Community broke me.
Last week, I wrote about how I was surprised at the amount of emotion Pierce’s death was handled with. The show managed to give a fitting farewell to possibly the least-loved character, one that highlighted his virtues and nearly brought me to tears. I knew that if Pierce’s death was such an emotional moment, there was no way that the departure of one of the most-loved characters would be anything other than a giant sob-fest.
Not only was the episode incredibly emotional, but it was likely the most fittingly-epic goodbye episode I have ever seen. Community is a rare show in that it can change its genre whenever Dan Harmon feels like getting extra creative. To send Troy off on his journey, we were treated to one of these trademark concept episodes, and like the majority of good concept episodes, it wouldn’t have been as special without the heart it had in its centre. Sure, the episode was pretty much guaranteed to be awesome. As soon as I heard the words “the lava game” I knew we would be treated to some epic paintball-style extravaganza, especially since Community has pretty much returned to normal this year. But like with most high-concept Community episodes, the lava stands for something psychological. As Britta was kind enough to constantly remind us, there was more to the game than just having a good time.
Troy’s departure from the show would always be difficult because his character is so well-liked, but it’s made that much harder because of his relationship with Abed. When the show began, Troy was supposed to be the cool jock and Abed was supposed to be the inaccessible nerd. Luckily, the writers realized early on that Danny Pudi and Donald Glover have such great chemistry, and the magical Troy and Abed friendship was born. Their friendship really was incredibly unique, and managed to transform both characters from archetypes to the well-rounded characters we have today. Many of the best moments on the show have happened because of Troy and Abed, and a huge part of the difficulty with Troy leaving is that none of the other pairings really have the same connection. Jeff’s weird sexual/paternal relationship with Annie has mostly been run into the ground, and there hasn’t really been another consistently strong pair in a while. With Troy leaving, my biggest hope is that now the show will be able to devote more time to pairing Abed with other characters that he has always had success with but that we haven’t gotten to see much of, like Jeff or Shirley. Jeff and Abed drinking to leave Britta a voice-mail in “Communication Studies” was pure gold, and Shirley and Abed were great together in “Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples”.
The biggest criticism I’ve heard about “Geothermal Escapism”, this week’s episode, is that there was too much time dedicated to characters other than Troy and Abed. More specifically, I heard complaints about the amount of Britta. While I understand the complaint, since I would love to watch an episode that was just Troy and Abed being awesome together, I also understand why other characters needed to be focused on as well, especially Britta. She was the character who has suffered the most from the shifts in season 4, and now needs to be set-up as a viable character again. With the loss of Troy, the audience needed to see that there will still be reasons to watch, especially those that come for Troy and Abed. Britta proves that she can somewhat understand Abed by coming up with the clone idea, which proves to us that there will still be characters that can interact with Abed and keep him from going insane in Troy’s absence.
I was devastated by Troy’s departure — some tears were shed — but I’m not too worried about the future episodes of the show. Though the character was often a ray of sunshine compared to everyone else, and his non sequiturs make up many of the best lines, Troy wasn’t a character that had too many stories that revolved around him. His friendship with Abed was the most special thing about him, and he didn’t do enough heavy lifting for the show to now be broken. It’s sad to say goodbye to any beloved character, but Troy leaving should not affect the quality of the rest of the season, as I’m pretty sure that the remaining cast members are more than able to continue making the show as funny and heartfelt as it has been so far this season.