Señor Chang – played by Ken Jeong
Star-Burns – played by Dino Stamatopoulos
We return to the study group, whose members wait for Jeff and joke with each other, as Britta tries dimming the apparent love for him with comparisons to the murder of journalists in Guatemala. She’s informed! Jeff enters confidently saying hello to the members with special nicknames and personalized hellos. All is forgiven, while Jeff continues working his magic over this group of sheep.
Jeff is still determined to get with Britta, but she sees through his act. Later, Annie and Shirley run to Britta to ask about the problems in Guatemala. They’re inspired to protest something with candlelight vigils and brownies. Britta looks less than excited about this “protest.”
We are then introduced to Señor Chang, the Chinese Spanish 101 teacher.
His first assignment is for the class members to find partners and demonstrate a short conversation that the class had previously learned. They are divided into pairs based on cards. Britta and Abed are initially paired, but Jeff trades his shirt with Abed to switch cards. As Jeff goes to share the wonderful news, he finds that Britta also switched cards…with Pierce.
Jeff and Pierce begin working on their project. We learn that Pierce was once the “king” of the moist toilette industry, a titan who sacrificed his many marriages for success. He desperately wants to be friends with Jeff, who adamantly attempts to reject his advances. Pierce outlines his idea for the project, which is long, confusing, slightly homophobic, and strangely and strongly anti-Israel.
Britta meanwhile finds Annie and Shirley running their Guatemalan protest. Britta calls their protest lame, before she recognizes that she’s all talk and joins their protest.
Jeff runs to join the protest in an attempt to impress Britta and ditches Pierce. Pierce, upset, turns to the bottle. He emerges drunkenly and ruins the silent protest before setting his jacket on fire and running away to jump in the fountain.
The next day, Pierce begrudgingly enters Spanish class, prepared to do his presentation solo.
After the presentation, Jeff hopes to show Britta that he is a good person by helping Pierce, only to have her say that she knows because no woman could possibly look at him as a sexual prospect anymore. Britta walks away, turning to look at the joy Jeff has because “she turned.” Pierce joins Jeff, and they leave the school together, now best friends in Pierce’s eyes.
Post credits – we’re introduced to the very first Troy & Abed stinger, and it’s an amazing Spanish rap called “La Biblioteca.”
Having established a rough overview of our characters, this episode comes out swinging and is fantastic. While we know that Jeff is a manipulative asshole, we no longer care. His playful nature is adored by all group members, except for Britta. It’s this dynamic that is actually very funny and makes it easy to forgive Jeff.
Abed establishes more than in the previous episode that he will be the bridge between the audience and the show. He stands as the cultural bridge between society and pop culture and demonstrates his developing character.
Yet the heart of this episode is the development of Pierce. Pierce is the self-professed group patriarch: the grandpa no one wanted, who awkwardly isolates everyone through seemingly subtle hate and racism. Yet our characters still feel bad for Pierce – that is, everyone but Jeff. Jeff’s continued desire to win over Britta inspires everything he does. Being stuck with Pierce on a project is nothing but an obstacle he can’t get past.
Jeff’s shallow attempts to woo Britta through his faked enthusiasm for the protest are exposed by a drunken Pierce. This falling out doesn’t phase Jeff however. That is, until Britta herself guilt trips Jeff in Spanish class the next day. Again, Jeff does whatever he can to impress Britta, even if that includes humiliating himself by joining Pierce for the presentation.
The presentation itself is an artfully directed, edited, and hilarious piece. By participating in it, Jeff suggests that maybe deep down, he isn’t a total asshole, despite it all being a cover to impress Britta. In the end, we see that Jeff might really be into Britta more than just sexually and actually may turn out to be a likable character.
While this episode isn’t as pop-culturally suggestive as the pilot, it’s an episode meant to develop our characters and relationships and expose the humor that we’ll become used to. Its the end, “Spanish 101” is a roaring success and good time.
- “Jeff probably comes late so he doesn’t have to sit through your tardiness (to Troy) – sorry Abed”
- “Tell ya what, you can take her, I have less to prove.”
- “Come on, hands! 90% of Spanish!”
- Pierce: “To the empowerage or words.” Jeff: “To the irony of that sentence.”
- “You’re bailing on our first sausage fest?”
- “The woman I kinda like is out in the moonlight caring about something stupid, and this is my chance to show her that I care enough to act like I care about it too.”
- Abed: “Kinda looks like these two will ultimately bring us together as a family.” Troy: “You have terrible breath right now.”
- “That dude is crazy. He told me that girls have two pee holes.”
- Señor Chang: “Why are there costumes? These are short conversations, they’re not supposed to take… ” Interrupted by Jeff: “…your breath away?”
- The entire “La Biblioteca” rap.
- Abed breaks the fourth wall immediately at the start of the episode, then quickly brings things back to “reality.”
- Abed’s spoiler alert. “You understand that TV and life are different right?”
- Australian Blackface controversy
- Cameron Diaz is the goat’s mustache.
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