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Recap / Community S 4 E 12 Heroic Origins

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Abed calls it the Crazy Quilt of Destiny, mainly because the Loom of Fate was taken.

"You see, on the surface we seem like a group of people from diverse backgrounds who have become unlikely friends, but according to my research, our paths have crossed many times. We were destined to meet, like a team of superheroes. This... is our origin story."

For the group's graduation present, Abed maps out a Crazy Quilt of Destiny using collected ticket stubs and old receipts, to reveal that the study group's paths have all crossed each other's in everyone's Origin Story. We find out about Jeff's disbarring, the breakup of Shirley's marriage, Troy's lost football scholarship, Annie's breakdown and pill addiction, Britta's short-lived career as an anarchist and Abed's banishment from film school and how it all lead them to each other... and Greendale.


The Community episode "Heroic Origins" provides examples of:

  • Accidentally Accurate: In relation to the Create Your Own Hero Shout-Out to Unbreakable, Abed laments how he is the bad guy who ultimately pushed the group together. It was actually Chang who gave them the flyers to Greendale.
  • Actor Allusion: Troy being the one to say "and we're all Spider-Man" is a nod to Donald Glover's desire to play that role himself.
  • Ambiguous Disorder
    Britta: Is that a sad face?
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: In her flashback, Britta asks herself what she as an anarchist gotta do without her organization. It's presented as Hypocritical Humor while there actually is no conflict between anarchy and organization.
  • Aside Glance: Abed gives one right before the flashbacks start.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Troy's faked knee injury.
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  • Becoming the Mask: Abed knew all along that Chang was faking his Changnesia, but he was able to induce a Heel–Face Turn by convincing him that Greendale was a place that allowed people to reinvent themselves for the better, and regardless of the intention, "Kevin" was legitimately a better person now.
  • Big Bad: The villain behind the plot is Dean Spreck.
  • Big "NO!": Troy, after his "failed" keg flip.
  • Bookends: Going by the assumption this is the second-to-last episode: Don't You Forget About Me is heard playing the background where Chang is handing out leaflets at Yogurts-burgh, the same song that ended the Pilot when the study group becomes permanent.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Shirley accuses Jeff of breaking up her marriage by saving the stripper. Jeff admits she might have a point since he did encourage Misty to pursue a married man, but he also says Andre made the choice to cheat on his wife.
  • Brick Joke: Britta reveals that Annie's Boobs's bite may cause psychosis. Abed mentions this at the end of the episode.
  • Call-Back: Near constant, given the conceit of the episode.
    • The transitions are comic book-style stills of past episodes.
    • Annie's breakdown starts when she misses the "Most Likely to Succeed" award when it is obvious that Troy is winning all of them. This is a similar setup to Jeff and "The Most Handsome Young Man" award at Howie Schwartz's "Star Mitzvah".
    • Abed knew that Jeff and Shirley went to the same rec centre, but he wasn't aware of the "Tinkle Town" incident. He may have been distracted by his broken DVD.
    • Shirley's very specific jukebox thing, previously a Noodle Incident, is explained. She smashed the stripper's head through one for sleeping with Andre.
    • Jeff is disturbed that Abed keeps saying that he tried to saw off his arm.
    • "This better not awaken anything in me."
    • Chang crawling out of a vent.
    • Troy's claim in Romantic Expressionism that Annie's nervous breakdown ended with her running into a plate glass window screaming "everyone's a robot!" turns out to be paraphrased. She actually just called Troy a robot because he does anything his football coach tells him to.
    • To a lesser extent, this episode reveals why he never saw Annie as more than Annie Adderall; she was a jerk to him at his party, threw a tantrum, and caused property damage. Troy kept saying he forgot her because it would be rude to remind her that she was awful while on drugs.
    • Upon first meeting Chang, Jeff asks if Professor Duncan is still teaching at Greendale. In the Pilot, Jeff goes to Duncan hoping to use their history as lawyer and client to get out of doing any work.
    • Sundance & Cassidy.
    • Annie becoming an Attention Whore while on drugs reminds one how Pierce did the same thing to her anti-drug play.
    • Andre and Shirley's fight about her going to check on their sons is similar to when she's three hours late to their wedding rehearsal. We don't see the fight here, but we see Shirley dropping her slip on the ground when she runs off in tears.
  • Continuity Snarl: Troy's injury is a big one. In the Pilot, Annie says that he dislocated his shoulders doing a keg flip & he reveals in "Football, Feminism and You" that he did so on purpose out of fear of failure. In this episode, he pretends to have broken his leg. Then again, Annie was on drugs at the time...
  • Demoted to Extra:
  • Dumb Jock/Jerk Jock: Flashback!Troy varied between both.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Dean Spreck in the beginning, underscored by a drum roll.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Not only did Troy and Annie attend the same high school, but apparently Magnitude did as well.
  • Evil Laugh: Dean Spreck is fond of his electronic voice box.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Annie, Shirley and Britta all have different hair in the flashbacks.
  • Fake Shemp:
    • Pierce (or whoever it was that broke the fro-yo machine and faked a heart attack) is played by another actor, and never seen from the front. Lampshaded when the gang reflect on the incident, surprised at the improbability of them all having been in the same place, and someone says "Could that old guy really have been Pierce?"
    • Andre is also only seen from behind.
  • Flashback Echo: Words gets repeated at the start of each flashback.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Basically the plot of the entire episode. Jeff in particular interacted with both Britta and Chang at different points, even sharing a fist bump with the former.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In the courthouse you can see that 2008 Annie was Greendale Citizen of the Month throughout the first six months of 2008.
    • The comicbook-style page flips as a flashback starts to show several scenes from previous episodes.
  • Friendless Background:
    • Annie was the unpopular loner girl in high school, who couldn't get any awards despite being an overachiever, Britta's friends all abandon her after one gig, Abed is never seen with other people. Jeff has the respect of his colleagues, but as seen in "Accounting for Lawyers", it doesn't mean much.
    • Played with by Troy; he's one of the popular crowd, but his friendships seem pretty superficial and he's clearly feeling a bit isolated among them by the end.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Chang, after Abed offers him entry into the group and frozen yoghurt.
  • Honorary True Companion: Abed realizes Chang was part of the group all along, as it was him who handed out fliers for Greendale at the frozen yoghurt place.
  • It's All My Fault: Abed discovers that he was responsible for everyone ending up studying in Greendale, becoming the "villain" of these origin stories, in the end, they decide that to some extent everyone is "Uncle Ben's killer".
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Misty gets acquitted of tax fraud, celebrates with Jeff and hits on a married man...and Shirley then smashes her face into a jukebox, ensuring she probably won't be able to find work again unless she gets surgery.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Everyone suffered it to a minor extent as a result of interacting:
    • Shirley ruined Jeff's life when he was a kid by humiliating him at foosball. Jeff accidentally ruined her life by clearing Misty's name in court and encouraging her to pursue a married man. She and Jeff lampshade it angrily.
    • Annie was overdosing on pills at Troy's party. She then threw a temper tantrum while high about how she wasn't getting any of the awards, despite the occasion is to honour him, broke his confidence about football by saying he was never going to succeed, and then caused property damage by running through a glass door. That's when she got busted for drugs — as Jeff puts it, Annie wasn't busted when Abed saw her stealing a prescription pad—
    • Abed was being mean to people on the basis that a movie is bad, namely the Star Wars prequels. This gets him a restraining order from the movie theatre and a wake-up call from his dad, who threatens to not let him go to film school unless he shapes up.
    • Troy was a Jerk Jock at the time, who picked on others. He got a taste of it when Annie called him out for being full of himself and sabotaged himself so he wouldn't have to achieve anything. As a bonus, he eventually became friends with Abed.
    • Andre cheated on Shirley because she left in the middle of their anniversary to check on the kids. As Shirley mentioned in season one, she kicked him out for it. Andre realized he messed up and did all he could to win back her trust.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Jeff keeps a ticket stub in his wallet, a fond memory of him and his father's visit to the cinema back in 1982.
  • Misblamed: In-universe example:
    Annie: [To Abed] You're the one who got me busted for drugs!
    Jeff: In fairness, Annie, running through a glass door might have been the drug tip-off.
    • The entire episode is largely this to some degree; upon discovering the connections between them, each member of the study group initially blames another member for the problems that their lives experienced, only to eventually acknowledge that their problems were largely their own doing and a result of their own issues, even if the other member was inadvertently involved.
  • Native American Casino: Greendale's campus is sublet from the Arapaho, who will redevelop it into a casino if the lease expires.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Almost all members of the group refuse to be responsible for their own actions and prefer to blame another, although in Shirley's case it is more "Never my husband's fault"
    • Andre also had a moment. Shirley went to check on their kids a few doors down, and he apparently complained to a stripper about it. No mention of the fact that she was being a good mom.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Parodied. Abed thinks that he's doing people a favour by warning them about The Phantom Menace being rereleased. After Shirley chews out the movie theatre, management issues a restraining order about it.
    • Played straight with Shirley, who went to check on their kids after they reported: "a strange man" was bothering them. This led to Andre cheating on her because he felt stood up by her complaining for three hours.
  • One Degree of Separation: Abed goes to great lengths to discover their interconnections, convinced they must have a shared Origin Story. At first, everyone thinks he's being crazy, but the coincidences start piling up until it's revealed they were all in the same place when they first decided to study at Greendale. Even before that, everyone (with the exception of Pierce) had their lives affected in some way by another member of the study group.
  • Organ Theft: Referenced. Pierce's absence is explained by him donating a kidney to Gilbert. He was disappointed that he didn't get to sleep with a Russian woman first.
  • Origins Episode
    • Jeff got Mysti acquitted and (after getting drunk in response to his fake degree being exposed) encouraged her to call the married man, Andre. Abed ruined The Phantom Menace for Shirley's kids, forcing her to leave Andre alone at the bar. He also pointed out that a prescription pad was missing as Annie was stealing it.
    • "Pop pop!": Magnitude was near two balloons popped by the glass that Annie crashed through.
    • Annie's Boobs was stolen by Britta and traded for a "glaucoma brownie", despite carrying "experimental monkey fever".
    • Everyone was at Yogurts-burgh when the Dean and Chang were passing out Greendale flyers.
    • The Dean picks up Shirley's discarded nightie.
  • Orphaned Punchline: In Jeff's flashback there's a joke about Michael Phelps but we only hear them laughing and Jeff asking if it doesn't affect his breathing.
  • Parents as People: It's revealed Abed's father was tough on him at the beginning about film school because Abed got a restraining order filed against him. He says that Abed could just apologize and it would be over.
  • Progressively Prettier: Annie has glasses and braces in her first flashback but the final one only leaves her glasses, making her a textbook Meganekko.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Troy reveals that he remembers the speech Annie delivered to him of this nature the night he faked his football-ending injury, and how much it hurt his feelings. As Annie ran through a plate-glass window that same night, needed extensive reconstructive surgery and had to go through withdrawal and rehab to cure her drug addiction, she is unimpressed.
  • The Reveal: Chang's mysterious accomplice is City College's Dean Spreck.
  • Saying Too Much: Chang falls into this right at the very end when he decides to turn his back on revenge on Greendale.
    Chang: [To Abed, who has not said anything] Actually, can we stop by the post office first? I have something important to mail for the Dean. It's confidential, and I don't want to talk about it, so stop interrogating me.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Troy to Abed: "You were out there somewhere and you weren't looking for me?!"
    • And also a small one for Jeff/Annie. Jeff is seen smiling up at the pictures of Annie that she's been awarded for "Citizen of the Month" in 2008. Considering how prominent Jeff/Annie has become as the series has gone on, it might count as a sort of unintentional Foreshadowing. Especially since the show was envisioned with Britta being First Girl Wins, but after the S5 finale, this is now completely sunk with Jeff's revelation that his love for Annie was strong enough to open the door.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Spider-Man
    • Unbreakable
    • The "Loom of Fate" was already taken by Wanted.
    • "I drink your milkshake!"
    • Juno
    • Dean Spreck's backup plan to destroy Greendale appears to involve a giant mechanical spider. This may be a reference to Kevin Smith's famous anecdote from his time spent working on an abortive script for a Superman film, during which the producer, Jon Peters, kept insisting that he include a giant mechanical spider, which was later adapted to the giant mechanical spider in Wild Wild West. Also doubles as a Fun with Acronyms Freeze-Frame Bonus.
  • Soft Glass: Annie runs through the glass door pretty easily, and no one else is injured. Though she did need "six reconstructive surgeries".
  • String Theory: Abed's Crazy Quilt of Destiny.
  • Take That!: Several to The Phantom Menace and George Lucas.
    Abed: I wanted to make a prequel and I ruined everything, I guess it could happen to anyone. I should probably write George Lucas a note of apology.
    Jeff: Okay, let's not get crazy.
  • Trick Dialogue: There's a close-up on Annie's face giving a speech. The next shot reveals her giving it to her locker mirror.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The group overall is kinder than they were before they came to Greendale. Annie was a self-absorbed drug addict, Troy was mean to others for kicks, Abed's No Social Skills get him a restraining order, Shirley was violent enough to push Misty's face into a jukebox, and Jeff was an unethical lawyer.
  • Turn of the Millennium: The flashbacks are set in 2008, more or less a year before the series premiere.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The group takes a turn doing this to each other.
    • Shirley calls out Abed for bothering her kids at the movie theatre on her anniversary, and Jeff for getting Misty off scot-free.
    • Troy keeps claiming he doesn't remember Annie. When pressed to it, he says he didn't want to remember because she made his graduation party all about her by screaming because she didn't win the award "Most Likely to Succeed," even though the celebration for Troy, and then broke a glass door.
    • Subverted when Annie said Abed busted her for drugs. Jeff lampshades that her having a breakdown at Troy's party was what gave her the nickname Annie Adderall.
  • Written-In Absence: Pierce is once again with Gilbert to account for Chevy Chase leaving.
  • You ALL Share My Story: The episode revolves around either or both the Forgotten First Meeting and One Degree of Separation of the study group.