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I hate bottle episodes. They're wall to wall facial expressions and emotional nuance. I might as well sit in a corner with a bucket on my head.
In the study room, the study group finishes the latest Anthropology diorama. As Jeff brags about a hot date the Dean shows up and announces a puppy parade in the quad later. Everyone prepares to leave including a recently injured Pierce who is using a new expensive wheelchair. Before they go Annie asks if anyone has her pen which the others deny. Abed offers an increasingly manic Annie chocolate while Shirley tries to placate their friend with empty promises. When the group tries to leave again Annie lets out a piercing scream. As a result a reluctant search of the study room commences but the pen is nowhere to be found.

2x8 Annie screams
Annie shows a photo she took earlier of the pen and adds no one had entered or exited the room since. Explaining there's a principle of trust at stake, Annie insists Britta empty her bag to prove she doesn’t have the pen. Britta refuses initially but concedes when pressured by the study group. Upon proving her innocence she berates her friends mob mentality. She is interrupted by a puppy parade announcement by Dean Pelton over the PA. Britta demands everyone else empty their bags too causing accusations to fly as to who has the pen. Abed bemoans that the situation is becoming a "bottle episode."

2X8 Britta Guatanamo'd
Britta getting Guantanamo'd.
Jeff tries to end to the matter by offering absolution for the pen thief as long as he/she apologizes. Pierce then suggests that Jeff is guilty and the others quickly agree. An angry Jeff calls to cancel his date and orders a lockdown in the study room. A search of the other study group members' bags is then conducted by Jeff and Annie. They find a notebook in Abed's bag charting the menstrual cycles of the women in the group, which began as an attempt to track the days they were easier to talk to. He offers a chocolate to an outraged Annie who throws it away after realizing what Abed is doing. Abed then asks Shirley to dump her purse as it’s her turn.

2X8 I'm doing a bottle episode
"Tell your disappointment to suck it!
I'm doing a bottle episode!"
When she refuses, Pierce tricks her, snatches her purse and throws it over. Jeff finds a pregnancy test among the contents, and Shirley confesses that she "reconnected" with her ex-husband over Labor Day weekend. Abed consults his chart and points out she was ovulating on Halloween, not on Labor Day weekend, causing Troy to have an epiphany. Shirley tries to leave but is blocked by Pierce, who reminds her that nobody goes until the pen is found. Jeff snaps and begins to tear the room apart trying to find the missing item. Annie pleads for him to stop declaring it no longer matters.

2X8 Abed's chart
Charting the women's menstrual cycles.
Jeff questions her sudden lack of resolve to find the pen accusing her of having it all along. A furious Annie strips to prove her innocence taunting Jeff and Britta into doing so as well. Abed intervenes and proposes they divide the group by gender and search each other behind overturned tables. Even after ending up in their underwear, the study group fails to find the pen. They then remember the casts on Pierce's legs and Jeff along with Abed and Troy team up to cut through Pierces' casts. However, the only thing they find is a horrible smell and a handful of items Pierce has used to scratch himself, including Slim Jims.

Strip search
The search continues.
Afterwards the group laments that the trust between them is broken. Jeff then suggests something impossible is more likely than anyone being guilty. He asks to Troy to spin a ridiculous theory to bring about a satisfactory resolution. The group happily leaves the room together just as Dean Pelton walks by and reacts to the devastation they left behind. Back inside, Troy's monkey emerges from the air vent and picks up a spoon. She adds the utensil to her collection of study group related knick-knacks that includes the missing pen.

2X8 AB7
The thief is revealed.

End tag[]

The Puppy Parade is shown with Dean Pelton emceeing the event. He praises every float except for the last one which has a puppy and kitten together and carries the banner "Equality and Togetherness". The Dean finds it to be too preachy and loudly starts to boo it. Greendale_puppy_parade

Recurring themes[]


Continuity lists
Recurring or debuting plot points in this episode:
  • That just happened:
    • Pierce is still recovering from injuries he sustained in the previous episode "Aerodynamics of Gender".
    • Troy remembers Chang's voicemail to him in "Epidemiology" when Abed mentions when Shirley could have conceived a baby according to a notebook he kept which charted her menstrual cycle.
  • Previously: When Britta objects to the possibility that Abed is the thief, other group members remind her of what he did to them in "Contemporary American Poultry".
  • Googly eyes: Jeff and Annie have a very heated exchange and stare-down before they start stripping down to their underwear. Dan Harmon on DVD commentaries for this episode commented that they were probably hot for each other in the scene.
  • Middle Eastern Magic 8 Ball:
    • Shirley's pregnancy test hints at an upcoming storyline with her ex-husband Andre and Ben Chang.
    • When Britta mentions the kind of underwear Jeff "usually" wears, Abed asks, "What does she mean usually?" This foreshadows the eventual revelation that Jeff and Britta have been secretly having sex. Series creator Dan Harmon confirmed in the season 2 DVD commentary that "Gwynnifer" is none other than Britta, hence why Jeff's scene of "calling Gwynnifer" seemed too short to be an actual phone call and why the phone was still on the homescreen as he threw it on the table; additionally, Jeff smiles as he picks up the pack of condoms from Britta's bag and gleefully asks her if she has a big weekend planned, only for Britta to respond to him that she can't complain.
    • After Troy and Jeff have cut open Pierce's leg casts, Abed states "I'm worried we've gone too far, this is how super villains are created," foreshadowing Pierce's increasingly antagonistic role in future episodes.
Recurring or debuting characters in this episode:
Recurring or debuting places in this episode:
  • This must be the place: Excepting the end tag, the entire episode takes place inside of Group Study Room F.
  • Winger speech: Subverted when Jeff merely supposes, "What if a ghost took the pen?" Troy's ghost story serves the purpose of the usual Winger Speech.
Recurring or debuting items in this episode:

Running gags[]

List of Running gags
Recurring or debuting running gags in this episode:

*Special Note: The episode features the second utterance of the word "Beetlejuice". The 1988 Tim Burton film is about a ghost that is summoned after having his name spoken three times. The movie was first mentioned in the Season One episode "Communication Studies" and later in the Season Three episode "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" which takes advantage of the previous mentions and gives a brief payoff for the inadvertent two year setup.

  • Annie's Boobs:
    • The monkey steals Annie's pen to set off the entire chain of events and is revealed to the audience as the culprit at the end of the episode.
    • Annie shows some cleavage when she takes off her sweater and minutes later when wearing just a bra.
  • Attention students!: The Dean makes several announcements about a puppy parade.
  • Awww!: The whole study group responds to Dean Pelton's announcement of a Puppy Parade.
  • Butt stuff:
    • Troy worries that the thought police will search his butt.
    • Annie suggests that Jeff has the pen in a certain area of his anatomy and not to relax or it will fall out.
  • Deanotation: The Dean says he is "Drive-by-Deaning".
  • Fan service: Annie gets so upset she starts stripping, and is about to lose her bra when Abed intervenes. Jeff and Britta also strip down to their underwear. The entire group is in their underwear (behind overturned tables).
  • Gasp: Several characters gasp multiple times throughout the episode.
  • NOOOOOO!: Annie loses it when the group tries to walk away before she is able to find her pen.
  • PCness: Subverted during the tag, where the "Equality + Togetherness" cart with a cat and a dog together is too preachy even for the Dean.
  • Raging against the machine: Britta goes off on the police-state conditions Annie has created in the study room.
  • Rhyme time: This is the first instance of intentionally rhyming words with celebrities' names.
Well, well, well, Harvey Keitel.Annie
Well what do you know, Henry David Thoreau?Troy
My oh my, Mike Ty...son."Britta
Nice try, Stephen Fry.Pierce
  • WWBJD: Shirley questions the morals of the other group members several times. However, her own morality is questioned by Britta when it's revealed that Shirley slept with Andre who is now married to someone else.

Pop culture references[]

List of Pop culture references
References to popular culture in this episode:

Meta references[]

List of Meta references
Meta references in this episode:
  • Homage: The entire episode follows the convention of a bottle episode and/or locked room mystery.
  • IRL: During Season One and the beginning of Season Two, Dan Harmon had been exchanging a war of words on his twitter account with a user named "Gwynnifer" over her criticisms of the show. He ended up using her account name in this episode as the name of Jeff's date. In the Community The Complete Second Season DVD commentaries for this episode he mentions this bit of trivia and also suggests that within the story "Gwynnifer" is Jeff's code name for Britta.
  • Up against the wall:
    • Both Jeff and Abed directly state that the study group is doing a bottle episode.
    • Abed wonders why Jeff can't "just make an inspiring Winger Speech about trust, throw in a few digs at an easy celebrity target and put a ribbon on this thing."
    • The phrase "If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? - Pierce" is written on the whiteboard behind Annie and Shirley.


Critical reaction[]


Andy Greenwald of Vulture wrote: "Thanks to the very clever, possibly purple, and definitely not missing pen of writer Megan Ganz, 'Cooperative Calligraphy' was fantastic, a wholly human and constantly creative delight that accomplished a ton without ever leaving the study room."

Todd VanDerWerff from A.V. Club called it "my favorite episode of Community in the series' run so far" and gave it an A. "What makes Community a show I love is that it doesn't forget that it needs to do episodes like 'Cooperative Calligraphy,' episodes where the plot is more of an excuse for the characters to hang out and toss jokes at each other or where the ultimate resolution (a monkey did it!) is almost incidental to the true point of the episode, which is about how the family you choose is sometimes more important than the one you were born into."

Drew Stewart of Television Blend says that despite being set entirely in the study room, the episode was "still as funny and captivating as ever ... thanks in whole to an excellent cast and probably the best comedy writers in TV today." He was also liked the amount of continuity it kept with previous episodes and, despite Dean Pelton's disapprobation, the controversial puppy parade float.

Kona Gallagher of CliqueClack was unfamiliar with the term "bottle episode" before this week. "Even though I missed Senor Chang, Starburns, and all of the other ridiculous characters on this show, it’s the core interactions between the study group that really make Community great, and we had that in spades." She also makes the point that while she understands why the women would feel violated by Abed's charting of their menstrual cycles, she enthusiastically endorses the idea of someone having chocolate available for her whenever she might need it. "If that was in the Patriot Act, I totally would have supported it."

Alan Sepinwall of HitFix writes, "I absolutely, 100 percent love the way Community both celebrates the last 30 years of popular culture and uses it to comment on the lives of the members of the study group. ... But it wasn't until I watched 'Cooperative Calligraphy' that I quite realized how much I missed the flip side of Community - the part of the show that's about how these seven people relate to each other, rather than them re-enacting moments from my favorite movies while Abed comments on them. And I'm glad we got back to that kind of humor."

Daniel Carson of the Houston Press Art Attack blog wrote: "'Cooperative Calligraphy' is destined to rank with the best episodes of Community's entire run, as well as one of the funniest half-hours of television this year." "Aside from the pure joy of seeing this ensemble work together so tightly on their own -- and it was a total joy, Mozart the way it was meant to be heard -- the episode's glorious commitment to pushing the TV envelope is what set it apart and made it a thing of beauty."

Rohan Ramakrishnan of ScreenCrave is not a fan of bottle shows: he finds them, "as a rule, pretty boring," and dislikes the "more and more outlandish reasons" such episodes must resort to to keep everyone around. But he concedes that "Cooperative Calligraphy" was "pretty much as good as a bottle episode ever gets." He liked Abed's menses charts, the subtleness of the call back to Shirley and Chang's dalliance in "Epidemiology," and the sweetness of Troy's ghost story.

Alison Dingeldein of the L.A. Times Show Tracker blog also seems not to be a fan of bottle episodes, but says "this one was pretty good." She was delighted to see the guys in their undies.

Noel Kirkpatrick of Monsters of Television, on the other hand, says in the very first line of his review, "I love bottle episodes." He thinks "Cooperative Calligraphy" was "one of Community‘s best episodes so far," adding that while Community is "brilliant" at "episodes of homages and meta and references ... in a way that I think no other show is, I love this kind of character-centric episode more." He provides a helpful link explaining the Gwynnifer joke.

Christopher Rosen of Movieline wrote: "after a season of outlandish stunts, it’s nice that Community finally dialed things down to a more personal level." He makes the point that what made the episode great was not just its focus on character, but that it brought all seven main characters together for the entire episode. "If there has been a flaw with Community during season two, it’s that too often the cast is isolated from one another. Community is best when the entire group is batting around their stereotypes together."

Jace Lacob of Televisionary thought the episode was so nice he reviewed it twice, once before the episode aired and again after. In the former, he called it "a reminder that Community can find the comedy in both the high-concept and the seemingly quotidian. In the hands of this inventive and imaginative series' talented cast and crew, zombie attacks and "space" travel can sit side by side with an entire episode about a missing pen. Heart and humor can co-exist quite nicely, thank you very much, as can pain and a puppy parade," and added in the latter that it was "not just a hilarious and accomplished installment but the very best bottle episode ever to air on television."

Time's James Poniewozik also reviewed the show twice. In his preview review, he says the episode "engages in a lot of the things I like least about the show—the constant calling attention to the TV-showness of it—but also shows off what I like most about Community: the interaction of well-drawn characters, acting out believably in an absurd situation." In his later review, he's more effusive, praising "amazing level of craft" the cast and crew bring to the show: "Dan Harmon and company just make the hell out of this show." He uses the on-camera theft of Annie's pen as a case in point, pointing out that not only did they go to the trouble of showing it, they actually had the monkey steal it.

Michelle St. James of Daemon's TV makes the same point: "whatever theme Community goes with, it goes all out." She also says, "as much as I love the special event episodes, and I so do, it’s episodes like this that demonstrate why Community is such a great show."

Zach Handlen of TV Squad writes that the episode was "beautifully constructed. It didn't reinvent the wheel, like other episodes have tried to, and there was very little homage or parody here. Instead, the ep was full of terrific character work and sharp gags, strengthening the relationships these people share. He also says that episodes like this are vital to the success of the episodes that rely more heavily on self-referential humor and pop culture references, because without "a strongly defined ensemble to provide an inherent reality to their universe", those episodes end up with "sort of a hollow feeling at the core."

The X-Files Reviews at The TV Obsessed gives the episode a 9.5 out of 10. The reviewer, while never coming right out and saying so, seems to prefer "the intense focus on the characters" in episodes such as this to the spaceship and zombie episodes, which were funny but failed to explore the "depth of the characters" and in which "some of the lines could have been interchangeable."

SooperpowerTV of TV Fanatic says it was "a treat to have the group back together in the study room for an entire episode." He or she observed that the group's decision to accept Troy's theory that a ghost took the pen could be "a hint from creator Dan Harmon and Co. that where the often 'out there' comedy of Community is concerned, sometimes the best thing to do is just relax, embrace the absurd and enjoy the ride."


Ratingswise, the episode pulled in 4.89 million total viewers in the fast overnights, with a 2.1 rating/6 share in the 18-49 demo.


Frequent background extra Jeremy makes another of over 45 episode appearances. He passes by the Study Room numerous times including a shot where the operator of Pierce's wheelchair can be seen.
The eigth member of the study group

Wheelchair operator and Jeremy.

The thief of Annie's pen is actually shown right at the start of the episode. The little hand of Annie's boobs can be seen taking the pen 41 seconds in, while everybody (including the audience) is distracted by the Dean.
Annies boobs takes the pen

Annie's boobs takes the pen.


I want to see if those wiener dogs are born that way, or if they start off normal, and then get wiener.Troy
If anything, this chair makes me more than human. You move it by blowing into this tube here. It's the most expensive one. I outbid three hospitals for this baby and it was worth every penny.Pierce
Accidents don't just happen over and over and over again, okay? This isn't budget daycare.Annie
Attention students, the Puppy Parade is starting on the quad. Better come quick, with every passing moment these puppies grow older and less deserving of our attention.Dean Pelton
Side effects: Verbal dysphasia and octopus loss. I don't see anything on this squirrel about memory, Troy.Pierce
Gwynnifer. Hi. Yeah, it's me. I can't make it. Well, tell your disappointment to suck it. I'm doing a bottle episode!Jeff, on the phone with "Gwynnifer"
Okay if I could just take this time to share a few words of sarcasm with whoever it is that took this pen. I want to say thank you for doing this to me, for awhile I thought I'd have to suffer through a puppy parade but I much prefer being entombed alive in a mausoleum of emotions I can neither understand nor reciprocate. So whoever you are can I get you anything? Ice cream, best friend medal, anything? Okay, sarcasm over. You're last up Shirley. Dump your comedically huge bag and end this.Abed
Have we not gotten to a place free of judgement yet?Pierce
Season Two Episodes

1. "Anthropology 101"
2. "Accounting for Lawyers"
3. "The Psychology of Letting Go"
4. "Basic Rocket Science"
5. "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples"
6. "Epidemiology"
7. "Aerodynamics of Gender"
8. "Cooperative Calligraphy"
9. "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design"
10. "Mixology Certification"
11. "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
12. "Asian Population Studies"

13. "Celebrity Pharmacology 212"
14. "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"
15. "Early 21st Century Romanticism"
16. "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking"
17. "Intro to Political Science"
18. "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy"
19. "Critical Film Studies"
20. "Competitive Wine Tasting"
21. "Paradigms of Human Memory"
22. "Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts"
23. "A Fistful of Paintballs"
24. "For A Few Paintballs More"

Community Season Two DVD

Season OneSeason TwoSeason ThreeSeason FourSeason FiveSeason Six