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Recap / Community S1 E02: Spanish 101

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In Spanish Class the students pair off to do an oral presentation involving simple Spanish phrases. Jeff's attempt to be paired with Britta backfires when he finds himself partnered with Pierce instead — and Pierce's unorthodox presentation ideas threaten to drive a wedge between them. Meanwhile the ladies in the study group get into activism to raise interest about freedom of speech in Guatemala — however, Britta finds that Annie and Shirley have much different ideas about activism to her.

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The Community episode "Spanish 101" provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Pierce's play is entitled "Two Conquistadors".
  • Artistic License – Geography: The cards Chang hands out in Spanish class have the Italian flag on one side.
    • Could be foreshadowing the fact that Chang is not in fact a Spanish Genius.
    • At the same time, he does have a Mexican flag in the room, so it's possible it's just a Mexican flag sans coat of arms
  • Big Man on Campus: Jeff's introduction in this episode definitely plays on this trope.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • Jeff is a jerk while pointing out to Pierce that their conversation needs to have the five phrases so they can pass. Pierce in turn eventually notes that Jeff doesn't actually care about the grade and would rather impress a girl.
    • Britta does have a point to Annie and Shirley that they are protesting without actually considering the implications of their actions, like the pinata. They, in turn, retort that she's just a Soapbox Sadie that doesn't want to actually do anything. Britta concedes their point and decides to help out.
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  • Broken Pedestal: Britta, for Annie and Shirley. They arrange their protest because they're inspired by her commitment to social justice and want to impress her, only to realize when Britta objects to their protest being "lame" that her commitment is largely for appearances.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Pierce decides to use what is a relatively easy assignment to try and bond with Jeff by staging a play entirely in Spanish. Jeff is actually right when he says that they have to incorporate the required phrases. Pierce uses the constructive criticism as a means to rewrite act two.
  • Completely Off-Topic Report: Jeff and Pierce are assigned a simple presentation in Spanish class, needing to only exchange five phrases in conversational Spanish. Pierce goes way overboard, delivering a presentation that has multiple costumes, props, pyrotechnics (sparklers) and even has an audience participant (Annie) at one point. However, they did fail to include the actual five phrases needed to get a passing grade.
    Senor Chang (pointing at Jeff and Pierce in turn): "F, F minus."
  • Crosses the Line Twice: In universe: in their protest, Annie and Shirley decide to commemorate a murdered Guatemalan journalist... with a pinata. Britta is not happy.
    Britta: You guys realize he was beaten to death, right?
    Shirley: That's where we got the idea from.
  • Destined Bystander: Star-Burns is first mentioned by nickname in this episode.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Professor Chang is established as reasonably competent with Spanish, and justified in failing Jeff and Pierce for their report. In fact, the assignment is straight from the textbook and completely doable. It becomes a significant plot point later on that Professor Chang is a Know-Nothing Know-It-All.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Within the first minute of meeting him, Chang shows the study group (and the audience) just how crazy he is with his rant ("I AM A SPANISH GENIUS!").
  • F--
    Chang: (points to Pierce) F. (points to Jeff) F Minus.
    Pierce: What? Did you say 'S'?
  • Foil: Jeff to Britta, about how they do things just to impress others and look good. Jeff is semi-apologetic only to make more attempts to get into Britta's pants, while Britta actually realizes that she's being a jerk Soapbox Sadie and decides to let Annie and Shirley take the lead.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Chang seems awfully desperate to convince everyone that he's a "Spanish genius."
    • Pierce doesn't adequately answer his own question, "What's the moist towelette business like?"
    • Britta says that when journalists are killed when it's all over "it's gonna be as if it never even happened." Abed says spoilers to that. At the end of the episode Annie and Shirley's protest over the dead journalist is completely overshadowed by Pierce's drunken incident.
  • Funny Background Event: Pierce misspells Israel as Isreal and appears to misspell Palestine as Palestain on the blackboard in the study room.
  • Global Currency Exception: Jeff tries to bribe Abed with $50, but Abed instead wants his shirt.
  • Grin of Audacity: Abed gives a giant grin on seeing Jeff and Pierce's skit in its full glory. This is in contrast to his usual muted smile.
  • Hidden Depths: Troy and Abed can speak basic Spanish and make a musical rap out of them. Jeff and Pierce are blindsided that the former duo finished their assignment fast.
  • Hipster: Britta's dismissal of Annie and Shirley's protest on the grounds that it is "lame" clearly pegs her as the kind of hipster who uses social justice causes as an excuse to feel cool and better than everyone else, as Shirley points out.
  • Hypocrite: Britta is forced to confront the fact that, while Shirley and Annie's protest fundraiser is undeniably cheesy, it's still more than she's ever managed to accomplish despite all her self-righteous posturing about various social issues, and her objections to them are ultimately superficial and hollow. It doesn't help that, after dismissing their protest as "lame", she immediately tries to weasel out of it by playing the "I'm upset because I care so deeply" card. Her frequent accusations and condemnations of Jeff as being a phony are thus also blunted by the fact that, because of this, she's little better. This is probably why she goes easy on Jeff after Pierce reveals that he's only at the fundraiser to try and seduce her; it's not like she's got much room to criticise someone else for supporting a cause for phony reasons.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Pierce: You know, Jeff, you can't pursue people so desperately; it starts to creep them out. (pause) What don't we go get a beer, I'll give you some advice, and we can have what the kids are calling a sausage fest?
  • Inscrutable Oriental: Chang rants about this trope in class.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Professor Chang is a jerk, Jeff and Pierce's "play" went on for several hours and didn't even include the phrases that were part of the assignment.
  • Large Ham: Jeff
  • Lying to the Perp:
    Dean over P.A.: To whoever is growing a small patch of cannabis behind the gymnasium, congratulations, you have won a cruise. Report to Security to claim your tickets.
  • Man on Fire: Pierce.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Pierce and Jeff turn a five-sentence long conversation assignment into an epic saga with props, songs, dance, and multiple costume changes. They get blank stares from everyone except an obviously impressed Abed.
    Chang: These are short conversations, they're not supposed to take-
    Jeff: Your breath away?
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: The Tag. Here's a link.
  • Not So Different: Britta is stunned to realize that what she and Jeff have in common is that they pretend to care about things to look better to others. She admits as such to him when he shows up.
  • Reality Ensues: For what's supposed to be a short conversation, Pierce and Jeff instead put on a skit that goes on for several hours, without using any of the phrases in the assignment. Professor Chang understandably fails them for missing the point of the assignment and wasting everyone's time.
  • Schmuck Bait: On the episode opening PA announcement:
    Whoever is growing a small patch of cannabis behind the gymnasium: Congratulations! You have won a cruise. Report to security to claim your tickets.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Chang.
  • Spoiler: invoked
    Britta: Believe me, everyday in that country people are being killed for speaking out, and the worst part is when it's all over—
    Abed: Spoilers!
    Britta: —it's going to be as if it never even happened. Hey Abed, real stories—they don't have spoilers. You understand that TV and life are different? Right?
  • Soapbox Sadie: Britta, much to the admiration of Annie and Shirley. It backfires, however, since Annie and Shirley plan their protest / fundraiser because they're impressed by her only to discover that she's mostly talk and no action.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Aimee Mann's somber "Wise Up" (which was in the movie Magnolia and is about choosing to either face your personal problems or give up on ever resolving them) plays over Jeff and Pierce's Spanish surreal presentation, involving Mexican puppets, waving the Israeli and Saudi Arabian flags, doing a minstrel show with Afro wigs and Mickey Mouse glovesnote , a short piece about a robot murder, a sketch about a kidnapping (with Annie as an unwilling participant), and a silly string fight with a sparkler finish.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Abed really gets Pierce and Jeff's presentation. No one else does.
  • Strawman U: The entire candlelight vigil/silent protest subplot.
    Shirley: I never went to a real college; I want to be political.
  • Subject 101: Spanish 101.
  • Trope Overdosed:
    Chang: Every once in a while, a student will come up to me and ask, 'Señor Chang, why do you teach Spanish?' They say it just like that. 'Why do you teach Spanish?' (Beat) 'Why YOU? Why not math? Why not photography? Why not martial arts?' I mean, surely, it must be in my nature to instruct you in something that's ancient and secret, like, oh, building a wall that you can see from outer space. Well, I tell you why I teach Spanish: it's none of your business, OK? And I don't want to have any conversations about what a mysterious, inscrutable man I am. Oh heehee, oh huh huh. I am a Spanish genius! In español, my nickname is El Tigre Chino.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Shirley and Annie quite accurately peg the hypocrisy in Britta's objection to their protest about Guatemala:
    Annie: [Outraged] Britta, are you saying that we're not allowed to protest?!
    Shirley: Sounds like someone has a case of 'likes to use fringe politics to make themselves feel special but doesn't ever want to actually do anything'... itis.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: The episode ends with Abed and Troy rapping in Spanish. The song includes such statements as "The goat's mustache is Cameron Diaz".
  • You Need a Breath Mint
    Abed: Conflicts like this will ultimately bring us together as an unlikely family.
    Troy: You have horrible breath right now.

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