Director: Anthony Russo — Writer: Hilary Winston — Aired: March 18, 2010 —Season: One — Number: Nineteen Summary: Jeff takes beginner pottery for an easy credit but winds up becoming jealous of another student. Meanwhile, Pierce's incompetence could ruin the study group's grade in boating class.
It's the ultimate blow-off class. This class is like a redhead who likes to drink scotch and watch Die Hard. I suggest you get her number.
In the study room, Jeff proudly presents to the study group his pick for the "ultimate blow-off class" of the semester, Beginner Pottery. Britta, Troy, and Shirley agree. Meanwhile Annie and Abed join Jeff in his class where he swaggers into the pottery studio late. He immediately notices another student who seems very popular with the female students. The pottery instructor, Professor Holly, makes his presence known and explains the rules of the class. The one thing he will not tolerate in class is "Ghosting", the reenactment in any way shape or form of the Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore pottery scene from "Ghost". The popular student then goes on to create an impressive vase which earns him the praise of the professor and the class but also animosity from Jeff.
It's a vase.
In the parking lot on a real sailboat, the other study group members are waiting for class to begin joined by Star-Burns. The teacher, Professor Slaughter, arrives and explains that everyone will pass or fail as a team in this class. He names Shirley the leader and makes her the captain. Back in Spanish class, the study group reunites. Pierce is bothered about Shirley's "promotion" while Annie and Abed question Jeff's attitude towards the Rich. Jeff pretends not to care, but Britta senses that's not the case and teases him about it. Later in an empty pottery studio, Jeff tries to practice making a vase while flashing back to his childhood with his mom praising him. Despite his efforts, he can't seem to make a decent vase.
The Boating class takes place in the Greendale parking lot.
The next day in boating class, Shirley and her crew try to "sail" the boat but are hindered by Pierce. He ends up making a mistake which gets the entire class a bad grade. Professor Slaughter suggests that Shirley get her crew under control while Pierce blames Shirley. Back in pottery class, Jeff tries to fake an injury to avoid participating. His plan is ruined when it turns out that Rich is actually a doctor and is able to determine his injury to be non-existent. Abed misreads Jeff's interaction with Rich and assumes he made peace with him, only to find out that Jeff's opinion of him has gotten worse: he now believes Rich to be a ringer, a pottery specialist taking a introductory class in order to get praise from everyone.
Pierce decides to "ghost ride the jib".
That night, Jeff confronts Rich in the parking lot as he is leaving. He grills him about his past, trying to get him to admit that he has some past experience with pottery. The next day, Annie, Britta, and Abed arrive in the study room and are surprised to see Jeff already there. He admits to having spent the night there researching Rich online and trying to find a some reason to account for his pottery talents. The rest of the study group arrives with Shirley berating Pierce for his poor performance during class. Jeff snaps at them all telling them to quiet down as Abed observes that most mental health problems are activated in college. In boating class, Professor Slaughter has the class react to the conditions of a perfect storm.
Everyone's worried about Jeff's obsession with proving Rich a fraud.
He causes the jib to swing wildly which knocks Pierce off the sailboat and into the sea/parking lot. When the professor warns her that stopping to rescue Pierce could endanger the entire crew, Shirley commands the rest of her crew to abandon him. In pottery class, Jeff is pestering both Annie and Abed about Rich. He sees Rich perform what he believes to be an advanced pottery technique and calls him out as a fraud. Professor Holly and the rest of the class watch on as Jeff tries to prove he was right. Standing behind Rich, he tries to force him to do the technique again and accidentally starts "ghosting" in the process. This act greatly angers the professor who demands that Jeff leave. In response Jeff starts singing the love song from "Ghost", "Unchained Melody", which sends the professor into a rage. Jeff quickly runs out before Marion can get his hands on him.
The hilarious guy-on-guy.
Sometime later, Jeff finds Pierce in a campus tool shed working on a row boat. He asks him about a private investigator he once used, hoping to dig up more dirt on Rich. Pierce asks him what his obsession is really all about. Jeff deflects by asking him why he isn't in boating class, and Pierce tells him they let him drown to get a passing grade. Pierce steers the conversation back to Jeff who admits that he always grew up believing he was special. Not being good at something, even pottery, is difficult for him to accept because of that. Pierce tells Jeff how opposite his own life has been in comparison. Although he always fails, it doesn't deter him; in fact, he uses it as motivation to keep on trying. Pierce then jumps into the boat which has been modified with wheels. He asks Jeff for a push and then rolls off intent on rejoining the boating class.
Pierce sets a course to rejoin his boating class.
With Pierce gone, Shirley's crew is sailing the boat without any problems. Britta sees Pierce off in the distance rolling toward them in his modified rowboat. The crew mocks him as he accidentally runs over a ground sprinkler, causing a fountain of water to shoot up. Shirley has a change of heart and orders the crew to start rescue procedures. Britta objects, but Shirley tells her she can't abandon her principles or her friends. After successfully "rescuing" Pierce, Professor Slaughter promotes Shirley from Captain to Admiral for her dedication to her crew. He also awards them all an "A" for their efforts. In celebration, Pierce attempts to recreate a movie moment on the bow of the ship. He is stopped by Slaughter who holds up a crossed out picture from "Titanic" and says that its not allowed.
I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!
Back in pottery class, Jeff shows up and apologizes to Rich for his behavior. He tells Rich that Professor Holly has allowed him back to class if he refrains from any further ghosting outbursts. Jeff admits that it annoyed him to not be as good at something as someone else and that he is working on dealing with that better. Rich sincerely wishes him good luck and Jeff goes to to his pottery wheel and begins shaping the clay. He re-imagines his early flashback with his mom and instead of blindly praising him, she is more honest with him this time. Annie and Abed look concerned as they overhear Jeff seemingly talking to himself. Meanwhile, Rich is flashbacking too. His happy demeanor disappears as he hears his mom's voice criticizing him and telling him that he should have died in the roller coaster and not his brother...
Recurring or debuting plot points in this episode:
Express tuition aisle: Students who merely participate in Professor Holly's pottery class receive full course credit. He even jokes that the class is "so easy that people passing in the hallway get a contact credit."
Jeff has a flashback to his childhood where his mom is continually praising him.
Pierce tells Jeff about his complicated childbirth.
Identity crisis: Jeff becomes jealous of Rich because he's usually the cool one that everyone admires. He then starts "Goldbluming" taking on characteristics of actor Jeff Goldblum type characters.
Replay: Jeff reimagines the flashback with his mom, this time with her telling him the truth instead of blindly praising him.
That just happened: Annie mentions regretting taking Jeff's last blow off class last semester which asked her to live in the moment and foreshadows her trying to "live in the moment" at the end of the school year.
It's a vase: The name of this running gag, Annie makes some very suggestive hand movements while forming a vase.
Nice outfit: Pierce wears a yachting outfit for his sailing class complete with a captains hat. Chang arrives to class without a shirt because someone stole his clothes at the YMCA. In the episode end tag this happens again, and he is forced to leave the gym wearing only a swimsuit and a bike helmet.
Rhyme time: When confronting Rich in the parking lot, Jeff uses general rhyme to connect his phrase with a celebrity name.
IMDb: The movie Ghost, particularly the famous pottery scene, is directly referenced a few times in this episode, inspiring a new phrase "ghosting". (The episode was aired in 2009, right about when the non-supernatural meaning of the term had started gained in popularity.
“How about you, Abed? Wanna sail with us? There's black people.”— Pierce
“Jeff's competitive side had come out before, he had even displayed envy. But on that first day of pottery class he discovered-”— Abed, narrating
“What did we discuss?”
“No voiceover, I'm sorry. It is kind of a crutch.”
“Reef the mainsail and furl the jib.”— Shirley
“Is that nautical talk or urban speak?”— Pierce
“I've never been a Captain before.”— Shirley
“I have! I commanded a jet ski through an electrical storm and only had one causality!”— Pierce
“Jet skis only hold two people.”— Troy
“Exactly I saved half the crew.”— Pierce
“Well anyone can be a lawyer. You can even represent yourself. You can't do surgery on yourself, it's illegal. You'd get arrested. And then you get a free lawyer.”— Abed
“I feel like I'm being interrogated but by someone who doesn't really want to know anything important.”— Rich
“Troy can't swim!”— Shirley
“Uh, I can swim, racist.”— Troy
“I hope I get multiple personalities; I get lonely in long showers.”— Troy upon learning that many psychological issues manifest during college
“Congratulations. You failed a class so easy that people passing in the hallway get a contact credit.”— Professor Holly
“Jeffrey, when I was born I got my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, both arms and one of my ankles. Mom said there came a point when the doctors stopped delivering me and just started laughing. I mean, 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. Now, how about a shove?”— Pierce
“Good luck, Pierce.”— Jeff
“Don't need it. Never had it.”— Pierce
“Jeff, you're a normal person. There's nothing very special about you at all. You're going to be great at a few things, but really crappy at more. And that takes a lot of the pressure off, so you can live a full, happy life. Oh, and sorry it took me so long to tell you that. And it was only in your imagination. My bad. I'm kind of a sloppy mom.”— "Jeff's Mom"