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I'm trying to teach history. Your failure will be the same as any other self-obsessed nation.
Professor Cornwallis
Over at Jeff's apartment, Annie arrives to help decorate the place for the Christmas party he is hosting for the study group. Despite the fact they all agreed not to exchange presents, Annie shows up with a few. Soon the others arrive bearing gifts as well along with "Kevin"/Chang. Jeff explains Pierce is absent because he is taking a sensitivity training course. After the group settles in, Annie breaks the news that Professor Cornwallis gave the history paper they all worked on a failing grade. She tells them she invited the professor to the party in the hopes of convincing him to change the grade. Jeff likes the plan and gets the rest of the group on board. When the professor arrives, everyone gives him a warm welcome, but he coldly states he can't stay long as he is meeting his daughter later.

4x10-Jeff Abed Annie Chang Shirley Britta Troy doorbell
Jeff tries his best charm on him, but it's clear the professor is only interested in the female partygoers. Jeff goes to the kitchen with Britta to bring out more refreshments and confides that he tanked his section of the history paper. He estimated that the other's sections would cover for his but hadn't anticipated someone else would get a failing grade. Jeff assures an angry Britta he will make things right and goes to check with Annie if Cornwallis is having a good time. When he learns Chang is with him, he rushes over and quickly sends him away. The professor says he is aware they are all trying to suck up to him so he will change the C- he gave their paper. Once Jeff learns they already had a passing grade, he pulls Annie aside and asks her to explain. She tells that a C- isn't good enough if she plans on becoming the valedictorian.

4x10-Cornwallis Annie Shirley tapas
Furious she ruined the Christmas party over this, Jeff starts to rant and insults Cornwallis in the process. The professor overhears Jeff's tirade and informs him that their grade is now an "F." Jeff pleads with him to give them a few moments to sort things out and calls the study group into his bedroom where he explains the situation. After some arguing, Jeff tells the group their only option is for him to try and convince the professor to give them their C- back. They then hear screaming and upon returning to the living room they find that Professor Cornwallis has been tied to a chair apparently by Chang. Annie tries to apologize, but Jeff sees an opportunity and stops her. He notes they now have leverage over the professor and can use it to their advantage. Cornwallis disagrees, claiming that he will call the police, and everyone involved will be charged with a felony.

4x10-Cornwallis Chang captive
Did I do good?
Jeff replies that only the people at this party know what really happened. Annie backs Jeff up by describing a scenario where the professor attacked the female partygoers and alludes to his scandalous past history with coeds at Oxford. Cornwallis doesn't believe in the group's solidarity and declares he can get them to turn on each other. He offers a single "A"  to any one person in the group to untie him; the rest will all fail. The group starts to argue amongst themselves, but Jeff asserts that they all need to stay united. The professor starts to goad them, wondering who will end up being the betrayer. He points out that cracks appear in such alliances throughout history. Cornwallis guesses that in the study group's case, present and past romantic entanglements might be a cause. He suggests specifically that a competition between two of them vying for valedictorian may cause friction as well.

4x10-Chang Cornwallis Britta Troy Shirley Annie Abed arguing
Everybody remains calm.
Despite him baiting Annie with the possibility of undermining her rival Shirley and securing the valedictorian spot for herself she refuses his offer. The professor attempts to play his trump card but Jeff beats him to the punch and admits he sabotaged the History paper. The group is furious at Jeff but their squabbling is interrupted when the doorbell rings. It turns out to be Jeff's new neighbor Dean Pelton who barges in once Jeff opens the door. The study group is shocked when they realize that Cornwallis has disappeared while they were distracted. After Pelton leaves upset that he wasn't invited to the Christmas party, the professor emerges from the kitchen. He taunts the group that one of them freed him for a passing grade. Jeff says it doesn't matter who did it as he automatically forgives them because they are, like him "a flawed, selfish, and hopeless soul."

4x10-Cornwallis scotch
Cornwallis is enjoying himself.
Disgusted by Jeff's sentimentality, Cornwallis suggests it was he who untied him, angering Jeff. With the help of the others, Jeff ties the professor to the chair again. The group decides to open their Christmas gifts with Chang/Kevin handing out his first. It dawns on Annie that from the horrible way Kevin wrapped the gifts he couldn't have tied up Cornwallis in the first place. The professor then comes clean and admits that he staged the entire thing. He did it to amuse himself because he was lonely and his daughter wasn't really coming to visit him. After some negotiations, Jeff manages to secure the group a C+ for their paper due to the mental anguish Cornwallis put them through. With the crisis resolved, the study group goes back to enjoying the party and opening their presents. Later, Chang excuses himself from the festivities and goes to the hallway where he talks to someone on his cellphone. Chang says his plan to get the group expelled failed and he has to try something else.

4x10-Troy Britta miners helmet pick
Troy gets the perfect gift.

End tag[]

While the group plays with the kittens Dean Pelton gave them, Abed wonders what is going on in The Darkest Timeline. Over in that alternate reality, Evil Jeff is in a courtroom pleading for someone's freedom. His client turns out to be Evil Annie, and he manages to convince the judge and jury to drop all charges against her. Once she's freed from her restraints, the two embrace and kiss. He tells her the rest of the study group are preparing to destroy the "Prime timeline."

Recurring themes[]



  • That just happened: Annie mentions she learned the group got a failing grade on their history paper from Quendra, who works as an assistant for Professor Cornwallis. Shirley says, "I bet she does," referencing the fact that Cornwallis admitted he had an affair with a coed at Oxford which cost him his tenure. Annie admitted in the previous episode (which was originally meant to air after this one) to letting the professor rub her feet in order to pass a test.
  • Replay:
    • Jeff asks Annie if they need to have another conversation about her "playing house" with him, which is a reference to Annie's pretend marriage with Jeff in the Season Four episode "Conventions of Space and Time."
    • Jeff discusses his favorite drink, a Macallan neat, with Professor Cornwallis. He is first shown ordering the drink in the Season Two episode "Critical Film Studies."
    • When Annie suggests Cornwallis sexually harassed her and Britta, she adds Shirley as well saying, "He was intimidated by her sexually." This is a callback to when Shirley said the exact same thing about Jeff in the Season Two episode "Paradigms of Human Memory."
    • Britta says "None taken" when Annie incredulously believes she might be up for valedictorian, mimicking Todd's response to the study group whenever they insulted him in the Season Three episode "Competitive Ecology."
    • When Cornwallis is freed and everyone wonders who did it, Troy asks if they can say it was a ghost again, referring to the Season Two episode "Cooperative Calligraphy" when he came up with a similar excuse for the disappearance of Annie's pens.
    • One of Abed's gifts is an InSpecTiCon (shown in "Conventions of Space and Time") baseball hat.
  • Returning faculty: Professor Cornwallis returns in this episode.
  • That just happened:
  • This must be the place: Jeff's apartment is the setting for the entire episode.
  • Winger speech: Jeff talks about the reason behind the Study Group's unity.
  • Discontinuity: Abed leaves Jeff's door open when he enters. His back is then shown as he addresses the group. The next shot of him shows Jeff's door closed behind him.

Running gags[]

  • Gasp: When Annie tells the group that she invited Cornwallis to the party and they all complain, she gasps.
  • Googly eyes: Jeff and Annie give each other the look when Professor Cornwallis mentions "romantic entanglements" within the group.
  • I'm Batman!: Abed dresses as John McClane from "Die Hard," right down to the bare feet.
  • Man crush: The Dean knocks on Jeff's door and says he knows he's home because he can smell him. He then touches his stomach on the way out of Jeff's condo.
  • NOOOOOO!: When Cornwallis escapes from the chair and then reappears, the group screams in unison.
  • Raging against the machine: Britta protests Cornwallis using "feminine" as a pejorative.

Pop culture references[]

  • IMDb:
    • Pierce is doing sensitivity training after watching Invictus didn't suffice.
    • Abed makes several references to the 1988 movie "Die Hard" as he hoped to make the holidays more like the film.
      • Nakatomi Sushi sells a "Hans Grouper," punning on the film's antagonist Hans Gruber and the longtooth grouper (kue) often used in making sushi.
  • Name that tune: Christmas songs "Jingle Bell Rock" and "O Holy Night" are played towards the episode end. Jeff admits that for his section of the history paper he copied the lyrics to "War (What is it good for?)."
  • Shout out: Troy compares Cornwallis to Scrooge McDuck.
  • Well read:
    • Britta read a book on and (surprisingly) correctly pronounces the Peloponnesian War.
    • Jeff mentions several historical Roman figures to impress Cornwallis including Emperor Octavian and historian Tacitus.
    • Cornwallis mentions Carthaginian General Hannibal.
    • Cornwallis mentions Benedict Arnold, but describes him as "the true hero of this story", similar to how the Germans referred to Hogan's Heroes as Hogan's Villains.
  • TV guide: The Dean says he is "spending an evening with my two irresistible lady friends, Rizzoli and Isles"
  • Use your allusion: Annie says "Sha-na-not," a reference to the 1970's band Sha na na.

Meta references[]

  • Everyone's a critic: Evil Annie refers the age gap discourse, asking Evil Jeff "Are you sure you don't have a problem with our age difference?"; he replies "Yeah, I wish you were even younger."
  • Homage: This episode was intended to be an homage to the 1948 Alfred Hitchcock film Rope. Writer Andy Bobrow revealed on Twitter that he had intended the episode to be shot in long tracking sequences just like the movie, but production argued it wouldn't be feasible in the timeframe they were given to shoot it.
  • IRL: During the end tag, Dean Pelton arrives and hands out kittens to everyone, two of which are named James and Fiona, which are the names of Danny Pudi's twins.
  • Résumé: Professor Cornwallis calls Troy "childish," referencing Donald Glover's stage name Childish Gambino.
  • Up against the wall:
    • Jeff says about the curtains "Actually, these will also work for Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day, or whenever people get to see it." This references the fact that this episode was shot when NBC had moved the premiere date for Season Four of Community to an undisclosed time.
    • When the group argues amongst themselves after Cornwallis is tied up by Chang, Abed proclaims, "This is amazing and possibly happening in real time!" This is a reference to the fact that the episode was to be shot in real time (see Homage).


  • Writer Andy Bobrow posted on his Twitter account a few pages from an earlier draft of the script for this episode. These had scenes or extended sequences which included lines originally written for Pierce before Chevy Chase left the show, a sub-plot involving Troy's gift to Britta, and the entire speech made by Evil Jeff in the episode end tag.
  • This was the first episode in which Pierce doesn't appear.
  • In the DVD commentary, Alison Brie mentions that the reason Malcolm McDowell wears glasses in the episode is that he'd just had eye surgery.
  • Professor Cornwallis states that the Romans were unified when they ruled half of the world, but turned on each other when Hannibal charged over the alps. The war involving Hannibal (the second Punic war) took place around 200 years before Rome became an empire, so his analogy is historically inaccurate.
  • In the credits scene, at trial, Evil Jeff argues that Evil Annie should be released even though she's guilty of many crimes. The judge, named Anne Mebane is named after credited writer Annie Mebane.
Pierce dialogue:

Troy and Abed sub-plot:

Evil Jeff's speech:


Who will be the betrayer? The type-A Lolita, the put-upon housewife?Professor Noel Cornwallis
Is that me?Shirley
Or how about you, the odd, emotionless Muslim? I mean, come on, you don't deserve an F. You know that because of your impairment they'll forgive you anyway.Cornwallis
All true, but I'm probably not your best target. I'd like to get some popcorn. Typically it takes a while for villains to ramp up. Promise not to monologue till I get back?Abed
You're "F"-ing us?Annie
Season Four Episodes

1. "History 101"
2. "Paranormal Parentage"
3. "Conventions of Space and Time"
4. "Alternative History of the German Invasion"
5. "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations"
6. "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking"
7. "Economics of Marine Biology"

8. "Herstory of Dance"
9. "Intro to Felt Surrogacy"
10. "Intro to Knots"
11. "Basic Human Anatomy"
12. "Heroic Origins"
13. "Advanced Introduction to Finality"

Season 4 DVD xover

Season OneSeason TwoSeason ThreeSeason FourSeason FiveSeason Six