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Recap: Community S2 E21: Paradigms of Human Memory

Troy: I think they want some examples, Pierce.
Pierce: Okay. Let's give them some examples. Troy, drop a beat.
Troy: ...Just give them some examples.

The group discovers that Troy's old monkey Annie's Boobs has been stealing things from them ever since his disappearance. His stash at first prompts fond memories for everyone, but this soon turns to the realization of just how dysfunctional they all are, and prompts everyone to examine whether they should all just go their separate ways.


The Community episode "Paradigms of Human Memory" provides examples of:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Jeff argues the group is remembering only bad times and that they are forgetting they had plenty of good times also.
  • Affectionate Parody:
    • The entire episode is a parody of the Clip Show.
    • The Jeff/Annie and Pierce/Abed slow-mo montages are parodies of shipping music fan-videos which take particular moments and exaggerate their romantic meaning to imply a relationship between the characters, and one specific Jeff/Annie fan-vid in particular. Dan Harmon, however, contacted the creator in advance to alert them of the 'treat' in the episode for her, and has insisted that it was meant affectionately, not maliciously.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Played straight; Chang crawls through the ducts to retrieve Annie's Boobs' stash. It should be noted that Chang is the smallest one of them and even so he had to apply a thick layer of Vaseline.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "The truth is, it’s been a dark year. Pierce got hooked on painkillers, Shirley’s having an unplanned baby and, apparently, Chang is in the group now."
  • Artistic License - Music: Professor Duncan clearly miming playing piano in the Glee club flashback
  • Art Shift:
  • Beauty Is Bad: Mentioned, and denied, by Jeff.
    Jeff: Look, just because we're good-looking doesn't make us villains.
  • Behind the Black: No one notices a greased-up Chang in a speedo until he speaks up. Almost Off Screen Teleportation, because he's only out-of-frame for a few seconds.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Troy screams "Big NOOO!" when he's swamped by a group of people who think the group are giving out free iPhones.
    • Chang screamed one when Annie's Boobs took his spoon.
  • Bottle Episode: Stunningly inverted (and quite possibly the only example to date). Most Clip Shows are employed so as to save production money and time, with very little money spent on taping and writing new material, the Clip Show is usually a type of Bottle Episode. This episode spoofs the very nature of a Clip Show by having the actual clips be a bunch of Noodle Incidents to a variety of locations and situations never actually seen in the series. Financially, this episode was expensive, even to the point that Dan Harmon himself paid for the Sara Bareilles song to be used in the Shipping Goggles portion of the episode. Interestingly the episode after this one is a true Bottle Episode because of the expensiveness of this episode as well as the season finale.
  • Bus Crash: Literally. Remember the Glee Club introduced in last year's paintball competition? Turns out they all died in a bus crash.
  • Call Back: The rampaging robot that nearly ran over Annie is labeled Boob-A-Tron. Also, Dean Pelton's cartoon has the characters dressed as they were in the pilot episode.
    • Jeff asks Chang how many vents he is going to crawl out this year. Chang crawled out of an air vent in a police station in Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy.
    • The incident with the egg — and Jeff's obvious hurt to be made fun over his concerns that it made him look fat — refer back to Jeff's body issues and insecurities as raised in "Critical Film Studies", in which he revealed that he was afraid that if he was fat no one would like him.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Troy points out that this year has been darker, with Pierce getting addicted to drugs, Shirley having an unplanned pregnancy and Abed having a mental breakdown. Not to mention the obvious Glee Club bus crash and being attacked by a racist prospector in a Ghost Town. "...and apparently, Chang is in the group now?"
  • Clip Show: Spoofed. The setup is all there, but the episode is actually entirely original material, with the flashbacks either providing a new view on earlier episodes, or events we've never heard about before. The ending takes this to extremes - the flashbacks start triggering flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, provoking a near-mental breakdown in Troy. Furthermore, Jeff's final speech is composed entirely out of flashbacks.
  • Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: Abed deduces that Britta and Jeff are sleeping together from several subtle indications, and lastly: Abed saw them getting dressed together in a dormitory.
  • Complaining about Complaining:
    Annie: This group is toxic! We fight about fighting about fighting!
  • Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For: "There is no such thing as a free Caesar salad."
  • Continuity Nod: All over the place, when it's not just making things up. Most normally, Annie finds the pens she flipped out over in "Cooperative Calligraphy."
  • Crack Pairing: In-universe.
    • Abed and Pierce as a means to sink the Jeff/Annie ship.
    • Chang/Annie's Boobs receives the same treatment at the end.
  • Creator Breakdown: In universe; as the tag shows, the Dean did not react well to Jeff pointing out exactly how frequently he burst into their study room wearing a ridiculous costume.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Troy has apparently been denying himself this under a mistaken impression.
    Troy: Didn't we agree at the beginning of the year that for the good of the group we wouldn't allow any intimacy between each other or ourselves?
    Jeff: Troy, we never said ourselves.
    Troy: ...Okay, now I'm really mad!
  • Deep South: Where the Ghost Town flashback is set. Jeff and Britta remember it fondly, while Troy mentions that he and Abed nearly got shot.
    "The dude was hardcore racist. Like 18-hundreds Disney style. We learned new ways to hate ourselves."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mega-Dean in the tag; upon Jeff being quite rude about his costume, he seems to think it perfectly appropriate to horrifically butcher the entire study group.
  • Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Jeff about a hard-boiled egg, much to Troy and Abed's amusement.
  • Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: One flashback shows Annie in a judo outfit apologising for doing this to Pierce, only for Shirley to tap her on the shoulder and get a fist to the face.
  • Easter Egg: After the group leaves and Chang runs back in to share some memories, a Chang-doll can be seen standing outside the diorama of the study room.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Pierce is disturbed by Jeff & Britta happily remembering their time standing for the Glee Club after their deaths in a bus crash.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Annie's Boobs is back, and is finally brought to justice for stealing Annie's pen in "Cooperative Calligraphy".
  • Fan Disservice: Greased-up Chang in a Speedo.
  • Fanservice: A quick clip of both Jeff and Britta in their underwear during one of Abed's specific flashbacks.
  • Fan Vid: Annie's montage of 'moments' between her and Jeff, set to Sara Bareilles 'Gravity', is a spot-on parody of a real Jeff/Annie fanvid from 2009.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The other group members react as if Jeff and Britta are intentionally trying to ruin their lives upon learning that they've been secretly hooking up, blaming them for all the bad things that have happened over the year and accusing them of "intentionally endangering the fabric of this group" (downplaying the examples of their own less-than-benevolent actions towards the group that Jeff and Britta confront them with). Jeff and Britta don't particularly appreciate this, and over the course of the episode it becomes clearer that it's more about fundamental underlying tensions and dysfunction between all of the members of the group rather than specific members.
  • Forehead of Doom:
    Jeff: Oh come on, my forehead is not this big.
    Everyone else in the room quickly avoids eye contact with him.
  • Fully Automatic Clip Show: Troy freaking out while the rest of the study group argues in the background.
  • Funny Background Event: Blink and you'll miss it, but in the background of the study group's diorama of them making their 19th diorama, there's a Chang doll staring through the library windows at the study group.
  • Ghost Town: One of the group's adventures took place in a wild west ghost town.
  • A God Am I: Pierce shooting up. With flu-jabs.
    I'LL BE A LIVING GOD!!!
  • Got Volunteered: The rest of the group other than Britta and Jeff since they did not step forward "and are clearly innocent"
  • Group Hug: A quick one at the end.
  • Haunted House: A setting of one of the group's adventures where Pierce sees the ghost of a Confederate general.
  • Hidden Depths: Pierce skips rope and Britta knits.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Apparently, the group had one offscreen, which ended with them burning down a house.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The plot involves Jeff and Britta being called out on their Jerkass actions throughout the year by the other members of the study group. When Jeff and Britta point out that it's not as if the other members of the study group haven't had their own examples of Jerkass behaviour throughout the year, Annie complains that "those are just stories of us being cute!"
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Mega-Dean.
  • Invisible Backup Band: Glee club fill-in flashback - full band sound but only Professor Duncan on the piano.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: Played straight and subverted simultaneously when Jeff and Britta decide to quit hooking up.
    Jeff: It's not you, it's-
    Britta: It's you.
  • The Lady's Favour: The Dean, dressed as Scarlett O'Hara, attempts to invoke this toward Jeff during a flashback.
  • Larynx Dissonance: The Dean voices every character in his cartoon, so this shows up in full force for Britta's and Annie's single lines.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Way back in "Mixology Certification", Jeff and Britta drunkenly made out in the back seat of the car right next to Abed as if he wasn't there, without any consideration for his obvious discomfort with the situation. In this episode they learn to their chagrin that he's been keeping a closer eye on their playing around than they suspected.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: In-universe, Jeff believes he's sexual tension with everyone.
    Jeff: It's called chemistry. I have it with everyone!
  • Meta Guy: Abed is called out on his behaviour and obsession with references by Jeff when he starts triggering flashbacks in flashbacks in flashbacks about the arguments the group get into, causing Troy to nearly break-down.
    Jeff: Abed! Stop being meta! Why do you always have to take whatever happens to us and shove it up its own ass?!
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Abed transcends reality and becomes the living embodiment of this trope.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Chang
  • Name Tron: The berserk robot is labeled as another version of Boob-A-Tron.
  • Noodle Incident: Several of the flashbacks, most notably Jeff's final speech(es).
  • Prospector: In the first flashback a shotgun wielding one nearly shoots the study group.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: The end result of Troy's freakout over the group's fights.
  • Revision:
    • The only part that Abed remembers about the Halloween party was Jeff and Britta going in the bathroom for a quickie. The scene was not planned nor filmed originally during the production of "Epidemiology" - The costumes and scenery had to be remade.
    • An extended version of a scene from "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" had Jeff ask Britta if she wanted to have sex later, though creator Dan Harmon has said this was planned far enough in advance that it was animated along with the rest of the "Christmas" footage in 2010. We also get to see an unseen part of the episode from the "real world" perspective.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Britta forces Abed and Troy to watch the beginnings of the Tunisian Revolution with her.
  • Rousing Speech: Jeff's tendency to make inspiring speeches is parodied with a speech at the end composed of flashbacks to fragments of other speeches inspired by the Noodle Incidents seen in the rest of the episode. The result is a confused, contradictory and glorious mess which nevertheless works perfectly as a 'Jeff' speech.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • For Jeff/Annie, with the reveal that Jeff and Britta have been sleeping together in secret.
    • The Jeff/Britta ship also gets a sinking when the rest of the group okays their sleeping together and it therefore stops being fun.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To The Cape. In various flashbacks, Abed can be seen wearing a "Save The Cape" shirt. And they miss the premiere because of the revolution in Tunisia. Thanks, Britta. Abed's line has since become the fandom's vow for Community to reach "Six seasons and a movie!"
      Jeff: That show's gonna last three weeks!
      Abed: Six seasons and a movie!
    • The Dean's costume montage has references to Tina Turner, Catwoman, and Gone with the Wind.
    • Greendale's barber shop class has Regionals.
  • Significant Reference Date: The reference to the Tunisian Revolution dates that clip of Troy, Abed and Britta.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The group's glee club song is just "sing-a-ling, sing-a-ling-ling-ling, ding-dong".
    • Dean Pelton's cartoon in The Stinger is crudely drawn and animated, and features unconvincing voiceover work.
  • Super Group: Jeff uses the term for a different meaning, but Troy mentions a band.
    Troy: Like the Traveling Wilburys!
    Jeff: Yes Troy. Lke the Traveling Wilburys of pain.
  • Take That: The group had to take over the Greendale Glee Club when the real one all died in a bus crash... Jeff and Britta don't seem to miss them. Per Dan Harmon, this was totally not a Take That:
    "I have no idea what you mean. There was a glee club at Greendale, and their bus was driving on a rainy night, and a downed power line was hanging across the road, and the bus drove through it, and it sliced through the bus and decapitated everyone, row by row, so that the people in the back had to watch all their friends get decapitated, then they got decapitated, and then the bus drove into a pool of lava. And I guess the crazy thing is, the electricity from the power line somehow kept their nervous systems 'alive,' so they could feel the lava. They didn't escape the pain of the lava just because they didn't have heads. They felt the lava. It was terrible but it was not metaphorical in any way. I would never be that petty and envious of another show's popularity."
  • Toon Physics: Lampshaded by Troy
    The study group climbs out of the lake with a flat raft
    Troy: You can yell at me all you want, I’ve seen enough movies to know that popping the back of a raft makes it go faster!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The group round on Jeff and Britta when it's revealed they've been hooking up, breaking their promise at the beginning of the season to keep intimacy out of the group dynamic, calling them on their selfish actions. Turned around, however, when Jeff and Britta point out that the other members of the group aren't exactly without their own selfish and thoughtless tendencies either.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Lampshaded by the name of the episode itself.

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