Jeff convinces Annie and Abed to enroll in a Pottery Class with him, but the plan for an easy A goes off the rails when Jeff becomes intensely envious of the talent of a fellow classmate. Meanwhile Pierce convinces the rest of the study group to join him in a week long sailing course taking place in the school parking lot.
The Community episode "Beginner Pottery" provides examples of:
- The Ace: Introducing Rich — a doctor who hasn't lost a patient in five years and can make working bird fountains effortlessly in pottery class.
- Adrenaline Makeover: Shirley while acting as captain in the boating class, complete with hair pulled back in a ponytail and a Cool Hat.
- An Aesop: Jeff learns he doesn't have to be awesome at everything.
- Always Someone Better: Jeff has some character growth with this realization.
- Berserk Button:
- Big "NO!": After Pierce gets "lost at sea".
- Broken Ace: Rich is hinted to be this with voiceover flashbacks of his mother at the end of the episode.
- Country Matters: Averted with Pierce telling Shirley, after she leaves him to fend for himself in the sea (parking lot) that now he knows what the C in "Captain" stands for — crabapple.
- Cosmic Plaything: Pierce.
- Determinator: Pierce, since birth. He got his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, both arms, and one ankle. The doctors even stopped delivering him. He's not going to let a little thing like drowning at sea in the middle of Colorado stop him.Jeff: Good luck!
Pierce: Don't need it! Never had it!
- Doomed Moral Victor: Invoked when Shirley becomes one of these when she captains her ship into a "storm" in order to save Pierce, stating she would rather be nice than strong. Her reward: Becoming an admiral in the eyes of the professor.
- Epic Fail:
- Pierce's rowboat takes on water in a parking lot.
- Narrowly avoided by Jeff: he took on Pottery specifically because the class is incredibly easy and derives most of its credit just from people showing up. He still almost gets kicked out.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Jeff, Abed, and Annie's attempts at making pottery sculptures. Annie actually manages to make a pretty decent bowl by the end, but the guys remain hopeless throughout.
- Foreshadowing: The pottery instructor spends a long moment describing the man-on-man versions of that scene from Ghost he's seen students doing. Guess what nearly gets Jeff kicked out of the class around the episode's midpoint?
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In-Universe, the defaced Patrick Swayze photo which was made before he died so it's not in bad taste.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Hands-On Approach: Banned in the pottery class, since it invariably turns into Ghost references.
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": The mark of a true seaman is not giggling at the word "seaman."
- Instant Expert: The source of Jeff's woes; he's naturally quite intelligent and therefore expects to always succeed on his first try. When he doesn't prove this and is badly lagging behind Rich, he goes a bit bananas.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The sailing course becomes a parody of a high seas adventure.
- Nautical Knockout: This happens to Pierce in a boating class. Only since the college is nowhere near water, the boat is in the middle of the parking lot, yet the instructor insists that they act as if they were at sea, and Pierce is essentially left to die.
- The Needs of the Many: Why Shirley leaves Pierce to "drown" after he falls off the boat. Averted at the end, see Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!
- Never Heard That One Before: The pottery teacher has seen so many lame Ghost reenactments that his single rule is no Ghost reenactments on penalty of failure. It later turns out that the Boating teacher has the same problem with "I'm king of the world!"
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Shirley decides to save Pierce at the expense of her grade.Shirley: Damn the storm; we're going after Pierce! Jump the halyard. Starburns, you get down there and you man the iron jennynote ; there's a man overboard! That's an order!
Pierce: I'm gonna sink!
Britta: I'm about to get the only A I will ever get, and Pierce isn't even dying.
Pierce: bailing Save me!
Britta: You don't have to do this.
Shirley: I know, but I'd rather be kind and get stepped on once in a while than be a hardass and turn my back on a friend. Hoist the mains.
They sail across the parking lot.
Instructor: You just steered your boat into a storm. Any last words?
Shirley: The sea may be cold and unforgiving, but I'm not. The ship may go down, but at least she'll go down with honor.
- Serious Business: Everything that happens in the boating class. Especially Pierce "drowning" (twice).
- Something Else Also Rises: When Jeff and Abed watch Annie form her penis-shaped sculpture◊.
- Stanford Prison Experiment: The sailing class becomes all too real when Pierce is abandoned to the high seas, while in the middle of the school's parking lot.
- Stock Shout-Outs: There's a reason for the zero-ghost-tolerance at pottery class.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: The pottery professor and the sailing instructor hate Ghost and Titanic (1997) which they believe mock their respective professions.
- Take That!:
- Through the Eyes of Madness: At the end of the episode, we get to hear Rich's inner voice. It's...dark.
- Troll: After getting kicked out of class, Jeff responds by singing the theme from Ghost, which had already been established as a Berserk Button of the teacher.
- What Have We Done: Said by Troy when the group abandons Pierce in the parking lot.
- Worthy Opponent: The sailing teacher says this word for word as Shirley successfully captains the boat.
- You Should Have Died Instead: Apparently, Rich's mother thinks that Rich should have been the one who died on that roller coaster ride instead of his brother.