Jennifer Stasak Staff Writer
I’ve, personally, always held fast to the idea that everything happens for a reason. There are no coincidences in life. Call it fate or destiny or a divine intervention, but I’m convinced that our lives are definitely woven with the lives of other people for some sort of reason or purpose. And we can play around with this notion a lot by contemplating how our lives could have been, for better or for worse. What if I had been at that intersection a moment earlier? What if I had chosen to sit in the front of the class instead of the back? What if I had joined that club or been at that meeting or gone to that movie? Moreover, what if I HADN’T done certain things, gone certain places? This is truly what “Heroic Origins” is about, as an episode. Throughout it, Abed attempts to piece together the stories of each study group member. He believes that they were all destined to meet at Greendale because they HAD run into each other so many times before that. What happens next is, to borrow the film student’s words, “a crazy quilt of destiny.”
In this episode, Abed is seeking to find the few missing links that connect every one of the seven study group members’ stories. If he can find those pieces and connect them, he can prove that the group was always destined to meet, like a band of superheroes. Jeff scoffs at the idea of destiny, but the rest of the group is intrigued, especially when Abed begins to unravel connections that no one realized had existed. Troy and Annie had gone to high school together, and the episode flashes back to a popular Troy Barnes and Adderall-popping overachiever (and outcast) Annie Edison. As Abed reveals later on, something that Annie said to Troy at a party ended up paralyzing him with fear. She noted that he was “a robot” – that he merely let other people control him and tell him how to live his life. This statement is the reason, Troy explains in the present, that he became so terrified of playing college football that he feigned an injury at the party in order to lose his scholarship. Annie is appalled that he blames her for his life not turning out as he hoped.
Shirley, meanwhile, learns something rather important about Jeff. One of the former lawyer’s cases involved a stripper named Misty, who he got off a case. Abed then reveals, by showing the pair a newspaper clipping, that Britta met Jeff outside the courtroom with friends she had during her anarchist days. In the present, Shirley reads the clipping with horror – the stripper, Misty, turned out to be the woman her husband Andre had an affair with four years ago. If it hadn’t been for Jeff’s selfish actions – lying to win the case – Misty would have never gotten off, would have never met Andre, and Shirley’s marriage might have not endured the terrible suffering it had. Jeff defends himself, though: he never forced Andre to cheat on Shirley and his actions had consequences, too. Because of that case, a target was placed on his back at the firm. If he hadn’t taken it, the firm wouldn’t have realized that he faked his degree and he wouldn’t have been forced to attend Greendale in the first place.
Abed then comes to a startling realization – he met Shirley’s children outside of a shopping mall before he had even met the woman. He chastised the boys in the choice of movie they were about to see. The boys called their mom, upset. And the woman left her dinner with her husband in order to tend to them. At the same restaurant, an upset Jeff – who had just been fired – told Misty to get what she wanted in life… which just so happened to be Andre. Abed’s wide-eyed realization is that HE is the one who caused all of the terrible things to happen in the lives of his friends, way before he even knew them. Jeff blames himself for the pain he caused Shirley, but the damage is done and everyone departs, upset.
Later, Abed sits alone at a frozen yogurt place, visibly upset when Jeff approaches. The former lawyer apologizes for his earlier behavior and – one by one – the remainder of the study group appears, unaware that the others had shown up. It is revealed then that each study group member was at the same yogurt place on the exact same day when they made the decision to attend Greendale. The group reminisces about the moment and realizes that this is what destiny is, truly. No matter what terrible events occurred in the past to them, because of others or each other, the point was that all of those experiences led them to Greendale – a place where they found love, found acceptance, and found one another.
And that, my friends, is really what destiny looks like.