Thursday, January 23, 2014

REVIEW: 'Community' Says Goodbye to Troy with a Floor as Lava Game in 'Geothermal Escapism'

NBC's Community - Episode 5.05 Geothermal Escapism

As Troy prepares to leave Greendale, Abed organizes an epic going away activity befitting his best friend's departure. What starts out as a fun little game grows into a heated, high-stakes competition destined to make history at Greendale.

Early into production on the fifth season of Community, Donald Glover made the decision to exit the series to pursue other career opportunities - mostly for his music persona, Childish Gambino. So leading up to this season, we all have been wondering how the show is going to go on without Troy Barnes. In last week's great bottle episode, it set up the exit of Troy through Pierce's will asking him to sail his boat around the world in order to receive his portion of the inheritance.

That episode succeeded because it was deeply rooted in these characters and their lives and how they react to things happening to the others. Troy's exit is a big thing for the Study Group. And yet strangely, the emotional content of "Geothermal Escapism" falls on how Abed is reacting to this entire news - instead of Troy's forthcoming departure.

That's a decision the show chose to make with this episode - and one that causes the emotional impact to fall just slightly off. Sure, a lot of it was fun and amusing - I probably could put so many hilarious quotes in the "Some more thoughts" section below. But the first half of the episode was confidently trying to avoid talking about the greater issue - no matter how much Britta pressed for Abed to say he's not dealing with it. Then, when the episode finally did go for the emotional response from Abed, it was probably too complex for it's own good.

Abed: "I don't think the lava's here because you're leaving... I think the lava's here because I won't let go."

Now, I love a good Community high-concept episode. Tailoring one up as the last episode for Troy seems like a pretty great episode to head out on. And yet, "Geothermal Escapism" isn't entirely sure how to deal with his departure and how to best say goodbye. The last third is a valiant attempt at trying to say something big and poignant. And it does succeed at tugging at the heartstrings. But it was an emotional disconnect from the rest of the episode. So while, the last third of the episode is a strong goodbye for Troy - in total, it's less successful.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Geothermal Escapism" was written by Tim Saccardo and directed by Joe Russo.
  • Jeff and Britta's "Knock Knock" was the funniest gag of the episode. Amazing immediate payoff to. This actually was a pretty great episode for Britta.
  • Britta: "I'm serious." Shirley: "We know."
  • Really loved Shirley's board honoring the fallen - separated by Secular and Christian, of course.
  • Troy & Abed: "Troy and Abed in a bubble."
  • The boat Troy will be navigating the world on is called the "Childish Tycoon." Nice little nod there, Community.
  • And of course, "Come Sail Away" had to start playing. Because of course.
  • Plus, LeVar Burton popped in for another amusing cameo.