In reviewing Jeff's class schedule, Dean Pelton notices Jeff signed up for an independent study class that doesn't actually exist, with a professor who doesn't exist. When called on it, Jeff tries to prove its existence to both the Dean and Annie, and it's corroborated by Professor Professorson, Jeff's conspiracy professor. Only one problem: Jeff's never seen this man before in his life. So why did he back up Jeff's story? To find out, Jeff and Annie will have to chase this tangled conspiracy all the way to Greendale's night school.
Back at Abed's dorm, Troy and Abed make a Blanket Fort that gets out of control.
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The Community episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Professor Professorson is played by Kevin Corrigan. Kevin also played Sam Weiss in the TV series Fringe, which for anyone unfamiliar with the show is currently being driven by a conspiracy theory in the plot (and has been for its entirety); the character, Sam Weiss is a part of it. Corrigan also starred as Uncle Eddie in Grounded for Life, an episode of which prominently featured an epic blanket fort.
- An Aesop: Almost everyone has an aesop to teach someone else, resulting in the Gambit Pileup. On top of that, Annie's Throw It In! Love Confession leads to another aesop being dropped.Jeff: A very familiar feeling is starting to come over me — I feel like someone is trying to teach me something.
- Aesop Amnesia: And then Jeff comments that he's not exactly sure what lesson he's supposed to have learned.
- Affectionate Parody: Of Conspiracy Thrillers. Includes a chase scene through Troy and Abed's blanket fort and a rather impressive Gambit Pileup.
- Amateur Sleuth: Annie draws a reluctant Jeff into her investigation of Professor ProfessorsonJeff: Dammit, Annie... You're going to Nancy Screw me out of my credit!
- Arc Words: Annie herself points out she lives in a terrible neighborhood.
- Author Avatar: In-universe - Dean Dangerous, the hero of Dean Pelton's "Time Desk."
- Beware the Nice Ones: Annie, although it's really all part of the conspiracy she and Jeff concocted.
- Blanket Fort: An epic one which took up an entire hallway.
- Chase Scene: Includes examples of Excuse Me, Coming Through! and Mobstacle Course in the form of a Latvian Independence Parade... all within the confines of a blanket fort.Troy: Don't look at me, they had the proper permits!
- Chekhov's Gun: The Dean's book, "Dean Dangerous".
- The Conspiracy: Annie believes she's stumbled onto a big one with the fake night classes.
- Conspiracy Theorist
- Continuity Nod:
- One of the courses on the Night School curriculum is Theoretical Phys-Ed, a Call Back to a course mentioned in the earlier episode Basic Rocket Science
- Troy and Abed's fort includes a Memorial to Pierce's mother.
- Counting Bullets: In this case: Counting Guns. Jeff is upset when he realizes that the gun Annie pulls from her back cannot be a fake gun because there were only three prop guns between them.
- Deadly Prank:
- The shootout at the end involves Jeff (pretending to) think that the Dean killed Annie and goes to shot him with what Annie believes to be a real gun.
- Implied by the cop at the end noting that in 100% of all fake gun related shootings, the victim is always the one with the fake gun.
- Disproportionate Retribution:Dean: Annie! Oh, my God, you... you shot him!Annie: Course I shot him! He was being dishonest.
- Diving Save: Jeff saving Annie from the External Combustion. Involving a toy slot car.
- Drama Club: Sean Garrity is the drama professor, and is drawn into the ruse because he offered to pay Dean Pelton in acting.
- External Combustion: Parodied by playing it entirely straight, but for the fact that it's a tiny electric car in Annie's diorama.Jeff: Looks like someone sent us a message. A tiny, thoroughly underwhelming message.
- Faking the Dead: Woolley, Jeff
- This episode contains the earliest reference to Fat Neil (although no actual appearance).
- Annie mentions that she lives in terrible neighborhood. While it doesn't affect the plot here, it's later relevant to the plots of "Celebrity Pharmacology 212," "Remedial Chaos Theory" and "Studies in Modern Movement".
- Fun with Subtitles: Abed speaks a bit of subtitled Polish. Troy fails at imitating it and the subtitles are nonsense.
- Gambit Pileup: Played up ad absurdum.
- Annie and the Dean were trying to teach Jeff that academic fraud is bad...
- While Jeff and the Dean were trying to teach Annie not to go behind the backs of her friends...
- While Jeff and Annie were trying to teach the Dean that if you conspire with everyone who asks, you're really just doing random crap...
- While Professor Garrity and Officer Cackowski were trying to teach all three of them that replica guns aren't toys.
- And that's why you don't try to teach people lessons!
- A God Am I: One of Jeff's theories for how a professor he made up could appear out of nowhere before him, Annie and the Dean: "I've ignored the signs for too long."
- Hair Flip: Britta does one after rebuking Troy and Abed's offer to let her join in making a pillow fort as childish.
- Held Gaze: Two again per this episode. Jeff and Annie stare into each other's eyes for a long, meaningful moment after he tackles her to ground, believing her to be in danger, and again at the end as the blanket fort falls. Jeff looks at Annie's eyes while she looks at his lips.... yet another case of a Held Gaze suggesting a possible J/A Almost Kiss moment.
- Her Codename Was Mary Sue: Dean Pelton is writing a time travel novel, The Chronicles of Dean Dangerous. From what we hear of it, it's made of this trope.
- High School Hustler: Jeff making up an imaginary class to get unearned credits would make Ferris Bueller proud. But he's put to shame by "Professor Professorson"'s fake class, teacher, and entire night school... Or he would have been if any of that were true.
- Hipster: Troy and Abed destroy their fort once fort-building goes mainstream.
- Homoerotic Dream: Dean Pelton apparently has some bizarre ones about JeffDean Pelton: I have always dreamt of playing Charades with you, Jeffrey, just not like this. And not on dry land.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- To celebrate Green Week, the Enviromental Club all made dioramas.
- Officer Cackowski giving a lesson about the dangers of using fake guns... with a fake gun. But then it's justified since he can't exactly use a real gun to do so.
- Britta, who sneers at Troy and Abed's invitation to join them in their blanket fort... only to be later seen hanging out in said blanket fort (albeit in a rather strange and pretentious part of it) once it's grown in size and popularity.
- Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Dean Pelton.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Dean Pelton's reason for conspiring with anyone who offers.
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Lampshaded by Jeff, who is seen mouthing "of course" as the Dean enters.Britta: (sarcastically) Who wants to hang out in a blanket fort with grown men in tiny Underoos?
Dean Pelton: (entering) Hello!
- Informed Judaism: Professor Professorson. "My family name was Professorberg but we changed it when we were fleeing from the Nazis." Although actually his real name is Sean Garrity.
- Insult Backfire: The Dean is oddly proud of being too stupid to plan a gambit.
- Invented Individual: Professor Professorson. Played straight, subverted, deconstructed, and, as this is Community, ending with a convoluted nested series of ploys to teach the characters a lesson.
- It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: In-universe example: when their blanket fort makes the newspapers and inspires similar blanket forts in campuses across the country, Troy and Abed decide it must be destroyed. To clarify: They destroy the entire blanket fort by pulling down part of the roof in Abed's dorm.
- It Was Here, I Swear!: Jeff, with Professor Professorson's office. Of course, he was bluffing all along, but the Dean and Annie already knew that.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: The Dean shoots Annie while she tried to justify her killing Woolley.
- Large Ham: Professor Professorson/Woolley/Garrity, when revealing his true scheme. To be fair to the guy, look at the dialogue he's been given, all taken from Dean Pelton's unpublished novel:Figments! Puffs of hot air, from the lips of a ghost and the shadow of a unicorn's dream.
Would that this desk were a time desk, that I might correct my past mistakes... ride dinosaurs... fight with Jack the Ripper...
- Like a Duck Takes to Water:Jeff: Annie took to deception like Abed took to Cougar Town.
- Little Known Facts: Officer Cackowski.Cackowski: Fact! In 100% of all fake gun related shootings, the victim is always the one with the fake gun.
- Lost in Character: Invoked by Professor Garrity during the Gambit Pile Up - even after it's been revealed that Annie didn't really shoot him, he remains in character as a corpse until it's time for him to cue Officer Cackowski's entrance.
- Love Confession: Annie to Jeff, when she goes off-script during the Gambit Pile Up. Of course, Jeff just thinks she was in-character, though an analysis of the pain on his face when Annie rants about his dismissal of her and their kiss implies otherwise.
- Mad Libs Catch Phrase: "Would that this desk were a time desk," later changed by the Dean to "Would that this hoodie were a time hoodie."
- Manchild: Troy and Abed create a "blanket fort for men".
- Mundane Made Awesome: The chase scene through Troy and Abed's fort.
- Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Parodied.Jeff: Now, tell us everything.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Annie's diorama of a world destroyed by its need for fossil fuels is full of skeletons.
- Out of Focus: Britta and Shirley only have a few lines this episode, while Pierce doesn't even speak.
- Pro Bono Barter: Professor Garrity offered to pay back the Dean in acting for scraping his car. It's a decision he has come to regret.
- Real Joke Name: Played with using "Professor Professorson".Dean Pelton: (disbelievingly) Your real name is Professor Professorson?
"Professor Professorson": My family name was Professorberg, but we changed it when we were fleeing from the Nazis.
- Eventually, it does in fact turn out to be a made up name.
- Repeat Cut: For... a slot car sparking a bit.
- A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: A dioramarama including a diorama about a world without dioramas.
- Rule of Funny: Troy and Abed's fort. It has a memorial wing dedicated to Pierce's mother, a Turkish District, a weird sex club, and...
- Sarcasm Mode: As with anything, Annie demonstrates that when she wants to be sarcastic, she's a complete overachiever:Jeff: Do me a favor; be very un-Annie and blow it off too.
Annie: Oh, sure! I'll just blow it off! I'll just blow everything off! Heck, I guess I'll just blow off walking.
[She comes to a sudden stop, forcing Jeff to walk into her]
Annie: And now I'll just blow off standing! [She drops to the ground and begins squirming on the floor] Just blowing everything off! [Jeff steps over her and continues on his way] Maybe I'll blow off talking language!
Jeff: [Resigned] Okay...
- Scare 'Em Straight: What better way to teach someone a lesson than to let somebody else die because of your misdemeanor.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: When the Blanket Fort becomes too popular, Abed and Troy reveal that they had set it up to be reliant on two twisted up blankets from the beginning, and pull on them to take the whole thing down.
- Ship Tease:
- Jeff/Annie: when Jeff tackles her to save her from the 'External Combustion' example above, it ends with a very sexually-charged moment, particularly in light of the fact that he didn't need to tackle her in the first place. Annie later indicates that her confession of love to Jeff in the climatic confrontation got a bit more real than she'd expected, and when Fluffytown starts to collapse, the two instinctively lean closer into each other.
- Possibly between Professor Garrity and Officer Cacowski ("Sean, you got breakfast plans?" "I do now!").
- Shocking Swerve: Parodied, with about five in the space of two minutes.
- Shout Out:
- This line:
- The scene at the end where Jeff, Annie, and the Dean take it in turns to fool each other - and the audience - is similar to an extended Gambit Pileup in Arrested Development where Michael, GOB, and George Sr do the same thing.
- It's also similar to the plot of The Bloody Olive.
- The piano tune from Eyes Wide Shut is played when the group finds Britta in an orgy club at the Blanket Fort where she is being fed blueberries by a guy with a raven mask.
- Significant Reference Date: November 18, 2010 (Latvian Independence Day).
- Snowball Lie: "Professor Professorson" presents his night school as one that got way out of hand. His fake class needed a fake teacher, who needed other fake classes filled with fake students, etc.
- So Bad, It's Good: Jeff predicts that the Dean's book will fit this trope.Jeff: That's going to be the worst book I'll ever read cover to cover.
- Something Only They Would Say: Jeff recognises that only the Dean could possibly have written Garrity's ridiculous lines.
- Stalker Shrine: Or scrapbook, as it were.
- Stealth Pun: Annie's diorama, "Alternative Energy: The Key to a Brighter Tomorrow", invokes this twice. First, because it requires a key to operate the tiny car that travels from a world destroyed by fossil fuels to a brighter tomorrow.Annie: Notice all the animals wearing sunglasses?
Abed: Because it's a brighter tomorrow?
- Strange Minds Think Alike:Abed: Wanna build a cardboard submarine?
Troy: Get outta my brain.
Abed: We're too big for this, aren't we?Troy: Yeah.
- Also, when Troy and Abed are sitting in their tiny Blanket Fort.
- There Are No Coincidences
- Throw It In!: In-universe. Annie blurting out that she loves Jeff during the middle of the Gambit Pile Up.
- Troubled Fetal Position: Dean Pelton, in the study room at the end of the fake shootout.
- Two-Keyed Lock: After Troy and Abed agree that the fort has to go, they simultaneously pull down different blankets to trigger its collapse.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Shirley calls Britta out on her overly-snide response to Troy and Abed's invitation to join them in their blanket fort.
- Woman Scorned: Annie plays this part when shooting Jeff trice in the chest for dumping her after their First Kiss.
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: The Dean just can't take it.