'Community' Recap: 'Geothermal Expansion'

By Chris Baggiano,
A fitting farewell to Troy Barnes

And for the second week in a row one of the study group members says goodbye. After Donald Glover’s decision to leave Community via notes published on instagram, fans have been waiting to see how the show would send off Troy. And like last week’s “goodbye” to Pierce (played by Pierce, who was always disgruntled of the writing staff), Troy’s goodbye “for a year or more” was felt completely appropriate for his character, despite the episode feeling a little rushed.

The episode began with the study group putting on a happy face for Troy as Britta pleaded with the group to deal with their emotions. This would be Britta’s, the consummate psychology student, main goal in the episode – even though she would get completely sucked into the mayhem around her. Soon, Abed made an announcement on the school PA system declaring that his goodbye to Troy was a campus wide game of hot lava in which the last person to touch the ground wins. As added incentive Abed says the prize for the winner is a comic book he owns that has an appraised value of $50,000. The game is afoot.

In typical Community fashion, the entire campus dives headlong into the game, creating various factions and even mythologies while they play. The episode played out much like the paintball season finales of the first two seasons and it was nice to see that Greendale was ever the same. Unfortunately, there was almost too much mayhem and ridiculousness for the one episode allotted.

And needless to say, “Geothermal Escapism” delivered on both the insanity and the hilarity. Whether it was Hickey creating a Mad Max style vehicle chasing down students to knock them onto the ground, peeing in a tank on Shirley Island that ended up being emptied on to the ground to combat foes, or Britta refusing to allow Jeff his witty repartee in the form of a knock-knock joke, Community remained true to itself and never wavered.

But everything felt a little rushed, especially by the time Troy and Abed were isolated from the rest of the game. Britta catches up with Abed and Troy, still imploring Abed to deal with his real feelings, at which point Troy lets her know that the lava is real for Abed. Unlike in the great “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” where the audience is immediately clued into and given an explanation as to why Abed is seeing everyone in stop motion animation, “Geothermal Escapism” waited until the last minute to reveal that Abed was actually seeing real lava. It required a leap of faith at a weird time in the show, even if you were familiar with Abed and the show’s history.

Once Abed “killed himself” by literally letting go of a bar and falling on the ground, Britta came up with a poignantly silly solution that Community is known for. Britta decides to build a cloning machine to clone Abed in hopes of bringing him back to life, absent of his fear of losing Troy. Troy lets Abed know that he is afraid as well and Abed suggests Troy kill himself so he can be cloned and not be scared. It was actually a sweet moment that let everyone know that the Troy and Abed that the audience had come to know were no more and that these were “new” characters from here on out. It all sounds like it would actually downplay a goodbye for the characters but somehow it felt completely normal and even more sincere then your typical goodbye would.

And as Troy shipped off, with shipmate LeVar Burton (a call back from a previous season), Troy’s whirlwind farewell episode came to an end. Perhaps it is me not yet ready to say goodbye to Troy and one of the best relationships between he and Abed on TV but it all seemed a little rushed. And while “Geothermal Escapism” hit all the comedic and heartfelt high notes expected there was little time to take a breath in between and appreciate Troy. “Geothermal Escapism” was still a very good episode but I can’t help but feel it would have been that much better if it was spread over two episodes.

Image: NBCUniversal

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