There’s nobody more obsessed with television and movies than Abed. (The following sentence was stolen by Wikipedia because I couldn’t figure out how to say it in my own words.) Throughout both seasons he “seems to glean certain insights on life by comparing his life to various television shows and movies. This talent translates into him usually meta referencing their lives in relation to the show, by commenting on the dynamic of the characters together, their story lines, and can sometimes predict exactly what they will do at a given time.” This specific episode is one example Abed’s talent.
The plot is quite simple in this episode. The study gang is in the study finishing up an anthropology project. As everybody is beginning to leave, Annie complains that somebody took or stole her pen. The group tell her she’s being ridiculous and that it’s just a pen, but then Annie “freaks out”, claiming it’s not just a pen, it’s a principle. This was her 8th pen that she brought to school and somebody never returned to her. She’s convinced that somebody in the group has it. Now the whole gang is offended and all want to know who took her pen. Jeff takes charge and decides that they’re not leaving the room until they find the pen.
Exactly what does this plot have to do with Abed and his “gift”? During the very beginning of the episode he says, “Are we going to the puppy parade or not? Cuz it’s starting to feel like a bottle episode.” What exactly is a bottle episode? I wasn’t sure myself until I looked it up. Once again, I looked to the trusty Wikipedia. “The term bottle episode or bottleneck episode is used in episodic television to refer to episodes which are produced using the least money. The majority of a television series’ budget generally goes into producing episodes meant to pique audience interest, such as season openers and closers; bottle episodes are produced using whatever money is left over. Most bottle episodes are shot on sets already built for other episodes, frequently the main interior sets for a series, and they consist largely of dialogue or scenes for which no special preparations are needed.”
The whole entire episode is shot in the study room. Two more comments reinforce the fact that this is indeed a bottle episode. Abed goes on to clarify “It’s a bottle episode.” Act one ends with Jeff calling up his date and exclaiming, “Tell your disappointment to suck it. I’m doing a bottle episode!”.
Although this was a “bottle episode”, I still enjoyed it. I thought it was unique, and the fact that the characters in the show are meta referencing make it more hilarious!
Meta Reference: a situation in a work of fiction whereby fictional characters display an awareness that they are in such a work, such as a film, television show or book.