Friday, March 8, 2013

4x05 "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations" (Beauty in the Breakdown)

"Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations"
Original Airdate: March 7, 2013

So, let go, let go. Jump in. Oh well, what you waiting for? It's all right, 'cause there's beauty in the breakdown.

The funny thing about breakdowns is that they don’t happen in and of themselves. Something always causes a breakdown to occur. For example, I will admit that I have cried – on a few occasions – at my desk and in the work bathroom because of something related to my job. But the irony is that a snarky instant message from a guy in IT or e-mail, or a high-stress afternoon didn’t cause that to occur. Not really, at least. See what happened was pretty simple: I had buried a lot of my anxieties, fears, frustrations, and disappointments deep within me. And the trigger (a snarky instant message or a high-stress afternoon or a sharp word from my boss) ignited all of those feelings and caused them to resurface at the same time. That’s the crazy thing about emotional breakdowns – they build upon events and grow from snowballs and turn into avalanches very quickly. 

But the reason that they grow is because the prisons we lock them in – the prideful and stubborn parts of ourselves, the ones that are in denial, that refuse to acknowledge or contemplate these emotions – cannot contain the weight of these snowballs. The emotions, therefore, break loose, they tumble out of us, and they (sometimes) injure the people around us. And really, that’s what happened with Jeff Winger throughout this episode, because everything he’s buried inside of him regarding his past, his estranged father, and the brokenness that resulted from those things comes tumbling out when he least expects it to. Even our B-story for the week focuses on this idea that we can somehow estrange ourselves from our families – we can lock ourselves away from events and people and situations that make us uncomfortable. We can run away. We can break out of those uncomfortable prisons. Right? And what Abed, Troy, and Annie realize during this episode is that everyone is a prisoner in some way. We all have hang-ups and hurts that we don’t always allow others to see. While we’re trying to free ourselves, we don’t realize that the people around us are still trapped. People, even, that we care about. That, I think, is what hurts most of all.

I have praised Joel McHale a lot in these reviews, for very obvious reasons. He’s an amazing comedic actor and one of my favorite celebrities and people in Hollywood (and on Twitter). But something happened when I watched “Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations” that rarely happens when I watch Community: I cried. And, quite frankly, I very rarely let actual tears flow during episodes of sitcoms. My eyes may well up but they never usually spill over. This episode was the exception. Joel has so brilliantly portrayed the evolution of Jeff Winger over the course of four years that it blows my mind (and makes me Changry that he does NOT have an Emmy for this character). This is a character I have never been able to relate to, really. If I’m honest, I’ll find myself relating more to Annie than anyone else on the show. But when Joel delivered that brilliant and powerful and gut-wrenching monologue in this episode (we’ll get to it later on, no worries), I felt my chest constrict because I SAW Jeff Winger for who he truly was – broken, scared, and just as vulnerable as Abed Nadir, the character we tend to associate most with fragility of mind and spirit. My heart ached for this character who, four years prior, I good-naturedly would roll my eyes at. Jeff may admit to being broken, but there’s so much beauty in seeing the characters we love and watch on television express their own flaws and faults as if they were our friends too. So there’s beauty in the breakdown, my friends. And Joel McHale? If by some crazy happenstance you are actually reading this, just know the following: you portrayed Jeff so beautifully and with so much heart and believability during this episode. Thank you.

And an immense thank you to Steve Basilone (@sbasilone) and Annie Mebane (@anniemebane) who are an amazingly talented dynamic duo and are, in fact, the only writers to have ever made me overtly WEEP during their episodes. (Actually, the noise I made when Jeff admitted that he’s constantly texting with no one on the other line was something very much resembling a whimper. So, thanks for that, you two.)

Well, in case you were too distraught by pointing to a dinner roll and telling Britta where you hurt, let me review the plot of this week’s episode: it’s Thanksgiving at Greendale and everyone (see: Annie and Troy) is lamenting the fact that they have to spend time with their annoying and dysnfunctional families for the entire day. I think that it’s intriguing that every study group member has family issues. And by that, I mean it’s not coincidental that they’re drawn to one another and have managed to form their own family. It’s clear that Annie and Troy dread spending the holidays with their relatives, while Abed and Britta rarely seem to mention theirs. Pierce, as well know, has no one in his life except for Gilbert. And Shirley has always intrigued me in regards to family. She is the one who we typically assume has the perfect life again – she’s re-married, happy, and has three children. But the humbling fact is that Shirley struggles, just like the rest of the group, with her relationships with her family members. She wants to avoid them during the holiday as much as anyone else. Her self-appointed role, however, is “hostess” which means that Shirley does everything within her power to be the best constantly for those around her. And it must be taxing to be on your “best behavior” and attempt to please those around you all of the time, which causes me to respect her as a character all the more!

The dean dressed in Jeff’s cowboy outfit from season one (or is it season two? Well, either way…) is just PERFECT. He enters into the study room, announcing that Greendale is hosting a special Thanksgiving potluck to curb the depression often felt around the holidays. The study group all declines the invitation, and the dean recalls (from reading Jeff’s e-mail) the reason that Jeff cannot attend is because he’s having Thanksgiving dinner with his estranged father. The study group, slack-jawed, stares at Jeff. While Britta is smiling goofily at the revelation that Jeff and his father are meeting one another for Thanksgiving dinner, the rest of the study group is in complete and utter shock (and not seemingly excited about the news, may I add). She presumes that the reuinion is because of her prompting at Halloween. Jeff is dismissive of this notion, insisting that – while their conversation happened prior to him calling William Winger it was not because of that conversation.

I think Britta gets knocked around a lot in the fandom for how terrible of a therapist she is, but honestly? I think that’s kind of the point. Gillian Jacobs recently said at Paleyfest that she thinks Britta is a terrible therapist because she only accidentally helps people and in order to be a good psychology major would… you know, have to actually help them ON PURPOSE. The beauty, really, of everything that Britta does in this show, is that she ALWAYS intends to help people and she always fails. She is a strong, persistent young woman. She’s stubborn but she’s also giving, and she always wants people to be better than the way they are – she wants them “fixed” and she wants to be the one to help bring that to fruition. Britta IS the heart of the group, and I firmly believe that. Only in her failure of being able to help does she truly assist the people she cares about. And this episode is no different.

She does bring up valid points with Jeff that the former lawyer refuses to acknowledge. He, like I mentioned in my introduction, doesn’t necessarily want closure with his father – he wants to parade into William Winger’s life as if no hurt had been incurred. This is a defense mechanism for Jeff. It’s easier, of course, to deal with meeting his estranged father if he can pretend that there has been no pain. Refusal to acknowledge pain prevents us from dealing with it, right? (Wrong. Refusal to deal with pain actually means that we lock ourselves in a lock-less prison.) Jeff insists that he wil not get emotional when he meets William, but Britta has watched enough daytime television to know that this is simply not true. Nevertheless, Jeff plans to confront his father, show him what an amazing person he turned out to be (without any thanks to William), and call it closure.

Jeff arraives at his father’s house, striding up to the front door with confidence out the wazoo. Or so it would seem. Have I mentioned that Joel deserves an Emmy? Someone please just swipe the one from John Cryer’s house because the scene where Jeff arrives at William Winger’s residence is flawless. Up until the moment that Jeff looks over and sees the names of his father and half-brother on the mailbox, the meeting’s reality and implications hadn’t settled with Jeff. He blames Britta, shortly thereafter, for ruining the meeting with his dad. She placed too much pressure on him and this reunion, he explains. But what truly happened was this – Jeff stepped outside his prison for a brief moment and was terrified because the gravity (SOMETHING ALWAYS BRINGS ME BACK TO YOUUUU) of the situation was tangible and was written all over his face. He looked over and actually read the names on the door and internally struggled with the weight of what he was about to do. That little, fleeting moment? It made the entire experience real to Jeff. There was no way he could hide behind the notion that the dinner was insignificant. He couldn’t lie to himself when the evidence of its importance was right beside him. So he did what most of us do when we encounter a fearful situation. He locked himself back in his lock-less prison of familiarity. That is to say: he ran away.

Meanwhile, Abed, Troy, Annie, and Pierce arrive at Shirley’s house, enthusiastic to spend time with some normal relatives for a change. (Or so THEY think.) Shirley appears a bit frazzled when the group arrives but is genuinely excited to have them present. Even Pierce. Okay, well… maybe not Pierce.

I love the scene where the group arrives at Shirley’s home for Thanksgiving because it gives us a good glimpse into her character. And let me just take a moment to heap praise upon Yvette Nicole Brown for her portrayal of this beautifully broken and yet strong woman. Shirley is one of the more under-appreciated aspects of this series, I’d argue, but she’s so layered beyond what people perceive. She invites the group to Thanksgiving because they’re a part of her family. Meanwhile, she struggles to maintain composure while dealing with Andre’s family because they show little to no respect for her or the work that she puts into creating a familial atmosphere. Shirley tries so hard to be everything to everyone, as I stated earlier. And what that really means is that she loves and cares so deeply that she thinks of everyone but herself. Oh, sure, she has her moments of selfishness, as all the characters (and we) do. She tries to guilt the group into staying (“you prefer the cold garage over my warm hospitality”) at the beginning of the episode, for instance. But the defining characteristic of Shirley Bennett is her willingness to give and give freely. It’s also, of course, one of her downfalls, too, because when you give so much of yourself to others, you end up rather depleted.

I also REALLY love the evolution of Shirley and her judgment and willingness to accept her friends. Years ago, she would have chastised Abed openly for bringing two-year old dip to her party. Instead, she realizes the sentiment behind his gift and only mumbles her intention to discard it in the trash. It’s pretty sweet and a moment I missed the significance of my first watch through this episode.

Jeff, having jumped into his Lexus and driven away from William’s home, receives a call from Britta and informs her that he and his father bonded. Britta, skeptically, asks if it was possible for them to do so in twenty minutes’ time. And that’s when Jeff actually confesses that he couldn’t go through with meeting him. Britta got into his head, he insists, and threw him “off his game.” He turns the car around in fear when Britta lets it slip that she MAY have gotten William Winger’s address and may or may not be at his house. I really like Jeff and Britta together. Not romantically, mind you, but episodes like this one cause me to realize just how opposite these characters truly are. They clash on an minutely basis about everything and maybe they clash just because they CAN. But Britta, for all of her faults, cares about Jeff. And Jeff, for all of his faults, cares about Britta and actually listens to her. Though he tries to ignore her, though he rolls his eyes and snarks at her, she actually makes a difference. Perhaps the truth echoed in “Mixology Certification” applies – Britta is like a hurricane. It’s hard to ignore and disregard a hurricane, even though you REALLY want to. And really, arguing with a hurricane is pretty pointless too, right? You know that it will eventually do whatever it chooses.

At the Bennett residence, everything is going downhill quickly. Upon the study group meeting and interacting with Shirley’s relatives, they hide themselves away in the garage, uncomfortable and irritated at Andre’s family and having to spend time around them. Instead of grinning and bearing it for the sake of Shirley, the group decides to hide and plans to remain in the garage for as long as possible until they can find a way to escape (and leave, might I add, Shirley all alone).

So there’s this pretty brilliant metaphor that spans both storylines this week and is tied up neatly by Abed at the end of the episode. It’s this dichotomy of prisons and freedom. The study group frees themselves from their “terrible families,” only to be imprisoned in Shirley’s garage. They then try to free themselves from THAT prison and why? Why did all of the characters decide to abandon their dysfunctional families? Because of their selfishness and because the thought of dealing with them for one more year made them all groan in disgust. They griped and complained, but they left only to be met with MORE dysfunction. O unfathomable gods, there are MORE dysfunctional families that exist in the world besides theirs? What’s kind of ironic is that William Winger did the exact same thing to his family. He ran out on Jeff and Jeff’s mother, and then quipped that Jeff turned out better because of that action (don’t worry, I’ll talk about this in a bit). But what’s sort of sad is that the study group did the same thing to their families – they abandoned their dysfunction in hopes that THEY would be better because of it. And while I enjoy praising the group for many things and for their bond to one another, for the love that so clearly envelops them, it’s sad when you step back and realize this fact.

Jeff shows up at William’s residence, annoyed with the fact that Britta went behind his back in order to obtain the address and work her therapy magic. The pair meet William and enter the house, also meeting a highly emotional man named Willy Jr., who is Jeff’s half-brother. Willy seems to have his own father-related issues, desperately trying to obtain his father’s acceptance, love, and acknowledgment. What’s really intriguing is when you step back and realize that Jeff had the potential to become William Winger. He had the potential to become PIERCE. The beauty of Greendale and the study group is two-fold: 1) it gave Jeff a family and 2) it prevented Jeff from ever becoming the person he feared most BECAUSE it gave him a family. Right off the bat, you can tell that William and Jeff connect on a level that the father and Willy Jr. cannot and don’t. Jeff, contrasted with Willy Jr., is stoic and biting. He’s got a witty, quick, sardonic sense of humor while Willy Jr. is genuine. William Sr. is much like Jeff in mannerisms, thoughts, and actions. And I think that when we, the audience, step back for a moment at the end of the episode, we realize something of gravitas – Jeff is more like Willy Jr. than he is William Winger, even if HE doesn’t realize that quite yet.

At the Bennett residence, the group is plotting a prison break to escape the uncomfortableness of it all. They agree, of course, that they need to stick together above all else. For whatever faults they might have, Abed, Annie, Troy, and Pierce want to escape the garage and Shirley’s Thanksgiving dinner with as little fuss as possible. Shirley, Annie insists, is their friend and they don’t want to hurt her. But right after they decide to stick together, Annie decides that it is every man or woman for themselves. And what’s so heartbreakingly endearing is that Shirley offers Elijah’s room for Annie to lie down in and genuinely offered for one of the guests who was a doctor to look at Annie. She is ALWAYS thinking of others!

At the Winger Thanksgiving, Britta is consoling Willy Jr., who isn’t dealing with the presence of a new half-brother very well. Jeff, meanwhile, is talking to William about trivial and inconsequential things. They’re shallow but that’s where Jeff feels most comfortable with William, and it was part of the ground rules they set: no mushy talk, no calling him “Dad” and no apologies. I think that one of the things to note is that the conversation between Jeff and his father was shallow, which is why Jeff is so comfortable in the conversation and doesn’t feel any pressure or discomfort… yet. And his father is a manifestation of the selfish, smarmy characteristics that Jeff used to possess in spades. There’s something there, some wispy memory of who he used to be, that connects he and Jeff on the same level.

I think that Jeff, over the course of the evening, begins to grow compassionate toward Willy Jr. – or at least realizes the similarities between himself and his half-brother – during the conversation with William before dinner where Willy Jr. threatens to move out and William Winger notes that he would be happy if his son did so. And I think Jeff is still really torn between this notion of who he used to be and who he was. And seeing Willy and William interact reminds him of both aspects of himself and his character. Really, it unsettles Jeff. 

Abed, Troy, Pierce, and Annie try another plan to escape – sending Pierce out to feign injury, allowing them all to leave without question. But Pierce, desperate for attention, enjoys the laughter he is getting from the guests at his pratfalls and kind of ruins their escape plan. Again, one of the most inherent characteristics of humanity is our selfishness. And while it’s easy to feel sorry for the study group because of their familial distresses at home, it’s also easy to dismiss the fact that the study group ignored Shirley throughout most of the episode in order so that THEY would feel better and wouldn’t have to endure offensive relatives or agitation. I mean, Troy, Annie, and Abed are LITERALLY about to induce food poisoning just to avoid spending time at Shirley’s for the holiday. That’s more than a little sad and definitely more than a bit selfish.

Jeff and his father are seated around the dinner table, talking about (again) their guile and deceit, when William announces that he is about to break a rule and admit something: he’s PROUD of Jeff for becoming who he is. He’s proud that he made it all on his own – that he moved out and got his own place when he was eighteen. And William takes credit for allowing that to happen. Jeff registers his words with bewilderment. 

And here’s the first kick to the gut of the night: Jeff Winger is the way that he is because of his father. There are other things, other events, and other people that have influenced him in his life, but none as much as the absence of his father. Jeff’s been on his own because that is the only life he’s really ever known or cared to know, and it’s not a pretty life by any means. And that’s why it’s so difficult for him to open up to others, to share his heart, to be emotionally vulnerable and honest – he’s never HAD to be that way before with anyone. Truly, William looks at emotional vulnerability as a sign of weakness. He sees how Jeff has made it on his own and lauds him with praise (and even, as Twitter friends pointed out, attempts to begin a Winger speech), not caring or recognizing that being “self-made” really destroyed Jeff as a person – morally and emotionally. William thinks he did something RIGHT by walking out on Jeff. After all, he argues, look at how “well-adjusted” the former lawyer turned out to be. The father takes pride in the fact that he walked out on his family because it made Jeff a “better” person by William’s standard of character. And it is then that Jeff snaps: “With all due respect, which is none… go to hell.”

At the Bennet residence, Abed, Troy, and Annie decide that the only way to escape their prison is to make themselves ill by eating the old dip that Abed brought. It’s their last hope and a fit of desperation but (remember) they’re thinking about themselves and their well-being, so it seems like the most viable option. I honestly felt so much for Shirley during this episode. The woman, like I said earlier, wanted so desperately to create the perfect Thanksgiving – one where SHE would feel comfortable and happy for once because of the presence of the study group – and ended up heartbroken. Andre’s family, as it turned out, made Shirley the butt of their jokes. Abed, Troy, Annie, and Pierce were too busy wallowing in their own selfishness that they neglected their friend and what SHE was going through. They whined and griped about their awful families and Thanksgiving traditions but didn’t actually contemplate the fact that Shirley had the same problems. And it really is sad to see Shirley, someone who gives and doesn’t really ask anything in return, NOT being given anything in return.

“Funny thing about prison,” Abed quips, “sometimes the person you thought was your warden turns out to be a fellow prisoner.”

Jeff, having left in an angry and bitter huff, is driving home when Willy Jr. pops out from the back seat of the car and commends him for being so stoic, unfeeling, and callous toward their father. He wants to be that way, too. So I love the subtext of the conversation that occurs in the car between Willy Jr. and Jeff, because essentially there’s a part of Jeff that has always wanted to please his father, whether he admits it or not. There’s a part of him that’s always wanted love and will continue to want love from William Winger. And when Willy Jr. insists that he’d rather be stoic, cold, and unfeeling, Jeff insists that he NEEDS to be emotional – to do anything else would be letting William off the hook for being a terrible father. To skirt around an issue doesn’t mean that it gets solved, nor that it goes away. We can lock our emotions in prisons, but the funny thing is that there are no locks on those doors. The emotions will come spilling out eventually. And we can try to lock OURSELVES in prisons – prisons we construct to avoid our own feelings – but those don’t do any good either. Jeff recognizes this in his conversation with Willy Jr. and turns the car around.

Shirley returns to the garage and insists that Troy, Abed, and Annie can leave and she won’t hold it against them. But, adorably, the friends decide that they’re not going to just be the ones leaving – they’re busting HER out, too. “Family sticks it out,” Troy notes. I think this is one of the most endearing and all-encompassing lines of the series, both meta and non-meta. Family means no one gets left behind (THANK YOU, LILO AND STITCH!) and that no one is forgotten. Family means thinking about yourself and doing for others MORE than you do for yourself. And family means disagreeing and bickering from time to time but it also means this – home. Family is what you come home to in the end, and family is – no matter how weird or crazy – made up of the people who love you at your worst just as much as they do at your best.

Jeff returns to his father’s house and busts through the door, prepared to give a Winger speech to the one who made him the way that he is. What happens now is the most heartbreaking, beautiful, and honest Winger speech we will ever hear on this show, I believe. The bottom line is this: Jeff Winger is not strong, nor is he brave, nor is he good (a lot of the time). He is scared and broken and in desperate need of people to keep him grounded and to love him where he is at but too much to leave him that way. I’ve never connected emotionally with Jeff, if I’m being honest. I’ve always felt this pull toward him (because he’s the lead character), and had moments of utter adoration for how much he has grown. That said, this speech? This is the moment where I broke down into tears because of how – for perhaps the first time ever – I saw Jeff as a real, flawed, and beautifully broken individual and not just the IDEA of a broken character. It’s so easy, writing these reviews, to look at each character and distance yourself from them. I write about Community because it’s a show, because it’s not real, and because its characters aren’t real. But within each fictional character there is a kernel (or more) of reality that bleeds through. We see ourselves in them – we see our friends, our family members, our classmates, our co-workers. We recognize them for a moment, and that is how we emotionally connect. And I guess the point that I am making with this miniature diatribe is that I’ve never considered Jeff Winger to be more real than when he confronted his father with this speech:

“I’m sorry. You should take some credit for who I’ve become. So, let me tell you how I turned out, just so you’re crystal clear on YOUR impact. I am NOT well-adjusted. And, more often than not, I am BARELY keeping it together. I’m constantly texting and… there’s no one at the other end. I’m just a grown man who can’t look his own friends in the eye for too long because I’m afraid they’ll see that I am broken. So you get credit for that. […] One time, when I was in seventh grade, I told everybody at school that I had appendicitis. I wanted someone to worry about me. But, when Beth Brennan asked to see the scar, I didn’t want to get found out so I took mom’s scissors and I made one. It hurt like hell. But, it was worth it because I got seventeen cards and I still keep them in a box underneath my bed twenty-two years later because it proves that someone at SOME point cared about me. Wanna see the scar? So, you get credit for that, too. This is me.”

 William feigns a heart attack to try and gain sympathy from his son (who ain’t got time or compassion for that!), and Jeff – feeling, for once, the great sense of closure – departs the house, calling him “dad” in the process. It is beautiful and lovely and exemplifies the extent to which Jeff has resolved himself to this relationship. Jeff and Britta leave and I love that Jeff admitted to Britta that she was right. It makes me proud to see progress in relationships on this show, regardless of whether I “ship” a couple together or not. He recognized that she did have his best interests at heart and, in spite of the flawed way she went about it, does care about Jeff getting emotional closure. Because at the end of the day, I ship Jeff/happiness and I think everyone else in this study group does too.

On Monday, the group walks into the study room, sans Jeff, lamenting their awful Thanksgiving holidays and when they cross the threshold, notice that Jeff has arranged the study room table with food and a tablecloth. He created, all on his own, their OWN Thanksgiving. “So I thought we could take some time and be grateful for our REAL family – the one we chose,” he notes. (Between this line, the fact that “Greendale Is Where I Belong” was playing AND the fact that Jeff arranged the study room table and decorations and food for the group to have their own Thanksgiving meal and then motioned for everyone to sit and exclaimed: “Sit! Sit! Sit!” like a proud mother hen, I was dissolved into a puddle of salty tears. I cannot lie.)

Abed closes the episode with an internal monologue, musing that: “Maybe the hardest prisons to break out of are the ones without locks.” Though the sentiment makes little to no sense to him within the context of an homage, it’s pretty significant in light of emotional breakthroughs and breakdowns, no? Because at the end of the day, the best feeling in the world is setting yourself completely free from a prison you’ve constructed and knowing that – on the other side of that prison – there are people waiting for you with open arms.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
- As an aside, always remember to read the white boards. “It’s a Dean Thing!”
- “Oh, my family’s a normal religion so I have to talk to them for five minutes before I get a casserole that’s ALL marshmallow. … that’s you!”
- “The only thing that’s gonna get messy and emotional is Troy when he realizes there are yams under those marshmallows.” “I knew it was too good to be true!”
- “Chairs might be thrown. WEAVES might be pulled.”
- HA. The license plate says: “WINGINIT.”
- “Let’s carve this jive turkey!” “Got that out of your system?”
- “And I am FINE with my upper body the way it is!”
- “You really YOU’D this one, huh?”
- “Psychology tells us there are no accidents.” “Oh really? What about car accidents, Tara Reid, or the Hindenburg?”
- “Do you have your monthly shame?”
- “This ain’t no fairytale. This is Thanksgiving.”
- “Why don’t we use these dinner rolls to do some ROLE play? … I see what I did there!”
- Can I also say how adorable it was that Jeff told Abed all about his dad and his resolution? That’s precious.

Thank you everyone for enduring this rather lengthy episode analysis! Next week we head to one of our favorite formats with an episode that examines what EXACTLY is going on with Chang. Join me for "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking"!

NOTE: As many of you who follow me on Twitter know, I'll be taking an insurance license examination for my work on Friday morning/afternoon, which is going to delay the blog-review until at LEAST Friday night. No worries though: it will be posted sometime next weekend. And, you know... send good thoughts that I pass this exam if at all possible. ;)

Until then, folks!


  1. Thanks, Jennifer. And Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Since season one they've been pointing out the similarities between Jeff and Pierce so I thought it was hilarious that William also tried the fake heart attack routine. (Both characters have a half brother.) I think if Jeff had grown up seeking his father's approval and getting denied he would've ended up a lot MORE like Pierce than he already is.

  3. I noticed two things:
    - the temperature in the garage was around 55 degrees per the temperature gauge on the wall.
    - Abed is now struggling to force reality into movie/tv contexts.