Director: Adam Davidson — Writer: Adam Countee — Aired: May 10, 2012 —Season: Three — Number: Nineteen Summary: After the study group's expulsion from school, Abed is convinced Dean Pelton is an impostor. When he is caught on the Greendale campus investigating him, he is forced to receive psychiatric treatment.
The study group is gathered at Troy and Abed's apartment for dinner two months after being expelled from Greendale College. Although they have tried to settle into a normal routine, Abed's behavior has become more erratic. Annie wonders where he is when there's a knock at the door. Officer Cackowski enters the apartment with Abed in tow: it turns out he had been caught trespassing on the school's campus. Role playing in his Inspector Spacetime persona, Abed explains he was investigating Dean Pelton as he is convinced that he had been replaced. Cackowski tells them that the Dean won't press charges if Abed is willing to see a psychiatrist.
An Officer and an Inspector.
The study group later accompanies Abed to his session with Dr. Heidi. The doctor is surprised at their presence, but Jeff explains that Abed refuses to see any doctors, so they had to come with him. Heidi asks how recently Abed has needed therapy. The group reluctantly admits that there may have been a few events beforehand which led up to his current behavior: In the study room, Abed freaked out when the clocks were adjusted for daylight savings. In the cafeteria, Shirley was praising Brett Ratner when Abed angrily went off on her. Abed narrated Pierce's actions while the latter was eating a sandwich. Annie mentions a moment when Abed was in her bedroom filming her.
The group accompanies Abed to his therapy session.
"It doesn't make any sense!"
"You're a bad person."
"Time enough at last to eat a sandwich..."
When Heidi hears these examples, he sees it as proof that Abed needs serious psychiatric help. The study group jumps to his defense, and Pierce explains that they're all a little crazy. Heidi asks them to elaborate, and several past incidents from the school year are described: Britta shows up to the study room dishevelled after having eaten a lot of peyote. Annie attempted to do a version of the Troy and Abed show by herself. Jeff lends Annie his expensive coat to wear since she is cold but almost immediately takes it back, worried she might ruin it. Troy wasted his money on an ATV and drives it into the study room. Shirley confiscates her children's prized possessions and gives Troy a karate trophy which inspires him to try and chop the study table.
"How long does peyote last?"
Troy and Abed and Annie in the morning!
Jeff Britta'd his attempt at chivalry.
"It's all-terrain, dummy!"
"Now I'll be unstoppable!"
Dr. Heidi says that he's heard enough and has come to the decision that Abed must be institutionalized. Heidi explains that Abed's obsession with Greendale suggests that his actions may become more dangerous. Jeff says that Greendale itself is a crazy place, so Abed's fixation is understandable. Several examples follow of the school's insanity: "Baby Talk" class, Dean Pelton and Dean Spreck playing a game of chess using students as pieces, "Advanced Breath Holding" class, Shirley finds a book in the library with gun-shaped hollowed pages, Pierce finishes using the toilet in the restroom and has a party thrown for him for being the 10,000th flush, "Can I Fry That?" class, a hobo and his dog sleeping in Group Study Room F and, finally, "Ladders" class with Professor Albrecht.
"Baby Talk" class.
Pelton and Spreck play chess using students as the pieces.
"Advanced Breath Holding" class.
Shirley finds a secret hiding place.
Pierce is the 10,000th flusher.
"Can I Fry that?" class.
Hobo and his dog make themselves at home in the study room.
Dr. Heidi suggests that if they want to become mentally healthy, they should move past their time at Greendale. The group argues that it wasn't all bad and present a few examples: Dean Pelton warns the study group ahead of everyone else at school that there's a fire in the building. Dean Pelton forces another student wearing the same outfit as Annie to go home. On pizza day, Dean Pelton reserves a few slices for the study group. Dean Pelton sings a special shout-out to the group over the P.A. Dean Pelton sacrifices himself for Abed's sake during the paintball assassination game held that year. Annie realizes that Dean Pelton was the one constant in all those happy memories. The group concludes that Abed was right: there's no way he would have expelled them.
The Dean alerts the group about a fire at the school before everyone else.
Darcy, go home!
Pizza for everyone!
The Dean's P.A. shout-out to the study group.
The Dean's sacrifice.
The group resolves to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding their expulsion and are about to leave when they are stopped by Dr. Heidi. He tells them that there is no Greendale College and that they all were actually in an institution called Greendale Asylum. After each of them had a nervous breakdown due to their various circumstances, they were committed. While they were there, they experienced a communal delusion that they attended a community college where they had many misadventures. Eventually, they were released and deemed fit to return to society. They have now relapsed and believe the delusion once more. He tells them that they must accept the truth of what really happened to them if they want to get better.
A captivated audience.
The asylum study table.
Doctor Garrett and Doctor Pelton.
The study group leaves the office shocked by the revelation. Jeff shakes off the stupor and realizes they were all lied to. He rushes back into the office followed by the rest of the group and finds Dr. Heidi trying to leave by crawling out through a window. Troy and Jeff pull him back inside, and they demand answers for his elaborate deception. Heidi explains he had been hired by Chang to keep them away from the school where he has replaced the real Dean Pelton with an impostor. The group initially finds it hard to believe Chang would act so crazy before they start remembering how crazy Chang actually is. While they are busy reminiscing, Heidi slips away. Despite the setback, the group resolves to return to Greendale, save Pelton, clear their names, and take down Chang.
History lesson: This episode features several clips showing previously unseen events from the past year.
Replay: The episode's structure is reminiscent of the Season Two "Paradigms of Human Memory". Additionally, several previous episodes are referenced and/or reenacted in the insane asylum sequence. These include:
School supplies: The brick Troy used in Remedial Chaos Theory to prop open the front door of the apartment is revealed to be an antique by Officer Cackowski. The re-emergence of the brick is a literal embodiment of the Brick Joke trope.
The episode's plot about the characters being delusional patients of a psychiatric hospital who created an alternate, more pleasant reality is reminiscent of the film Shutter Island. The constant rainfall and thunderstorm experienced while in Dr. Heidi's office alludes to the film as well.
Chang snorts a snack food and shouts "I say hot damn!" very nearly quoting Mia Wallace after snorting cocaine in Pulp Fiction .
Chang puts Garrett in a water tank to prove he's a pre-cog, referencing the movie Minority Report.
In his final attempt to mislead the study group, Dr. Heidi tells them that "Greendale is purgatory," a reference to the TV series Lost. The show had previously been directly referenced in the Season Two episode "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas".
*Everyone's a critic: Jeff states that Community College isn't always a two year school as most people believe, addressing fan and critics' criticism of Community's premise of Jeff attending Greendale for four years. Abed twice mentions that they should never do paintball again believing it to be too forced.
When Dr. Heidi says, "The Indian kid was right," Shirley and Abed state that he's Arab and Polish. Danny Pudi is also half Polish but the other half is Indian.
At the end of the episode Chang asks for pitches for a Phase Two and thanks an underling named Megan for the drink she handed him. Dan Harmon has stated that this scene is a parody of the writers' room where he is played by Chang and the staff writers are the Changlourious Basterds. "Megan" is a reference to Megan Ganz, one of the writers.