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Recap / Community S 4 E 02 Paranormal Parentage

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Pierce trying to creep everyone out on Halloween = the basic premise.

"I don't know. Maybe Pierce isn't doing so well after he lost his father and his inheritance in a video game battle with Gilbert, an illegitimate half-brother he never knew he had... [Beat] ...Guess I've never said it out loud."

Community's fourth annual Halloween Episode... Which first aired on St. Valentine's Day, due to season 4's premiere getting delayed until midseason.

Before heading to Vicki's Halloween party, the study group reluctantly stops by Pierce's mansion in response to his call for help. He has accidentally locked himself in his panic room, forcing the study group to search his mansion for a red notebook that holds the code to unlock the door. The dark, mysterious and creepy house holds more than a few surprises, however.

Jeff teams up with Britta, but soon enough the two of them are more entangled in discussing Jeff's Daddy Issues and Not So Different relation to Pierce than actually looking for the MacGuffin. Annie and Abed take off as a duo as well, but Abed soon disappears into the heart of the mansion, leaving Annie to experience a variety of scary movie references that she does not get by herself. Troy and Shirley investigate a part of the mansion Shirley'd hoped Troy would never be exposed to. Meanwhile, the house appears to be trying to get to them, but it's not just that they need to worry about...


The Community episode "Paranormal Parentage" provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Ken Jeong as Chang
  • Actor Allusion: Troy wonders if there's a connection between Pierce installing a panic room and the release of Do the Right Thing a day earlier, a film that starred Giancarlo Esposito (Gilbert).
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The study group figured it was a fifty-fifty chance that Pierce was pranking them because they know him too well. When they finally unlock the panic room and see he faked another heart attack, they are amused when Pierce admits he put on the whole show. Jeff looks annoyed but unsurprised when Pierce explains how he pulled off every prank.
  • Affectionate Parody: To the horror genre and Scooby-Doo.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: When Jeff runs away from Britta when she's trying to therapize him.
    Britta: Help me heal your heart hole!
  • Advertisement:
  • Alliterative Title
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Parodied.
    Jeff: Maybe Pierce needs a dad - I don't.
    Britta: Don't you?
    Jeff: [agitated] STOP THAT!!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Britta: Oh my God, Pierce is dead!
    Shirley: Cornelius killed him!
  • Big Fancy House: Pierce's house, which we get to see for the first time. Troy is presumably the only one who knows his way there, having lived with Pierce during season 2.
  • Bookcase Passage: Abed goes about tipping the books outward on the bookshelf attempting to invoke this. The bookcase doesn't flip until he tips the troll doll named Torg. Used as a gag in The Tag.
  • Brick Joke: Troy complaining on how it took him forever to remember the date the panic room was purchased. Turns out the year is the panic room code.
  • Call-Back: Pierce's "secret gym" was first referenced in Season 2's Competitive Wine Tasting.
  • Continuity Drift: Britta, despite being the one who introduced Abed to Inspector Spacetime, has never actually seen a full episode of it. A bit of wiggle-room does exist, however; in the episode in question Britta does mention that she's found a show Abed could watch, not that it's a show she's personally seen or knows of — she could have simply googled it.
    • Troy says the Inspector didn't know how to time travel in the first few episodes. But when Abed watched the first episode, the Inspector had clearly ended up in the prehistoric era. Could be attributed to Troy being forgetful or ditzy (or that the episode in question was merely the first episode Abed saw, not the actual first episode).
  • Continuity Snarl: The episode mentions numerous times that Pierce's father, Cornelius, lived with him in the Mansion. In Advanced Gay Pierce states that his mother considered Cornelius dead to her meaning they are separated. If Pierce's parents were separated and Pierce lived with his mother then Cornelius didn't live with Pierce.
    • One theory is that it was one of Cornelius' other mansions (Gilbert does say he has six of them) but that is impossible due to the fact that Troy knows the exact layout of the mansion thus making the same mansion that Troy, Pierce, and Pierce's mother all lived in.
    • On the other hand, this episode shows that Pierce's mansion is so big that Gilbert could live in it for weeks without Pierce knowing he was there. Something similar may have been going on with the rest of the Hawthorne clan.
  • Critical Research Failure: Once again, an in-universe example with Britta who clearly makes up everything she knows about "psychology." Though to be fair, while her knowledge is skewed, she pinpoints Jeff's relationship with his dad to a T.
    • Possibly not her fault; Greendale does have notoriously bad teachers and curriculum.
  • Daddy Issues: Oh, Jeff. Oh, Pierce.
  • Driven by Envy: Pierce rigs his house with ghost traps to teach the group a lesson for not taking him with them to Vicki's party, ignoring the obvious fact that Vicki simply did not invite Pierce.
  • Exact Words: Annie dressed up as a "ring girl" like Jeff asked.
  • Fan Disservice: The Dean dressed up as a ring girl.
  • Halloween Episode
  • Hypocritical Humor: When the group reluctantly agrees to go and check on Pierce, Jeff protests that he has no intention of derailing his plans on the whim of 'some lonely, ridiculous person.' Cue the Dean, dressed as the 'ring girl' Annie was supposed to be dressed as. Cue Jeff derailing his plans.
  • Hypocrite: For someone who believes Annie shouldn't be sexualized, Jeff really hoped she would dress up as a "ring girl" for Halloween.
  • In Medias Res: The episode starts with Shirley in the midst of explaining her costume.
  • Innocent Inaccurate:
    • Troy still isn't clear what Pierce's secret gym is really for and tries out the "indoor swing". Shirley however, does, and gets him out of there quickly.
      Troy: Why does he have so many collars? [gasp] Secret dogs!
    • Annie scoffs derisively at the ridiculousness of the 'indoor swing room' when Troy mentions it ... because "someone's gonna break a lamp."
      Shirley: [Under her breath] Break something alright...
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Jeff claiming that the entire scenario is Pierce's call for attention.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    Annie: I hate reference humor.
    Abed: I remember when this show was about a community college.
  • Large Ham: Britta is a literal one here. But her aggressive attempts to "therapize" Jeff into confronting his daddy issues definitely qualify in a figurative sense, too.
    Britta: Let me heal your heart-hole!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Abed's watching Jeff and Britta on the mansion's security system:
    Abed: I remember when this show was about a community college.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: In homage to Scooby-Doo.
  • MacGuffin: The red notebook.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The boxing gloves that Jeff carries around as part of his costume belonged to his father.
  • Mind Screw: In-Universe. Pierce tells the rest of the group to wish Vicki a happy Halloween, because it's to mess with her.
  • Mirror Scare
  • Montages:
    The group finds out that Pierce has been tricking them.
    Annie: Abed, where have you been?
    Abed: I found Pierce's secret surveillance room. Did you guys know he was faking the haunted house?
    Abed then takes out an in-universe montage of Pierce tricking the gang into believing that his mansion is haunted. He made it with the security camera footage.
  • Not So Different: Jeff spends the episode aggressively denying Britta's suggestions that he is in any way similar to Pierce in relation to their Daddy Issues, pointing out that while Pierce's father was still around, Jeff's abandoned him. He ends up discovering that he has closer similarities than he's comfortable with to Gilbert, who was abandoned by his father.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Annie thinks she's being subjected to several horror movie references when Pierce's house attacks her and shouts (to no one in particular) that she wouldn't get any of the references since she doesn't watch scary movies.
  • Posthumous Character: Cornelius Hawthrone obviously still holds a large presence in Pierce's life. The haunting was faked by Pierce, though.
  • Race Against the Clock: The group has to make it to Vicki's party in time.
  • Racist Grandpa: Shirley assumes this is why Pierce told Troy never to use a certain room, which she thinks is the library. It turns out Pierce kept Troy from that room for different reasons.
    • It takes Troy a few moments to realize that a panic room being installed in the Hawthorne mansion and the premiere of Do the Right Thing the day before are connected.
  • The Reveal: Gilbert was secretly living in Pierce's mansion and helping him out, having lost a sense of purpose in life.
    • Jeff has had his dad's phone number for several weeks. At the end of the episode, he finally decides to call him.
  • Running Gag: "No sweat, Boba Fett."
  • Self-Deprecation: "I hate reference humor."
  • Shaped Like Itself: "Hmmm, calling for help. A classic call for help."
  • Ship Tease:
    • Britta/Troy may be officially a thing, but Jeff refers to Abed as Britta's boyfriend's boyfriend.
    • Jeff & Annie were going to Vicki's party in a joint costume, a boxer & his ring girl... Except Jeff never actually made it clear what he meant by "Ring Girl".
  • Shout-Out:
    • Abed and Troy are respectively dressed as Calvin and Hobbes.
    • Shirley is Princess Leia, and she says that Andre's dressed as Han Solo while her boys are going as a couple of Stormtroopers and an Ewok. Also the panic room's "impenetrable titanium carbonite door" and "No sweat, Boba Fett."
    • Britta is wearing a ham hock costume, like Scout.
    • Annie is dressed as the girl from The Ring.
    • The security footage of Pierce being watched while sleeping is evocative of Paranormal Activity.
    • The hands and face emerging from the wall are reminiscent of a scene in Polanski's Repulsion, and Freddy looming over Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
    • Do the Right Thing. Also an Actor Allusion, as guest star Giancarlo Esposito played Buggin' Out in that film.
    • Abed still loves Cougar Town after its move to TBS.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: One lurks in Pierce's house and is not part of Pierce's own setup. It's eventually revealed that it's Gilbert.
  • Soap Opera
    Annie: Maybe Pierce isn't doing so well since he lost his father and then his inheritance in a video game battle with Gilbert, an illegitimate half-brother he never knew he had. I guess I've never said it out loud.
  • Special Edition Title: Same as last's season's Halloween episode.
  • Stealth Pun: As on previous years, Britta wears a bulky, unflattering costume because she refuses to cave in to the perceived social pressure for women to wear something skimpy and revealing on Halloween. This year, she appears to have added some irony by dressing up as a literal piece of meat.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Annie's costume.
  • Take That!: Jeff says that Pierce's decorating looks like David Lee Roth threw up Miami Vice.
  • Totem Pole Trench: In The Tag.
  • Twisted Echo Cut
    Jeff: (reads "1989" in journal) Of course. Otherwise it wouldn't be pointless.
    cut to
    Annie: This is pointless. We have no Abed...
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Jeff's costume.
  • Wham Line: Parodied.
    Britta: Oh my God, Pierce is dead! (Not really, of course)
    Troy: [immediately after, completely panicked] I BROKE THE REMOTE! Do you think it's expensive?!


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