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Recap / Community S2 E17: Intro to Political Science

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Dean Pelton announces that as part of a national tour of community colleges, Vice President Joe Biden will be visiting Greendale Community College, and will be greeted by the dean and the president of the student council. One problem; Greendale has no student council.

Not to be undone, the dean announces that over the next seven hours Greendale will be holding elections for student president. Naturally, Annie announces her candidacy in a flurry of idealistic over-eagerness; annoyed, Jeff too decides to run, and his style-over-substance campaign ensures that heads will be butted before long.

Meanwhile, Troy and Abed cover the proceedings for the school television channel — and Abed finds himself drawn to Special Agent Vohlers of the Secret Service.


The Community episode "Intro to Political Science" provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: More like 1993 hair, but there it is.
  • Actor Allusion: One of Troy's comments about Starburns is that he "seems Greek." Starburns' actor, Dino Stamatopoulos, is Greek-American.
    • And Jeff's campaign fails when the school sees his Real World: Seattle audition tape from 1997. Joel McHale, who portrays Jeff, grew up in Greater Seattle.
  • All Elections Are Serious Business: Both Annie and Jeff suffer this.
    • Annie believes she is entitled to win and is willing to destroy a friendship if it means she doesn't lose.
    • Jeff is unwilling to help Annie because he would rather be proven right about his cynical political views than pitch in to help a friend.
    • Though somewhat subverted as even though Annie and Jeff take the election deathly serious, the rest of the school doesn't give a shit about it. The election ends up getting eleven votes total and South Park (yes, the cartoon) ends up winning with seven of those votes, causing Dean Pelton to remember that this was why they abolished student government in the first place and to do so again.
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  • Ambiguous Disorder: One of the things that helps a bond develop between them is that Special Agent Vohlers appears to have the same non-specified disorder as Abed.
    Vohlers: Mind if I ask you a few questions, Mr. Nadir? Is there a specific reason you had to repeat the first grade?
    Abed: Well, from what I've been told I didn't know how to use scissors, I sat in the middle of the see-saw, and I always found the distinction between duck and goose to be very arbitrary.
    Vohlers: Couldn't you just pick the sixth kid every time? That's what I ... would have done.
  • Beneath Notice: One of the government agents surveilling the campus is disguised as a cleaner.
  • Birds of a Feather: Abed and Special Agent Vohlers.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Special Agent Vohlers:
    Vohlers: You smell like nice soap. I have to go. I'm sorry you weren't a more obvious potential threat to the country.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    Abed: The Vice President is coming? That explains the people I've noticed covertly surveilling the campus this week. Must be Secret Service.
    Jeff: [Patronising] Oh, Abed. Will your reality ever come out on Blu-Ray so we can enjoy it?
    Undercover Secret Service Agent: [Unnoticed outside the room, sotto voice] We've been made.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the news ticker during Abed and Troy's political commentary, Professor Slater is noted as "still missing."
  • Continuity Nod: This episode, like 2.07 before it, contains a couple Freeze-Frame Bonus hints at future plots, such as the western theme of the next paintball episodes.
    • Annie punctuates her speeches with the same stilted hand gestures she used during the debate championships.
    • Jeff chooses not to hide in the men's room as he knows that doesn't work. Instead, he lies in a closet behind a "weather forecast" greenboard from one Troy and Abed in the Morning segment.
    • The Air Vent Monster in the news crawl for Troy and Abed in the Morning is Troy's monkey, Annie's Boobs.
    • A bit of a stretch, but Annie wants to make Greendale the best community college in the western 3/4 of the county. In "Basic Rocket Science", when we see the graphic of City College's expanding parking lot, Greendale is indeed to the west of City College, acknowledging their rival.
    • Pierce's age is listed as "66, dick"
    • Chicken finger shortage continues says the ticker underneath Troy and Abed's political programme.
    • In Comparative Religion, Jeff mentioned he "keeps his guitar in its case". We see him playing guitar in his Real World audition tape
  • Crawl: Troy and Abed's election coverage has a cable news style ticker on the bottom of the screen with items like "Human being mascot: Offensive to animals?" and "No paintball this spring claims Dean."
  • Creepy Crossdresser: The Dean is a little too insistent that he has no choice but to wear his 'sister's' (rather unflattering) Uncle Sam costume.
    Dean Pelton: It's tailored for ladies, but what else could I do on such short notice?
    Jeff: Well, you could not dress up as Uncle Sam. Or admit you don't have a sister.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Out of 8 potential candidates, a write-in vote, South Park, ended up winning in the end.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Pierce joins the student council election solely to bully and torment Vicki, a fellow candidate — who refused to lend him a pencil. This backfires on him when she eventually does 'lend' him one — through his cheek.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Pierce's musings on conflict:
    Pierce: When we seek to destroy others, we often hurt ourself. Because it is the self that wants to be destroyed.
    Jeff: Pierce, you're not usually so poignant.
    Pierce: Yeah, well, Vicki finally lent me her pencil. [Turns to reveal a pencil stabbed through his cheek].
  • Exact Words: Jeff did hang all of Annie's campaign fliers up.
  • The Faceless: All we see of Vice President Biden is the back of his head and his voice ("I had a dream that I was a regular president.")
  • Flat Character: Vicky is so nondescript that Troy and Abed can't think of a single thing to say about her. Possibly averted at the end, when we learn that she's got at least one definite character trait: she responds quite forcefully to people harrassing her over pencils.
  • Friendship-Straining Competition: Jeff and Annie run against each other in an election for class president. After Jeff attacks Annie's idealism at several turns, she retaliates by showing everyone an embarrassing video Jeff made a long time ago. He drops out of the election as a result and she follows suit out of guilt. They patch things up afterwards.
  • Foreshadowing: The Crawl: 'Dean announces end-of-year picnic, implies "Western Theme"''
  • Funny Background Event: But only after you rewind; the agent that says "we've been made" after Abed makes his comment about the campus being watched was there at least since the dean walked in, wiping the same pane of glass over and over and over.
    • During one of Jeff and Annie's conversations behind the podiums, whenever the camera faces Jeff we can see Magnitude dancing ridiculously for no reason, because that's just how he rolls.
  • Get a Room!: Troy says this to the Birds of a Feather.
  • Heel Realization: Both Jeff and Annie — Jeff in that he's trying to poison an idealistic attempt to make the world a better place for no better reason than to justify and feel better about his own cynicism, and Annie when she realises that her own ruthlessness and entitlement almost lead her to destroy a friendship rather than lose an election. Both end up dropping out of the race because they realise that they don't deserve to win.
  • Held Gaze: Jeff and Annie have two in this episode. One when they're talking up on the stage and Annie's telling Jeff that the gloves are coming off and he gives her his "Annie smile" and then another one in the storage room when they make up. And since Held Gaze is often used to predicate a kiss, one gets the impression that they were VERY close to doing something involving kissing but then Pierce interrupts...
  • Hopeless Auditionees: Britta during the debate nominations, Jeff in his Real World audition.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: In the debate, Annie states that she'll balance the schools' budget by "eliminating administrative redundancies."
    Dean Pelton: Okay. I'm in the room.
  • I Regret Nothing: Used as Jeff's quote in his political profile.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Pierce's attempt to psych out Vicki is unwittingly caught by the microphone, which is switched on. Pierce is not at all bothered by this.
  • Kill It with Fire
    Annie: I have so many ideas for improving the school.
    Jeff: Improving Greendale take more than ideas, Annie. It takes time, gasoline, matches ...
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Agent Robin Vohlers is able to correct herself in time before revealing embarrassing details from her childhood.
    "Couldn't you just pick the sixth kid every time? That's what I... Beat would have done."
  • The Men in Black: The government agents.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Annie is clearly left feeling rather ashamed of herself when her exposure of Jeff's Real World audition tape causes him to storm off upset.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Troy is mean when the camera isn't rolling.
    "Can I have an apple juice, please? Freshly squeezed this time or so help me God, Maurice!"
  • Noodle Incident: The Ass-Crack Bandit.
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: Troy touches his ear repeatedly in the scenes where he plays a commentator.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe, Jeff's audition tape for the 1997 series of Real World Seattle is this to him.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: Abed uses this with Special Agent Vohlers.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Annie promises "to make Greendale the signature community college of the entire western three-quarters of the Greendale area."
  • Pandering to the Base: In-Universe. Leonard changes his last name to Rodriguez to "court the Hispanic vote."
  • Paranoia Gambit: Abed to the Secret Service.
    Abed: For GCTV this is Abed Nadir saying: Did you know you can make napalm out of common dish soap and cat food?
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Jeff and Annie slash out at each other on stage while keeping up a Stepford Smiler facade, just like real polititians do.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: The GCTV ticker informs us that Greendale's mascot may be offensive to animals.
  • Ransacked Room: The Men in Black mess up Abed's room pretty good.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Parodied with Vicki, the only student entering the election who we've never seen or heard from before this episode. We learn absolutely nothing about her except for the fact that she's wearing a yellow shirt and once refused to lend Pierce a pencil.
  • Running Away to Cry: Annie says that Jeff did this when the video of his Real World audition was screened.
  • Russian Reversal: Lampshaded by Jeff who notes that the audience loves him switching phrases around.
  • Scandal Gate: The title of Troy and Abed's show is DecisionGate: Gateway to Election Road.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Troy counting notches.
  • Ship Tease: For Jeff and Annie. Their "Resolved" conversation is quite shippy and comes with another Held Gaze and a potential Almost Kiss.
  • Smoking Barrel Blowout: Annie does a shooting and blow-out gesture with her remote when the Old Shame video of Jeff is playing.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Abed acquires one. She's a Secret Service agent. Not that he minds.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm scream shows up in the cheesy movie Abed takes the Secret Service agent to on their date.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Along with five other people, both Troy and Abed vote for South Park as School Council President.
  • Take That!:
    Secret Service Agent: [After searching Abed's bag] He's clean. Although I could issue a warning for this bootleg of The Last Airbender.
    Abed: Where were you a week ago? You can keep it.
    • Starburns retires from his political career because he believes it would "shine a negative light on" his drug dealing.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Magnitude (POP POP!) purportedly has ultraviolet eyes.
  • Thing-O-Meter: When selecting candidates for the presidential elections, the Dean elects to act as a human 'applause-o-meter' to let how much applause each candidate receives decide whether they make it through to the debate process. Since every candidate receives a smattering of polite applause, he ends up letting them all in — and then begins to wonder why so many people seem to be getting nominated. Then, Britta takes the stage with her anarchist views on the situation:
    Britta: I believe humankind need not be governed!
    [No applause whatsoever]
    Britta: [petulantly] I don't care.
    Dean: Well, it's good to know there's a floor on this thing...
  • Van in Black: In the last scene the female agent is seen spying on Abed from a flower service truck.
  • Vice-President Who?: Joe Biden makes an appearance (sort of) while on a Vice Presidential Tour that was going to stop at Greendale. This trope is referenced when he wakes up from a nap and says he had a dream about being a REAL President.
  • Visual Pun: Vicky—yellow shirt, hat— wouldn't lend Pierce her pencil.


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