“Community” uses “G.I. Jeff” to make sure we all understand just how depressing life would be in an ’80s-era cartoon like “G.I. Joe.” After all, nothing ever gets resolved, you can’t go to the bathroom and naked women exist only in dreams.

Or maybe this is only depressing to a guy who is turning 40 and “celebrates” with a bottle of scotch and some scary-sounding pills from Korea Town. Either way, “G.I. Jeff” is surprisingly a story about life and death and the multi-layered fantasy world that lies in between.

G.I. Jeff is there!

You know a show has confidence when it asks the audience to suspend disbelief and accept an insane premise without explanation for almost 10 minutes. But that’s pretty much how things go in “Community” Season 5. There is literally nothing that’s going to alienate the audience at this point, not after countless themed episodes and that gas-leak year.

So it kind of works that “Community” is suddenly an episode of “G.I. Joe,” complete with crappy ’80s animation (the kind that requires painstaking work to recreate) and colorful characters fighting each other for ambiguous reasons.

The whole thing gets even more confusing when Wingman (that would be Jeff) arrives on the scene and actually kills the head of Cobra.

No one has ever actually killed anyone in “G.I. Joe” before. So what’s going on?

Break that fourth wall, Abed!

Fortunately, Wingman, Tight Ship (Annie), Buzz Kill (Britta) and Three Kids (Shirley) end up in prison with an uber-racist character named Fourth Wall (that would be Abed). He mentions Greendale to Wingman, and suddenly the name of Jeff echoes throughout the prison.

And the audience starts to get the connection. Sort of.

Before this can be explored further, the confused and mourning members of Cobra attack the prison, allowing Wingman and his friends to escape. But our flawed hero can’t escape the echoes of that Greendale siren song, so the crew goes to visit the “excavation” of a strange new reality.

Happy cartoon or near-suicide?

Once at Greendale, Wingman realizes that there is indeed another reality, one in which he is an aging man who got drunk and took some pills. The others are somewhat concerned about this, and Fourth Wall devises a clever plan to fly back through several layers of imaginary universe so that Jeff can return.

But Jeff still wants to be Wingman, where he’s a kid who can fight bad guys. The real world could never be that much fun.

Despite this belief — and despite G.I. Joe and Cobra joining forces to become Jobra, because why not — Wingman can’t stay. He has created a two-dimensional world without real women and scotch, after all, and Jeff really has grown up.

Flying through the “G.I. Joe” world and barely escaping the associated live-action toy commercial (each figure sold separately), Jeff does make it back to reality.

And all of his friends give him a mug. That’s worth it, right? Right?

Of course it is. You know that. And knowing is half the battle.

Posted by:Laurel Brown