When a final exam is postponed, Annie talks Abed into letting her spend some time in the dreamatorium, where an innocent simulation turns into...
Abed and Annie go into the dreamatorium where Annie pushes Abed too far and fractures his fragile little mind. From that point, until the final few minutes, we deal with Abed's ability to emote his friends, and Annie's willingness to get to know her friend better, even as she struggles to get through his emotional defenses.
Let me just warn you all that I am going to write something of a traditional "critic's review" here and not my typical recap with some critique. Why? Because I think this episode needs that.
Alright, so I love this show a ton and think it is one of the most unique shows in the history of television. But there were moments in this episode where I couldn't wait for it to end. I was bothered by the overuse of the in-and-out-of-character back and forth effect. I would rather have seen it less and more of the episode from Annie's perspective of watching Abed perform his imagination.
Though, perhaps the show runners didn't want to go down that route since the reality perspective had already been used in 'Advanced Dungeons & Dragons'. COMMUNITY has been known to repeat itself, such as with the paintball episodes, but they always do something different with it and so I accept that the effect in this one is partially there to set it apart.
Much like the episode 'Critical Film Studies' I wasn't fully able to enjoy it until it was over. And much like that episode, this one centered around Abed adopting a personality, or in this case a series of personalities. Both took a bit of reflection to truly appreciate the tone and exploration of Abed's psyche and his fear of eventually losing his friends as they move on without him.
Also focused on in this episode, Annie's control issues as well as her empathy; Britta and Troy's potential love affair; the Dean's half-man-half-woman wannabe Angelina Jolie "duality of man" character; the study group's cramming (they are given one more day to study for an exam but punt it in favor of putting off their cramming for one more day); and douchie people who don't love DIE HARD. And I'm sure there was more in this episode but I'm already exhausted!
Annie: You're mad at me for playing matchmaker for Troy and Britta. You think you're gonna lose Troy.
Abed: I'm not petty, Annie. I'm mad at you because you tampered with the fabric of the group. How do you know Troy and Britta pairing up wouldn't destroy everything? I run the scenarios. I examine this stuff from every conceivable angle.
Annie: Oh and you can do that but I can't? You don't have a patent on being a control freak.
Abed: I'm able to simulate any of the study group and even a half-accurate Chang in over seven thousand unique situations.
Annie: Abed, it's cardboard tubes and a funnel.
Abed: You see it that way because it's calibrated to a specific level of brain function.
Annie: Right. I'm stupid.
Abed: Not stupid. Just less able to see what I see.
When Annie gives dreamatorium Doctor Troy a shot of truth serum to find Abed, he confesses too much.
Doctor Troy: I saw Abed's name in the hospital school files. I love butt stuff. I hate spiders. I stole a pen from the bank. I cried during 'About A Boy' (beat) the soundtrack. I don't wash my hands before a surgery. I can see why women find Clive Owen attractive to the point where I might just as well be attracted to him. I use comparisons to Hitler to win arguments on the Internet at the drop of a hat. I know nothing about wine! I'm more turned on by women in pajamas than lingerie. I just want to know they feel comfortable. (breaking down) I didn't get 'Inception'! (crying) I didn't get 'Inception'!
Abed: I've run the simulations, Annie. I don't get married. I don't invent a billion dollar website that helps people have sex. I don't make it into Sundance, Slamdance, or dance pants. Troy invents dance pants in 2019. Don't tell him. He needs to stumble onto it.
If I had to rate this episode, and I almost don't want to, I'd give it:
90 out of 100
I am happy to love a show that is willing to do really strange episodes like this even when I'm not particularly entertained by them. I may have felt strong dislike for what I was watching at first, but made the wise decision to watch it again after I had absorbed the message of the episode and that enhanced the overall experience.