Recap: Community S 3 E 16 Virtual Systems Analysis
Blorgons? In this sector?! Well, this mission has gone pear-shaped indeed!
When the biology final exam is unexpectedly postponed, the study group finds themselves with three hours of free time on their hands. While most of the study group go to lunch, Annie convinces Abed to let her spend some time with him in the dreamatorium instead, as a cover for convincing Troy and Britta to go on a date
. What starts as an innocent simulation of Inspector Spacetime
, however, degenerates into an argument between Annie and Abed, which in turn eventually results in Abed experiencing a minor breakdown
when Annie tampers with the Dreamatorium's 'engine'. In order to snap him out of it, Annie must travel through an imaginary hospital populated by Abed's impressions of his friends to find him, which in turn gives her some insight into herself, her friends, and what makes Abed tick.
Tropes appearing in this episode of Community include:
- Action Girl: Not much of one at first, but Annie does take a level in badass near the end to fight the Blorgons.
- Acting for Two/Talking to Himself: Alison Brie and Danny Pudi each get a scene in which they play Abed/Annie while talking to Annie/Abed playing Abed/Annie.
- Actor Allusion:
- Alison Brie's deliberately terrible Mockney accent alludes to the far more convincing posh accent she uses in The Five Year Engagement.
- Chevy Chase really does have an Emmy award.
- Affectionate Parody / Take That: "Hospital Administration" is one of these to hospital-based dramas like Grey's Anatomy:
It's a sexy, emotional school, where doctors save lives and make love, often simultaneously. Our cases, Ripped from the Headlines
. Our passions, unbridled. Our cafeteria, eh.
- Anti-Climax: Abed thinks their whole dreamatorium adventure will end in one so Annie comes up with a more exciting "Inspector Spacetime" Final Battle against the Blorgons.
- Arc Number: In Abed's file, he is listed as "Psychiatric Patient 1373." The number 1373 also appears on the ship at the end of Contemporary Impressionists. The origin of the number is that Dan Harmon was born on 1/3/73.
- Brick Joke: Like Britta and Abed, the waiter in Abed's simulation seems unrealistically exaggerated and over-the-top in his hatred of Die Hard. Then, when we actually encounter him, the waiter is ranting about Die Hard in the exact same fashion; apparently, it was the only part of Abed's simulation that actually was realistic.
- British Accents: Abed and Annie speak in British accents during their "Inspector Spacetime" simulation with Annie doing a particularly bad Cockney one, starting with a hurricane of Stock British Phrases, for her female constable role.
Bugger the dustpans, Inspector! We're too late!
- Buffy Speak: Annie's attempts at Inspector Spacetime-esque technobabble.
- Call Back:
- Cavemen Versus Astronauts Debate: One of the games Troy and Abed play in the Dreamatorium is mentioned to be like this.
- Specifically, it's Dinosaurs versus Riverboat Gamblers.
- Character Development: For Abed especially. In this episode, he learns to take the feelings of others into consideration and not just his own. Annie gets some as well, recognising her own Control Freak tendencies and self-obsession in trying to get people to follow the courses she has plotted out for them, along with some self-introspection about how her thing for Jeff might not be based on the healthiest of foundations.
- Chekhov's Gun: Annie uses the Quantum Spanner to free Abed from his manacles in the Dreamatorium after it was introduced earlier.
- Circling Birdies: Pierce claims to have seen eagles after sitting on his balls.
- Complaining About Shows You Don't Like: Abed doesn't want to go to the Mexican restaurant where Troy and Britta have lunch because the manager thinks Die Hard is bad and is very vocal about why:
"And another thing I hate about Die Hard
FBI agents named Johnson?"
- Control Freak: Both Abed and Annie's tendencies towards 'running simulations' in the lives of themselves and their friends — and then meddling to try and make them come about — are explored over the course of the episode.
You don't have a patent on being a Control Freak
, Abed. Abed:
Actually, I kind of do.
- Explosive Instrumentation: The Blorgon attacks deals this type of damage.
- Expy: Quantum Spanner for Sonic Screwdriver
- Flying Saucer: The HMS Spacetime 12.
- Foreshadowing: At the beginning in the Dreamtorium, Annie protests that she doesn't know a lot about Inspector Spacetime and suggests that she and Abed play something that she's more familiar with, like "hospital administration." This sets up "Hospital School", the Grey's Anatomy-like medical soap which Annie has to traverse in order to find Abed, where her character is an administrator.
- In season 1, Chang is known as Senor Chang because of his position as Spanish teacher. In this episode, there is a restaurant called Senor Kevin's. Guess what name Chang uses in season 4 when he's stricken with "Changnesia"
- Fourth Wall Psych: Done as an in-universe Screen Tap when Annie, caught up in the simulation, runs into the Dreamatorium's actual fourth wall... which is also the "fourth wall" of the screen.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: On the study room whiteboard:
- Help, I'm being bound in a book factory
- If the opposite of pro is con, what's the opposite of progress?
- Genre Savvy: Annie becomes steadily more so after spending more time in the Dreamatorium and learning its rules.
- Godwin's Law: Abed's impression of Troy says he "use[s] comparisons to Hitler to win arguments on the internet".
- Hair Flip: The dean after telling the group their Biology teacher has 'flu.
- Here We Go Again: Annie "breaks" Abed again in The Tag when she redecorates Troy and Abed's blanket room.
- Heroic BSOD: Abed, when Annie meddles with the Dreamatorium's 'engine'.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Abed and Troy, really driven home in this episode. For the sake of context: the last time one of Abed's emotional nosedives pulled the show into genre-bending surrealism, the event was triggered by his mother's abandonment. This time, it's Troy spending time with someone else, which puts a pretty intense spin on exactly how dependent Abed is on Troy for even a relatively stable emotional life. Doubles as both Fridge Logic and Tear Jerker.
- The ending does offer some hope, however; Abed learns he needs to stop forcing things to try and fit how he think they should work and go with the flow more, and contrary to what he believes will happen Troy genuinely enjoys his lunch date with Britta. Ultimately, after some teething issues they both seem to benefit from moving out of their ever-so-slightly codependent relationship and spending more time with other members of the group away from each other.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Jeff and Annie, lampshaded.
Jeff!Abed: But damn the rules, damn the system, damn our two-foot height disparity.
- Insistent Terminology: Abed insists on calling things in his Inspector Spacetime simulation by their correct names when Annie bungles them.
- I Think You Broke Him: Annie says "I broke Abed!" after the above BSOD.
- Literal Genie:
Annie: Take me where I want to go.
- The Match Maker: Annie sets up Troy and Britta on a lunch date. Abed thinks she did this to clear her way to Jeff. Annie says she did it because she thinks that they would be cute together and that Jeff is just a bonus.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Invoked by Abed, when they switch to Jeff and Annie's scene outside their first year transfer dance.
Annie: Abed wasn't there. So whose memory is this?
Jeff!Abed: Maybe its yours. Maybe the dreamatorium really works. Or maybe Leonard was watching from the bushes and told Abed.
- Meta Guy: Abed's role as this is lampshaded in this episode.
- Mind Screw:
- My God, What Have I Done?: Even the Dean thinks he went too far with his half-man half-woman split down the middle "Duali-Dean of Man" costume:
Dean: I have to go to the bank today! What am I supposed to tell people in line, "I had good news and bad news?!" Come on, Craig. Get your life together.
- Not-So-Badass Longcoat: Inspector Spacetime!Abed.
- Not So Different: One of the realizations Annie and Abed have over the episode is that they both spend too much effort trying to force things to go the way they feel they should go rather than just going with the flow.
- One Head Taller: Abed-as-Jeff points out Jeff and Annie's "2-foot height disparity".
- Oscar Bait: "Hospital School" brings us tragic heart-wrenching Alzheimer's patient and Emmy contender Pierce Hawthorne:
Shirley: Mr. Hawthorne, you're out of your bed again.
Pierce: Because I think I'm on a train.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Community finally did a medical drama episode.
- The Peeping Tom: Leonard, when Jeff and Annie kissed.
- The Rainman: "I am Abed Nadir, and I don't know a lot of things everyone else knows," while an analog clock (confirmed in "Basic Lupine Urology"), a restaurant check, shoes with untied laces, and a pile of papers (possibly tax forms) float around.
- Ray Gun
- Reality Subtext: The Final Exam being postponed could be a reference to Community's season finale being postponed, due to being on hiatus.
- Recursive Reality: The final third of the episode gets into this, until the point where we have Alison Brie playing Abed playing Annie and playing Annie playing Abed, at which point she turns into Danny Pudi playing Annie playing Abed. Or something. It's kind of complicated.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Said verbatim by Abed-as-Jeff when describing Hospital School.
- Screen Tap: Subverted. See Fourth Wall Psych above.
- Ship Sinking: Annie, who was once infatuated with Troy, is now officially trying to pair him with Britta.
- Also, Annie rather critically appraises her ongoing flirtation with Jeff.
- Ship Tease: In various ways the episode teases Annie/Abed:
- After Shirley (who is a figment of Abed's imagination) proclaims that Abed doesn't exist and no-one needs him, Annie responds with a fervent "I need him!"
- It's perhaps telling that the first thing Abed does in "Hospital School" is assume the role of Jeff and begin to flirt with Annie. With the torpedoing of the Annie/Troy ship and Annie seeing her relationship with Jeff in a new light it also teases Annie/Abed due to those two ships becoming less plausible. "Hospital School" is also revealed to be building up to Abed re-staging Jeff and Annie's kiss from "Pascal's Triangle Revisited" — doing so would, of course, require Annie to kiss Abed (while he was pretending to be Jeff).
- Also, Abed/Troy, in one of the few episodes they spend apart. Troy takes time out of his date to call the apartment and make sure that Abed's okay, while Abed imagines Troy wanting to ditch his date and come home. Ultimately, they both seem to benefit from spending a few hours with other people.
- Another event that builds to support Annie/Abed is that the episode starts Troy & Britta down the path to hooking up, but eventually breaking up, which makes it far more likely that Jeff/Britta will become a pairing, which leaves Abed as the only other person in the group left for Annie to be paired with.
- Shipper on Deck: Annie, for Troy/Britta.
- Stuffed into a Locker: Annie eventually finds Abed in a metaphorically enlarged version of the locker he used to get shoved into in junior high school.
- Streaming Stars: Shows up in the Inspector Spacetime title sequence.
- Take That: To Carson Daly.
- Truth Serums: Annie injects Troy!Abed, who reveals the desired information about Abed and then continues to blurt out embarrassing confessions. To sum up:
- Wholesome Crossdresser: The Dean. Well, he's half of one, anyway.
- You Are Not Alone: Annie says this to Abed at the end of the episode.