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Recap / Community S2 E21: Paradigms of Human Memory

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Troy: I think they want some examples, Pierce.
Pierce: Okay. Let's give them some examples. Troy, drop a beat.
Troy: ...Just give them some examples.

The group discovers that Troy's old monkey Annie's Boobs has been stealing things from them ever since his disappearance. His stash at first prompts fond memories for everyone, but this soon turns to the realization of just how dysfunctional they all are, and prompts everyone to examine whether they should all just go their separate ways.

The Community episode "Paradigms of Human Memory" provides examples of:

  • Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: Abed deduces that Britta and Jeff are sleeping together from several subtle indications, and lastly: Abed saw them getting dressed together in a dormitory.
  • Complaining About Complaining:
    Annie: This group is toxic! We fight about fighting about fighting!
  • Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For: "There is no such thing as a free Caesar salad."
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Annie's Boobs' stash provides ample references to earlier episodes. Most normally, Annie finds the pens she flipped out over in "Cooperative Calligraphy."
  • Cowboy Episode: One of the group's adventures took place in a wild west Ghost Town.
  • Crack Pairing: In-universe.
    • Abed and Pierce as a means to sink the Jeff/Annie ship.
    • Chang/Annie's Boobs receives the same treatment at the end.
  • Creator Breakdown: In universe; as the tag shows, the Dean did not react well to Jeff pointing out exactly how frequently he burst into their study room wearing a ridiculous costume.
  • Deep South: Where the Cowboy Episode flashback is set. Jeff and Britta remember it fondly, while Troy mentions that he and Abed nearly got shot.
    "The dude was hardcore racist. Like 1800's Disney style. We learned new ways to hate ourselves."
  • Deer in the Headlights: In Annie's flashback she is unable to move when the Boob-A-Tron approaches and has to be saved by Jeff.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mega-Dean in the tag; upon Jeff being quite rude about his costume, he seems to think it perfectly appropriate to horrifically butcher the entire study group.
  • Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Jeff about a hard-boiled egg, much to Troy and Abed's amusement.
  • Don't Sneak Up on Me Like That!: One flashback shows Annie in a judo outfit apologising for doing this to Pierce, only for Shirley to tap her on the shoulder and get a fist to the face.
  • Easter Egg: After the group leaves and Chang runs back in to share some memories, a Chang-doll can be seen standing outside the diorama of the study room.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Pierce is disturbed by Jeff & Britta happily remembering their time standing for the Glee Club after their deaths in a bus crash.
  • Fan Disservice: Greased-up Chang in a Speedo.
  • Fanservice: A quick clip during one of Abed's specific flashbacks has both Jeff and Britta in their underwear. Later, the whole group is seen in sleepwear (including Jeff, Troy, and Abed in only briefs) as part of the flashback montage during Jeff's Winger Speech.
  • Fan Vid: Annie's montage of 'moments' between her and Jeff, set to Sara Bareilles 'Gravity', is a spot-on parody of a real Jeff/Annie fanvid from 2009.
  • Favors for the Sexy: The Dean, dressed as Scarlett O'Hara, attempts to invoke this toward Jeff during a flashback.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The other group members react as if Jeff and Britta are intentionally trying to ruin their lives upon learning that they've been secretly hooking up, blaming them for all the bad things that have happened over the year and accusing them of "intentionally endangering the fabric of this group" (downplaying the examples of their own less-than-benevolent actions towards the group that Jeff and Britta confront them with). Jeff and Britta don't particularly appreciate this, and over the course of the episode it becomes clearer that it's more about fundamental underlying tensions and dysfunction between all of the members of the group rather than specific members.
  • Forehead of Doom: A Running Gag.
    Jeff: Oh come on, my forehead is not this big.
    (Everyone else in the room quickly avoids eye contact with him.)
  • Fully Automatic Clip Show: Troy freaking out while the rest of the study group argues in the background.
  • Gas-Cylinder Rocket: A variation is lampshaded by Troy.
    (The study group climbs out of the lake with a flat raft.)
    Troy: You can yell at me all you want, I’ve seen enough movies to know that popping the back of a raft makes it go faster!
  • A God Am I: Pierce shooting up. With flu-jabs.
  • Guilt by Association Gag: In the Tag, Mega-Dean kills the entire study group, even when Jeff was the only one who treated him badly.
  • Got Volunteered: The rest of the group other than Britta and Jeff since they did not step forward "and are clearly innocent"
  • Group Hug: A quick one at the end.
  • Haunted House: A setting of one of the group's adventures where Pierce sees the ghost of a Confederate general.
  • Held Gaze: Jeff and Annie have another long, sweet one during the memory where they're doing double-dutch with Pierce. There's also one right after he saves her from choking via Heimlich Maneuver and they're shown looking into each other's eyes for a long moment.
  • Hidden Depths: Pierce skips rope and Britta knits.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Apparently, the group had one offscreen, which ended with them burning down a house.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The plot involves Jeff and Britta being called out on their Jerkass actions throughout the year by the other members of the study group. When Jeff and Britta point out that it's not as if the other members of the study group haven't had their own examples of Jerkass behaviour throughout the year, Annie complains that "those are just stories of us being cute!"
  • Idea Ding: Sound effect used when Abed computes that Jeff and Britta must have had secret sex.
  • Invisible Backup Band: Glee club fill-in flashback - full band sound but only Professor Duncan on the piano.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: Played straight and subverted simultaneously when Jeff and Britta decide to quit hooking up.
    Jeff: It's not you, it's m—
    Britta: It's you.
  • Larynx Dissonance: The Dean voices every character in his cartoon, so this shows up in full force for Britta's and Annie's single lines.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Way back in "Mixology Certification", Jeff and Britta drunkenly made out in the back seat of the car right next to Abed as if he wasn't there, without any consideration for his obvious discomfort with the situation. In this episode they learn to their chagrin that he's been keeping a closer eye on their playing around than they suspected.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: In-universe, Jeff believes he's sexual tension with everyone.
    Jeff: It's called chemistry. I have it with everyone!
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Troy has apparently been refusing to masturbate under a mistaken impression.
    Troy: Didn't we agree at the beginning of the year that for the good of the group we wouldn't allow any intimacy between each other or ourselves?
    Jeff: Troy, we never said ourselves.
    Troy: ...Okay, now I'm really mad!
  • Meta Guy: Abed is called out on his behaviour and obsession with references by Jeff when he starts triggering flashbacks in flashbacks in flashbacks about the arguments the group get into, causing Troy to nearly break-down.
    Jeff: Abed! Stop being meta! Why do you always have to take whatever happens to us and shove it up its own ass?!
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Abed transcends reality and becomes the living embodiment of this trope.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Chang.
  • Name-Tron: The berserk robot is labeled as another version of Boob-A-Tron.
  • Noodle Incident: The episode is mostly an exercise in this trope, as it's a Flashback Episode to episode's we've never seen happen. And it gets especially nuts during Jeff's final speech(es). To name a few examples:
    • The study group getting lost in a western town, and angering a racist prospector.
    • Filling in for the Glee Club.
    • Somehow blowing up a house, which Britta and Jeff managed to evade punishment from the Dean for.
    • An attack by Boob-A-Tron 8000 while Pierce is in a hotdog costume.
    • The St. Patrick's Day adventure subverts it, as while we first see Abed in a life preserver without explanation, a later flashback reveals they went rafting, and Troy popped the raft.
    • There's also what appears to be a second boating trip that ended in Troy getting stabbed with a harpoon.
    • Pierce hoarding flu shots (including those for the daycare center) in the hopes of becoming "a living god".
    • Shirley hosting a Lady Miss Lady cosmetics sales class for Annie, Britta and Abed, swindling them of $50 each in the process.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Abed threatens Jeff and Britta, at first they're smiling in amusement, until they slowly realize that he's about to reveal their Secret Relationship.
  • Painting the Medium: During one flashback, we see the events of the Christmas episode from outside of Abed's perspective, with the whole group being their normal live-action selves instead of claymation. This is because Jeff and Britta are recalling this scene, but when Abed recalls a scene that also happened in that episode, we switch back to the claymation.
  • Prospector: In the first flashback a shotgun wielding one nearly shoots the study group.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: The end result of Troy's freakout over the group's fights.
  • Revision:
    • The only part that Abed remembers about the Halloween party was Jeff and Britta going in the bathroom for a quickie. The scene was not planned nor filmed originally during the production of "Epidemiology" - The costumes and scenery had to be remade.
    • An extended version of a scene from "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" had Jeff ask Britta if she wanted to have sex later, though creator Dan Harmon has said this was planned far enough in advance that it was animated along with the rest of the "Christmas" footage in 2010. We also get to see an unseen part of the episode from the "real world" perspective.
  • Recap Episode: Spoofed. The setup is all there, but the episode is actually entirely original material, with the flashbacks either providing a new view on earlier episodes, or events we've never heard about before. The ending takes this to extremes - the flashbacks start triggering flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, provoking a near-mental breakdown in Troy. Furthermore, Jeff's final speech is composed entirely out of flashbacks.
  • Revenge via Storytelling: The Dean has written a comic story where, after the group makes fun of his costumes (again), he kills each member in a graphic and unpleasant way.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Britta forces Abed and Troy to watch the beginnings of the Tunisian Revolution with her.
  • Rousing Speech: Jeff's tendency to make inspiring speeches is parodied with a speech at the end composed of flashbacks to fragments of other speeches inspired by the Noodle Incidents seen in the rest of the episode. The result is a confused, contradictory and glorious mess which nevertheless works perfectly as a 'Jeff' speech.
    Jeff: You guys, wait. I wanna say something.
    Annie: You don't have to save us with a speech. We're not breaking up. So we don't need to get back together.
    Jeff: I know I don't have to, but I want to. Look, we've known each other for almost two years now. [cut to the group in a dusty hotel lobby at night] And, yeah, in that time, I've given a lot of speeches, but they all have one thing in common. [cut to the group outside a church with a guy holding a gun to Pierce's head] They're all different. These drug runners aren't gonna execute Pierce because he's racist. [cut to the group at an old-style railway station with Jeff standing on the cowcatcher of an engine] It's a locomotive that runs on us! [cut to the group standing beside a boathouse] And the only sharks in that water [cut to hotel lobby] are the emotional ghosts that I like to call fear. [cut to the group in the Greendale canteen] Anchovies. [cut to the group toasting marshmallows] Fear. [cut to the group in a padded cell wearing straitjackets] And the dangers of ingesting mercury! Ah! [cut to the group in their underwear outside a building] Because the real bugs aren't the ones in those beds. [cut to canteen] And there's no such thing as a free Caesar salad. And even if there were [cut to the group in an office, all wearing capes] The Cape still might find a second life on cable. And I'll tell you why. [cut to the group apparently in Latin America, Jeff reading from a book in Spanish, subtitled:] The heart of the water is truth. [cut to boathouse] That water is a lie! [cut to padded cell] Harrison Ford is irradiating our testicles with microwave transmissions! [cut to the study room again] So maybe we are caught in an endless cycle of screw-ups and hurt feelings, but I choose to believe it's just the universe's way of molding us into some kind of super group.
    Jeff: Yes, Troy. Like the Traveling Wilburys of pain, prepared for any insane adventure life throws our way. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to every one of them.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Troy and Abed end up fleeing the western town the Study Group got lost in with a frantic "WE GOTTA GO!". Cue an angry man attempting to shoot at them with a shotgun.
  • Secret Relationship: Jeff and Britta have been secretly having sex for most of the season, at least since the Halloween party. They break it off when the others find out, as it's not fun any more.
  • Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: Jeff considers Annie to be this, even when she has a good point.
  • Sentimental Music Cue: We get two "romantic moments" montages set to Sara Bareilles' "Gravity".
  • Shipping Goggles: invokedPlayed with, parodied, and arguably deconstructed. At one point Annie brings up the UST between her and Jeff and, to support her claim of the "fundamental Jeff-and-Annie of it all", brings up a whole range of seemingly romantically-charged moments between her and Jeff, set to 'Gravity' by Sara Bareilles. Jeff, however, argues that she's reading too much into things and that you could do the exact same thing with anyone, picking Pierce and Abed entirely at random. We then see a selection of clearly innocuous moments between Pierce and Abed set to the exact same song and similarly framed as if they were moments of huge romantic significance. While Jeff and Annie arguably do have plenty of genuine UST (as Abed himself notes), the episode is clearly making the point that it's very easy for shippers to take what might be entirely random moments out of context and over-saturate them with unintended meaning and significance in order to support their own preconceptions, and that not every single moment they see as Ship Tease might actually be so.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • Played with regarding Jeff and Annie. Jeff claims there is nothing between them, but later episodes suggest that while the torpedoes might have hit the target, the ship remains afloat.
    • The Jeff/Britta ship also sinks when the rest of the group okays their sleeping together and it therefore stops being fun.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To The Cape. In various flashbacks, Abed can be seen wearing a "Save The Cape" shirt. And they miss the premiere because of the revolution in Tunisia. Thanks, Britta. Abed's line has since become the fandom's vow for Community to reach "Six seasons and a movie!"
      Jeff: That show's gonna last three weeks!
      Abed: Six seasons and a movie!
    • The Dean's costume montage has references to Tina Turner, Catwoman (2004), and Gone with the Wind.
    • Greendale's barber shop class has Regionals.
  • Significant Reference Date: The reference to the Tunisian Revolution dates that clip of Troy, Abed and Britta.
  • Sorry to Interrupt: Averted with Abed whose social ineptness prevent him from leaving politely after walking into Jeff and Britta half-naked in his dorm room.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The group's glee club song is just "sing-a-ling, sing-a-ling-ling-ling, ding-dong".
    • Dean Pelton's cartoon in The Stinger is crudely drawn and animated, and features unconvincing voiceover work.
  • Super Group: Jeff uses the term for a different meaning, but Troy mentions a band.
    Troy: Like the Traveling Wilburys!
    Jeff: Yes Troy. Like the Traveling Wilburys of pain.
  • Take That!: The group had to take over the Greendale Glee Club when the real one all died in a bus crash... Jeff and Britta don't seem to miss them. Per Dan Harmon, this was totally not a Take That!:
    "I have no idea what you mean. There was a glee club at Greendale, and their bus was driving on a rainy night, and a downed power line was hanging across the road, and the bus drove through it, and it sliced through the bus and decapitated everyone, row by row, so that the people in the back had to watch all their friends get decapitated, then they got decapitated, and then the bus drove into a pool of lava. And I guess the crazy thing is, the electricity from the power line somehow kept their nervous systems 'alive,' so they could feel the lava. They didn't escape the pain of the lava just because they didn't have heads. They felt the lava. It was terrible but it was not metaphorical in any way. I would never be that petty and envious of another show's popularity."
  • Toxic Waste Can Do Anything: Mega-Dean's origin.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The group round on Jeff and Britta when it's revealed they've been hooking up, breaking their promise at the beginning of the season to keep intimacy out of the group dynamic, calling them on their selfish actions. Turned around, however, when Jeff and Britta point out that the other members of the group aren't exactly without their own selfish and thoughtless tendencies either.
  • You Say Tomato: Britta is defensive over being called out for her pronunciation of the word "s’mores".


Video Example(s):


Annie/Jeff and Abed/Pierce

Annie points out that she and Jeff have had chemistry all year. Cue clip show of romantic moments between them, in slow motion and set to a love song. Jeff argues that you can cherrypick interactions between any two characters and frame it as romantic: cue a similar clip show featuring the unlikely pairing of Abed and Pierce.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShippingGoggles

Media sources: