuse to get near to each other? I mean, get a room already.”— ACB phonecall/recording
“I am the bringer of change. I am the filler of cracks.”— ACB phonecall/recording