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Recap / Community S5 E11 "G.I. Jeff"

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Wingman is having the time of his life, being a G.I. Joe. But when he kills Destro, he is court-martialed as Joes are not allowed to do that. Then he and his gang meet Fourth Wall, and when Fourth Wall mentions the name Greendale he keeps having strange flashes to a place that is surprisingly more three dimensional then he is...


Tropes:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The original G.I. Joe cartoon was forbidden from airing commercials for G.I. Joe toys by FCC regulations. Obviously Rule of Funny trumps realism in this case. It also helps that the entire episode is Jeff experiencing a fever-dream, not an actual broadcasted episode, which naturally blurs the lines of reality on this one.
  • Accidental Murder: Wingman's suppressive fire ends up killing everyone on sight, including Lifeline.
  • Action Mom: Three Kids has three kids.
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  • Adventures In Coma Land: It's heavily implied, and then outright stated, that Jeff is in a coma. He got there because he'd been lying about his age, and decided to drink some scotch and some anti-aging pills he got from a shady source on his birthday.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of G.I. Joe. This episode unabashedly pokes fun at the various animation deficiencies of the old cartoons, and the Nobody Can Die attitude of a quasi-military force fighting a terrorist organization. Still it was clearly made out of love.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Both G.I. Joe and Cobra are depicted as being aware of their existence as cartoon characters, as well as deliberately not killing each other for this very reason. invoked
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The actual phrase is said in the PSA tag, which is a parody of this.
  • And You Were There: All the main characters have a G.I. Joe counterpart in Jeff's coma dream.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Wingman apologizes profusely to several Cobra soldiers he accidentally kills.
  • A-Team Firing:
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    • Enforced trope for the Joes and Cobras who are appalled at the idea of actually killing each other despite firing tons of ammo at each other.
    • Inverted by Wingman who only wants to lay down suppressing fire during the Cobra attack on the prison but instead kills a squad of Cobras and accidentally sets Lifeline on fire.
  • Birthday Hater: Jeff has a hard time dealing with aging and his birthday. He didn't even tell his friends it's his birthday.
  • Call-Back:
  • Captain Ethnic: Parodied with Fourth Wall, Abed's G.I Joe counterpart. Wingman even pointed out that his costume is "three layers racist."
  • Censored for Comedy/Cluster Bleep-Bomb: In keeping with the introduction of a more adult mindset into a 1980s kid's cartoon, when Buzzkill discusses Tight Ship's Stripperiffic costume the word she uses for 'breasts' is bleeped out.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Dan Harmon as "Sleep Apnea".
    • Cobra Commander is voiced by Rob Schrab, longtime friend and writing partner of Harmon, as well as the episode's director.
  • Deconstruction: It's affectionate, but the episode nevertheless deconstructs a lot of the general premise and tropes of G.I. Joe.
    • Part of this is to also show that even though Jeff is trying to regress to his inner child, his adult self simply didn't belong in a children's cartoon as he notices several things wrong with it.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The episode flies pretty wildly between ripping the tropes and clichés associated with G.I. Joe and cartoons like it and also showing why those same tropes and clichés are vital. For example; the episode pokes holes in the idea of neither G.I. Joe or Cobra ever killing each other, but at the same time shows that things would go very badly if a Joe just one day decided to actually seriously hurt or kill a Cobra.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The Cobra Commander is very enthusiastic about seeing real breasts, but he also admits that he loves Destro and it's heavily implied that it was NOT in a platonic way.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: Parodied, Overkill (Chang's G.I. Joe counterpart) makes his copies while already in front of his opponent and stands in place, so Jeff immediately knows it's the one in the middle.
  • Enemy Mine: G.I. Joe and Cobra team up to form the organisation "Jo-Bra" upon realizing that Wingman and the Mutineers are the biggest threat to both of them since they are capable of actually killing people.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: As is fitting for a spoof of G.I Joe.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • Cobra Commander gets vaporized on-screen because he tried to hijack Jeff's jump back to reality.
    • Lifeline burns to death after having accidentally been set on fire by Jeff.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Right after the second fake commercial, there is one frame where you can see the real life characters looking at Jeff.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Destro receives a eulogy that is entirely fitting coming from The Dragon of a cartoon terrorist organisation that has never actually had to perform a funeral service before, and the service just gets better from there.
  • Happy Place: The G.I.Joe cartoon is this to Jeff, because it was his favorite show as a kid. Lampshaded by Fourth Wall, who theorizes "You must be in serious danger for you to hallucinate something this cool."
  • Held Gaze: Wingman, whilst doing Jeff's "platonic shoulder holding" has another one of these with Tight Ship. Stop denying it, Winger.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Hearing the name Greendale triggers painful subconscious memories for Wingman.
  • Hypocritical Humour: When his underlings angrily demand hazard pay because they can now die, Vice Cobra Assistant Commander refuses it on the grounds that, as operatives of Cobra, they should suck it up and accept the dangers that being a member of Cobra brings... and then uses the exact same reasoning to slash their pay even further because of the changes to the health plan this brings. And then, once informed that agents of G.I Joe have infiltrated the base, he clearly expects his underlings to instantly leap to his defence. His underlings, needless to say, are not particularly impressed.
  • I Knew It!: In-Universe; Zartan mutters "Called it!" after Cobra Commander admits that he loved Destro.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • The Thou Shall Not Kill Bloodless Carnage of G.I. Joe is lampshaded when Wingman kills Destro and is given a court martial for killing an enemy combatant.
    • Buzzkill points out that the lack of a standard uniform means that G.I. Joe doesn't look like a military organisation, but rather a collection of serial killers and strippers.
    • Tight Ship asks why Cobra are attacking the Taj Mahal, a tourist attraction with no strategic value, in the opening scene.
    • Much of the episode revolves around the various members of the Mutineers (i.e. the other members of the study group) snarkily pointing out all the various goofy set-ups and plot holes of G.I Joe and Wingman (Jeff, who was a fan of the show as a kid) defensively trying to justify them.
    • Abed's series-long Vague Age is lampshaded at the end of the episode, with him claiming to be 38, before immediately revealing that he's kidding. May double as a Call-Back to "Advanced Criminal Law", where Abed had trouble understanding the concept of messing with people, although a background character in the flashback scenes of "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" may imply that he's not kidding as much as he claims...
  • Limited Animation: The same shot of the team hitting enemies over the head with rocks is used several times, including one where it's just Wingman and the crates in the shot appear out of nowhere. It's another lampshade moment.
    Buzzkill: I dunno, [using the same plan twice] seems kinda cheap.
    Fourth Wall: From an animated perspective, very cheap.
  • Man on Fire: Wingman accidentally lights Lifeline on fire, leading him to rather gristly burn to death.
  • Medium Awareness: Fourth Wall is aware that they're in a cartoon.
  • Medium Blending: Most of the episode is animated, while the toy commercial spoofs and the ending are live-action.
  • Merchandise-Driven:
    Fourth Wall: I think we'll be okay. Remember, this is all just a cartoon about action figures for children!
    Wingman: Shut up, Fourth Wall! And get into the new G.I. Joe Submachopter with twin rocket launchers and rotating attack jets!
  • Me's a Crowd: Chang's Cobra counterpart, Overkill, is able to make holographic copies of himself to confuse the Joes. Wingman points out that the real Overkill is the one in the middle and shoots him.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tight Ship, Annie's G.I. Joe counterpart, is very curvy and wearing a shirt that invokes Absolute Cleavage and Bare Your Midriff, and a tight pair of hot pants.
  • Multiple Reference Pun:
    • The name "Tight Ship" is a reference to Annie's Control Freak tendencies, and the character also wears very tight nautical-themed clothes.
    • Likewise, "Buzzkill" is a perpetual killjoy who fights with a buzzsaw.
  • Never Say "Die": Parodied/deconstructed; both the Joes and Cobras are stunned and horrified by the fact that Jeff actually hurts and kills people, since as cartoon characters they understand that they're not supposed to. This means that Jeff and his Mutineers are able to kill them easily (even by accident) at first because the Joes and Cobras are so used to A-Team Firing and letting each other ride off into the sunset at the end of each episode. However it's then reconstructed, as the fact that the Mutineers are actually killing people causes G.I. Joe and Cobra to team up since they realize that it makes Jeff and the Mutineers a far bigger threat to both of them.
  • Official Parody: Hasbro endorsed this episode, so the theme song, logos and characters (and voice actors) from the 1986 cartoon are featured.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The toys used in the commercial sections are a combination of vintage figures and vehicles and custom toys (Wingman's jetpack is a modified version of the one that comes with the Ultimate Storm Shadow figure, while the Submachopter is made from a Black Dragon Helicopter an a Captain America jet).
  • Parody Commercial: The 80s Action Cartoon Plane and the Non-Cartoon Reality Plane is separated by the "Toy Commercial Plane", which is basically a G.I. Joe toy commercial.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Buzzkill, Britta's Joe counterpart, is Britta's obnoxious social crusader traits taken Up to Eleven with her complaining about every tiny detail. She accuses Fourthwall of being a misogynist because he pointed out that she doesn't have any training as a pilot and was going to crash their plane by flying it.
  • Reality Ensues: Once Wingman starts killing characters in the G.I Joe universe, Cobra is forced to slash the pay of its operatives as insurance premiums go up, meaning that the health plan changes. The disgruntled Cobra operatives in turn begin demanding hazard pay.
  • Really 17 Years Old: It is revealed that Jeff has been lying about his age - He's 40. The rest of the group isn't that surprised, with Annie noting that even if Jeff was in his early 30s when they first met, it's been five years - they just never thought about it.
  • Retraux: The creators go to great lengths to match the look of both the original G.I. Joe series and the commercials made at the time.
  • Role Reprisal: Michael Bell and Bill Ratner respectively return to voice Duke and Flint in the episode.
  • Ron the Death Eater: In-universe — the narrator of the Toy Commercial Plane takes a very skewed and dim view of the actions of the mutineers after they escape from prison:
    Narrator: The G.I Joe Mutineers are even worse than Cobra, because they're traitors! Buzzkill!
    "Buzzkill": All government is a lie!
    Narrator: Tight Ship!
    "Tight Ship": I control everything — or else!
    Narrator: Three Kids!
    "Three Kids": My family comes first!
    Narrator: Fourth Wall!
    "Fourth Wall": Didn't this guy also do the voice for He-Man commercials?
    Narrator: And their nefarious ruthless leader, Wingman!
    "Wingman": Hey! That's not true! I love G.I Joe!
    Narrator: I dunno, man. Seems like you hate it!
    "Wingman": This is all a misunderstanding!
    Narrator: Tell it to the judge!
  • Running Gag:
    • Wingman keeps using the strategy of "Sneak behind people, and bash them in the head with a rock."
    • Three Kids keeps pointing out that she has three kids.
  • Ship Tease: To Jeff and Annie, with Jeff placing Annie's counterpart in a very revealing costume.
    • Let's not forget how he was able to hear her voice begging him not to die whilst he was in a coma.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Deep Dish's escape plan of digging a secret tunnel behind a poster has been used before.
    • Scud from Scud the Disposable Assassin can be seen sitting in the court room during Jeff's trial.
    • Fourth Wall's illustration of the 3 universes includes a label pointing at the Prime Material Plane; in fact, the diagram itself is almost an exact copy of one from the First Edition Deities and Demigods book.
  • Shown Their Work: The entire episode is proof that the writers and animators really love G.I. Joe, but one great example happens when Cobra Commander dies while trying to cross over into the "real world". When his helmet breaks open, you can see his face for a millisecond... and it's the multi-eyed face he had circa G.I. Joe: The Movie. The only real error might be having multiple Wild Weasels piloting Rattlers... but that may also be an intentional animation goof.
  • Spin-Off: The Study Group were given their own line of toys: "The G.I. Joe Mutineers".
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Three Kids and Fourth Wall both comment "What do you mean, 'You people'?" to Wingman at the same time, before realising it and high-fiving.
  • Stripperiffic: Lampshaded: Buzzkill points out that G.I Joe's uniform policy makes the men look like "serial killers" and the women look like "strippers".
    Flint: Tight Ship, you can overhaul G. I Joe when you're commander.
    Buzzkill: Which will clearly happen any day now as long as your BLEEEEEEP are damn-full on display.
  • Stylistic Suck: The animation is made to resemble the old cartoons, complete with lip-syncing mistakes and cut corners. Lampshaded when Fourth Wall called one of Wingman's plans cheap "from an animated perspective".
  • Subliminal Seduction: At one point after Wingman collapses after hearing the word 'Greendale', a split-second live-action shot of the study group looking down at Jeff in his hospital bed in concern is spliced into the episode.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Cobra Commander: Cobra! Avenge my totally platonic friend!
  • Trigger Phrase: Hearing the word "Greendale" causes Wingman to collapse several times throughout the episode. It's revealed that this is his subconscious trying to prevent Jeff from coming out of his coma.
  • Tunnel King: Deep Dish has been digging a tunnel through the wall of his cell. All his hard work is rendered moot when an explosion destroys another wall, which the others use to escape.
  • Twin Telepathy: Played with. Ian Duncan plays a pastiche of Tomax and Xamot, and when he gets shot in the leg, his twin feels the pain. His twin happens to be a waiter who doesn't want to talk about his brother.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In-universe: Wingman points out that G.I Joe's refusal to risk killing the operatives of a major terrorist organisation means that the war's just going to keep going on forever, which kind of makes G.I Joe just as bad as Cobra.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Wingman killing Destro in the middle of one of these kicks off the actual plot.
  • Villainous Demotivator: In response to an underling complaining about poor HR, "Welcome to Cobra, Xim-Xam, perhaps you didn't notice our logo is a snake?"
  • Villainous Friendship: Destro was Cobra Commander's totally platonic friend.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Xim-Xam's Twin Telepathy lets his twin brother, Mix-Max, feel all his pain. He then realizes that this ability is useless in combat.

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