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Recap / Community S 3 E 19 Curriculum Unavailable

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Two months have passed since the "Greendale Seven" were expelled. Having spent the intervening time drinking, eating unhealthy meals at Troy and Abed's apartment, and generally dwelling on their years at Greendale to an obsessive degree, they are forced to face their situation when Abed is discovered in full Inspector Spacetime costume on the community college campus again. Taken into custody and insisting that the Dean has been replaced by a fraud, he is given the choice between therapy and jail time, and the entire group accompanies him to see a recommended psychiatrist (John Hodgman). Soon, however, they discover that all may not be as it seems and the therapy visit could change their lives forever.


Tropes appearing in this episode of Community include:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • It's not surprising that the camera cuts to Annie after Abed does his Don Draper impression again. It also counts as a Call-Back to when Abed used this impression to hit on Annie.
    • Though he claims it was unintentional, it's hard not to think of the Judge John Hodgman podcast when Dr. Heidi says "I think I have everything I need to make my decision."
  • Adult Fear:
    • Everyone freaks out when the psychiatrist tries to get Abed committed. Even worse, he reveals he's not a "real" psychiatrist. Now count how many times a minority has been committed in real life for speaking up about an issue and being proven right in the end.
    • In The Tag, Troy wishes that your nightmares be spooky monsters scary, and not "grandma died" scary.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The reasons stated for various study group members being at Greendale include divorce, lost scholarship, pill addiction, and disbarment. Pierce's reason is simply stated as "old."
  • Advertisement:
  • Baby Talk: In one flashback, it would appear that Greendale offers a class on this.
  • Bedlam House: The fictional Greendale Asylum; patients are crammed into locked, badly-lighted wards in straitjackets, while orderlies either watch their antics in amusement or abet sadistic experiments performed by the lab-coated doctors in charge.
    Abed: You're a bad person. You're a bad person.
  • Big "NO!": Subverted. Abed's reaction to having to see Chicago is not a Big "NO!" as would be expected, but a Big Lame.
  • Blatant Lies: They're briefly suckered in, but it takes the study group all of five seconds after leaving his office to realize that Dr. Heidi has been feeding them these and they have loads of evidence to prove him wrong. This doesn't stop him from trying to convince them that he's the Devil and they're in purgatory, however. Only Troy actually falls for it.
    • Also this:
      Dr. Heidi: Well, if it looks like I'm sneaking out the window, that's just a symptom of your deepening psychosis. Don't hurt me.
    • Lampshaded by Jeff: "These aren't even good lies."
  • Book Safe: Shirley finds a book in the library with a handgun-shaped cutout.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs
    Dr. Heidi: Well, Abed, I don't deal in crazy. I deal in help. [to everyone] So, how long has Abed needed a crazy amount of help?
  • Brick Joke: Officer Cackowski recommends against using the brick to prop open the outer door as it was used in "Remedial Chaos Theory" (Annie, who removed the brick last time, glares at Troy) ... because it's an antique worth $60. Then he warns them that rapes are up 8%. Bonus points for actually involving a brick (compare to the buttered Noodle Incident from "Foosball And Nocturnal Vigilantism").
  • Cassandra Truth: Abed knew that the Dean had been replaced for the entire two skipped months.
  • Casting Gag: John Hodgman plays a psychologist. The other psychologist in the show is also played by a Daily Show correspondent named "John."
  • Call-Back:
  • Ceiling Banger/Big "SHUT UP!": Annie resorts to this in The Tag. Just like when she was still living in her terrible neighborhood.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The Study Group, and by extension the audience, is led to believe this is happening to the entire three years at Greendale. Subverted when it takes the study group all of five seconds after leaving Dr. Heidi's office (well, it takes Pierce a bit longer) to realize that he's feeding them a load of horseshit and that they have copious amounts of evidence to prove him wrong.
  • Clip Show: Like Paradigms of Human Memory the idea is spoofed. Hell it even references Paradigms of Human Memory.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: The very "monomania" which gets Abed to emergency management.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Dr. Heidi's dramatic declaration that Greendale Community College does not exist causes Troy to realize... that he parked by a meter.
    • Troy again, when he rides a brand new quad-bike into the study room in a flashback:
    Annie: Troy, you can't bring that in here!
    Troy: Yes I can! It's all-terrain, dummy!
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Troy's dish made entirely of junk food.
  • Cuckoo Nest: The ending essentially lampoons these and TV series that use them: Dr. Heidi reveals that the study group are in fact psychiatric patients, and their experiences at Greendale were all just a shared psychosis! Except they're not, they weren't, it takes the group all of five seconds after leaving his office to realize that this makes no sense whatsoever, and they provide a lengthy list of reasons why this cannot be the case at all. Then Dr. Heidi reveals that they're in purgatory and he's the Devil! Which they dismiss completely out of hand.
  • Delayed Reaction: Troy takes long to process Dr. Heidi's Wham Line about Greendale College being a figment of their imagination.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Film Noir paintball flashback.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The Dean mentions "Jeffrey" twice in his non-birthday song to the group in one of the flashbacks.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: The Dean and Abed.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: A flashback shows Abed freaking out about the janitor moving the clock back:
    Abed: (whimpering)
    Troy: (stroking Abed's head) It's okay, buddy. Just a few more minutes and we're good til spring, okay?
    Abed: (panicked) But it doesn't make any sense!
    Annie: Think of it this way: we get the hour back later in the year.
    Troy: Yeah.
    Abed: (beat) AAAAA- (scene change)
  • Dramatic Thunder: Once Dr. Heidi reveals the awful truth (which is a lie).
  • Dresses the Same: The Dean runs Darcy off due to her wearing the same clothes as Annie.
  • Dutch Angle: Just before the revelation of Greendale Asylum, there are several rapid shots that use this technique. Troy also gets an individual one when he's the only one who buys into Dr. Heidi's suggestion that they're dead and he's the Devil before Jeff slaps him out of it.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Dr. Heidi literally invokes this at one point, although by this point no one (except Troy) is buying it.
  • Failed a Spot Check: While the group is remembering some of the deranged things Chang has done, Dr. Heidi sneaks out the window without any of them noticing.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Shirley learns the hard way not to favorably compare Brett Ratner with Steven Spielberg in front of Abed.
  • Fan Fic Fuel: A proposed alternate history of the series in which all of the depicted events took place on some level... but in the locked ward of an insane asylum? A field day for speculative/AU writers.
  • Foreshadowing: Upon returning Abed to the apartment, Officer Cackowski mentions that it was the Dean who gave him Dr. Heidi's card and recommendation. Considering we saw the Dean get replaced by Fauxby in the previous episode, it's a pretty big clue for the audience (if not at that point the characters) that Dr. Heidi is not entirely on the level.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The chalkboard behind Troy when he rides into the Study Room says:
    1. They may not want to play with you any more.
    2. It can lead to permanent buzz kill.
    3. It could cause them to need meds the rest of their life.
    4. Meth can turn present fun into future numb.
    5. It turned Star Burns into Star Burned.
    So if someone offers to tell you a "meth time story" ... pass.
    "If grieving you is wrong... I don't want to be right." C. Hawk Bored
  • Funny Background Event: When Troy is in the centre of a dramatic Dutch Angle and music sting when he's the only one to buy into Dr. Heidi's claim of being the Devil, Jeff can audibly be heard incredulously / skeptically yelling "What?!"
  • Gaslighting: Dr. Heidi tries to screw with minds of the study group in order to make them settle into the Cuckoo Nest story. However, it doesn't take them very long to realize he's just making stuff up.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Jeff slaps Troy to keep him from falling for another of Heidi's Mind Screw "explanations".
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Jeff: Wait...give me a break! That made no sense!
    [Cut to:]
    Dr. Heidi: Yeah, It's me. No, I think they bought it.
  • Glasses Pull: Dr. Heidi does this at one point as part of his ruse.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera cuts away before Troy's karate chop strikes the table.
  • Groin Attack: Chang uses a stun gun on himself twice, possibly as Training from Hell.
  • Group Hug: The group has one at the end, contrasting with the Dean's failed one last episode.
  • Hidden Depths: Officer Cackowski, the recurring police officer, is a fan of Inspector Spacetime ("If this were Comic-Con, I'd take a bullet for that kid.") and watches a lot of Antiques Roadshow to the point where he is able to identify an antique pre-Civil War brick.
  • Hong Kong Dub: Played for Laughs. In the asylum scenes, Garrett as an evil psychiatrist is very obviously dubbed over.
  • Human Chess: Used to determine parking spaces.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Britta announces that the stories they've just told Dr. Heidi are a reflection of the study group's solidarity ... seconds before squeezing Troy's wounded hand.
    Britta: Sorry!
    Troy: We just finished telling him about it, and then you grab it and squeeze it?!
    • And then Troy offers it to Abed in a handshake, before pulling away.
    • At the potluck dinner in the beginning of the episode, Britta whines about all the "poison" food and how she needs organic food... to help her hangover.
  • I Have This Friend...: Britta is wondering how long peyote lasts, you know, for a friend.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder:
    Dr. Heidi: I'm a fake psychiatrist not a fake ethnologist!
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When Troy tries to assure the policeman that Abed is not crazy, the latter goes off into a monologue about the Dean being replaced by an identical life form. It only sounded insane at the time, though.
  • Karma Houdini: Dr. Heidi runs out the window when the group is distracted by memories of Chang being violent or illogical. As Jeff lampshades, they lost their only lead.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Literally, Dr. Heidi´s office has an unusual amount of lampshades.
    • Jeff calling out Dr. Heidi's plan to somehow permanently convince all seven of them that Greendale was always an asylum also works as a fourth wall lean, as, upon closer inspection, it doesn't make any sense for the viewers at home, either.
      Jeff: How long did you think we'd buy that?
      Annie: I'm literally carrying a Greendale backpack.
  • Late to the Punchline: Troy, then Pierce.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Troy and Abed and Annie in the Morning"
    Troy: What are all these cameras doing here?
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Lampshaded by the psychiatrist regarding the Study Group; he uses this is "evidence" that everything they did was imaginary.
  • Mood Whiplash: The asylum scenes are played completely seriously. They show the doctors like Garret casually torturing their patients, Jeff and Troy deluding themselves into believing a mattress is a trampoline, and Anne Laughing Mad. Oh, and Chang is a doctor.
  • Mushroom Samba: In one of the flashbacks, Britta shows up to the study room with wild, frizzed hair full of various small items, ruined day-old makeup, and presumably a banana in her pants. As she sits down, she nonchalantly asks for a friend how long peyote lasts.
  • Narrating the Present: Played with in a flashback scene:
    Abed: Time enough at last to eat a sandwich. Though even he knew that this sandwich was nearer his last sandwich than his first.
    Pierce: Abed, I'm trying to eat.
    Abed: He said, oldly. His brittle bones straining to support the weight of his wrinkly skin.
    Pierce: Stop narrating me.
    Abed: He shouted, to no one. Just a man, alone in time with nothing but the cold squishiness of tuna salad to comfort him.
    Pierce: (getting up and leaving) I take it back, I don't want to be in your novel.
    Abed: Pierce Hawthorne had nearly lost his grip on reality. Lately he'd begun to think that he was in a novel.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Chang could have dealt with Abed by pressing charges and getting a restraining order or sending him to jail. The alternate solution of getting Abed committed snowballs into an attempt to convince the whole study group that they're crazy and drive them away from Greendale. The session just serves to help them realize that Abed's right and that the Dean has been replaced with an impostor.
    • Keep in mind that even if the "Dean" did press charges against Abed, it could have blown up in his face too. Such as the study group confronting the "Dean" and realizing he was a fake by themselves.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Due to Abed's aversion to doctors, the group had to prevent him from removing his own tonsils.
    • As with "Paradigms of Human Memory" all of the flashbacks are things which happened in episodes we didn't see.
  • Not So Above It All: Professor Kane played Human Chess with the dean for a better parking space.
  • Out of Focus: Lampshaped when Pierce doesn't get a "crazy-town banana pants" flashback and later complains that he isn't in most of the stories.
  • Paintball Episode: Averted, but another one happened off-screen. This time it was with a Film Noir theme and Abed won. After the therapy session, the group all agree that the idea is played out.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Within the Greendal Asylum fantasy, Evil Psychiatrist Garrett withholds treatment to see what reactions he can elicit by playing mind games with his patients.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Discussed by the psychiatrist. He mentions that a lot of their antics wouldn't be tolerated at other institutions and tries to use this to justify his Blatant Lies that Greendale was actually an asylum.
  • Reality Ensues: Invoked by the group when Dr. Heidi tries to gaslight them into believing they were released from an asylum. Annie points out she has a Greendale backpack and Abed shows off the many photos he took of the campus.
  • Real Men Hate Affection: After Troy misunderstands "little misadventures", he breaks off from putting his arm around Abed to shake with his injured hand.
  • Reveal Shot: A total shot of Dr. Heidi's room reveals that the entire group came to join Abed for his session.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Shirley's kids eat some cookies that she made for the study group. As punishment, she gives away their favorite possessions to the study group.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Ship Tease:
    • Annie once again looks very taken with Abed's "Don Draper" impression. Their kiss in the Season 2 finale is also called back to as seen in the Greendale Asylum scenes. She also ends up clinging to him when Dr. Heidi says he should be committed.
    • Jeff and Annie share a moment together in the Wigging Out Dance in the flashbacks, with him giving his jacket to her because she seems cold.
    • Britta attempts to hold Troy's very bruised hand. Hilarity Ensues.
    • When Dr. Heidi asks if the group always indulges in Abed's "misadventures", Troy mishears and says the adventures are very manly while putting his arm around Abed, before realizing what he's doing halfway. Later he ends up in tears when Heidi says Abed should be committed.
  • Skyward Scream: "Lame!"
  • Stealth Pun: Dr. Heidi, PsyD.
  • Take That!:
    • Dr. Heidi's example of a shared delusion is the swing dance music revival in The '90s.
    • To director Brett Ratner.
    • "You have to understand about Abed; he's usually, you know, adorable-weird, like Mork from Ork. But since we got expelled, he's been creepy-weird like present-day Robin Williams."
    • Dr. Heidi's lie about Greendale actually being an insane asylum and how quickly it's debunked seems to be one to fan theories that claim the series they're for actually take place in a mental institution with the events being a delusion.
  • Taking the Bullet: During the paintball flashback, the Dean covers Abed with his body.
  • Teacher's Pet: Inverted; they don't do a lot of sucking up to him in this episode (or over the series in general) but there's a lengthy montage that establishes, if this wasn't already abundantly quite clear, that the study group are the Dean's favourite students in the entire school. It's what helps the group realize that there's something wrong at Greendale and that the Dean would never have stabbed them in the back like they were led to believe he did; he loves them too much.
  • Time Skip: The biggest one on the show so far, with the exception of past summer breaks. The narrative picks up two uneventful months after the cliffhanger at the end of the last episode, and the viewer is brought up to speed with a few seconds of dialogue.
    • A two month Time Skip also allows the show to get back to The Present Day, since the spring premiere was delayed by almost exactly two months.
  • Umpteenth Customer: Pierce's 10,000th flush.
  • Wham Episode: Subverted, since the big reveal that would have made this a Wham Episode turns out to have been completely made up. Double-subverted when the gang realizes that the Dean has been kidnapped, and they can't prove it due to being banned from campus. Jeff tells everyone the only solution is to rescue the Dean and take down Chang. Meanwhile, Chang finds out Dr. Heidi failed him and starts "Phase Two." Then he starts asking the kids for ideas.
  • Wham Line: Subverted: this one is debunked before the end of the episode.
    Dr. Heidi: But you can't go back to Greendale!
    Britta: Why, because it isn't healthy?
    Dr. Heidi: Because it doesn't exist.
    • Later, averted and lampshaded:
      Troy: I knew it!
      Jeff: [slaps Troy] Stop letting him make you realize things.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Troy believes that Shirley's son's karate trophy is an Upgrade Artifact and attempts to break the table.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!:
    Annie: Worst pizza day ever!
  • You Must Be Cold: Jeff to Annie at the "Wigging Out" party. But immediately after giving her his jacket, he rattles off a lengthy list of care instructions to make sure it stays in good condition, and finally decides to take it back from her mere seconds after giving it to her in the first place.
    Jeff: You're probably warm now, right?

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