Recap: Community S3 E04: Remedial Chaos Theory
The study group gets together for a housewarming party for Troy and Abed's new apartment. Everything's going normally until the pizza arrives and nobody wants to go down to get it. Jeff suggests rolling a six-sided die to decide who goes down, and Abed mentions that in doing so he's creating six different timelines. They even come conveniently numbered by the die roll they're associated with.Just as Abed predicted
, the die roll causes the episode to split into six different stories depending on who went down to get the pizza.Timeline 1 (Community 2):
Annie goes to get the pizza. While she's away, Jeff stops Britta from singing "Roxanne." Britta goes to the bathroom. Pierce volunteers the fact that he had sex with Eartha Kitt in an airplane bathroom. Troy finds a gun in Annie's purse. Pierce gives Troy a housewarming present. Jeff bumps his head on the ceiling fan. Abed tells Britta that the bathroom smells funny now. Annie arrives with the pizza.Timeline 2 (Community 4):
Shirley goes to get the pizza. While she's away, Jeff stops Britta from singing "Roxanne." Britta goes to the bathroom, while Pierce volunteers the fact that he had sex with Eartha Kitt in an airplane bathroom. Pierce gives Troy a housewarming present: a Norwegian troll that Troy was scared of when he lived with Pierce. Shirley arrives with the pizzas to find that nobody took her pies out of the oven and now they are burned.Timeline 3 (Community 3):
Pierce goes to get the pizza, but not before he volunteers the fact that he had sex with Eartha Kitt in an airplane bathroom. Jeff stops Britta from singing "Roxanne" and she goes to the bathroom. Jeff insults Troy, so he goes to the bathroom to find Britta was smoking a joint. He and Britta bond over the fact that he's an adult now. Jeff hits his head on the ceiling fan and is tended by Annie. Pierce arrives with the pizza.Timeline 4 (Community 6):
Britta goes to get the pizza without playing "Roxanne." Pierce volunteers the fact that he banged Eartha Kitt in an airplane bathroom. Jeff hits his head on the ceiling fan and is tended by Annie in the bathroom. Pierce terrorizes Troy with the Norwegian troll. Britta arrives with the pizza and the pizza man whom she is now engaged to.Timeline 5 (Community 1):
Troy goes to get the pizza. Jeff stops Britta from singing "Roxanne." Pierce says he banged Eartha Kitt in an airplane bathroom. The replica Indiana Jones temple
goes off and ejects the ball, which rolls on the floor and causes Annie to slip, which causes her purse to fall and the gun to go off which shoots Pierce in the leg. Britta comes out from the bathroom and drops her joint, which starts a fire. Troy arrives with the pizza and sees the Norwegian troll in the middle of the flames and screams.Timeline 6 (Community 5):
Abed goes to get the pizza. Jeff stops Britta from singing "Roxanne." Pierce brags that he banged Eartha Kitt. Jeff hits his head on the ceiling fan and is tended by Annie. They kiss. Britta, overcome with the munchies, eats some of Shirley's mini-pies, then lets slip that she shouldn't have, as they are not supposed to encourage her to bake. Annie says that Jeff reminded him of her dad. Pierce tries to take back his present before Troy opens it, but fails to and Troy sees the Norwegian troll. Everyone starts arguing. Abed arrives with the pizza.Timeline 7 (The "Canon" Timeline, Community Prime):
Abed catches the die and says that they should stop creating alternate timelines for two reasons: a) together they can weather anything and b) Jeff is a conniving son of a bitch
who used a six-sided die when there were seven people - so he would never be the one to get the pizza. Jeff goes to get the pizza and hits his head on the ceiling fan. The others laugh and call it karma. Britta starts to sing "Roxanne" and Shirley joins in. Soon everybody is singing and dancing. Pierce throws the Norwegian troll in the trash. Abed invites Annie to come live with him and Troy. Jeff arrives with the pizza and says, "Look what happens when I leave you guys alone."The Tag:
In the timeline where Troy went to get the pizza, Pierce has died from his leg wound, Jeff lost an arm in the fire, Shirley's become a drunk, Annie's in a mental ward, Troy lost his larynx (from trying to swallow the Norwegian troll), and Britta's dyed a strip of hair blue
. Abed declares that since this is the darkest of the timelines, that they should all agree to be their evil counterparts, wear evil goatees
made of felt, and try to break into the real timeline to take over their lives. Troy and Abed put on their felt goatees: "Evil Troy and Evil Abed!" Meanwhile, in the normal timeline, Abed senses a disturbance, only to brush it off.
The Community episode "Remedial Chaos Theory" provides examples of:
- All The Myriad Ways: Mentioned by Evil!Abed in The Tag; seeing as they are now in the darkest timeline, they have to commit to being evil, then find a way to get back to the main timeline to reclaim their lives. This becomes a plot point later on.
- Almost Kiss: Jeff and Annie in one timeline.
- Subverted in another, where the two successfully make out, only to stop when Annie mentions Jeff reminding her of her father.
- Alternate Timeline: Six different ones are explored during this episode.
- Amusing Injuries: The darkest timeline version of Troy destroyed his voicebox trying to eat the troll doll and now has to speak with an electrolarynx, but its okay since this isn't the "real" timeline.
Evil Troy: Clearly, you don't understand anything about defeating trolls.
- In the same scene Jeff's missing arm is represented by one of his expensive suits having a tied-off sleeve.
- We get to see Jeff hit his head on the ceiling fan multiple times.
- Bait and Switch:
- In the first timeline shown, Troy suddenly notices something in Annie's purse after she leaves to get the pizza.
Uhhh guys, what does a pregnancy test
look like? Jeff:
(Not looking up from something he's reading) It's like a thin piece of plastic with a thing
on the end of it. Troy:
(pulls a revolver from Annie's purse) Okay, so this is definitely a gun.
- In the third timeline, after Troy catches Britta smoking a joint, he pulls out a cigarette case, opens it, takes out what looks like a joint and holds it to his mouth. It turned out to be a candy cigarette.
- Beard of Evil: Evil Abed makes felt fake goatees for everyone until they can grow their own
- Berserk Button: Played for laughs; while everyone else more-or-less laughs off the fact that Jeff was manipulating them in order that he wouldn't have to get the pizza and considers making him go down for them a fitting punishment, Pierce seems genuinely offended and outraged by it.
- Big "NO!": Troy upon seeing the troll standing amid the chaos of Timeline 5. The reasons have to be seen to be seen to be believed.
- Bittersweet Ending: One way to interpret the last timeline. The last thing we see is Jeff obliviously smiling, unaware that it is because of his absence that the group got the happiest timeline. All the while hinting that he may become the new Pierce for this season.
- Bloody Hilarious: Happens to timeline 5 Pierce.
- Bottle Episode: Save for the final scene in the study room the episode takes place entirely in Abed and Troy's apartment.
- Brick Joke: Several, given the 'alternate timelines' nature of the storylines:
- In the first few timelines, everyone who goes to the door to get the pizzas makes a point of noting what a creepy weirdo the pizza delivery guy was. So of course, when it's Britta's turn, she falls madly in love with him at first sight and they get engaged.
- Annie literally finds a brick at the very beginning of the episode, which becomes the catalyst of the different timelines (since the pizza guy can't come straight to the door).
- Broken Record: Just so the audience understands that we've left one timeline and gone back to the point where the timelines diverged, we hear the door buzzer and Abed explaining the creation of new timelines seven times. There are also several events that happen in almost the same way immediately after those timelines diverge (especially Jeff stopping Britta from singing and hitting his head on the fan when he gets up).
- Call Back: "Duh-doy!"
- Call It Karma: Annie in the real timeline, when Jeff hits his head on the ceiling fan.
- Cassandra Truth: A metaphysical example:
Just so you know, Jeff, you are now creating six different timelines. Jeff: Of course I am, Abed. [Throws the dice; creates a new timeline.]
- Cerebus Syndrome: Timeline 5 as it gets incredibly dark by the end. But this is Played for Laughs as it has Refuge in Audacity. Also, since it's an alternate timeline, as far as we can know it never happened.
- Chekhov's Gun
- Literally, Annie's gun which is shown off in one time line (in the first act) only to go off in another (in the third act).
- Another is the Indiana Jones temple replica. In each timeline, Abed catches the boulder before it goes over the table... until the timeline where Troy gets the pizza and the boulder causes Disaster Dominoes.
- Becomes more of a Chekhov's Armoury if one considers the boulder, the gun, the high-proof vodka, Britta's joint, and the troll doll each as their own Chekhov's Gun.
- In five of the six first timelines, Jeff stops Britta from singing "Roxanne". In the timeline without Jeff, it proves to be the source of a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- Continuity Nod: Several of them such as in the tag where Shirley becomes an alcoholic again and Annie goes to a mental ward after a nervous breakdown, not unlike her addiction to pills back in high school
- Critical Failure: Abed calls attention to that fact that the dark timeline came about because Jeff rolled a 1.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: The real timeline, where everyone (excluding Jeff and Pierce) ends up dancing to the Police's "Roxanne."
- Dance Party Ending: In the prime timeline.
- Dark Is Evil: In The Tag everyone is wearing black, reflecting that they are (a) mourning Pierce's death, (b) the results of the darkest of the seven timelines and (c) the timeline that Abed suggests should be the Evil Twin-filled Mirror Universe.
- Development Gag: Abed and Troy's apartment is number 303, the production number of the episode. The episode was difficult to make, and as such, it ended up being the fourth episode aired. The first lines of the episode, dubbed in at the last minutes, are Britta and Annie confirming that the apartment number is 303, not 304.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Britta in timeline 6. Blame it on the pot.
- Disaster Dominoes: Timeline 5.
- Erudite Stoner: Britta in timeline 3 is very perceptive of the root cause of turmoil between Troy and Jeff.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: It's possible to interpret every single timeline as how each member influences the group or what their personality is like. When Abed leaves the room, the group gets overwhelmed by their emotions. When Jeff and Pierce leave the room, the group became more cheerful and united.
- Soooo, Troy keeps the chaos away?
- Troy's the only one (possibly due to dumbness) of the group that is genuinely nice to everyone. He gets angry/frustrated like any person, but he has no prejudice. Think about it: In the first episode: Pierce hates young people (or all people? or life? or something...), Shirley's ultra-religious, Abed can only see people as tropes which inevitably leads to prejudice, Annie is a little pretentious/thinks she's smarter than all the others, Jeff definitely thinks he's too good for community college and Britta has that whole high-and-mighty look I'm an activist and I care about issues thing going on.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: In the tag set in the "dark timeline" where Pierce is dead, Annie went insane, Shirley is drunk, Troy lost his larynx, Jeff lost an arm and Britta...
Jeff: "Britta, you put one wash-away blue streak in your hair and I lost an arm."
Britta: "Exactly! Life got dark!"
- For Want of a Nail: All based on a dice roll.
- Funny Background Event:
- In the tag, Regular!Troy and Abed are watching Inspector Spacetime, introduced in the season premiere.
- In the true timeline, when everyone is dancing, you can spot Pierce taking the troll doll out of the trash and throwing it out the window instead.
- Gilligan Cut
Jeff: Abed, there are no other timelines!
cut to next alternate timeline
- Good Samaritan: Annie, who we learn had to apply a tourniquet to a stabbing victim outside her apartment.
- Goatee Of Evil: In the tag, Abed makes fake Evil Spock goatees these for the group since this is the "dark timeline". Only Troy is willing to wear one with Abed.
- Hypocritical Humor: Discussing Shirley's 'baking problem':
Jeff: I don't like being the bad guy more than anyone.
Jeff:: [Brutally] No.
- Britta says Abed asking what she was doing in the bathroom isn't dignified, then immediately does a very goofy song and dance routine when the pizza arrives. Though it turns out it because she just got done smoking some pot.
- Seeing as Britta sneaks off to smoke pot, Shirley isn't the only one with a baking problem.
- Incredibly Lame Pun
Jeff: Shirley just had a mental breakdown.
Pierce: More like a mental-
Jeff: BAKEdown, I know, I didn't say it on purpose.
- In Spite of a Nail: See "Out of Order" on "Competitive Ecology". Despite neither event taking place in this episode's true timeline, in seems that at some point Pierce tells his Eartha Kitt story and Shirley catches Britta getting high.
- Irony: In Timeline 5, Troy rushes out of the room to get the pizzas in order to ensure he doesn't miss anything. He not only consequently goes on to miss the most chaotic, action-filled and destructive of all seven times, but in rushing out the door he accidentally triggers Abed's Indiana Jones boulder model, which initiates the entire Disaster Dominoes process. He is thus directly responsible for everything he ended up missing directly because of his eagerness not to miss anything.
- In six of the seven timelines, Pierce latches on to any feeble pretext to bring up the story of the time he had sex with Eartha Kitt in an airplane bathroom, justifying it by claiming a natural opening appeared in the conversation. In the seventh timeline, a natural opening does actually appear when Troy compares Jeff to an airplane bathroom — but Pierce is cut off before he can reveal the story and doesn't get another chance.
- Pierce, in one timeline, derides Annie's gun as a "lady's peashooter." Said peashooter kills him in Timeline 5.
- Killed Off for Real: Pierce in Timeline 5 after being shot in the leg
- Libation for the Dead: Evil!Shirley pours one out for Pierce. May he Rest In Pierce.
- Magnificent Bastard: Jeff, for using a six-sided die in a group of seven people to determine who has to go get pizza, meaning he'll never have to go to get pizza. Abed calls him out on it in the real timeline.
- Abed also may count as this, seeing as how he sent a fake club invitation to Jeff a month ahead, just so he would keep his calendar open for the party.
- Mile-High Club: In six of the seven timelines Pierce shoehorns in his story about having airplane bathroom sex with Eartha Kitt.
- Missing the Good Stuff: In Timeline 5 Troy has to go get the pizza, saying "I'm gonna go as fast as I can so I don't miss anything." He comes back to find Pierce shot, the apartment on fire, etc.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Evil!Abed upon deducing they occupy an evil timeline: go back to the "prime" timeline, kill their counterparts, and assume their normal lives.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: In the final scene, Abed in the prime timeline, while watching TV with Troy, somehow senses the birth of "Evil Troy" and "Evil Abed" in the "dark timeline". Abed doesn't know what the feeling is though and dismisses it as "nothing".
- Narrator/Alternate Character Interpretation
- It's fair to assume that each roll of the dice is Abed playing out each scenario in his head. Each moment is exactly what would happen when every person's number came up as Abed is a great student of the group's character. Abed knows Annie would get herself a gun because he knows she lives in a bad neighborhood. He knew Pierce would be jealous of Troy moving in with him and would try to get back at him, and, presumably, Troy told Abed about the Norwegian troll watching Troy sleep. Crosses into Fridge Brilliance.
- Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe, Pierce's Norwegian troll doll which literally gave Troy nightmares when it was placed outside his bedroom at Pierce's. May cause this for some viewers in Real Life too! See for yourself.◊
- Abed's attempt at a smile, which looks more like barely restrained murderous rage.
- Not So Different: Only two members of the study group aren't joining in the fun at the end — Pierce and Jeff.
- Off the Wagon: Shirley in the evil timeline tag.
- On Second Thought:
Abed: Tonight we offer something far more than boobs and billiards.
Troy: One word, two syllables.
Jeff: Don't say "charades."
Troy and Abed: Yahtzee!
Jeff: Is charades off the table?
- Only a Flesh Wound: Averted big time in Timeline 5 when Pierce only gets shot in the leg and dies.
- It probably didn't help that at the time, the apartment was on fire, and he was obviously the one who'd be least likely to escape it. Crosses into Fridge Horror over how exactly he died.
- Alternate possibility: Pierce appears to be bleeding from his upper leg, so the bullet may have hit his femoral artery which would cause him to bleed out very quickly.
- Out of Order: With the previously aired episode "Competitive Ecology", which was ordered by Harmon due to fears that this episode wouldn't be complete in time.
- Pizza Boy Special Delivery: Pierce mentions that all the good-looking pizza delivery guys must have gone into porn.
- The Pratfall: Annie pulls off a magnificent one that would have made Pierce proud. That is if she hadn't accidentally shot him while doing it.
- Reality Ensues: The Stinger shows off the grim aftereffects of Timeline 5: Pierce died from his gunshot wound, Annie went mad with guilt, Shirley became a drunk, Troy destroyed his voicebox after trying to eat the troll, Jeff lost an arm in the fire, and Britta put a blue streak in her hair.
- Room Full of Crazy: The episode's creation resulted in a minor Real Life version, apparently.
- Running Gag: Several, given the nature of the episode, but the most notable is Pierce finding an opportunity in every timeline to mention how he had sex with Eartha Kitt in an airplane bathroom.
- Sarcasm Mode:
Jeff: Of course I am, Abed.
- Schrödinger's Gun: A literal interpretation of the trope, the gun only goes off in one timeline.
- Ship Tease: Troy and Britta have a heart-to-heart in the bathroom, Jeff/Annie have moments in almost all of the timelines and make out in one, and Jeff/Annie, Jeff/Britta, Britta/Troy and Troy/Abed share googly eyes. The apparent offer for Annie to move in with Abed and Troy also helps the chances of Abed/Annie and Annie/Troy happening in the future. Also, everything to do with Troy and Abed's apartment is awash with HoYay.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The song "Roxanne" by The Police (which plays on an iPod speaker in six of the seven timelines) becomes this in Timeline 5 during the chaos that erupts with Pierce being shot and the apartment catching on fire.
- Shout Out: Abed has a model of the boulder scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Squick: Jeff is greatly turned off when Annie tells him that his protective instinct reminds her of her father.
- Status Quo Is God: In the Prime timeline all the conflict, Ship Tease and Character Development of the other timelines is avoided.
- Stealth Pun: In the first timeline, we discover that Annie keeps a gun. This is also a Brick Joke, because we learned in last season's episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design", that Annie carries a gun due to her apartment's neighborhood being dangerous.
- One of the sources of tension throughout the episode is what is described as Shirley's baking problem. In several of the timelines, Britta also has a bit of a problem with getting baked.
- Super Reflexes: Abed catching the die in midair is much more impressive when you consider that he did it after coming to the conclusion that the group shouldn't fight against the chaos of the universe, and that Jeff was manipulating them so he wouldn't have to get the pizza. And he had roughly 3 seconds to come to these revelations.
- Take Another Option: In the 'true' timeline, Abed grabs the die before it hits the table, noting that A: too much of their lives is run by fate already and B: Jeff is a conniving son of a bitch for using a method that ensures he'll never have to get the pizza.
- Timey Wimey Ball / Anachronic Order: This particular theory.
"Is timeline 1 real? Is Evil Abed out there? Those are really, really good questions that I think only a really, really good show would answer. Enjoy."
- The Unsmile: Abed pulls an absolutely terrifying one◊ when he and Troy open the door for Annie and Britta.
- Values Dissonance: Invoked; Troy and Abed discuss a handbook they consulted for advice on how to act as hosts for their party. The first piece of advice was "dress to impress". The second was "avoid touchy subjects like 'the Negro problem'". Turns out it was written in the 1940s.
- Wham Line: Abed tells Annie "You should move here".