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There was bound to be some let down after last week’s modern noir inspired “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” and so came this week’s “Cooperative Polygraphy,” very much a bottle episode. Although, much like last week, the “shocking news” of Troy’s imminent departure was revealed towards the end of the episode in a decision that, like Pierce’s death reveal of last week, felt random.
After attending Pierce’s funeral at his Laser Lotus Buddhist temple, guest star Walton Goggins comes to the study group to carry out Pierce’s will. Being Pierce’s will, however, it remained true to his character and had the study group at each others’ throats as it included Goggins revealing many previously untold secrets as everyone was hooked up to a polygraph. And despite all of Jeff’s protesting for the group to keep level heads, Pierce wins yet again.
“Cooperative Polygraphy” was a solid but largely unspectacular episode. It was nice to see Pierce honored in the ways that his character always acted on the show, as his questions were either secrets of the group or his usual banter such as asking if Jeff was gay, which of course is a running joke. By the middle of the episode everyone is revealing their own secrets in hopes of taking the power away from Pierce, but Pierce has one last surprise for them all. Pierce shows just how well he knew everyone in the last part of the episode, giving heartfelt and revelatory compliments, as well as a vial of cryogenically frozen sperm.
After telling Troy that he has “the heart of a hero,” Pierce bequeaths his fortune to Troy with the condition that he sails around the world on Pierce’s yacht. With little consideration Troy accepts the challenge and reveals that he will be leaving the group, without Abed. It is a very sudden moment that only makes sense for those who knew Donald Glover, the actor who plays Troy, was leaving the show regardless. Abed’s reaction is a very depressed “cool cool cool,” which is said to be a lie by the polygraph reader.
While there were multiple callbacks, like Annie receiving Pierce’s tiara again after she refused it in a season 3 episode, the episode was a little lacking. It did have some funny secrets that were revealed, but after the past two episodes it felt like an even less normal episode of Community than ever, as it was completely restricted to the study room. Even with some of the ridiculous secrets revealed, “Cooperative Polygraphy” had an odd balance of comedy and poignancy and it never truly hit the perfect balance that Community often does. However, with the coming departure of Troy, they will have another shot.