Community: “Geothermal Escapism” review

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Full spoilers from this weeks episode follows:

After last weeks episode “Cooperative Polygraphy” touched on not only Pierce’s death and funeral, but the reason for Troy’s departure, this weeks episode is sadly all about Troy. Rather, how the study group handles the fact he’s leaving Greendale. In typical Community fashion, it was handled in probably the most ridiculous (and hilarious) way possible.

With Troy leaving on an adventure to sail Pierce’s ship, Childish Tycoon, around the world, the study group decides to throw him a going away party. While most of the group dote him with gifts and fond farewells, Britta tries her hardest to have the group confront their sadness of Troy leaving. On cue, Dean Pelton comes on the PA system to announce that in honor of Troy leaving, Abed is allowed to declare a school-wide game of Hot Lava. If you’re not familiar with the game, chances are that your childhood sucked. The basic premise of the game is that the floor is made of hot lava and you’re not allowed to touch the floor or else you’re dead. Basically, you run around like a little spider monkey and try to push your friends into the “lava”. If people needed incentive to take the game seriously, Abed decided to give the winner his copy of the number one issue of Space Clone, valued at $50,000. So, naturally, Greendale turns into absolute pandemonium.

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Dean Pelton: While I normally don’t condone climbing on furniture, Troy and Abed’s friendship has been such a special and magical part of Greendale, we owe it to ourselves to honor it.

As Britta attempts to find Abed and convince him to talk about his feeling, she comes across a scared Professor Duncan, who will do anything to win – even sacrifice a girl to the lava. After being saved by Jeff and Annie, she’s forced to partake in the game, begrudgingly, any way. As they stumble upon a plethora of portable chairs (one of the easiest ways to get around), they’re ambushed by a gang of Locker Boys – which is pretty much what it sounds like – a parody of post-apocalyptic gangs naturally led by Chang.

Britta: Do you feel like this game has gotten out of hand?

Jeff: Enh, feels normal enough for a school that’s on 911’s blocked caller list.

As the Locker Boys prepare to decimate nearly half of the study group in one quick motion, Abed and Troy come to the rescue…followed by criminology professor Buzz Hickey in one of the craziest drivable machines I’ve ever seen. Seeing teacher’s acting crazier than the students can’t be overstated. After Abed and Troy abandon Britta and head for Shirley Island, she teams up with Professor Hickey, who spares her life.

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Once at Shirley Island, they’re surrounded by Hickey, Britta and the appropriately named “chair walkers”. As she berates Abed for not accepting that his friend is leaving, the chair walkers attack. After many people are tragically lost during the siege, Leonard is instructed to spray the floors with butter, knocking many of the chair walkers out of commission.

Leonard: Cirque du so long, you high-stepping acro-bastards!

After Annie bites the dust fending off the last of the chair walkers, Jeff and Britta square off in a battle of terrible comebacks, of which Jeff eventually loses. Breaking away from Shirley’s Island, Troy and Abed burst out inside a giant bubble ball (similar to the movie Bubble Boy) sparking one of the funniest moments of the episode: “Troy and Abed in a bubble!”

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As Hickey and Britta chase down Abed and Troy in their bubble, they corner them in an employee only section of the school. Here is where the episode takes its emotional turn. For the entire episode, up until this point, Abed has been doing everything in his power to keep the game going, naively assuming that Troy will never leave. As Abed quips that the game never has to end if the two don’t kill each other, Troy responds “Abed, the floor can’t be lava forever. The game’s got to end.”

Throughout the course of Community’s five seasons, Abed has done a lot for us to consider him more of a robot-amongst-humans than an actual human, but this is by far one of the best scenes of the show and it’s because the writers chose to finally humanize him a bit more and this was the perfect time to do it. He goes on to explain that the game is very real for him, citing that, to him, the floor really *is* made of lava and that he wanted everyone to play the game so they could see what he sees. As hickey and Britta come barreling down the stairs riding a bookshelf, she quickly pushes Hickey into the lava when she sees the issues Abed is having.

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

As Abed explains more about his feelings, he decides to sacrifice himself out of guilt. As Troy struggles to cope with the fake death of his friend, and struggles with ending his own fake life as well, Britta comes up with a plan to get Abed back. Perhaps they can clone him? Playing to Abed’s more “familiar” side, they start exaggerating a cloning process to bring him back to life. It works and they’ve made a perfect clone of Abed. In a beautiful bit of sentiment from the show, Troy sacrifices himself so that his clone can go on the trip, rather than himself.

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As the game ends and Troy waits to start his new journey, the group gets together for one last goodbye (all cloned, of course). In a tearful goodbye, we see just how much heart this show truly has. As Troy gets on the boat, he discovers his travel companion will be Levar Burton. “Come Sail Away” by Styx starts playing, a fitting end to Troy’s legacy on Community.

Goodbye Troy Barnes AKA T-Bones AKA The Disco Spider AKA Butt Soup. Let us never forget all the emotions you made us feel over the last five years.

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The Good

+ They may only come once a season, but the blown out-of-proportion games are always hilarious.

+ Beautiful send off to a major cast member.

+ Buzz Hickey vehicle/Chang's Locker Boys.

+ "Troy and Abed in a bubble!"

+ Troy versus the universal translator.


The Bad

- Troy has finally left Greendale.

- How will Abed handle life post-Troy going forward?

Verdict9.5

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