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Recap / Community S2 E06: Epidemiology

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There's a Halloween party going on in the Greendale "Liscary" and all of the study group are there: Jeff is dressed as David Beckham (complete with stubble and a soccer ball); Britta is dressed as a dragon-turtle ("I'M A T-REX!"); Annie is dressed as Red Riding Hood; Pierce is dressed as Captain Kirk; Shirley is not dressed as Miss Piggy; and Troy and Abed are dressed as Ripley in the Power Loader and the Alien Queen respectively.

Pierce eats some of the "taco meat" that Dean Pelton bought at an army surplus store and exhibits some strange symptoms, including fever and slurred speech. Soon, he bites Starburns and the infection spreads — resulting in a full blown Zombie Apocalypse. And to make matters worse, the Dean locks them in the library to wait six hours for the army to arrive.

Has a YMMV page.

The Community episode "Epidemiology" provides examples of:

  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Troy is the final survivor, but in the end gets bitten by an infected Abed. The infection begins to take hold, but thankfully Troy is able to turn down the thermostat before it's too late.
  • Apocalypse How: According to Rich, Type 3A within a year and a half. However, seeing as everyone is cured by turning the thermostat down to 58 degrees, one suspects this virus might have a little trouble making it out of Colorado.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: The Dean's voice noticeably drops to a flirtier register when he gets transferred to someone with an authoritative military voice on the phone.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The group is locked in the study room with zombies pounding on the glass doors, the army is six hours away from arriving and Pelton's ABBA mix is playing on a loop over the PA system. But it's not until Pelton's personal reminders get mixed in with the music that Jeff declares it a waking nightmare.
  • Badass Boast: Shirley's phrase to Leonard: "Leonard, you better back that pumpkin ass up or I will make a pie." Notably, Leonard is zombified and trying to bite Shirley, and this still scares him off.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up: This is by far one of the series' most impressive and expensive episodes. The ABBA songs alone ate up the entire season's music budget.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Big Damn Hero Troy reaches the thermostat at the last second before becoming zombified, cooling everyone down until the military arrived.
  • Big "NO!": Troy cries Big NO! when Abed gets Devoured by the Horde.
  • Black and Nerdy: This episode actually deconstructs it for Troy. Hanging out with Abed has turned him from a Jerk Jock who could get ladies easily, into a huge nerd. This leads to his brief foray into being a sexy Dracula. However, in the end he realizes he values Abed's friendship more. And even though he's roofied at the end like everyone else he seems to have absorbed this lesson.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Black Dude Gets Zombified First, defied. Abed saves Troy and sacrifices himself in hopes that Troy could be the first black guy to actually make it to the end and save everyone. It works.
    Abed: Troy, make me proud. Be the first black man to make it to the end.
  • Bloody Handprint: Troy leaves one on the thermostat control, as he manages to save everyone.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Another zombie apocalypse played for laughs.
  • Brainwash Residue:
    • Even though the Memory-Wiping Crew did their job, it would appear everyone subconsciously remembers what happened to some extent, as Jeff states his skepticism over the cover story (Everyone at the party was roofied) whilst Troy & Abed decide they don't want to watch a zombie movie as they feel zombies are played out, but can't remember why.
    • In Paradigms of Human Memory Abed reveals he does remember one thing from the beginning of this night: Jeff and Britta sneaking into a bathroom to hook up.
  • Butt-Monkey: Starburns is the first to get bit, as per usual.
  • Cat Scare: Parodied:
    [Screeching cat flies past camera.]
    Jeff: Jeez! Haha, it was just a cat. Letís keep moving.
    [Screeching cat flies in opposite direction.]
    Troy: Holy crap!
    Jeff: What is up with that cat?!
    Abed: Keep moving!
    [And again.]
    Jeff: Letís not keep moving, because there is an insane cat down here!
    Troy: What about the zombies?
    Jeff: Back burner, Troy! This cat has to be dealt with.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late:
    Dean Pelton: Six hours, on the dot!
    MIB: We've had a lot of practice.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After Troy tries and fails to pick up some ladies while wearing his Power Loader costume:
    Troy: [to Jeff] I don't get it! How do you do it?
    Jeff: Well... I'm wearing a $6,000 suit, and you spent three days making cardboard robot armor.
    Troy: [nodding] You're saying they feel sorry for you.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Rich from "Beginner Pottery" shows up again (and Jeff still hates him).
    • In a later episode, Troy shows attention to the fact that Shirley ovulates on Halloween (It Makes Sense in Context)... So this episode might actually influence future episodes.
    • In "Introduction to Statistics," Shirley's Halloween costume is repeatedly mistaken for Urkel due to her race — she's actually Harry Potter. One of the people who makes that mistake is Chang. In "Epidemiology," Chang dresses as ice skater Peggy Fleming, and is repeatedly mistaken for Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan due to his race. In his case, it's on purpose - he's the Racist Prover. Shirley is one of the only people who is able to tell who he's supposed to be.
    • Annie also references the fact that Shirley's worn an "unintentionally ambiguous costume" for the second year in a row — she's Glinda the Good Witch, not Miss Piggy. Chang is the only person to realize this — a fact which leads to their hooking up.
    • A nod to Chang's first appearance.
      Chang: Ya bit? YA BIT?!?
    • The Dean still uses pepper spray.
  • Creepy Basement: Jeff, Troy, and Abed make their way here when escaping from the zombies.
    Jeff: Oh, great. A dark basement. I was just thinking we should be doing this in a dark basement.
  • Cutting Corners: The Dean's idea to buy (what seems like) food from an army surplus store backfires when the content turns out to be some sort of bioweapon or toxic waste capable of causing a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Dangerous Windows: Annie gets dragged out a window by a zombie horde.
  • Death by Materialism: Okay, not an actual death, but otherwise played straight. Jeff would rather walk into a door with zombies potentially on the other side rather than climb out a window and wrinkle his suit. His last words before becoming zombified even have him complaining about Rich stretching his suit jacket.
  • Death by Pragmatism: Likewise, Jeff gets bitten when he aptly points out to Abed and Troy that they should escape and get help rather than lower the thermostat that is located within hordes of zombies.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Britta wears a costume with mittens that cover her hands. She finds that she can't pick anything up at the party. Jeff helps her get a drink, though he doesn't hesitate to tease her about it.
    • Troy decides to use "The Power of Imagination" and put on his power loader costume to fight the zombies. He immediately gets held down thanks to it and the costume is torn apart.
  • Discontinuity Nod: In-universe. At the end, Troy and Abed are going to watch a movie, at first considering a horror film, but decide that they are "over zombies" and watch Marmaduke instead.
  • Dramatic Slip: Shirley when running from the zombie horde. She is helped up by Chang.
    Jeff: Don't look back!
    Shirley: Why not? — Oh! [stumbles]
  • Dwindling Party: The group gets zombified one after another until only Troy is left — and then he turns, too, but not before managing to turn on the air conditioning, thus saving the day.
  • Episode of the Dead: "Epidemiology" is an episode about zombie apocalypse.
  • Everything Is Racist: Senor Chang deliberately dressed as Peggy Fleming so he could prove everybody is a racist (for example, Britta guesses Kristi Yamaguchi). Because he's the Racist Prover. Shirley, though, figures out who he is on the first guess (and likewise, Chang figures out that Shirley is Glinda the Good Witch on the first guess).
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Zombie Jeff is robotically typing on his cell phone. As the temperature cools in the library, he comes back to life... and immediately resumes texting.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you look closely at the packaging, the taco meat not only states it is a 'biohazard', but it also shows a pictogram showing that if you eat it, you will turn into a zombie.
  • Genre Savvy: Troy and Abed immediately label the infected as "zombies"; Chang throws a skate at them, declaring they must destroy the brain.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Nobody will ever know how Troy risked his life to cure everyone due to the government erasing their memories, or how if he hadnít the army would have just killed them.
  • Halloween Episode: There's a party at the community college and everyone gets infected with a virus that zombifies people.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Abed & Troy pull two separately, with Abed helping Troy escape the basement before being Devoured by the Horde, and Troy manages to turn the thermostat on before succumbing to the virus.
  • Homage: There are several shot-for-shot recreations of Zombie Apocalypse media.
    • Annie is wrestled out a window by a zombie horde in a recreation of a shot from Shaun of the Dead, which is itself a recreation of a similar shot from Day of the Dead (1985).
    • Troy and Abed climbing atop the storage shelves in the basement is a reference to the video game Dead Rising, and Jeff's threatening them with a raised soccer ball (using Improvised Weapons, including soccer balls, are a gameplay mechanic) might be as well. The Army's six hour delay matches the play time of the main storyline.
    • The Army makes the Dean quarantine the Halloween party just like it quarantined the apartment complex in [REC].
    • The explanation of the 'zombies' as infected by rabies pokes fun at both 28 Days Later and Quarantine (2008).
    • Jeff's taken in by zombies like Barbara near the end of the original Night of the Living Dead (1968).
    • Troy and Abed repeating the famous "I love you."/"I know." scene from The Empire Strikes Back.
    • Abed is eventually crushed against the wall in a fenced-in storage area by a wall of zombies in a repeat of the shot from I Am Legend.
  • Hypocrite: One of the reasons the study group hates Pierce is for seeing them as one-dimensional stereotypes. This episode we find out they do a Flanderized impression of him behind his back.
  • I Am Not Shazam: [invoked] Troy says he's dressed as a "sexy Dracula," and doesn't get why Abed insists he means "sexy vampire."
    Troy: I don't need to know which Dracula I am to know I'm a Dracula. Nerd.
  • I'm Not a Doctor, but I Play One on TV: Annie starts to seek help from a young man dressed up as a doctor after Pierce becomes sick, before asking the doctor dressed up as a banana.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Jeff, whose costume is David Beckham, uses his soccer ball to take out a zombie.
  • Instant Sedation: The Dean collapses instantly after being dosed by the Men In Black.
  • Jerkass Ball: Although Jeff has not always been a good friend, in this episode, he shows no concern for any of his friends and is willing to let them die so as not to ruin his suit.
  • Lampshade Hanging: It's Community, so... a lot. But in particular, the Cat Scare and Jeff's comment that he was hoping they could do this in a dark basement.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Britta does a very subtle one when Jeff mentions that quite a few people seem to be on some sort of bizarre drug.
    Jeff: Have you noticed a weird vibe taking hold of this party? It's like every fifth person is on something seriously hardcore.
    Britta: Yeah, I wonder who's holding... the key to your riddle!
  • Last Words: Before they turned to zombies:
    Star-burns: Jeez, why don't you two just get a room?
    Rich: I thought that maybe I was [slurring] speciallll—
    Britta: Special? You're not special! I'm special! I was bitten ten minutes ago and [slurring] I'm ffffiiii—
    Annie: What the hell?!
    Jeff: That's my jacket! You're stretching it! You're stretching it!!
    Chang: Shirley and I totally did it! Gotta go!
    Abed: Make it fast.
    Troy: Jeff... still cool as a zombie!
  • Lethally Stupid:
    • Quite predictably, the Dean falls into this. He bought ration tins full of biohazard material from a military surplus store and assumed it was taco meat with a goofy label. The biohazard warning signs and the large label "Do Not Open" should have tipped him off.
    • The people in charge of the military surplus store itself also fall under this for selling biohazard materials that as a result anyone, including dummies like the Dean or someone with more nefarious intentions, could get their hands on.
    • Chang's attempt at fending off the infected ended in Annie dragged off by zombies and their only sanctuary compromised.
  • Mayan Doomsday: Brought up, but Chang shoots it down since it's currently 2010. When Rich hypothesizes that the infection would fully spread around the world in a year and a half, Chang realizes that it would be 2012 by the time that happens, leading him to panic and think the 2012 apocalypse is in play after all.
  • Memory-Wiping Crew: Plan B, dose everyone so they don't remember anything from the zombie apocalypse.
  • The Men in Black: At the very end, mysterious men in black appear with the military. They look like they're ready to kill all infected and the sole witness, but then they roofie everyone so they'll forget.
  • Militaries Are Useless: The army makes a point out of showing up six hours after the first news of infection. Also, they apparently didn't think of a cure that a doctor in a banana suit and a college student in a Red Riding Hood costume casually hypothesized. Not to mention that they seem prepared to eliminate a school full of people because they have a virus that can't survive sub-60 degree temperatures.
  • The Narrator: Opening and closing narration, most of which is irrelevant to the episode, is provided by George Takei as himself.
    George Takei: And so, Troy and Abed went back to the dormitory for a viewing of Marmaduke. I'm George Takei, and if your name is Kevin, here's a little freebie for your cell phone. Hi, Kevin can't come to the phone. He's on a spaceship with me, George Takei. Please leave a message. You're welcome, Kevins. Happy Halloween.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: After escaping the basement, Troy decides to finally adhere to Abed's advice, and put on the Ellen Ripley costume from earlier to get to the thermostat using "the power of imagination". The zombies promptly immobilize Troy and destroy the costume in less than ten seconds.
  • Not a Zombie: For a long time, characters are oblivious to the zombie infection going on, partly driven by the fact that they are at a Halloween costume party.
  • Now or Never Kiss: Between Shirley and Chang in the bathroom while being surrounded by zombies.
  • One-Word Title
  • Or Was It a Dream?: At the end of the episode, Troy receives a hint that more happened than just being roofied for no reason in the form of a voice mail sent during the night by Chang, claiming he and Shirley did it in the bathroom. Troy doesn't understand the relevance, only wondering why Chang would tell him about it despite the sounds of the zombies attacking at the end. There are repercussions of Chang and Shirley's tryst in subsequent episodes.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: While it may be attributed to the high stress of the situation, you have to wonder why the self-righteous Shirley who has a rather negative opinion of Chang would sleep with him.
  • Patient Zero: Pierce is the first confirmed infectee from eating the taco meat. It's unclear how many others may have eaten some, but he is the first to start visibly displaying symptoms and biting people.
  • Reset Button: The end when the military comes in and wipes everyone's memories. Partially subverted, since the Chang/Shirley hookup becomes a major plot point later in the season.
  • Room Full of Zombies: In the basement, Jeff obliviously opens a door behind which horde of zombies were waiting.
  • Shed Armor, Gain Speed: Parodied. At the climax, Troy dons his Halloween costume: a cardboard version of the power loader from Aliens. While it does give him a little bit of protection from the Technically Living Zombies, it also gives them more to grab onto and slows him down. He quickly sheds it and wonders why he thought that it would be a good idea.
  • Shirtless Scene: Troy decides to change costumes to be a "sexy Dracula," which mainly consists of him taking off his shirt and wearing a toilet seat cover around his neck that says "Dracula", for enough time to almost qualify him as a Walking Shirtless Scene.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skewed Priorities: Used three times.
    • Right before zombies swarm the study room, Jeff asks if anyone managed to turn off the Dean's ABBA playlist.
    • When they abandon their plans of escape to resolve the Cat Scare issue.
    • When Jeff is about to be zombified, all he's scared of is Rich stretching his suit jacket. A situation he only ended up in because he wouldn't climb out the basement window in his expensive suit.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Pierce raises the lower part of Rich's banana costume when he's flirting with Annie.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Dean's ABBA playlist blasts throughout the entire episode of zombie apocalypse.
  • Special Edition Title: The opening credits have been Halloweenified! Featuring some interesting in-jokes (if you listen to the commentaries on the first season DVDs). Within these credits, Shirley's actress's credit appears with a picture of a mummy. And Chang's credits are... aliens in sombreros.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm is heard when Troy re-enters the zombified party in the Power Loader.
  • Take That!: The show deals another Take That! to William Shatner by having Pierce dress up as Captain Kirk.
    Jeff: Whoa, hey, if you get any more sweaty and puffy, your costume's going to reach new levels of authenticity.
  • Technically Living Zombie: Mixed with Flesh Eating Zombies and Plague Zombie. People don't go from alive to dead to undead, they just develop a high fever that's caused by eating infected taco meat. The fever causes them to lose higher brain function, after which they spread the infection to other people by biting them.
  • This Is No Time to Panic:
    Annie: We need to coordinate an orderly evacuation without causing unnecessary panic.
    [Zombie Leonard bites someone]
    [other zombies start swarming towards them.]
    Abed: ZOMBIE ATTACK!!!
    [everyone starts panicking and running.]
    Annie: Nevermind.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
  • Time for Plan B: The army's Plan A is apparently to kill all the infectees and any uninfected witnesses, but they are quick to fall back on Plan B of memory wiping when they see that the infection has actually worn off.
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: The Dean gets biohazardous material from an army surplus store and serves it as taco meat, triggering a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Troy tries to invoke this when he changes out of his power loader costume into a "sexy Dracula" costume, hoping he'll attract more girls that way.
  • The Virus: A nameless, bizarre version causes the near-Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Troy's "Sexy Dracula" costume.
  • We've Got Company: Invoked by Abed:
    Abed: I hate to be the "we've got company" guy, but...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The insane cat never does get dealt with.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Jeff and Troy, if that girl were a zombie.
    Troy: You punched a lady bee!!

    Troy: Hey Annie, what nice fists you have... IN YOUR FACE! (punch)
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Troy using "The Power of Imagination" to try and defeat the zombies with his power loader costume. The zombies quickly remind him that This Is Reality.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Stopped before it got out of Greendale, thanks to Troy and Dean Pelton.
  • Zombie Infectee: Discussed, then parodied — good-looking doctor Rich from "Beginner Pottery" makes a point of asking if anyone in the study room has been bitten, telling them that if they allow the rest of them to seal them in the study room, they'll be putting everyone else in danger. Turns out Rich had been bitten, and Britta too. It doesn't take long for the symptoms to kick in and ruin their cover.
    Jeff: You got bit!
    Rich: [slurring] I thought that maybe I was special!
    Britta: Special? You're not special! I'm special! I was bit ten minutes ago and [slurring] I'm ffffiiii—
    Jeff: [picking up a chair to fend them off] Oh, great! Nobody's special!