While working with Courage around the farm, Eustace cites Courage's incompetence, telling him that he cannot do anything right. While Courage is in the kitchen with Muriel and trying without success to perfectly make some baklava, a mysterious, elderly school marm named The Perfectionist appears. Strangely, she can only be seen by Courage, implying that she may be imaginary. She claims that Courage is 'a disgrace' and, knowing of Courage's struggles, decides to train him strictly into becoming a perfect dog.
The Perfectionist tells Courage that he must prove that to her that he is "perfect" by going through several "perfection lessons." She first has Courage balance heavy books on his head while going up the farmhouse's stairs, saying that he needs to keep all books on his back while walking up the stairs in order to "walk perfectly." Courage, however, makes it up the stairs as all but one of the books start falling off his back. The Perfectionist harshly scolds Courage, who whimpers, teary-eyed.
Next, The Perfectionist has Courage try to "speak perfectly." She simply has Courage attempt to speak a tongue- twister, "The turkey in Albuquerque is positively perky," but Courage only speaks in gibberish. The Perfectionst tests Courage if he can "make something perfectly," and assigns him to make a model of the Eiffel Tower, but Courage fails, and The Perfectionist shows Courage the work of Di Lung, one of her past students, who has flawlessly made the Eiffel Tower model, much to Courage's disappointment.
Since it is late, The Perfectionist has Courage go to bed and "sleep perfectly." However, Courage finds himself without any sleep, because of nightmares with themes around imperfection. The next morning, he is excused to go to the bathroom and brush his teeth perfectly. A fish in the bathtub tells Courage that there is no such thing as being perfect, and that even with all of his imperfections, Courage can do anything. When Courage exits the bathroom, he notices that Eustace and Muriel also have imperfections with Eustace's broken bugle and Muriel's bubble gum-like baklava, with both proudly making the best of them.
Returning to The Perfectionist, Courage is told that he must go through one last examination; if he fails, he will be labeled as "imperfect." Courage's final lesson is to draw a "perfect" number six. Courage scribbles something down on a paper, which resembles a cartoon, He folds the paper and turns it upside down; a six is shown on the paper. The Perfectionist then screams and smashes her yardstick on Courage's desk and begins to surreally melt into a puddle of nothing as she rants about Courage being imperfect. She finally vanishes after uttering 'perfect' one last time, and her chalkboard explodes into dust. The episode ends implying that Courage has accepted the fact that he is perfect the way he is, and eats at the dinner table with a happy Muriel and Eustace. The fish from before is shown cooked on the table, and he gives the audience a thumbs up.
The Perfectionist : You're not the least bit perfect!
Eustace's Trumpet : You're not perfect...perfect...perfect...perfect...perfect...perfect... (echoing "perfect" until nightmare ends)
Di Lung : Aha ha ha ha ha. I'm perfect.
Eustace : You can't do nothing right! Ya amateur! You ought to go back to right-thing-doing school!
Fish: There is no such thing as perfect. You are beautiful as you are, Courage. With all of your imperfection, you can do anything.
Courage's Nightmares In one part of the episode, The Perfectionist had Courage go to bed and "sleep perfectly." When Courage goes to bed, however, he cannot sleep, as he has several nightmares with themes around imperfection. The following is a description of Courage's five dreams.
The first dream- Courage sees a blue, disfigured, hazy manifistation of Eustace's broken bugle. It has a human face, two deformed "arms." (one being short and flabby and one being long, spiraling into the top of his "head" and exiting out the other side towards his right "arm") He slowly looks at the camera and whispers, "you're not perfect," and looks creepily the other way as his whispered utter of "perfect" echos until the end of the nightmare. Also, bits of something seem to be on its "head," where the arm enters. Many Courage fans have debated if this blue "thing" is a fetus with physical deformities, or Eustace's broken bugle. For more information see Eustace's Trumpet.
The second dream- Courage is The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. As they walk, one of the characters is focused on, followed by what they want to achieve, followed by a buzzer and a cross over what they want to achieve. In this case, it's love, knowledge, and courage that the three characters never get. The scene then reveals that the three characters are being watched by a Courage witch from her crystal ball.
The third dream- This dream has falling pictures on paper, including a man shooting another man's head off, a spider-like being, two butterflies morphed together, a man with a weird, ancient face, what appears to be a heart with eyes surrounded by thorns like a spider, and an angel-like being with the words, "right now," written on the paper. The last paper "hits" the camera, and the dream ends. These pictures probably are imperfect drawings, and some Courage fans deem this dream and the first dream as the creepiest.
The fourth dream- Courage is juggling pies on stage while piano music plays in the background. People watching laugh at him as Courage discovers that he is only wearing underwear. He tosses the pies in the air in surprise, as he covers himself, as the pies land on him and splatter.
The fifth dream- Muriel and Courage are paper-thin. Muriel hands Courage a vase. Courage almost drops the vase and juggles it in an attempt to catch it; instead, it bounces off the floor without breaking as Muriel catches it. She then shatters instead of the vase courage also shatters too while screaming. Then the dream ends but still screaming then stop screaming.
- Di Lung appeared in the last episode in the series.
- The word Perfect (and any word containing Perfect) is seen/used 28 times throughout the episode.
- Eustace and Muriel were in no real danger in "Perfect," unlike most episodes, although Muriel shattered like glass due to a clumsy Courage dropping a vase in his last nightmare.
- "Perfect" was the first and only Courage the Cowardly Dog episode to use multiple types of animation, which were used for Courage's nightmares. Computer animation was used for the bugle and falling picture nightmares, flash animation for the Wizard of Oz-like nightmare, stop-motion/ claymation for the juggling pies nightmare, and cut-out animation with 2D graphics for the broken vase scene.
- It is revealed that Di Lung was a past student of The Perfectionist in this episode.
- The Perfectionist's chalkboard replaced Courage's computer.
- Courage's second nightmare that shows he lacks intelligence, love, and courage references "The Wizard of Oz."
- The music that plays during most of this episode is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
- The first and third nightmares seem to be the only ones that appear to be presented through Courage's point-of-view.
- It is the final episode of the series because the creator of the show, John R. Dilworth decided to focus on other projects, which ended the hopes of a fifth season.
- In this episode, the bathroom and bedroom switched places.
Episode 52 (1/2)