Recap / Community S 5 E 01 Repilot
The Save Greendale Commitee

One year after graduating from Greendale, Jeff Winger's attempts to redefine himself as a lawyer with a conscience have failed and his law practice is collapsing. Just before he hits rock bottom, his old friend/enemy Alan contacts him with a possible lifeline — a bridge designed by former Greendale alum Marvin Humphries has collapsed, and Humphries has responded by initiating a lawsuit against "the one school reckless enough to give him a degree in Engineering". Alan sends Jeff back to his old school to gather information on Humphries, but when Jeff insinuates himself back into the school with the suggestion of forming a "Save Greendale" committee, his old friends from his study group return, unaware of his true reasons for being there.

Upon learning that the Dean has had Humphries' records destroyed in order to selfishly protect his job, Jeff begins to slide into old habits. He decides that instead of Humphries, the study group themselves might have a case to sue Greendale — something which is gradually supported when it turns out that his old friends haven't had such an easy time of things after graduation themselves...

Has a YMMV page.

The Community episode "Repilot" provides examples of:

  • 555: Abed wouldn't put the 555 number onscreen in Jeff's ad because it "sounds fake", even though it's Jeff's actual number. (Well... Jeff's fictional number, obviously, but you know...)
  • Aborted Arc: Season 4's Changnesia is officially put to bed, with Chang having since admitted to his crimes in the third season, accepted his punishment, and gotten re-hired as a teacher. One could argue, however, this was the logical conclusion of the arc after the events of "Heroic Origins".
  • Accidental Hero: Pierce's hologram's introduction to the Pierce Hawthorne Museum of Gender Sensitivity and Sexual Potency just happened to contain the right words to convince Jeff that Greendale was worth saving.
  • The Alcoholic: Jeff, whisky in hand, starts what appears to be a speech about The Power of Love in response to Alan goading him to be an Amoral Attorney once more:
    Jeff: Look, I may be broke, desperate, and nearly homeless but I still got one thing deep down inside that gives me power— [bailiff repossesses his Scotch] —that was it, that was all I had.
  • Ambiguously Bi/Even the Guys Want Him: When Jeff pointed out that Troy's identity had been consumed with his relationship with another man, he thought he was talking about his Clive Owen tumblr.
  • Amoral Attorney: Jeff's attempts to subvert this as a "Hero at Law" are a dismal failure, and he gradually begins to revert back to type. Although it's played with a bit; while he does clearly enjoy indulging in his old manipulative habits again, ultimately he takes little pleasure in what he's doing and, in his mind at least, is doing the best by his friends by getting some compensation for what he feels Greendale has done to them rather than purely acting out of his own self-interest.
  • Arc Words: "Greendale is a good place for good people."
  • The Atoner: Chang, after spending the previous season faking Changnesia, has since dropped the charade and admitted to his crimes.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Addressing Chevy Chase's departure from the show.
    Troy: (Sadly looks next to himself, at the empty chair where Pierce used to sit) Do you guys feel weird about doing this without... Magnitude?
    (Abed nods solemnly)
  • Beard of Sorrow: Disillusioned Jeff wears one in the beginning.
  • Black Comedy:
    • The gang's troubled lives are sprinkled with jokes but are also taken seriously.
    • The bridge collapse does get treated with some jokes (such as the engineer designed a Lego bridge for his thesis, and even that couldn't support its own weight) but it is also treated as a serious fault of Greendale for not educating Humphries properly.
  • Blatant Lies: Annie at first claims that she's only selling pens for the pharmaceutical company she works at. But it doesn't take long for her to admit that she really does sell drugs for them as well.
    • Also Jeff's excuses to go to the bathroom.
  • Break the Cutie: The gang's lives took a sharp turn for the worst after they left Greendale. Despite their former love for the school, they decided to sue it after they realized that their now pitiful lives were partly the school's fault.
  • Break the Haughty: It's revealed that Alan isn't doing that much better in life than Jeff or the study group. He lost his job, got divorced and his affair with his wife's sister is revealed meaning the whole family is pissed at him. He also reveals that he's back on cocaine. Him suing Greendale was the only thing he had left. Which he loses when the Dean shreds the evidence and Jeff cuts him out.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Jeff is initially reluctant to help sue Greendale because he sees it as a good place run by decent and honest people. Upon learning that the Dean destroyed all records of Marvin Humphries at the school, and hearing him (unwittingly) dismiss Jeff's same arguments as "that old spiel", he begins to regress back into his old Amoral Attorney self out of disillusionment.
    • Jeff is also on this as well. When he was telling the group to sue Greendale, Troy protested that Jeff was a hero (in the commercials). But Jeff asserted that the commercial was a lie and that in real life, the robot (the system) does win. Troy comes to believe that since Jeff returned to his old ways, that means he was right and that Greendale should be sued.
  • Burn Baby Burn: After deciding to sue Greendale, the Study Group take their old table to burn it. Then Jeff make them change their minds and burn the court papers instead. Unfortunately, the burning papers ignite a gasoline trail, and the table gets burned anyway.
  • The Cameo: Chevy Chase shows up as a hologram of Pierce Hawthorne.
  • Cardboard Box Home: Chang's current living situation.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Abed makes several references to Scrubs during the episode - Travis Schuldt (Keith Dudemeister) and Eliza Coupe (Denise Mahoney) appeared in previous episodes of Community, as the original Subway and Special Agent Robin Vohlers respectively.
  • Character Development: Even after he becomes bankrupt, Jeff is reluctant to sue Greendale because he still believed that it was a good place for good people. He actually changed his mind once he saw his old friends again and actually decided to tell the Dean the truth (before he found out he shredded the evidence). Even when he was convincing the gang to sue the school, he had a profound look of sadness and it is implied that he was going forward with the lawsuit not just for himself but for his friends. This is very noticeable difference from the old Winger of Season 1.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Jeff accuses Troy of having allowed his entire identity consumed by his codependent relationship with another man. Troy assumes that Jeff is referring to his Clive Owen Tumblr.
    • Later, when Troy asserts that he needs to learn who he is on his own terms, Abed offers to help and Troy is immediately excited by the idea, missing the entire point of what he'd just said.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Crusading Lawyer: Jeff tried to be one. It didn't work out.
  • Deconstruction/Internal Deconstruction:
    • The whole episode is centered around the negative repercussions of the poor quality of Greendale's education system and what happens after you graduate from a school like that. The results are NOT pretty.
    • It's also a Deconstruction of the Dean as it shows that for all his cute, comedic innocence, his incompetence was ruining people's futures. And instead of hiring a more competent Dean to improve the school, he clings onto the job for his own selfish reasons and hands out degrees just to keep his job.
    • Chang is also deconstructed; the fact that Greendale has rehired him to teach a math class despite his obviously not being capable of doing so is discussed, and the case is made that rehiring a homeless borderline lunatic who was fired for impersonating a teacher, rehired as a security guard, was fired again for trying to burn the school down, has faked amnesia and has been arrested and convicted is at absolute minimum completely irresponsible, if not further evidence of how the people running Greendale simply don't care about their students and are actively ruining people's lives.
    • It also deconstructs the common process of Flanderization that fictional characters, particularly in long-running sitcoms, often undergo; while attempting to convince the others to sue Greendale, Jeff makes the case that the school has reduced them to "mixed-up cartoons" who are more broken than they were before they entered the school, and points out examples of how each of the characters has gradually become a broader character over the course of the show.
    • Alan took over as partner of Jeff's old firm in season 3 but has apparently ran it into the ground.
    • You could pretty much say that the episode was a Deconstructor Fleet of the whole show in general.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Jeff's teetering on the edge of one after his business collapses, but he's pushed over it when he learns that the Dean actually did destroy Marvin Humphries' records. He then spends the rest of the episode manipulating the rest of the study group to this point when he persuades them to sue the campus. When he gives them his final speech persuading them to sue, he is visibly depressed by what is happening.
  • Destroy the Evidence: The Dean destroys Marvin Humphries' records.
  • Dissimile: Britta, on Marvin Humphries suing Greendale for giving him a degree in Engineering:
    Britta: He's the one making bad bridges. That's like me blaming owls for how much I suck at analogies.
  • Evil Feels Good: Discussed; Jeff might not particularly enjoy manipulating his friends and ruining Greendale specifically, but he admits that he's getting a buzz from exerting his old Amoral Attorney ways.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The episode opens on Jeff's commercial, playing on his big screen TV... which is being repossessed along with all his belongings, revealing that his business has failed.
  • Fanservice with a Smile: Part of Britta's bartending job, according to Annie
  • Flanderization: Jeff compares everyone's original character with how they act now, and notes that they have turned into cartoons of themselves. Of course, he's talking about what attending Greendale has done to them.
  • Foiler Footage: In addition to none of the trailers even hinting at Chevy Chase's return as Pierce Hawthorne, an alternate version of the script was used at table reads where, instead of Jeff coming across Pierce's hologram, Jeff would discover Starburns was still alive and the ensuing conversation about why he's been hiding out on the Greendale campus would be what motivates Jeff to not go through with the lawsuit; with the only people knowing about Chevy's return being the ones who absolutely needed to know to shoot the scene.
  • Heel Realization: Jeff bluntly forces the Dean to experience one:
    Jeff: [Brandishing the law suit in front of the Deam] These are the signatures of the five people who are crazy enough to care about this toilet. And tonight? I almost got them to sue it. Heed the warning!
    • Jeff himself has one, upon discovering via hologram even Pierce thought Greendale was a good place for good people.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Alan getting Jeff involved with his last case (Humphries v. Greendale) is what led to him losing it.
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection: Pierce's Hologram from his Museum of Gender Sensitivity and Sexual Potency flickers and the audio goes through a flanger effect.
  • Hollywood Law: In reality, there is no way Humphries could have legally signed off on a bridge design without being a licensed professional engineer. Doing that requires that someone take a few tests and practice in their field for a while. In addition, Greendale would have to be accredited in order to grant an engineering degree. The likelihood of that occurring is approximately nil. The accreditation process involves checking students tests and work to see if they are actually learning the material required. In the episode it's used mainly as Rule of Drama (to provide the lawsuit that triggers the episode's events, and also as part of the deconstruction of Greendale being a place that recklessly and indifferently ruins people's lives) and Rule of Funny (Humphries's final dissertation was a bridge made of LEGO which wasn't even put together well).
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Jeff: Hey, I'll back you up no matter what.
    Abed: We decided to re-enroll at Greendale.
    Jeff: What?! Are you nuts?!
    • A meta example, with plenty of Lampshade Hanging: When Abed mentions Zach Braff's decision to only appear in the first six episodes of the retooled final season of Scrubs, Troy reacts with over-the-top anger that Braff would withdraw from the show "after all Scrubs did for him!" Donald Glover, who plays Troy, only appears in the first five episodes of this season of Community before Troy is Put on a Bus so that Glover could pursue other commitments.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: One of the rare exceptions to the "episode title = play on a class name" rule.
  • Ironic Echo: When Jeff first said his catchphrase "And that's the Winger guarantee!" it was in his commercial when he promised that he could help people fight "the system." When he says it again, he's promising Alan that he could manipulate his friends to sue Greendale, the school that they once loved.
    • Jeff says "Greendale is a good place for good people" because he believed it. The Dean later says this in Sarcasm Mode, pushing Jeff to manipulate the group into suing the school.
  • Irony: A rather bitter example — Annie, who was ruined by an addiction to Adderall, can only find a job promoting a rather disreputable pharmaceutical company after graduation. Lampshaded by both Britta and later Annie herself.
  • It's All About Me: The Dean is more concerned with potentially losing his job due to not filling a quota of graduating students each year, essentially making Greendale into a diploma mill and allowing people like Marvin Humphries into positions they're really not qualified for, than the ramifications of doing so.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Alan accuses Greendale of being a diploma mill that bears criminal responsibility for giving a degree to a hopelessly unqualified civil engineer, a slur Jeff defends it against. Alan also predicts that Greendale will shred the evidence of Humphries' attendance. As it turns out, the Dean did shred the evidence, and he admits that he gave Humphries (a guy who made a small Lego building as his thesis) his diploma because the school had to give out a minimum number of degrees in order to stay in business.
    • When the group found out about Jeff's deceit, they didn't even get mad at him because as he pointed out, Greendale really was the main culprit. They then agreed to sue the school, if Jeff chose to do so.
  • Kitschy Local Commercial: Jeff's commercial (which we later discover was directed by Abed) has Jeff in a superhero costume fighting a giant robot. Also a case of Stylistic Suck.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Jeff goes back to his old ways after he finds out the Dean shredded the evidence. He manipulates the study group into suing Greendale instead of saving it.
  • Married to the Job: Shirley lost Andrew because she was spending too much time with her sandwich buisness.
  • Matrix Raining Code: Abed mentions that he spent so much time with computers, the other characters' tears are just ones and zeroes to him.
  • Mood Lighting: Most of the episode has a very washed-out and desaturated colour palette, to reflect the miserable and broken state of the characters and the deconstruction of Greendale. Once everyone's in a better place towards the end, the colours brighten considerably.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The episode started off with a cheesy commercial of how Jeff would help people fight the "system." It then cuts to Jeff getting all his stuff taken away, making it clear that his business failed horribly.
    • The study group accuse Jeff of this when, as they're sadly about to burn the study room tables having been persuaded to initiate legal proceedings against the school, he bursts into the scene and tells them not to initiate legal proceedings against the school:
    Britta: Are you trying to give us emotional whiplash?!
  • Morality Pet: The study group still serves as this for Jeff. After seeing how enthusiastic the group was to save Greendale, Jeff decided to tell the Dean the truth. It is then subverted when he decided to go forward to the lawsuit anyway when he found out the evidence got shredded. He then uses the gang's pain to further his own goals (and to get some money for them as well). Even after they found out he was manipulating him, they decided to go with the lawsuit anyway instead of discouraging him.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Marvin Humphries trying to sue Greendale for giving him a degree and allowing him to work in construction when he's not really qualified to do so, leading to a bridge he worked on collapsing. Humphries is never seen on camera, but it's this attitude that sets the events of the episode in motion.
    • The Dean displays a similar attitude, saying that it's not Greendale's fault Humphries is incompetent, only to immediately reveal that it was actually Greendale's fault as Humphries was grossly underqualified but was allowed to graduate anyway to fill a quota.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Dean giving out diplomas in order to keep his job ends up with a bridge collapsing due to the engineer being an unqualified graduate from Greendale. His inability to run an efficient school also ends up ruining the gang's lives once they leave Greendale and are unable to find the jobs they wanted.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The Pierce Hawthorne Museum of Gender Sensitivity and Sexual Potency was opened in compliance with a court order Pierce's hologram is "legally not allowed to discuss" (although it apparently involved sexual harassment). Pierce also apparently has "no legal right" to be at Greendale anymore, presumably for similar reasons. Considering that this is the same school that re-hired Chang, it must have been something awfully damning, indeed.
    • Apparently Magnitude joined the study group after Jeff and Pierce left, with the implication that he replaced Pierce.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jeff has this look when he finds out that his friends have come back (while he is in the middle of suing the school they all once loved).
  • Reality Ensues: The gang tries to live out their dreams after they graduate from Greendale. But with such a poor education, their dreams fall flat.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jeff gives several in the episode:
    • He starts to deliver one to Alan after his Amoral Attorney persona has awoken, pointing out that as bad as Alan is, he's nothing compared to Jeff at his worst and really shouldn't have "stomped on his grave", before deciding that Alan isn't "worth the monologue" and just hits him with his own tie;
    • He uses this to persuade the study group to sue the school, pointing out how they became "mixed-up cartoons"of themselves while at the school and are hopelessly ill-equipped to survive after graduation;
    • Finally, he gives one to the Dean (with a hint of You Are Better Than You Think You Are) when he basically tells him to get his act together and start pulling Greendale into shape.
  • Reconstruction: After the lengthy deconstruction of Greendale throughout the episode, the ending implies that is on the way; Jeff confronts the Dean over his failure to manage the school effectively and agrees to take a teaching job partly to help the Dean improve the school, and the study group re-enroll when they realise that their problems were partially their own fault and that they need to either pursue what they really want to do or figure out what that really is to begin with.
  • Retool: Jeff returning to Greendale as a teacher is the catalyst for the show to show a greater focus on the Greendale faculty. Abed lampshades this by comparing the idea to the ninth season of Scrubs, which underwent a similar retool; the title "Repilot" is another lampshade.
  • Reveal Shot: While talking with Jeff on the phone, Alan sits behind a desk in what appears to be a lavishly-appointed law office. Cut to a hotel employee angrily demanding that Alan leave the concierge desk.
  • Rousing Speech: Pierce of all people gives one to Jeff via hologram.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Alan did this after Jeff convinced the group to sue Greendale. Abed mistakes it for a Slow Clap and briefly joins in.
  • Ship Tease: Jeff takes a moment to fondly smile at the award he and Annie won in Debate 109.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several to Season 9 of Scrubs, which underwent a similar repilot process. One of Zach Braff's voiceovers from this show closes out the episode.
      • Also doubles as an Affectionate Parody as they utilize Zach Braff's voice over at the end of each episode. When Abed points it out to the girls, they seem less than excited about the story device.
    • The superhero costume Jeff wears in his commercial resembles Ralph Hinkley's from The Greatest American Hero.
    • Troy's plan for the future is to wait until Abed finished his billion dollar social app and then sue him. Abed is fully aware of this, and doesn't seem to mind.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Pierce's Star Wars Shout-Out.
  • Smug Snake: Once again, Alan proves to be less a Magnificent Bastard and more a smug creepy weasel.
  • Spirit Advisor: Pierce's hologram is this for Jeff.
  • Sucky School: Deconstructed.
  • Take That!: Season 4 is referred to as the "gas leak" year, thinly veiling Harmon's discontent over it.
  • Tempting Fate: Jeff sneers at Abed's suggestion that he become a teacher at Greendale. Guess what Jeff eventually agrees to do to help save the school.
    Abed: You got a job teaching here, didn't you?
    Jeff: I don't want to talk about it.
    • When Jeff glared at the Dean after seeing Humphrey's Lego bridge, the Dean sarcastically said "So sue me!" Jeff very nearly goes through with the offer.
  • Time Skip: Season 4 ended in the middle of a school year, and we only saw Jeff and Pierce graduate. This season skips past the rest of that year, to a point where all of the study group members have graduated, and their lives are in shambles.
  • Vapor Trail: The desks get accidentally burned when a trail of gasoline gets ignited.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Alan has a meltdown when he found out that Humphries' documents got shredded as it was the only job he had left. He also doesn't take it well when he learns that Jeff wasn't including him in the study group's lawsuit.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Andre left again."
      • And, perhaps more tellingly: "It was my fault."
    • "We decided to re-enroll at Greendale."
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Jeff calls the Dean out for his utter incompetence at running Greendale.
    • Abed gets a minor comedic one. Jeff points out that he didn't pay him for working on his commercial because Abed actually quit, since he refused to simply put the phone number on the screen, and Annie gets visibly annoyed that he quit a paying job when he hadn't paid rent for the last two months.
    • Britta also calls Annie out for working for a morally questionable pharmaceutical company (that apparently invented a disease and its cure, and produced a pill that had the side effect of making people give up on their dreams).
    • In return, Annie angrily points out that Britta doesn't have much room to claim the moral high ground, since as a barmaid she's guilty of peddling potentially life-ruining addictive substances as well and the place where she works isn't exactly the height of respectability either:
      Annie: At least the drugs I sell don't get slurped out of my belly button!
      Britta: That's only on Tummy Tuesdays!
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Jeff becomes the small-scale version of this when he slips back into his Amoral Attorney ways; he's planning to manipulate his friends into suing Greendale, which will no doubt lead to its complete ruin, but it's clear that he's taking no pleasure in doing so and is largely acting the way he is because he's broken by his failure to become a Crusading Lawyer and is disillusioned with Greendale. When he manages to get his friends to sign the class action suit form, he's clearly downbeat rather than triumphant about it.