I don’t know where the writers keep coming up with such brilliant, diverse episodes, but they did it again, taking what was supposed to be a Pulp Fiction homage and turning it into a touching glimpse of Jeff and Abed.
“Critical Film Studies,” by official billing, was said to pay homage to Pulp Fiction and I could certainly imagine the show doing something like the Goodfellas episode. In reality, however, the Pulp Fiction bit was the supporting role, with the other characters dressed up for a Pulp Fiction themed party and various references that the characters are aware of.
The real story lies in the dinner between Jeff and Abed. Jeff immediately tells Abed is off when he doesn’t make pop culture references, which leads to Abed’s existential story of visiting the Cougar Town set and pooping his pants after realizing his self-created character was dead. (I love how the writers were willing to mention Cougar Town fifty times.) This leads to Jeff opening up about his own personal trauma, being mistaken as a girl one Halloween.
But as the surprise party gets spoiled, the waiter lets slip an errant phrase, leading to the biggest surprise–Abed has been faking it all along to create a My Dinner with Andre situation. Jeff is initially mad, as one may expect, but Abed is there to soften the blow and the homage party still goes on. While Abed is set as an unchanging character, in opposition to his behavior at the beginning of the episode, I think the writers now have more power over the audience with regards to what they can do to Abed. Abed is still a moldable character, and even if he wasn’t being honest this episode, he still has emotional content buried deep beneath everything else.