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Recap / Community S2 E03: The Psychology of Letting Go

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Pierce deals with the death of his mom. Jeff gets an unexpected result back from a medical test. Abed has a side adventure. And Britta and Annie try to raise funds and awareness about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but just find themselves in conflict over their respective approaches.

The Community episode "The Psychology of Letting Go" provides examples of:

  • Adult Fear:
    • Troy sees a dead body and is legitimately freaked out. It was his first corpse. He starts crying as Pierce talks about how his mother is in another form.
    • Jeff suffers an existential crisis on learning that he has to take cholesterol medication. He starts rambling about how life has no meaning because no matter what you do, you will die and there is no God or vaporizer there. It takes listening to Pierce's mother's tape and her calm reaction about her impending death to make him realize yes, life is short, and that is what you should enjoy it.
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  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: At the hospital:
    Nurse Jackie: You have something very infectious.
    Jeff: What?
    Nurse Jackie: Charm!
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: As Pierce's mom narrates how life works, Abed can be seen helping a young couple give birth in the background. Considering his role in the show he probably sought the pregnant girl out. In the commentary, Donald Glover says this scene made him realize that Abed has casual sex (and Troy doesn't), because the girl is telling Abed that the baby might be his, so it might not be a case of his meta-sense seeking out an opportunity, and it might be a case of almost-fatherhood (but likely neither - see Brick Joke).
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Betty White and an African tribesman in The Tag. This is so another tribesman won't be spoiled by the English half of their discussion of Inception.
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  • Brick Joke: This video makes a strong case that the pregnant couple in Abed's Out of Focus story blame him for the pregnancy due to his poorly-worded advice in an episode last season - the couple (or one very much like them) are even visibly celebrating his PA announcement not to use condoms.
  • Broken Aesop: Jeff takes Duncan's psychology completely the wrong way. Instead of getting over his angst and quitting his attempt to destroy Pierce's faith he comes to the realization that that was his goal and really rolls his sleeves up.
  • Broken Bird: Jeff spends most of the episode angsting over his mortality. He's in near-perfect health. The "near" part is devastating to him.
  • Buffy Speak: Britta's imitating Annie.
    "Hi, I like need you to save the pelicans? They're all feathery and pelicany? I wuv them."
  • Captain Obvious Aesop: Invoked during Annie and Britta's demonstration, when Britta is angrily yelling about how horrible the oil spill is. A nearby student mockingly points out that she doesn't actually need to yell at them, because "nobody is on the other side of this issue!"
  • Cat Fight: Britta and Annie oil-wrestling.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Duncan points out that Jeff's recent desire to belittle and undermine Pierce's faith in his cult is linked to Jeff's discovery that he has high cholesterol. Jeff accepts this, but instead of the expected 'so lighten up about it and let Pierce continue regardless' message, Jeff instead decides that this increased self-awareness means he can really go to town on pulling the rug from under Pierce.
      Professor Duncan: No, that wasn't what I w — actually, I don't care.
    • Britta tells Annie that due to her flirting guys have socks with her name on them. Her reply?
      Annie: ...if a guy wants to make a puppet of me it's hardly your concern.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose: Annie when she tries to raise money. Britta thinks Annie is being coy and shows of her feminine charms on purpose, trying to milk money from guys.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Annie and Britta get into this while arguing.
    Annie: "Bitter, much?"
    Britta: "Say 'Bitter, much' much?"
  • Desecrating the Dead: Defied. Jeff is about to take Troy and Pierce to the morgue to see his mother's body for real and shake Pierce awake. He realizes he can't do it, however, on hearing the last message Pierce's mother left for him. Jeff turns the car around and treats everyone to ice cream like he promised.
  • Drinking the Kool-Aid: Invoked. Pierce's faith believes that when Buddha returns everyone will merge into a shimmering ocean of knowledge that tastes like Hawaiian Punch. Which sounds a lot like an incredibly oft-mentioned anime.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Duncan discovers he can force Chang to run away.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: While Jeff is not speaking to his mother, he still respects her to some extent. And when he hears what Pierce's mother says, it snaps him out of his funk. He is offended when Pierce tosses the tape out of his car window.
  • Fanservice: Annie and Britta's wrestling while covered in oil
    Professor Duncan: Now, this is why I came to America.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • While Pierce is explaining his religion in Anthropology, there's a guy in the background taking notes on it.
    • Look carefully at the girl who Jeff hits on in the student health clinic - she's reading an STD pamphlet.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Annie and Britta's oil-wrestling match draws a very large crowd. The men of the study group also approve.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Non-romantic version; Shirley spends most of the episode poorly concealing her jealousy over the fact that she wasn't invited to join in Britta and Annie's project.
    • Equally, for all that she tries to frame her objections in superiority and lofty Straw Feminist terms, on some level at least Britta is also clearly just seething with jealousy about how Annie attracts the attention of guys more than her.
  • Hero of Another Story: Abed's background storyline this episode
  • Hollywood Restraining Order: Both Duncan and Chang act as if Duncan's restraining order is an actual physical force-field.
  • Hypocrite: During their argument, Annie points out that despite Britta's self-righteousness over Annie's efforts to get the attention of men, Britta's own actions clearly suggest that she values getting the attention of men just as much.
  • Hypocritical Humor
    Duncan: Well, I think you're being a little childish— hold on a sec, I need to use my force field to prevent Chang from getting food.
    • Shirley sardonically highlights a certain hypocrisy in Annie and Britta's jealous sniping match with each other:
      Shirley: Yeah, you're both soooo different. Skinny bitches.
  • It's All About Me: Jeff ends his speech urging the study group to be tolerant of Pierce's religion by encouraging them to "be cool like me". Troy notes that Jeff tends to end a lot of his speeches by pointing out how cool he is.
  • Law of Disproportionate Response: Jeff is told he is near-perfect health except for slightly high cholesterol. He reacts as if he's been told he's going to die later that afternoon.
  • Leave Me Alone!: Played for laughs when Jeff is devastated by the news of his slightly high cholesterol levels and demands to be left alone... in the foyer of a public health clinic:
    Jeff: I need to be alone.
    Nurse Jackie: [Nonplussed] Uh... you can do that by leaving.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The background events tell the story of Abed helping a pregnant woman, getting in an argument with the father, and eventually delivering the baby. At the end, the group asks Abed where he's been. You can see it here. It's quite impressive when you go back and watch it. Shirley even comments on it after noticing that Abed has barely appeared in the episode (and the couple are in the background when she does).
  • Mood Whiplash: The first track on Pierce's mother's CD is a recording of her pleading with him to understand the finality of death. The second track is hardcore gangsta rap.
  • Out of Focus: Literally; the episode features a subplot of Abed befriending a pregnant classmate that takes place entirely in the background.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Shirley happily munches on crisps while Annie and Britta get into it.
  • Reality Ensues: Chang is able to file legal proceedings against Duncan for abusing his restraining order to prevent him from using basic facilities.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Britta's anger over the oil spill is seen as this.
    Redhead Guy: You don't need to shout at us! No one is on the other side of this issue!
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point Pierce is explaining the tenets of his religion (cult), mentioning that humans have a vapour form. Abed asks if there is a liquid form, to which Pierce replies that when Buddha comes all humans would turn into a liquid and combine into a single, superintelligent lifeform that resembles an ocean of fruit punch, referencing Neon Genesis Evangelion's superintelligence.
    • Male Nurse Jackie references the Indiana Jones franchise by mentioning Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: A ditzy-sounding female student pops into Professor Duncan's Anthropology lecture to inquire whether it's the Anesthesiology class.
    Duncan: Yes, yes it is.
  • Sweater Girl: Annie's tendency to wear tight sweaters is Lampshaded by Britta.
  • Take That!:
    Jeff: I treat my body like a temple!
    Male Nurse Jackie: Well, I can't be the first person to tell you that the temple doesn't last forever; I mean, it's made of hamburger! This is a temple of doom! And like the real Temple of Doom, it represents the inconvenient fact that all good things, be they people or movie franchises, eventually collapse into sagging, sloppy piles of hard-to-follow nonsense.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That
    Pierce's Mom:[on audio] Pierce, if you're listening to this it means I'm dead.
    Pierce: Vaporized.
    Pierce's Mom: Not vaporized.
  • Throw It In!: The boiled eggs Jeff dejectedly de-yolks at lunch are actually what Joel McHale brought in for lunch that day.
  • Video Wills: Well, an audio will. Pierce's mom leaves one for him. Pierce ignores it, choosing to believe his mother went insane towards the end.
  • Your Mom: Troy initially interprets a comment by Pierce to be one of these:
    Pierce: It's not a lava lamp. It's my mom.
    Troy: Oh snap! ...wait, what?


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