Director: Tristram Shapeero — Writer: Gene Hong — Aired: April 11th, 2013 —Season: Four — Number: 9 Summary: The study group uses puppet therapy to cope with a disastrous balloon ride they took recently.
At the latest study group meeting in Group Study Room F, everyone isn't speaking and can barely look at each other. Dean Pelton enters the room determined to get to the bottom of what's been bothering the group for the last few days. To that end, he brought with him hand puppets in the form of each study group member. He explains it's a way for them to both distance themselves from the trauma and also to feel more comfortable communicating to each other by proxy. The Dean notices Pierce's absence, and Troy reveals they might have left him back in the forest. After that minor breakthrough, Dean and Britta plead with the group to give the puppet therapy a chance, and they all reluctantly give in.
The Study group can barely look at each other.
Abed explains it started last Friday when the study group was listening to Britta discussing her latest causes. As she droned on, he and Troy were playing a bingo game marking their cards based on the predictable banter of the study group. Realizing they've been stuck in a rut, Jeff decides they all need to have an adventure outside of Greendale. After seeing a poster of it in the study room, Annie suggests they all take a hot air balloon ride together. Later, they meet up with a guide, who helps them all into the basket of the hot air balloon and prepares it for their trip. However, Pierce and Troy accidentally cause the balloon to take off before the guide can join them. The group doesn't notice until it's too late. Chang arrives on the scene only to look on with the balloon guide as the balloon drifts away.
The hot air balloon eventually crash lands into a nearby wooded area. As the study group struggles to get their bearings, they are startled by the sudden appearance of mysterious mountain man. He quickly put them at ease when he identifies himself as a fellow alumnus of Greendale. He explains that he left the craziness of the school to live out a quieter existence in the forest. He goes on about how carefree his life and hands the group special berries to eat. The berries turn out to be psychotropic, and after the group starts to hallucinate, the mountain man wishes them well and departs. That night, the group sets up a campfire while still feeling the effects of the berries. Feeling completely uninhibited, Shirley decides to tell the group a dark secret.
The mountain man shares the advantages of living away from the modern world.
One night she thought she saw Andre with another woman while at the grocery store and ended up following the couple out of town. After realizing it wasn't him, she remembered that she forgot her kids at the store. Shirley says that she knows that's the reason for them being so awkward around each other. However, the group tells her they don't remember what she had told them. They soon realize that although they all remember sharing secrets about themselves to each other, they don't recall what anyone else's particular secret was. No longer having any reason to be awkward around each other, the group starts to celebrate until Annie points out how humiliated Shirley is. Jeff tells her and the others that in order to restore the balance, everyone has to tell their darkest secret again. To make it easier, he adds that they can use the puppet.
Shirley reveals her most shameful secret.
As the group reveals their individual secrets, they all flashback to the night in question, recalling how it originally went down. Jeff starts off with his secret: he found the perfect woman for him who he learned had a kid. Although he said it didn't bother him, he panicked and bailed on them both and never called her again. Britta reveals that despite touting herself as an activist, she has never voted in an election. Annie reveals she was struggling in history, and allowed Professor Cornwallis to rub her feet in order to pass a test. Troy reveals that he started the Greendale Fire of '03 which consumed fifty acres when he set an ant hill on fire. At that point, the balloon guide shows up having spent the night searching for them.
"I never slept with the great Eartha Kitt. We dry humped inside of her tour bus!"
Back in real time, Shirley silently thanks Jeff for making things right while Dean Pelton congratulates the group for a successful therapy session. Pelton is about to reveal his darkest secret when Britta realizes Abed didn't reveal his. Abed says he didn't share anyhting that night; when he saw how everyone was acting weird around each other, he decided to mimic them to fit in. The group comforts each other over their secrets, assuring themselves that they don't think any less of each other. With everything resolved, they leave the study room to go to Skeepers to celebrate. Dean Pelton is left behind, disappointed that he wasn't invited along even though he helped facilitate closure over the group's latest conflict. He then imagines that he sees the puppet version of Jeff telling him that he doesn't have to go home alone.
The original broadcast version had a behind the scenes clip with the cast interacting with their puppet counterparts. The streaming and online version contained the preview from last week's episode where the study group puppets hum the song Daybreak while seated at the study table.
Awww!: Annie and Shirley "Awww!" when Abed reveals that he mirrored the study group's actions to fit in. Abed then mimics their "Awww!" in response.
The Dean refers to his costume as "Dean-ochio".
After the therapy seems to be working, Pelton declares himself a "Dean-ius".
Man crush: Dean's obsession with Jeff is shown when he reveals he had a puppet made of him who was carrying a whip. He also imagines a puppet version of Jeff propositioning him at the end of the episode.
Chevy Chase quit the show around the time this episode was in production hence his absence.
Annie's most shameful secret is a reference to a story Alison Brie told in an interview on the David Letterman show. She related how a stranger was obsessed with her feet and wanted to give her what he claimed to be a strictly platonic foot massage.
Whilst in the hot air balloon, Troy asks whether anybody has noticed Professor Duncan's absence. This acknowledges the actual unexplained disappearance of the character since the end of the show's second season. This is due to actor John Oliver's commitment to the Daily Show, which films in New York.