Professor Zoom wrote:
@Zoom Sci pointed out why he thinks Abed is imagining the timelines in another post, the point that made sense the most to me is that Abed imagined the Christmas claymation episode. I then furthered the thought that since he imagined the claymation due to having problems with not being at home for the holidays, he could be imagining this due to some problems he is going through. Perhaps between him and Troy, or him and the group, so he's internalizing whatever it is.
However, IN the claymation episode it's made VERY clear that Abed is imagining this and the group is playing along. There is no such indication in the alternative timelines episode at all. Within the episode, what evidence is there that Abed is imagining it?
Well, there's the fact that it's Abed who introduces the concept, and who then ushers us back into the "regular" timeline. It's Abed who muses that the roll of the dice will create multiple timelines, and Abed who brings us back. It's also Dark Timeline Abed, in the credits sequence, who declares that his timeline is the "darkest" timeline and decides to start wearing an Evil Spock Goatee -- something not likely to happen if Dark Timeline Abed actually believed his timeline was the
timeline; it sounds more to me like the depiction of Abed's imagined alternate self in his own mind than something any version of Abed would actually think.
And then, of course, a few weeks ago, Abed "encounters" the Dark Timeline Abed while in the Dreamatorium--and somehow Dark Timeline Abed just happens to have gotten ahold of a space ship and has been somehow monitoring events in the Prime Timeline? It's highly implausible.
So it all seems more likely to me that the alternate timelines were Abed's musings rather than "actual" alternate timelines.
I can see that. Though, it feel like he's the one explaining the idea, setting it up, to the cast (a stand in for the audience.) Of all the characters who is going to explain alternative timelines, he's the only reasonable choice.
As far as Darktimeline Abed, I don't know if I agree. Darktimeline Abed could be just as meta as "our" Abed. He saw how bad things got, and realizes that in a different timeline things must've turned out ok. So, he makes the logical assumption this is the bad timeline, thus the goatee.
It's like when you get into a car accident, in another timeline, you didn't. And THAT'S the good one, you know?
(As far as the return... don't know...)
Personally, I also think it's a less risky choice for it to only have taken place in Abed's imagination.