Director: Jeff Melman — Writer: Chris McKenna — Aired: October 13, 2011 —Season: Three — Number: Four Summary: At Troy and Abed's housewarming party six different scenarios unfold based on the roll of a die.
Just so you know, Jeff, you are now creating six different timelines.
Britta and Annie arrive at Troy and Abed's apartment for their housewarming party. They find that Shirley is already there baking for the guests. As Abed gives them a tour, Jeff and Pierce then show up and are greeted by Troy. Jeff lets them know he won't be staying long citing another event he was invited to. Abed reveals that invitation was faked by him in order to trick Jeff into keeping his schedule clear. The hosts then invite them to play a game of Yahtzee but not long after they gather at a table to start, the buzzer goes off. The pizza Abed ordered has just arrived but they are unable to let the delivery person up. Jeff proposes a roll of the die to determine who will go downstairs to get the pizza. Abed warns Jeff that doing so will create alternate timelines. Jeff ignores him and rolls anyway as six different scenarios are created...
After the die comes up "2", Jeff counts down from his left and Annie is chosen to get the pizza. Britta plays "Roxanne" on the stereo, and Jeff stops her from singing along, causing her to go to the bathroom. Troy finds a gun in Annie's purse. Pierce tries to give Troy a housewarming present but is ignored. Jeff doesn't want to deal with the situation and stands up to get a drink, hitting his head on the ceiling fan. Shirley finishes baking her pies. Abed asks Britta about the smell coming from the bathroom. When Annie shows up with the pizzas, Britta acts weird.
Annie's got a gun again.
After the die comes up "4", Jeff counts down from his left and Shirley is chosen to get the pizza. Before she leaves, she asks the others to look after her pies. Jeff reminds the study group of their pact not to enable her baking. Britta tries to sing along to "Roxanne", but Jeff stops her, and she goes to the bathroom. Pierce gives his housewarming gift to Troy who freaks out when he sees it's the Norwegian troll doll. Jeff laughs at him and stands up, hitting his head on the ceiling fan. No one checks on Shirley's pies, and they get burned. Hurt and offended, Shirley chastises the group before storming out in tears.
After the die comes up "3", Jeff counts down from his left and Pierce is chosen to get the pizza. Before leaving, he mentions sleeping with Eartha Kitt on an airplane. Britta tries to sing along to "Roxanne", but Jeff stops her, and she goes to the bathroom to smoke a joint. Jeff makes fun of Troy, which prompts him to join Britta. Back at the table, Annie chides Jeff for being hard on Troy; Jeff ignores her and stands up to get a drink, hitting his head on the ceiling fan. Britta and Troy have a talk and end up making each other feel better. Pierce comes back with the pizzas, and everyone notices a moment between Troy and Britta.
You're pretty cool, Britta.
After the die comes up "6", Jeff counts down from his left and Britta is chosen to get the pizza. When Britta leaves, Pierce tries to segue into his Eartha Kitt story. Shirley cuts him off and leaves to check on her pies. Jeff tries to leave as well but ends up hitting his head on the ceiling fan. Annie offers to take a look at his injury in the bathroom. After tending to his wound, Jeff expresses his concern with her living over Dildopolis. The two are about to kiss but are interrupted when they hear screaming. They find Pierce terrorizing Troy with a troll doll. Abed calls him out for being jealous of them living together. Britta then arrives with the pizzas and the delivery guy, Toby, to whom she announces she is engaged to.
FEEL THE TERROR, TROY!!!
After the die comes up "1", Jeff counts down from his left and Troy is chosen to get the pizza. After he leaves (ironically saying that he will go as fast as he can so that he doesn't miss anything), the darkest timeline unfolds. When Troy returns with the pizzas, he finds that Pierce is dying, bleeding heavily after having been accidentally shot in the leg by Annie's gun. On top of that, a fire has broken out in the apartment with Jeff desperately trying to put it out. In the middle of the fire is the Norwegian troll doll, smiling back at him. He drops the pizzas and starts to scream...
Troy reacts to the chaos in the apartment.
After the die comes up "5", Jeff counts down from his left and Abed is chosen to get the pizza and demands money from everyone to pay the bill. Britta tries to sing, but Jeff stops her, and she goes to the bathroom to get lit. Jeff hits his head on the ceiling fan, and Annie offers to look at his injury in the kitchen. Pierce feels guilty about giving Troy the troll doll after Troy thanks him for letting him stay at his mansion. Pierce tries to take back the gift, but Troy wrestles it away from him and becomes angry when he finds out what it is. Annie and Jeff have a moment and kiss. Britta upsets Shirley when she inadvertently reveals the group's pact to not enable her baking. Annie annoys Jeff when she compares him to her father. Abed returns with the pizza and digs in, unaware of the bad mood.
Abed is oblivious to the bad mood of the study group.
The "prime" timeline is then shown. In this timeline, Abed catches the die before it can land. He explains to the group what Jeff had planned. By using the six-sided die and counting down from his left, Jeff ensures that he will never be chosen to go since he is number seven. As a result of his deception, the others elect Jeff to go downstairs to get the pizza. Jeff hits his head on the fan as he stands up to which everyone, including Annie (who says it was karma), responds by laughing. In his absence, Britta is able to sing along with "Roxanne," causing the others to join in. Pierce decides not to give Troy his housewarming gift and throws it in the trash. When Jeff returns, he sees them all having a good time. He eats a slice of pizza and watches the festivities from the sidelines.
In the timeline where Troy got the pizza, Pierce died from the gunshot wound, Annie is in psychiatric care, Jeff lost an arm, Troy's voicebox is damaged and Shirley has become an alcoholic. Abed suggests that this is the darkest timeline. He dons a felt goatee and declares himself "Evil Abed." He proposes they cross over to the "Prime" timeline and take over their duplicates' lives. Only Troy dons the goatee while the others leave. Evil Troy and Evil Abed perform their signature handshake. In the Prime timeline, Abed gets a sense that something ominous is happening.
After the episode aired, fans speculated and debated over which timeline was the "real" timeline. The creator and showrunner Dan Harmon cleared up the controversy by posting this message on his tumblr site:
"That center, or “prime” timeline, is the one in which Abed catches the die, exposes Jeff as a selfish hooligan, and the group sends him down for the pizza. That is the “real” timeline. And when we were not in it, I did everything I could to make it clear. As much fun as we want to have, we never want to confuse you or lie to you."
Mad skillz: Despite acknowledging Shirley being a good cook, the group believes that it shouldn't be her only identity and they make a pact to not enable her cooking.
A nice gesture:
After finding out someone has to go get the pizza, each member of the study group instantly touches their nose in order to signify they are not "it". They used this gesture before in the Season Two episode "Aerodynamics of Gender."
Googly eyes: Several of the timelines contain romantic situations between the Troy/Britta and Jeff/Annie pairings, although the prime timeline does not contain any of these developments. The term "googly eyes" itself is coined in this episode by Shirley, and followed by Annie looking at Jeff, Jeff looking at Britta, Britta looking at Troy and Troy looking at Abed. The glances at each other hint at the most common romantic pairings in the series, although the last (Troy/Abed) is probably a joke. A similar thing occurred in "Romantic Expressionism."
Replay: Six different versions of the same situation are presented in this episode.
Pierce gives Troy a Norwegian troll doll which is actually a real product and sold in Norway gift shops.
When criticizing Jeff for his selfish actions, Pierce says to "Encarta" the word friendship, a reference to the now defunct online multimedia encyclopedia that was produced by Microsoft.
Shout out: In each timeline, Pierce tries to tell his story about sleeping with singer/actress Eartha Kitt.
Use your allusion:
The Darkest Timeline sees Abed cutting out fake goatees for the "evil" study group. This is a direct reference to "Star Trek" and its "Mirror Universe" concept where evil alternate versions of the main characters would appear. Ironically, although this goatee was made famous by the Mirror Universe version of Spock, and it led to facial hair being a pop cultural signifier for evil twins, Mirror Spock himself is actually the one "Mirror" character portrayed to be just as good and reasonable as his counterpart in the "prime" timeline.
In the kitchen of Troy and Abed's apartment, the refrigerator is made up to look like a vending machine. One of the selections pictured is Troy referencing his being trapped inside a vending machine in the end tag of "Basic Genealogy."
Behind the scenes: This episode was originally intended to be the third episode aired, but Harmon felt they needed to have more time to edit it properly and switched the air date with "Competitive Ecology." This is referenced when Britta asks Annie about the number to Troy and Abed's apartment which is 303, the same number as the production code for the episode even though it's the fourth one aired.
"Community" creator and showrunner Dan Harmon posted on his Tumblr blog exclusive pictures showing how "Remedial Chaos Theory"'s story was broken down in the writers room. Using "Story Circle's", each character's journey in the story was meticulously plotted out on dry eraser boards.
“There's no such thing as "Single Malt Platinum Boobs and Billiards Club"? Aw, I guess I never said it out loud.”— Jeff
“Feel the terror, Troy. Feel the terror of the Norwegian troll!”— Pierce
“Chaos already dominates enough of our lives. The universe is an endless, raging sea of randomness. Our job isn't to fight it but to weather it together on the raft of life. A raft held together by those few, rare, beautiful things that we know to be predictable.”— Abed
“Us. It won't matter what happens to us as long as we stay honest and accepting of each others' flaws and virtues. Annie will always be driven, Shirley will always be giving, Pierce will never apologize, Britta's sort of a wild card from my perspective, and Jeff will forever remain a conniving son of a bitch.”— Abed