It's the first week of classes for Greendale Community College's 2009 fall semester. On the campus quad, Dean Craig Pelton fails at giving an inspirational speech to the new arrivals. Watching on from a distance is a thirty-something former attorney turned student named Jeff Winger. Alongside him is his Spanish 101 classmate Abed Nadir. Jeff stops Abed rambling about his life story to ask about a female student. Abed reveals her name is Britta Perry and quickly rattles off detailed information from a conversation he had with her. Impressed, Jeff thanks Abed before going off to meet a friend, Professor Ian Duncan.
At Duncan's office, Jeff tells Ian the bar association learned he faked a degree. To become a lawyer again, he needs to earn a legitimate one at Greendale. He asks Duncan to get him the answers for all his class exams. He also reminds him of a 2002 D.U.I. charge he saved Duncan from. Later in the cafeteria, Jeff is in the lunch line when he spots Britta. He skips the queue to chat her up and lies about being a board-certified Spanish tutor. Once he convinces her of his credentials, Jeff invites Britta to join a study group he is forming in the library. She leaves without giving an answer just as Cafeteria Lady appears, demanding Jeff pay for his food.
Jeff introduces himself to Britta.
Afterwards, in the study room, Britta does show up for Jeff's fake study group. However, his efforts to woo her are hampered by the arrival of Abed, whom Britta had invited. Jeff receives a text message from Duncan and goes to meet him at the football field. Ian says his request might be possible but questions Jeff's sense of right and wrong. Jeff is unconcerned, believing such concepts are subjective, particularly when he is talented enough to convincingly argue for either side. Exasperated by Jeff's arrogance, Ian agrees to get the exam answers. Jeff returns to the library, only to find that Britta is missing and that four more students are now seated at the study table.
Abed arrives and spoils the mood.
They had all been invited by Abed, and when Jeff attempts to sneak away, he runs into Britta outside taking a cigarette break. She suggests they go back inside to join the study group and hints they can go have dinner if the new arrivals are untutorable. When they return, the oldest of the new arrivals, Pierce, attempts to introduce everyone. When he gets their names wrong Troy, Annie, and Shirley correct him. Jeff subtly manipulates everyone until they are arguing amongst themselves. He then gets another call from Duncan, who wants to meet up with him again, this time in the parking lot.
The rest of the study group arrives.
He finds Duncan waiting in his tiny smart car with and learns he wants Jeff's luxury sedan as a trade for the test answers. After some agonizing, Jeff reluctantly agrees to Ian’s terms. Jeff returns to the library with a packet of test answers Duncan gave him and finds Britta waiting for him. When she demands he calm down the still-arguing study group, Jeff says he'll do so only if she goes out with him. She angrily agrees, and Jeff goes inside the study room to deliver a stirring speech to the group. In it, he praises each of their strengths and explains that by coming together, they are no longer a study group but a Community. Once they are pacified, he announces that he is leaving to have dinner with Britta.
Jeff tries to calm down the study group.
Britta reveals she lied to get Jeff to fix his mess and tells him to get out so the study session can resume. Jeff takes back what he said and boasts that he doesn't need them, as he now has the test answers. Leaving the library, he opens the packet Duncan gave him but finds that it's full of blank paper. He storms back into Duncan's office and gets his car keys back. As he passes by the library, Pierce calls out to him from the front steps. While they talk, the rest of the study group comes outside and admits to Jeff that studying is boring without him. The group convinces Britta to invite him to study with them again, and they return to the library. Jeff briefly hesitates but decides to follow them back inside.
"Can you guys hear me? Am I deaf?" "CAN YOU GUYS HEAR ME NOW?"
Recurring or debuting plot points in this episode:
Middle Eastern Magic 8 Ball: The basic outline of the show is laid out with Jeff learning to be a better person through his interaction with the study group. The first major story arc is also introduced in the form of the possible budding romance between Jeff and Britta.
History lesson: We get a brief synopsis of all the main characters' pasts before they came to Greendale and why they are there now:
While talking with Jeff, Abed goes into great detail about his life, including hints that he may suffer from a mental disorder. He further hints at being a lonely person, positively replying to Jeff's dismissive remark about "seeing his value now" and rejoicing when he receives a text message for the first time.
Jeff tells Professor Duncan that his law credentials were falsified, he was disbarred and now needs to earn a legitimate degree at Greendale.
Britta's biography is recounted by Abed, who informs Jeff that she has brothers, is 28, and her birthday is in October. She herself tells more of her life story to Jeff when they meet in the study room later on.
Annie mentions how Troy injured himself in a keg incident that cost him his football scholarship.
Pierce introduces himself as moist towelette tycoon and C.E.O. of Hawthorne Wipes.
Shirley is shown reacting to Dean Pelton's speech when he mentions the cliché of "middle-age divorcees" attending the school, hinting that she is one of those.
Mad skillz: Jeff's ability to talk his way into and out of situations is demonstrated.
Winger speech: Jeff gives the first of his many Winger speeches to the group.
Catchphrase: Several of the study group's signature catchphrases are introduced in this episode:
"Cool. Cool, cool, cool." — Abed
"That's nice." — Shirley
"You just wrinkled my brain." — Troy
In this episode, it is stated that Jeff has to replace his Bachelor's degree to practice law again. However, in the Season Four finale "Advanced Introduction to Finality", he graduates with an Associate's degree in education instead.
In this episode, the Study Room is shown to be upstairs, as Jeff is seen going up a staircase to reach it. For the rest of the series onwards, it is ground level.
Annie mentions that Troy dislocated both his shoulders during a keg-flip injury, with Troy revealing in "Football, Feminism and You" that he had intentionally injured himself. However, a flashback to the incident is shown in the Season Four episode "Heroic Origins," where Troy is seen faking his injury rather than suffering a real one, as well as it being a knee injury as opposed to his shoulders.
Abed is the first one to point out that Britta looks like actress Elisabeth Shue. In later episodes, he states he is face-blind and is unable to recognize specific features.
Screw you guys!: Jeff is kicked out of the study group but is later asked to rejoin.
Jeff names a pencil "Steve" and then breaks it to prove a point during his first "Winger speech." A pencil is later seen in the opening credits for several seasons. In the Season Five opening credits, a broken pencil that is taped together, possibly referring to "Steve," is shown.
The original script for the pilot had a number of differences from the broadcast version, including dialogue, extended scenes and, most notably, a different last name for Jeff: "Crocker". Also, the cafeteria lady made recurring appearances throughout the episode, but all the scenes, with the exception of her meeting Jeff, were cut. The original script can be read here.
When giving the "Look Left" speech, Jeff says that instead of giving you the salt you asked for, Abed would give you soup, because soup is better. Joel McHale, who plays Jeff, is the host of The Soup.
Britta claims to have been a Peace Corps volunteer after dropping out of high school. This would not be possible, as Peace Corps generally requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree for acceptance into its volunteer program; Britta does not have the background for its non-degree positions.
This episode was in memoriam of director John Hughes, who directed the film The Breakfast Club which is referenced multiple times in the episode.
The following scenes are absent from the version available on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, due to being from the syndication cut and thus reducing the episode's length from 24:28 to 21:48:
The very beginning of the episode, when Dean Pelton tries and fails to switch his boombox from "tape" to "mic" is missing. Instead, the episode begins with his speech.
Jeff's comment on the size of Professor Duncan's office. Duncan and Jeff reflecting on the time Jeff helped Duncan with his DUI by bringing up 9/11 in court.
The chalupas incident is nevertheless mentioned later on, now stripped of its context, and instead of saying he does love America, Duncan simply ponders silenty for a couple of seconds, then agrees to help Jeff.
Jeff's conversation with the cafeteria lady.
Britta recounting her past to Jeff. Here, she immediately answers "what's your deal?" with "Honesty".
Abed and later Jeff bringing up Britta's resemblance to Elisabeth Shue.
Jeff commenting on the age of the people running around the football field.
Annie reminding Troy she sat behind him in class. Here, he recognizes her on his own when she brings up his letter jacket.
The shot of Jeff looking for Duncan and reacting with disgust when he sees his car.
Troy asking Jeff whether he should keep wearing his letter jacket.
“I still cannot figure out how you got a jury to connect September the 11th with my DUI.”— Ian
“The state bar has suspended my license. They found out my college degree was less than legitimate.”— Jeff
“I thought you had a bachelor's from Columbia?”— Ian
“And now I have to get one from America.”— Jeff
“Jeff, are you familiar with the adage 'cheaters never prosper'?”— Ian
“No, and if I had wanted to learn something, I wouldn't have come to community college.”— Jeff
“And finally, this beautiful creature is named Shirley.”— Pierce
“Is that even close?”— Jeff
“You have been sexually harassing me since the very first day of class.”— Shirley
“'Sexually harassing'? What? That makes no sense to me. Why would I harass someone who turns me on?”— Pierce
“Saying she turns you on is the harassment, dude.”— Troy
“You know what I got for Christmas? It was a banner year at the Bender family. I got a carton of cigarettes. The old man grabbed me and he said, "Heeeey, smoke up Johnny!" No dad, what about you!”— Abed
“Well, that actually was from the Breakfast Club.”— Jeff
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”— Abed
“Dirty Dancing.”— Jeff
“You know what makes humans different from other animals?”— Jeff
“No, no, come on. Bears have feet.”— Pierce
“We can sympathize with a pencil. We can forgive a shark, and we can give Ben Affleck an Academy Award for screenwriting.”— Jeff
“Big mistake.”— Pierce
“You've just stopped being a study group. You've become something unstoppable. I hereby pronounce you a community.”— Jeff
“I like you, Jeffrey. You remind me of myself at your age.”— Pierce
“I deserve that.”— Jeff
“Jeff, before you say anything, you might wanna think about the gift you've given.”— Duncan
“An excuse to punch a hippy?”— Jeff
“No, no. Not that. An important lesson. You see, the tools you acquired to survive out there will not help you here at Greendale. What you have my friend, is a second chance at a honest life.”— Duncan
“Why are people trying to teach me everything at a school that has an express tuition aisle? Give me my keys.”— Jeff
“No, I have to keep your car for a lesson.”— Duncan
“(Jeff scaring Duncan)”
“Please, please don't hit me (Gives Jeff his key back)”— Duncan
“Are we cool, are we cool? We cool”— Duncan
“Well, the funny thing about being smart is that you can get through most of life without ever having to do any work.”— Jeff