Sometimes it takes an episode like "Virtual Systems Analysis" to remind you what a strange, surprising and all-around special series Community is. This may not have been its finest half-hour and it certainly wasn't the funniest, but it was an utterly unique episode both for the show itself and television comedy in general.
The central conceit found Annie following Abed into the Dreamatorium while his usual playmate Troy was off at lunch with Britta -- a "date" that came about through Annie's machinations. Although she tries her best to be a suitable sidekick to his Inspector Spacetime, something about the whole situation has Abed spooked. As has been established before, he's deeply afraid of being abandoned by his new friends (Troy in particular) but hides that fear behind his stoic, pop-culture-reinforced wall. Over the course of the episode, Annie chips away at that wall to reveal the scared kid hiding inside the junior high school locker of his own mind. Before we get to that point though, Abed and Annie run through various simulations inside the Dreamatorium, simulations in which we see Abed's aura dart between the different players in his homemade virtual reality as he acts out their roles. Things get even more complicated when Annie deliberately messes with the Dreamatorium's homemade engine, reconfiguring it so that Abed actually has to consider about how his thoughts and actions affect others -- it's a little thing called empathy, an emotion that he initially runs from and then comes to embrace by the final fade-out. But enough about his breakthrough: how well did Abed simulate his fellow members of the study group? We evaluate his Dreamatorium-assisted impersonations.
Abed nails Jeff's egocentrism and roguish sexual charm; no wonder Annie confuses him for the real Jeff at one point.
Most Accurate Line: "What was I doing on the floor? Were we... doing it?"
Probably because he's not happy about the idea of Troy and Britta becoming an item, he emphasizes Britta's standoffish side without fairly representing her (at times misplaced) conviction and interest in people other than herself.
Most Accurate Line: "I don't usually support lunch because it's unfair to breakfast."
Although he and Troy are best buddies, it's clear from the simulations he runs that Abed considers his roomie a goofball whose brain is cluttered with random, usually nonsensical thoughts (like meals fighting each other). Which Troy absolutely is, but he's got other sides to his personality as well -- like the one that's attracted to Britta, as well as the one that's uncertain what he wants to do with his life. Despite the trauma they went through during the Great Pillow Fort/Blanket Fort War, Abed still prefers to think of Troy as his eternal sidekick. Letting him be his own man now and then is going to require more of that empathy stuff he's just now learning about.
Most Accurate Line: "I didn't get Inception! It's just so many layers!"
Considering her limited screentime in his simulation, it's safe to say that Abed doesn't know Shirley well enough to do more than a surface-level impersonation. Clearly, they need to hang out more.
Most Accurate Line: "Oh! Oh!"
We'd like to say that Pierce isn't anywhere near as clueless and spacey as Abed makes him out to be... but we'd be lying.
Most Accurate Line: "Can I just interject to say I don't know what the hell's going on?"
Abed captures the bubbly Annie we've seen for much of the season, but the real Annie reveals deeper layers to her own personality during the course of the episode as well (like her realization that she's not really in love with Jeff; she's in love with the idea of being loved). As much as this episode is about Abed's personal growth, Annie takes some significant steps forward as well.
Most Accurate Line: "Running scenarios? Careful now... you're starting to sound like Abed."
Early on in the episode, Abed claims he's able to do a "half-accurate" simulation of Chang. He was underselling himself, though. What we saw of his Chang seemed more or less fully accurate -- annoying, ineffectual and a bully.
Most Accurate Line: "I find you guilty of being Abed. You're under arrest."
Finally, we'd be remiss not to quickly praise Annie's brief, but memorable simulation of Abed, whose accuracy freaks him out enough to conjure up his enforcer Chang. Annie-as-Abed's most accurate line? It's a toss-up between "I'm on a TV show" and "I found you by turning into you -- how cool is that?"
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