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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.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Troy does this to Abed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Art Major Biology: The physician agreeing with Annie's plan to lower the temperature in order to "break the fever and kill the virus". Breaking a fever is all well and good for preventing brain damage, but the fever is the body's defensive response against the virus which was spread among people with presumably normal 98.6 degree temperatures. Bringing them back down to those temperatures they had when the virus was spread in the first place would do nothing against the virus itself, whatever brain damage lowering the temperatures was preventing notwithstanding. The thermostat needs to go at least below 50 F to affect the environment of the virus, by causing hypothermia in its host (it could possibly show up in Pierce and Leonard a bit earlier). And these low temperatures would just be expected to (very slightly) slow the spreading of the virus in the body, not "kill" it (it's pretty hard to kill something that isn't especially alive in the first place). The average virus would still be active, much less capable of reactivation, long, long after the human has died of hypothermia. There is a reason fevers and sterilization techniques use high temperatures, not low ones.
    • Keep in mind that this whole episode is about a zombie epidemic from taco meat.
  • 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 Hero: Troy, cooling everyone down until the military arrived.
  • Big "NO!": Troy, 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 at 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 Gets Zombified First: Intentionally inverted — 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 air con panel.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Another zombie apocalypse played for laughs.
  • Bond One-Liner: Troy gets out a few, before running out of ideas.
  • 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.
  • Butt-Monkey: Starburns is the first to get bit, as per usual.
  • Cat Scare: Parodied:
    (Screeching cat flies past camera.)
    Jeff: Jesus! Haha, it was just a cat. Let’s keep moving.
    (Screeching cat flies in opposite direction.)
    Troy: Holy crap!
    Jeff: What is up with that cat?!
    Abed: Keep moving!
    (And again.)
    Jeff: Let’s 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.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Rich from "Beginner Pottery" shows up again (and Jeff still hates him).
      • He also ends up infecting the study group after hiding his zombie bite. He thought he might be special - despite the fact that we know from "Beginner Pottery" that his mother repeatedly told him he wasn't.
    • 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?!?
  • 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 toxic waste potent of inducing a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Dangerous Windows: Annie is wrestled 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.
  • Devoured by the Horde: The assimilation of Annie, Jeff, Abed and lastly Troy.
  • 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: One after the other ofthe group gets zombified.
  • Episode of the Dead
  • 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).
  • Famous Last Words: Before they turned to zombies.
    • "Jeez, why don't you two just get a room?" - Starburns
    • "Special? You're not special! I'M special! I was bitten ten minutes ago and I'm fine!" - Britta
    • "What the hell?!" - Annie
    • "My suit! You're stretching it! Stretching it!!!!!" - Jeff
    • "Shirley and I totally did it!" - Chang
    • "Make it fast." - Abed
    • "Jeff: still cool as a zombie." - Troy
  • 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.
  • Halloween Episode
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Abed & Troy pull two separately.
  • 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 the American remake of [REC], Quarantine.
    • 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 one-dimensional stereotypes. This episode we find out they do a Flanderized impression of him behind his back.
  • 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 goes out instantly after being dosed by the Men in Black.
  • Kill ’Em All: Plan A.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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, 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.
  • Nice Job Getting Annie Infected: Chang.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience
  • Panty Shot: Chang throws his skate, breaks the window, zombies grab Annie, pick her up and carry her out of the room, allowing the viewer a glimpse of Allison Brie's naughty bits under her Red Riding Hood skirt. It's so brief it's almost subliminal but noticeable enough to make you go "wait, was that...?".
    • According to the commentary, that was the shot with the least amount of visible panties.
  • Patient Zero: Pierce is the first confirmed infectee from eating the taco meat. It's unclear how many others may have eaten some (perhaps Pierce ate all of it) but he is visibly the first to start displaying symptoms and biting people.
  • The Power of Imagination: Thoroughly subverted. "That's right. Prepare to meet the power of imagination." "Why did I think this would work!"
  • Reality Ensues: 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.
  • Reset Button: The end when the military comes in and wipes everyone's memories. Partially subverted, since the Chang/Shirley hookup became a major plot point later on.
  • 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.
  • Ship Tease: Abed/Troy (see Homage section); Annie/Rich; Chang/Shirley (the most overt)... Shirley/Leonard?
  • Shirtless Scene: Troy decides to change costumes to be a "sexy Dracula," which mainly consists of him without a 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: Many, many. Too many to remember. In particular, several glib references are made about everyone's costumes.
  • 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 over the dusty fence in his suit.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Pierce raises the lower part of Rich's banana costume while he was flirting with Annie.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Dean's ABBA playlist plays throughout the entire episode. And it is Awesome.
  • 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).
  • 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, if you get any more sweaty and puffy, your costume's going to take on 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 get zombified to a high fever that's caused by eating infected taco meat and then spread to other people by biting each other.
  • That Poor Cat: In keeping with the Troperiffic nature of the episode.
  • They Plotted a Perfectly Good Waste: Let's be honest. No one expected this to be more than a one-off joke, especially when everyone ended the episode without their memories. Then Shirley and Chang's hook-up becomes a major plot point, as well as the fact that they don't remember it adding drama to the overall story.
  • This is No Time to Panic:
    Annie: We need to co-ordinate an orderly evacuation without causing unnecessary panic.
    [Zombie!Leonard bites someone]
  • Too Dumb to Live:
  • Time for Plan B: The army's Plan A is Nuke 'em but they are quick to fall back on Plan B when they see that the infection has actually worn off.
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: The Dean gets biohazardous material from an army surplus which causes 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 name.
    Abed: I hate to be the 'we've got company' guy, but...
  • 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: Thanks to Troy and Dean Pelton, stopped before it got out of Greendale.
  • Zombie Infectee: Rich (from "Beginner Pottery") and Britta both try to hide the fact that they were bitten by a zombie. It doesn't take long for the infection to ruin their cover.


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