Episode 119: Beginner Pottery

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Community Season One, Episode Nineteen; Beginner Pottery

During the course of this episode we travel all the way down Jeff's twisted rabbit hole of a mind and discover at least some of the reasons why he's so profoundly messed up. After deciding to take beginner pottery as a blow off class, Jeff struts in, flirts with some ladies, and then plops down next to Abed. And then he sees Rich. Over the course of the series, attractive men are Jeff's kryptonite (two more times with Rich and then again with the Black Rider), they trigger his intense insecurity, and bring out his petty, vindictive obsessiveness. In the very first moment Jeff sees Rich, he starts the inevitable progression towards the total mental collapse he suffers latter in the episode, as he can already see Rich is better than him. Those ladies Jeff flirted with earlier? The're flirting with Rich.

It starts with the women liking him, but over the course of the episode, Rich consistently proves to be better than Jeff in every possible aspect of his life. He's happy, friendly, funny, he's a doctor, he gets to feel up Annie, and he's just good a pottery. It's that last bit that Jeff fixates upon. In a perfect summation of who Jeff is as a person, when he starts pottery class, his only creation is a ball of clay. He puts no effort into the class because he can't fail at something he never tried. It is the underpinning of Jeff's complete lack of effort at anything throughout the series. While Annie is driven to always be the best, Jeff's fragile ego won't let him attempt to be anything other than mediocre, in case he actually is mediocre. As he said in an earlier episode, “So what's a guy gotta do to get a C around here?” Seeing Rich and his stupid, pretty face be good at pottery is the actual perfect storm of the episode.

Jeff's insecurity over Rich's attractiveness fights with his ego, resulting in Jeff actually attempting to make a pot (alone, at night when no one is around to see), and failing miserably. It triggers a flash back to his mother telling him how perfectly special he is, which given what we know about Jeff's childhood, means he's spent the past thirty something years attempting to live up to that pressure in his own, messed up way. The cognitive dissonance caused by his insecurity and ego each demanding different incompatible things, results in Jeff fixating on proving that Rich is a "ringer." Which both proves that pottery is quite hard (letting his ego off the hook) and that Rich is deeply messed up (eliminating the insecurity). This causes him to spiral into a tailspin where he reads entire pottery encyclopedias and stalks Rich. Eventually he loses it in class and has the mother of all Ghost-bursts.

Meanwhile out in the parking lot, Shirley is having a hell of an episode. After taking the bus because she lent her van to Andre and his stripper girlfriend, Shirley decides to join Pierce, Britta, Troy and Star-Burns in a sailing class (that would be sailing in the parking lot as Greendale is 2 hours from the nearest body of water). She says, what will be her arch words throughout this episode, "kind people are always kind." Once they are on the boat, she's made captain simply because she was the first person to speak. As the episode progresses, Shirley slowly becomes a stronger captain, as her crew (with the exception of Pierce) slowly become stronger at their jobs. When Pierce screws up and is hanging over the side of the boat, holding on to the arm of the mast, Shirley reams him out for it. Britta reminds her of her statement about kindness, and Shirley responds, "strong people change, if the sea were always still and clam, no one would respect her. I'm like the sea." It is has been both subtle and obvious that Shirley spent most of this season feeling powerless about her life. Her husband cheated on her, her husband left her, her family won't even attend her Christmas party. But here, in sailing class, she's discovered something she can be confident and in control of. So, when Proffessor Slaughter hits them with a perfect storm she's able to lead them through it (again with the exception of Pierce). He gets thrown overboard and Shirley makes the command decision to let him drown rather than risk the boat and the rest of the crew.

These two storylines meet in a garage off to the side of the parking lot where Jeff finds Pierce fixing up a rowboat on wheels. Jeff wants Pierce's private investigator's number to make his stalking of Rich that much more comprehensive. Jeff, of course, is shocked that Pierce is planning a triumphant return to sailing class, even though they drowned him. And then Pierce tells him to get over the whole thing with Rich. So what if he's not actually special? As he says, ”If I ever let being bad at something stop me, I wouldn't even be here. That thing some men call failure, I call living,Breakfast. And I’m not leaving till I’ve cleaned out the buffet.” Jeff is left stunned as Pierce rolls away.

Pierce rolls right into the parkinglot, and then swerves an hits a water faucet, causing his boat to start sinking in the complete lack of water. As the rest of the sailing class laughs at him, Shirley damns the sea and organizes them to launch a rescue mission, which winds up succeeding. She says, "I'd rather be kind and get stepped on once in awhile, than be a hard ass and turn my back on a friend." After they rescue Pierce, Shirley justifies it to professor Slaughter, "The sea may be cold and unforgiving, but I'm not. The ship might go down, but at least she'll go down with honor." As a reward for her leadership, professor Slaughter promotes her to admiral, but, of course, it is meaningless as the class is over. What she's truly learned is how to be both kind and strong at once, rather than letting them be defined as opposites as they had been throughout the episode.

Jeff goes back to pottery class, where he apologizes to Rich and happily makes a terrible pot. He seemingly accepts that he's going to be terrible at a lot of things. And in the show's supreme irony, it is revealed that everything Jeff accused Rich of was true.

Stray Observations

  • “Your last blow-off class taught me to live in the moment, which I will always regret and never do again.”
  • "The hilarious guy on guy."
  • Tony Hale was amazing this episode. I loved that his psychosis was so specific to his class.
  • Rich is played by Gregg Cromer who played Doug Hitler on Happy Endings and Jason in Spiders 2: Breeding Grounds. I own that last movie, and it is terrible.
  • "He's Goldbluming…"
  • I want Abed VOing my life.

Notes on the commentary:

  • Joel thinks Yvette looks terrific this episode.
  • Joel once saw Yvette without her Shirley wig and didn't recognize her.
  • Pierce's boating outfit was revenge Chevy because early on Chevy kept saying he didn't want to be like Ted Knight, which no one could understand as Ted Knight is a television icon.
  • Rich is named after Hillary Winston's first boyfriend.
  • The cast and crew were making pottery on the pottery class set during the down time between takes. Hillary made a vase.
  • YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT BLACK WOMEN'S HAIR!
  • They spent three days filming on the boat in two different parking lots, and it was 80 degrees the entire time.
  • Dan Harmon is in love with Greg Cromer.
  • Dan had a huge fight with Anthony Russo over the Goldbluming joke over email.
  • For the scene where the boat moves past the school window, they actually built a class stage on the parking lot.

26 LIKES
On the A.V. Club: http://www.avclub.com/articles/regional-holiday-music,66270/#comment-449323529 (page 121)

‚ÄčDiscussion:

  • "Seeing Rich and his stupid, pretty face be good at pottery is the actual perfect storm of the episode."

    Lines like these are why we do these reviews, people.

    Really great points about Jeff soothing his cognitive dissonance by falling back on mediocrity. He may crack jokes about Greendale being a school-shaped toilet and its express tuition aisle, but there's a reason he's still there.

    That garage scene is very important. It's telling that Jeff went immediately to Pierce on the pretense of asking for a private detective's number but it's possible, like with Annie in Basic Genealogy, that he went to Pierce because he wanted to be told he was wrong. The fact that Jeff confides in Pierce about his insecurity and single-minded drive to be special reveals his begrudging yet very real respect for Pierce. He wouldn't do that if he truly hated Pierce. And Pierce's line about Breakfast aptly summarizes why he's had so much personal success.

  • Of all the times you'd only know one of the actors was ill while shooting because it was mentioned on the commentary, in this episode poor Gillian really does look as ill as she apparently was during the boat scenes. Personally, I like to think it's because Britta managed to be seasick on a boat in the middle of a parking lot.

  • Other details

    -In 106, Troy suggests Jeff let Greendale grow on him. "Take a pottery class or something"
    -The way Tony Hale kneads the clay is exactly like the way Buster Bluth gave his weird massages.
    -I think Harmon's guilty of a bit of hypocrisy on the Goldbluming joke. He calls it a "30 Rock-ish" joke, implying it's too broad, yet in his argument with Russo about the "TURN ON HER!!" joke, he was the one who wanted it to play out a beat faster.
    -"I don't know how and I don't know when but one day that guy is going to slip up, and when that happens I'm going to be there to expose him." — Hopefully this line pays off gloriously later this season.

  • Harmon's without a doubt a flawed specimen. That's why I love him.

  • NewlyRegisteredRandom

    I love this episode, I believe I ranked it 16th, making it my 7th favorite episode from season one.

    Everybody had something to do, there was a cult guest star, Steve Austin and it was the introduction of a recurring character.  There was also minimal clutter, which in an episode that has four separate (but related) storylines is an achievement.

    he gets to feel up Annie

    I always assumed he just told her how to check, given at this point that Annie is still very uncomfortable with her body.  I loved Annie's delivery of 'He showed me how to make a flared lip and how to check for breast lumps!', 'I love butterflies!' Annie is my third favorite Annie (after psychotic Annie [Docuredux] and hot-as-balls badass Annie [Fistful of Paintballs]).

    If true, it then illustrates something that Dan Harmon says in the Epidemiology commentary; yeah Rich is outwardly nice, but really he's a bigger asshole than Jeff is, which is kind of alluded to in Asian Population Studies ('You can't fake being nice to people in order to do bad things').

    And that shot where the boat goes by the window?  Amazing.

    But something I always wondered…the Patrick Swayze poster was him, but when Pierce pulls a Jack Dawson and Lee Majors holds up his own sign, it's not the iconic image from Titanic…could they not get the rights to use it or something?  I know that in (again…) Epidemiology, they really had to scale back Troy's Power Loader costume and they couldn't mention the name of the film…so is James Cameron not a Community fan, a pretentious asshole, or does he overcharge for the rights to his work?

    My overall favorite scene of the episode?  Goldbluming…Joel absolutely nails it.

    5 Stars: 1) Jeff, 2) Shirley, 3) Pierce, 4) Byron 'Buster' Bluth, 5) Dr. Rich

  • I love how theatrical they're acting in the shot where the boat goes by the window, with Britta doing these big plies and exaggerated "looking" gestures.  Makes it even more absurd.

  • Poor NRR.  This is not your day with Disqus.  But in response to your ill-fated post:  Holy cow (boy)!  I think you're right!  Nice catch!

  •  Is that considered hot?

  • I agree that this episode could be submitted as evidence as the importance of Shirley in the show; lately she's become a tad boring, so I'm hoping they change it up with another Beginner Pottery for her (In fact the first episode back looks set to do this, hopefully).

  • NewlyRegisteredRandom

    Well she is going to be integral to the first episode that comes back (Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts).  I agree though; whenever she gets a big hand in the story (Social Psychology, Beginner Pottery, Applied Anthro, Foosball), she's usually great.

     

  • Fantistic review, avclub-c88e480b73f71a78df8a9839f870a0f2

    "He puts no effort into the class because he can't fail at something he never tried. It is the underpinning of Jeff's complete lack of effort at anything throughout the series. While Annie is driven to always be the best, Jeff's fragile ego won't let him attempt to be anything other than mediocre, in case he actually is mediocre."

    So well-put.   That really is Jeff in a nutshell.  The Pierce-Jeff scene in the garage is beautiful.  As far as Jeff's arc in this episode, it seems like Jeff turns this huge corner by the end of it, but I don't feel like it really sticks.  Do you think this episode really changes his trajectory in the series overall?  

    Line of the episode that I quote and no one in my life gets: calling people "my blueberrieeeeeeeeeeees"  I love Hale's delivery on that line.

    (I'm also entertaining my own little theory that the Prof. Holly and the Dean are arch-enemies.  They may have started out as friends because they're so similar–and Dean/Jeff =Holly/Rich–but some unfortunate dalmatian and/or ghosting-related incident drove them apart and now Prof. Holly offers a class so easy "people walking by in the hall get a contact credit!" just to piss Dean Pelton off.)

  • Great review, and dittoing LloydBraun's enjoyment of the "perfect storm" line.

    This episode gets better and better the more I think about it. It's
    hilarious (Goldbluming! Ghosting! "That mermaid's… car"), with that
    special kind of absurdity (the entire premise of the sailing class in
    the carpark), but the scene with Jeff and Pierce is a real standout — it's important for Jeff, but Pierce just comes across so fantastically. It's one of his best moments in the season, if not the whole series, in my mind.

    (Also, did this make anyone else want some kind of situation where the Dean meets Buster Bluth? They just seem like they'd have hysterical bouts of hysteria.)

  • Between your comment and Walking NPR's comment, I now really want to see Prof. Holly return for a storyline with Dean Pelton. That would be hilarious.

  • So, several comments in and no mention of Annie's "vase" eh? (for shame, NRR, for shame) It's where my mind instantly goes when I think of this episode. It's hilarious.

  • It's actually "look down" for me. I recognize most people go "newest posts first" but I find it easier to navigate through comments by putting oldest first.

  • NewlyRegisteredRandom

    Oh Annie, mine's bigger…but overall I didn't really like the joke because it was a touch too broad and kind of threw a bit of continuity out the window (she did in fact see a penis in 111).  Not my favorite joke, but still fun to watch.

  • Meh. I think that's reading too much into it. It's just a throwaway joke. And it is kinda broad, but what makes it so funny for me, is that innocent, oblivious Annie is the one doing this. If it was Britta, then I'd find it too broad and off-base. It's not the act itself, but the person who's doing it that makes it so funny. That makes it a little less broad.

    And as SBT said, the way she says "a vase" is just so funny.

    And maybe because now that she finally saw the penis in 111, it's manifesting in her, subconsciously, molding the phallus here? I don't care one way or another since it's just a small throwaway joke, but I see no problem with the continuity.

  • NewlyRegisteredRandom

    The subconscious manifestation is almost a given, especially now that we see Annie's starting to become a little more sexually awakened (I couldn't imagine season 1 Annie singing a sexy Christmas song, or telling a Halloween story chock full of sexual overtones like she did this year). The faces in this fishstick especially are great, that's like 4 'O!' faces.

    But I'm not shitting on broad jokes; you need to do broad jokes, because if you do all high-brow humor, people won't get your show, but you can't overdo the broad joke; when you do that you might as well be getting uppity and pissed off when people sit on your spot on the couch or writing jingles for radio ads, though an over-reliance on the high-brow will get you cancelled with a movie to come sometime TBA.

  • Okay, I don't know if this was a casualty of NRR's Disqus problems today or if one of you edited it out, but somewhere in this discussion between two Annies someone mentioned they couldn't see S1 Annie doing "Teach Me How To Understand Christmas" or telling her Horror Fiction story.  I can't either and always find the differences in Annie the most jarring when I switch between seasons.  What do you make of it?  Is it mostly real character growth from Annie (makes sense that a junior is much more mature than a freshman) or  is it the problematic writing for Annie?

  •  I can TOTALLY see S1 Annie doing her horror story (of course, it would actually be S1 Annie with the added experience of another year and a half spent with these knuckleheads). She's evolved, in that she's more aware of her sexuality and the influence it has on others, but she's still intimidated by sex. The very framing of her horror story as the overwrought melodrama of Twilight suggests that. It's a delightfully repressed way to treat sex and romance, if you think about it: she starts off with the chaste crap of Twilight (pretty girl tames dark brooding monster-man, but in a completely a-sexual manner), then degenerates into a quasi-slasher ending, where the most promiscuous character dies a horrible death, while the virginal girl survives unscathed.

    The Christmas thing I chalked up to being infected by the Glee virus. Everyone was behaving as an exaggerated version of themselves that day.

  • Actually, I can definitely see S1 Annie doing the horror story as well. In my comment, I was mostly thinking of "Teach Me How to Understand Christmas," which is something I could not see her doing, with or without the Glee virus.

  • I know that at least one of NRR's comments have disappeared and I believe it was in that comment where he mentioned not being able to see S1 Annie doing those things.

    Frankly, I agree with him. I think it'd be interesting to contrast her with Britta, who has also changed a lot, and wouldn't do the sorts of things in Season 1 that she is doing now, but who's growth has felt much more organic. Looking back at Season 1, it seems that this "new" Britta was always lurking underneath the surface, yearning to come out. And there's very much hints of the Britta we'd come to love in earlier episodes like "Communication Studies" and "The Science of Illusion."

    Annie, on the other hand, I just don't know what to make of the writing sometimes. I mean, I love "Teach Me How to Understand Christmas" and the Horror Fiction story a whole bunch. They're the highlights of those two episodes, for me, and I think they correspond very well with who Annie has been through Season's 2 and 3. Like Britta, she feels like a very different character from Season 1, but, unlike with Britta, I definitely don't get a sense of how, and why, she has become so different. That's what is problematic. Not that she has become so different, but that I don't really understand why she has become so different.

    By the way, I don't know if you meant that question for me, but I tried to answer anyway.

    Edit: On that note, in defence of Annie's characterization, could somebody give me a sense of how and why the character has changed?

  • NewlyRegisteredRandom

    I'm back!

    Anyways, 'Teach me how to understand Christmas!' comes to me from two distinct places; first, her awareness of the growing strength of her sexuality, and second, her awareness of just how easy it is for her to manipulate Jeff with said sexuality. The Glee virus factors in a little, but the fact that the song and dance was for Jeff and not, say, Shirley, proves the point.

    Like Britta, she feels like a very different character from Season 1, but, unlike with Britta, I definitely don't get a sense of how, and why, she has become so different. That's what is problematic. Not that she has become so different, but that I don't really understand why she has become so different.

    I think that we're supposed to attribute this to her age and the fact that she's growing up. It's also part of the reason why, from the pilot, the two characters that are the most different are the youngest; Troy and Annie.

    It's definitely an age thing. Where Britta was 28 in the pilot and 31 now is also different, you can also kind of tell from that early run of episodes that the seeds of who she is today; the outspoken, buzz-killing, slightly maladroit, fun-loving girl are there, though this is true of all of the characters except Troy (who has basically done a total 180).

    As for Annie, how and why has she CHANGed? Well she's a little more laid back, a little more fun-loving and a lot more aware of her sexual power and curious about it. The laid-back part is the influence of Jeff, Abed and Troy; from Jeff's blow-off classes and living with the boys, she sees that she doesn't need to put her all into every single thing she does. The fun-lovingness also comes from these two, but also the group and Greendale in itself…how can you not embrace the fun in a school that has five dances, a space-bus, a blanket fort city and paintball?

    As for the sexuality…that's a longer paragraph. First, she has changed from a plain, dowdy overweight girl with bad skin into Alison Brie, that'll get you there.

    Second, her age; the hormones are running in her blood, and the location she's in (college) promotes a willingness to experiment; I'm certain that she did not sleep with Vaughan, but she's above the age where she discovers that sex is fun (sadly, kids are developing and banging in their preteens these days). I'm almost willing to totally attribute her increasing curiosity for sex to this fact.

    Also, with her change, male interest has been jacked up to eleven; she dated Vaughan, a dirty hippie but a good-looking dude nonetheless. She has kissed, several times, and received interest (sporadic and inconsistent as it may be) from the current Alpha male Jeff, as well as one-time interest (as well as occasional acknowledgements of her hotness) from the Alpha male in her past life Troy, and then there's Abed…who I have no way of classifying, but I'll just end it with he's a handsome dude and everybody loves him, but he can only seem to show interest within the framework of another character. Other guys have also shown a degree of interest; Duncan, Starburns, Rich, the Black Rider, Pierce, the guys donating to the Oil Spill and so on and so forth; for her to not be aware that as a hot young woman, she can have almost anything and anyone she wants goes against her character.

    So I don't think it's problematic writing for Annie at all (Annie's problematic writing actually occurs when she regresses); it's the tacit acknowledgement of the fact that she (and Troy) are going to change as people far more between 18 and 21 than Britta will between 28 and 31.

  • Great stuff man. You totally got me second guessing myself now.

    I mean it's important to remember that prior to Season 1, she apparently did not look like Alison Brie. She only just got hot, and through Season 1 has probably not adapted at all to that fact quite yet. Season's 2 and 3, on the other hand show her adapting (though awkwardly, still, hence "Teach Me How to Understand Christmas") more and more to men finding her attractive, and shows her growing more comfortably with her newfound sexuality, such that she can use it to her advantage.

    I gotcha. Good stuff man.

    Edit: Furthermore, it's even more in character that she would be so awkward about it in "Teach Me How to Understand Christmas" given this context that's she's still new to this and still learning.

    There's other issues with the character, but maybe this is not one of them.

    Edit2: One more final thing: given Annie's very manipulative nature – something that stems all the way back to 106, and is present often through Season 1 – it's also very much in her character to use this newfound sexuality for the purpose of manipulation. It's another weapon in her arsenal, although as I've already suggested, it's a weapon that she still hasn't mastered yet.

  • I've mentioned this before, but Britta got boobs before everyone else, whereas Annie apparently had none in high school.

  •  It's probably too late to post this, but honestly I didn't even know it was on YouTune. It's an outtake from the vase scene, and it's pretty funny:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

  •  Great review!

    I'm just going to start by putting this here, and say that I just love the dreamy, oblivious tone with which Annie says she's making "a vase."

    I really like your implication that Jeff views mediocrity as a safe middle ground between his massive ego and his fear of failure. I'm wondering how does this fit in with his reputation as an excellent lawyer. I mean, we know that he's superficially charming and manipulative, but being a good lawyer requires more than that.

    I also really like how Rich is basically a reverse Jeff. Jeff is afraid he won't be good enough and therefore aims for mediocrity, while Rich is afraid he won't rise up to expectations and aims to excel at everything. Both routes end in hilarious, hilarious insanity, and I'm really disappointed that Rich's psychotic side seems to have vanished completely in S2. I want Rich's mommy issues back!

  • Loki100

    Well, we haven't really seen Jeff lawyering, other than "A lot of things changed on 9/11…" So I'm not sure we can really make a call on how he approached his job, other than a lot of charm and manipulation.

  • Fortunately, we will be seeing him lawyering in the future……

  •  I know! I can hardly wait!

  • Yeah, Brie's delivery is great. The fact that, at this point anyway, Annie is quite sexually innocent, and so oblivious (at least on a conscious level) to what she's really making, is very very funny.

    I'd like to think the phallus is a subconscious manifestation of her repressed sexually. But, really, it's just a penis joke.

    By the way, Danny Pudi's face sometimes looks like it was chiseled out of stone. I think I'm in the minority when I say he's better looking than Glover or McHale….

  • I somehow didn't notice until Regional Holiday Music that Danny Pudi is a really good-looking man. I wouldn't say better — they've all got excellent faces. We're really spoiled by this show!

  • Yeah, it's a really good looking group of people on this show.

  •  He looks pretty cool as Han Solo too, in 224.

  • For some reason, I really love the boat sub-plot in this episode. I don't know why, it just makes me laugh and smile a lot. I think it's one of the best things Shirley's ever done.

  • Absolutely! It's weird: it almost feels like the boat should just be silly, but instead it's so grand and uplifting.

  •  yeah i actually prefer the subplot here to the main plot but that might be retroactive Rich exhaustion affecting it.  But the boat plot is great because i love their absurd classes and 'sailing' in the parking lot is about as absurd as it gets.  plus the great "he might be the only person to ever actually drown in a parking lot"

  • Britta: Wow, somebody's mommy gave him too much praise.
    Jeff: Man, so did someone's Psych teacher.

  • There's an exchange we can appreciate a lot more in hindsight. I wonder if Harmon had some of this stuff planned ahead of time.

  • They messed that up by having her just start studying psychology this year. She's only now taking Psych 101, so who is this teacher Jeff is talking about? It would've been better if they had started her arc this season as someone who was taking a few psych classes all along and only now decided to pursue it seriously.

  • They do seem to get a bit weird with the classes outside the "main" class. Like Troy and Abed training the rat for their biology class, but now they're taking Biology 101. Unless there's a reason for that, somewhere (out there)?

    Maybe Jeff's line is just a throwaway one, and we're not supposed to think that Britta's taking Psychology yet…

    (That's supposed to be a reply to LloydBraun's second comment, but it won't let me for whatever reason.)

  •  We know from the pilot that Britta's brother works with people who have a disorder Abed might want to look up, which ties into Britta's desire to "help" Abed, which ties into her flirtation with psychology, which leads into her actually wanting to become a psychologist.

    I'm not saying Harmon planned everything from day one, but he did put all this into Britta's background, which suggests he may have seen the potential for the character to head in this direction.

  • Which is why it's silly that she's only now taking Psych 101, unless that's just another Britta sucks joke. A more serious writing of the character would have had her further along with the subject to start this season.

  •  I don't think it's necessarily silly. For the whole of S1 and almost all of S2 Britta still behaved as if she knew better. It's only rather recently (specifically after Geography of Global Conflict) that she became aware of her shallowness.

  •  Wow, that's some nice continuity – both for Britta's flirtation with psychology and Jeff's refusal to admit that Britta can really see through him.

  • thefunjustneverends

    This is my favorite Troy line of the episode.  It makes me laugh every time.

    EDIT: Great review, Loki100. I like episodes when they split the group up into two separate ideas and merge the stories later. An episode like Competitive Wine Tasting would have been better with only two stories instead of the crammed together three.

  • Nice review Loki.  So can i open the forum to a question?  At the end we see Jeff's mom giving him the same speech only instead of telling him he is special she tells him "some people are good at some stuff and not other stuff" (or the equivalent i dont remember the exact words).  So i always assumed this was Jeff re-writing his own memories for a better lesson.  but what if this was the actual lesson Jeff's mom tried to teach him and he had heard it as he is always special?  Like what if Jeff's ego was always quite large and just couldn't accept that he wouldnt be great at everything.  Anyway i wanted to hear some of your guys' interpretations of that scene.

  • I assumed it was a re-write, too, but that's an interesting read.  I've actually joked with friends that we wish the message we'd gotten growing up was that we're not particularly special and will accomplish some stuff but probably not save the world and will mostly be average at things, just like Jeff's mom says. Would certainly have made our 20's/early work life easier.  That said, I don't think I would've really listened to that message as a kid/teen.  So it is an interesting interpretation that maybe that's the message he got but he wasn't ready to hear it until now.

  •  
  •  Doesn't the mom in his head basically admit that this is not something that actually happened, though?

     

  • Ah, Semi-bored torontonian .  I guess you're right.  Because she says something like "Probably should've told you that earlier.  My bad" at the end, doesn't she?

  • Yes, she says "Sorry it that took so long for me to tell you…and that it was only in your head." And then Jeff says, out loud, "It's okay, nobody's perfect." 

    I love that he takes to heart the very simple message of this episode but has to actually vocalize it while comforting a pretend version of his mom, effectively looking crazy.

  •  Spiders 2: Breeding Grounds sounds terrible. I want to watch it twice.

  • Great job, Loki100 . I see how most of the discussion has been focused on Jeff or Shirley, but I really enjoy the episode's treatment of Pierce. Someone said earlier that this episode is Jeff in a nutshell, but I think the same can be said for Pierce.

    At the start of the episode, Pierce has good intentions. He has found a class that he thinks the group will enjoy, that will be easy, and one in which he has experience (and if not experience, then at least a totally appropriate and ridiculous outfit). However, he is quickly marginalized, when Shirley is made captain instead of him, and then he is removed from the sailing class all togehter. Later, after dispensing some very kind and touching life advice to Jeff, he redeems his previous failures in a goodhearted but poorly thought out gesture and regains the companionship of the group.

    His fears of marginalization and lonlieness manifest themselves much more sharpley throughout the Evil Pierce arc in season 2, but those same feelings can be seen weaving throughout his characterization in season 1. I've read some places that the Evil Pierce arc comes out of nowhere, but he does have the same deep rooted fear of being cast out, first by his real family in Basic Genealogy (and later in the episodes dealing with his father), but also by his adopted family beginning in Beginner Pottery.

  •  A brother of a friend was an extra in this episode, which blew my mind the millionth time or so when I watched it. He's the ginger kid in the classroom as the boat sails by outside.

    If his facebook feed is anything to go by he's basically Kyle from Party Down.